Final Fantasy (Poem)
Artist, LaTurbo Avedon, creates art through an avatar persona, but her identity in the tangible world remains a secret. Her animated video, titled, Final Fantasy (Poem), 2013, explores experiences through virtual life and how “real” the virtual world can feel to us. It raises the question, is reality the limitations we’re given in the material world or is it a world we’re able to create?
Final Fantasy (Poem) begins in a dark virtual space featuring an animated laptop. The laptop screen illuminates and begins playing an animation. A woman in a forest appears on the screen, running in place in slow motion. Her face and torso are in black silhouette, similar to a negative photograph. Her contrasting blonde hair is sharply in view, juxtaposing her soft white skirt and feathers around her neck that are blurred out of focus. Her feathers, hair and skirt bounce hypnotically as she runs. A computerized female voice with a Scottish accent begins speaking in a poetic stream of consciousness tone with accompanying ethereal music. The voice is reciting lines of famous pop songs. Each line of a song is combined with another, re-contextualizing the lyrics with new meanings. In the final line, the voice says, “and then I fall,” while the screen suddenly becomes dark and the figure disappears.
The surreal quality of this animation feels like a hypnotic stream of consciousness in the digital realm. It feels like a relatable experience where the songs in our head become a narrative process describing the moment we’re in. The pop song lyrics are recognizable, but no longer have the attachment of their melodies or the context of the other words intended with the songs.
Lines of pop lyrics from Madonna’s Material Girl, Beyoncé’s Love on Top, and others have been stripped away from their vocal context and recombined with new poetic meaning. In this animation, we hear the lyrics strangely annunciated as phrases by a computer ‘s passively accented voice. When hearing the words this way, the phrases seem new and foreign, but also contain a distant resonance of familiarity. Combined with the mesmerizing visuals, these words create a new poetic message that expresses an intangible experience and a state of being. The scene is in a theater with a screen, implying that as we watch this woman running, we somehow vicariously feel like a part of her thoughts and actions. There’s a playful aspect to the work, particularly in the cultural reference of pop song lyrics combined with the woman wearing a party outfit, seemingly in a moment of anticipation of being a part of things. The cultural elements are juxtaposed with the forest lying before the woman. She seems out of place from where she is and where she expects to be.
Avedon’s animation reflects the context of the relationship between words and sound and the meaning this context works to create. What would these phrases mean if they were spoken by a man, woman or child? How does the meaning change when they’re spoken through a computer? The meaning of the lyrics themselves changes when combined together, reconfigured to make new connections. This animation is a reminder that the digital fabrications of virtual reality and pop music have parallel qualities, human creations that submerge us in an emotional state, an immersive experience.
LaTurbo Avedon’s existence in the virtual world through social media raises questions about identity in art. How are personas created in the tangible world? There are some aspects of ourselves we can package in our presentation of ourselves to the world, but materially, many traits we possess are never going to change. Gender, physical traits and sexual orientation are some of those aspects that are often up for judgment along with the work an artist creates and presents to the world. In a virtual reality, however, you can be whomever you want. Without the backdrop of your physical self, you can be the form and gender you’ve always wanted to be. La Turbo Avedon challenges us to consider what is real. The unknown identity of the artist raises questions about our understanding of reality and the assumptions we make about identity and human experience. If a virtual version of someone is their true self, their ideal identity that’s uninhibited with the limitations of the material: is that representation more real?
The Wrong - New Digital Art Biennale - 2013