REIGN is my new experimental short film that recently premiered on Bullett Media and played in 360° for an audience this summer at Substrate Gallery in Hollywood as part of a special screening that included passionate live performances. Although I've been doing video work for quite awhile now, I took my art much further this time by creating a multi-sensory installation that translated the film into a tactile environment. The REIGN film and the event were, in a way, my official debut as an artist. Read what Bullett editors had to say here, and view the film below.
The concept began with a solitary roadtrip that led me into a forest near Portland where I was able to capture hours of inspirational footage. I later decided to integrate that footage into this project with artist Dru Acosta of the Del'Hacienda fashion label, whose androgyny and royal aesthetic take center stage in this video piece that showcases he and his partner Omar's clothing designs and styling. In REIGN, atmospheres of the deep forest combine with a theme of sovereignty, as the subject's inner turmoil is exposed yet their supreme beauty is pristine and unfaltering. It centers around sentiments of self-discovery, temptation, and sacrifice. To shoot this video I employed a Chiaroscuro lighting style resembling renaissance era art, and I also put together the sound design by mixing various samples including the eerie and entrancing sound of a rare instrument called the theremin.
I knew I wanted to do more than simply share this film online, so I decided to present it in a more immersive setting that involved all five senses. Guests at the July 29th screening were invited into a world of dark imagery and exotic vibes, starting with the mixologist that greeted them with a Bourbon concoction that included ginger kombucha, peach bellini and mint to engage the sense of taste. Lining the gallery floor and walls were bucket loads of tropical foliage, eucalyptus and roses, with essential oils of moss, rose and burgamot diffusing throughout the room to envoke the spirit of mother nature. The soundtrack I put together for the night mixed all different genres including Turkish psych, trip hop and ambient, while the crowd was enveloped in video projections from all angles that put them up-close with plant textures and insect life that I shot using a macro lens at the Pasadena Botanical Gardens.
Singer/musician NCP gave an incredible performance of her track Languish to lead into the start of the film. Her echoing vocals were the perfect match for the occasion, bringing a haunting tone to the night as dancer Ivana D'Souza accompanied her with movement. As the intro to REIGN began, Dru joined the performance and improvised a display of dramatics that eventually merged into the actual film; his antics in real life mirroring his on-screen journey. At one point he laid on the floor and gazed deep into a mirror as if falling into a pool of water or a portal to another world; then he turned the mirror on the audience. All the artists involved spontaneously fed off of each other's energy and created a mood that fit perfectly with what I had envisioned. At a time when the environment is threatened more than ever, people are craving nature. The idea behind this cinematic experience was to immerse us in just that, voicing our great appreciation and connection to this Earth. My goal with this event was to showcase and combine all my talents into one creation (from sound design, to set design, talent scouting, to cinematography and video editing), but in the end I was so happy to see that I had also created a platform for other up-and-coming talent eager to work together to send a message. With Trump in office causing great unrest and turmoil for us, it's a time when artists all over are feeling compelled to bond together and form communities that promote diversity, gender non-conformity, and universal love through uninhibited artistic expression.
THE FEATURED ARTISTS:
Del'Hacienda is an emerging avant-garde apparel label by designers Omar Cisneros and Dru Acosta, whose boundary-pushing vision signals a type of artistry that is rare... even for a place like Los Angeles. The duo already has two runway shows under their belts, gaining lots of attention with their saint-inspired silhouettes and gender-fluid identities. They embody the values of a new generation of young artists who defy categorization and define the idea of fearless self-expression. One half of this creative duo, Dru is without a doubt a star waiting to be discovered in front of the camera as well. Drawing loads of attention wherever he goes, he was recently also featured in the newest music videos for both Cray and Lawrence Rothman.
NCP (aka Nazz) is a musician/vocalist as well as a graphic artist. She's part of various projects, including frequent contributions to The Drummetrics collective (of which she is the only female member). As a guitarist myself, I had worked with some mutual friends of the Drummetrics in the past, which led me to recently connect with Nazz. The REIGN event was our first collaboration, and a very successful and empowering one for us both. We definitely have plans to team up more in the future. Listen to Languish here.
Ivana D'Souza is a professional dancer born and raised in Miami, currently living in L.A. and repped by Movement Talent Agency. Her training is extensive in all genres, but mainly focuses on hip hop, waacking, and house, to which she integrates other styles like modern and ballet to create a flow of her own. When I invited her to be a part of this performance, she was eager to work on something outside the mainstream 'commercial' realm that she typically encounters in Los Angeles. REIGN attendees were in awe of her performance, and the fact that it was not rehearsed and completely improvised makes it that much more impressive!