Interactive Portraits: Trans People in Japan, release for International Transgender Day of Visibility

It’s International Transgender Day of Visibility, and you’re socially isolated. I just published a game that allows you to have interactive dialogues with 12 characters, based on real interviews with transgender people in Japan. Hang out, explore, get to know some folks!

Interactive Portraits: Trans People in Japan by Zoyander Street

 

International Transgender Day of Visibility March 31st launch of Interactive Portraits: Trans People in Japan

(Update: launched! Check it out at https://zoy.itch.io/iportraits.)

This Tuesday March 31st will be International Transgender Day of Visibility. I’ve been planning to launch a downloadable version of the Interactive Portraits from Japan for this year’s IDOV, and though it feels a little out of step with what’s on everybody’s minds right now, I’m still going ahead with it.

If you’ve played this before, either at an event or because you got access to the link where the works in progress were available to try out, then you know there’s a lot of wisdom shared by the trans people I interviewed – thoughts about how to build resilience, how to take care of your community, and how to deal with the massive scale of human suffering.

The joy of making work based on interviews, particuilarly the open-ended and reflective interviews that I have found myself doing, is that you quickly find this bedrock of compassion and insight that underpins the human experience. I hope the full release of this project will bring some much-needed solace to someone, somewhere.

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I’m going to spend the weekend making some final changes, and then I’ll post here on Tuesday with an itch.io link where you can download Interactive Portraits: Trans People in Japan.

(Update: launched! Check it out at https://zoy.itch.io/iportraits.)

During this time of webinars, Zoom rooms, and Discord discourses, I’d love to get together with any folks and chat about this project, and about my work-in-progress that applies a similar idea to trans people in the UK, so please get in touch! My email address is zoyander at gmail.

Panel talk at The Artist’s Journey #3

I’m excited to be speaking on a panel with Manish Harijan (artist) and Lady Kitt (artist, researcher and drag king) on 13th February as part of a two-day event about art careers at Sheffield Institute of Arts. The theme is “improfessionalism”, which feels fortuitously positioned alongside the “indisciplinarity” theme of the event at King’s College that I got to speak at last year.

While ‘professionalisation’ suggests the positive, necessary steps to becoming an artist, there are ‘improfessional’ practices that exist at an off-kilter relation to this imperative. Outside of the professional / unprofessional binary, what else do artists do, feel, or think as they build their portfolio, write their grants, or get on with these obvious tasks? And as both a direct or dissonant response to our art-making lives, what modalities of survival and thriving do we develop? How do we – or don’t we – maintain the balance, health, and motivation necessary to keep going as supposed art professionals?

I’m going to expand the talk I gave for the “indisciplinarity” event into something that delves even more into queer theories about time and life paths. There will probably be some Buddhist philosophy in there too, and I’m going to glance a little at the void by offering some thoughts on how to role-play as though there will be a future even though the world as we know it seems so fragile.

The whole two-day event schedule looks excellent, seems like the event will involve blending pragmatic questions with critical theory. Please check it out:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-artists-journey-3-tickets-88845377917

Call for participants: UK interviews with transgender people for interactive documentary installation about experiences of waiting

I am looking to interview more transgender people across the UK for my next art project. Details are below, but if you need any more information please do not hesitate to reach out. Please share this with anyone who you think might be interested!

Project information

Overview

“Cis Penance” aims to use videogame-like installations to draw attention to issues affecting transgender people in the UK, with a particular focus on how institutional and social structures alter our relationship to time and our life paths, through lengthy waiting processes. Interviews with 60 transgender people from around the UK will be represented as interactive text, projected onto a long, embroidered e-textile portraying people waiting in a queue. Kind of a queer cybertwee Bayeux tapestry. Anyone interested in being interviewed is welcome to contact me: zoyander@gmail.com

Background

This project builds on my previous work, “Interactive portraits: trans people in Japan 2018“, which has toured exhibitions and festivals, including Docfest, Now Play This, and the Rainbow Arcade exhibition at the Schwules Museum in Berlin. Whereas that project featured 12 interviews carried out in Japan, this new project aims to incorporate 60 interviews carried out in different locations in the UK.

Participant information

The format I use makes anonymity very easy to achieve, as I do not use interview audio in the final piece and I do not record video footage. Interviewees’ physical appearances will not be portrayed in the installation piece, instead represented by one of 60 abstract embroidered figures. Interviewees can choose to use their real name, an existing pseudonym that they might use online, or a randomly-assigned pseudonym. My interview method focuses on allowing participants to set the agenda, to reflect the kinds of topics that actually come out in conversations between trans people, rather than directing the conversation to serve cisgender curiosity.

Interview information

Interviews will last about 45 minutes. I aim to carry them out in person where possible, but Skype interviews will be carried out when travel is not feasible. They will be recorded as audio only, and transcribed into text extracts for the interactive work. Audio recordings will not be used in the final installation piece, but interviewees can opt in to allowing the audio to be used in accompanying multimedia materials. The recordings might be archived in a museum or library collection at some point, to preserve them for the historical record.

Interviewees are welcome to participate without talking about their transition. I use an open-ended format that gives the interviewee autonomy over the topics of discussion, but questions I might ask to help things along could include:

  • How do you see yourself?
  • What brings you satisfaction in life?
  • What aspects of your life would you like to be different?
  • What challenges do you face in making this happen?
  • How have things changed for you in the past few years?

Dates and contact

I hope to complete most interviews by 15th March 2020. If you are interested in participating, please contact me at zoyander@gmail.com.

SPACE Ilford grand opening

The lovely folks at SPACE studios in London have opened a new space in Ilford, and have kindly let me come and do a residency with them in Spring of next year, as part of their Art + Tech programme.

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In the mean time, events are already happening, as other artists-in-residence get started exploring and playing in this new location. This Saturday there will be a Grand Opening event at the Ilford location:

  • Sat 7 Dec 12-4pm
  • SPACE Ilford
  • 10 Oakfield Rd., Ilford IG1 1ZJ

I’ll be there with the other Art + Tech folks showing some small pieces of work, and it’s also the opening of a remarkable exhibition of colourful, gothic, cute-grotesque work by Lindsey Mendick:

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The following Tuesday evening, Art + Tech artist in residence Minna Långström is running The Prime Directive, which looks to me like a sort of LARP inspired by utopian science fiction? Seems very cool.

I’ll be in London for my artist-in-residence period from 7th April until 29th June. Give me a shout if you know of anywhere weird I can live, or any fancy parties you want me to attend – worth asking, right?

Cis Penance workshop in Dundee

This weekend, Jennifer Booth will be facilitating a workshop for the Cis Penance project, as part of NEoN Festival. We did a similar workshop this summer in Sheffield – the goal is to work collaboratively with LGBTQ+ folks to create a piece of visual artwork reflecting queer life paths and our relationship to time. This version of the workshop is going to have an extra element, incorporating tech toys such as a line-following robot or electroconductive ink, to further play with representations of systems, glitches, and discontinuity. Please come join us if that interests you and you’re in town.

Cis Penance

Final week of Platform 19

I’ve gone to Vancouver for a month, but the Site Gallery show continues for another few days! It’s been reviewed in The Guardian and The Quietus, and more than one visitor has described Empty Carriage, my interactive piece in a modified vintage pram, as some variation of “mindblowing” or “a head fuck”.

Since those reviews came out, I commissioned Jennifer Booth to run a workshop charting queer life paths in the form of a long collage, which is now hanging on the wall of the work space in the gallery. Lucy, Sian, Allie, and Yuen have some interesting things planned for the final couple of days, so it’s well worth heading down and being nosy.