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Ingredients: wxtj playlist creative writing student art cyborg artists

3 5 13 19

sarah jane freeman

faking it: the true cost of the knock off

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kayde schwabacher

celeste

23 33

art imitates life

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tiara sparrow

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c.r.a.v.e. x v mag leonardo colon annie o’donnell

what you'll need: editor in chief creative director features editors lead photographer art curator layout designers social media director social media manager videographer contributing editor financial officer

michelle miles kate snyder kia wassenaar & andre hirschler will jones maelisa singer isabella whitfield, ellen wray & annabel gleason bel banta jordan schneier caroline kinsella sydney bradley lydia kim


editor's note This edition of V Magazine is truly and profoundly dedicated to art. Unfolding over the following pages, you will find a lengthy conversation about how humans, particularly members of our current society, engage with art – a dialogue which encompasses the work of pop culture icons Beyoncé and Jay-Z, the films of Andy Warhol in the 60s, and Frida Kahlo’s paintings in the early twentieth century. This issue extends as far back as JacquesLouis David’s Portrait of Madame Récamier in 1800, and somehow even manages to include Burger King’s recent Super Bowl ad in the conversation. As you will see, the critical thinkers that took part in the creation of this issue have been hard at work reflecting on how our world engages with art, and how and why this conversation has been kept alive for centuries. This issue of V Mag will mark my eighth and final semester working on the magazine. Four years ago, I joined the team as a photographer, and hung around long enough that eventually the previous editors passed to me the great privilege of serving as Editor-in-Chief. Working with V Magazine has been one of the most inspiring experiences that I’ve had at the University, and it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye. It has been an immense joy to watch the magazine evolve and grow over the years, and to work with the exceptional people who have made it the publication that it is today. It would be unfair to say that I can’t wait to see how the next Editors-in-Chief will make the magazine even better, because I've been fortunate enough to witness it begin. Kate and Kia, in working with you, I have seen how phenomenally you will lead this publication. Yet I am still eager to see how they, and the rest of the staff, will continue to use their brilliance to shape it even further, and maintain this publication as a space for creative voices that I have always found so vital in the UVA community. And with that – farewell, and happy reading! Michelle Miles Editor-in-Chief

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On laptop media and the increasingly blurred lines between art-making, art consumption, and social media voyeurism TOM SOBOLIK I was about sixteen when I discovered a web series called “Rhythm Roulette” on the YouTube channel of the Nas’s well-known independent hip hop label Mass Appeal. Going through high school with few close friends and even fewer musicallyinclined peers, I was mostly happy enough spending after-school afternoons playing my guitar or lying in bed with my headphones on. But I was itching to graduate from learning other people’s riffs and solos and jamming out endless parts with no band, no whole to fit them into. It was around that time I began to pursue an interest in making music on the computer. I was inspired by an incipient interest in rap that hinged on, among many other things, a kid I used to be friends with whose dad had helped launch Loud Records, the seminal NYC label that released Wu Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, and Big Pun. In the tiny YouTube video player window, I watched Statik Selektah, the New Jersey beatmaker, record fifteen seconds of a dollar-bin soul LP he had just bought hours earlier, and with the addition of a spliced drum loop and the scratched vocal of Jay-Z, create a piece of music. It would be some time before I ventured to spend my summer job money on a piece of music software and try to replicate Statik’s process on my own, but I remember this moment — and this otherwise pretty forgettable bit of web content — as the door left open for me to enter and begin trying to work out how to make a record with my laptop. Five years on — and 4 years into my computer music practice, I’m beginning to see this memory as emblematic of the profound codependence of my creative life (perhaps my entire life) and my existence Online — the waking hours devoted to the consumption of web content that represents, to me, a distant world where people’s artistic dreams come to fruition. In those early days of computer musicking, I fell in love with the tradition of hip hop beatmaking, and in particular a certain LA school of laptop beat production I discovered in my senior year of high school through an album by Flying Lotus. From

the very beginning, it wasn’t just the sounds of his work that made it so captivating, but the cultural constellations from which it hung, and, to an extent, his appealing life — that of a stoned nerd acolyte, watching anime and making beats all day in a Silverlake mansion with a rotating cast of LA’s most talented jazz musicians. This image was, to an extent, who 18-year-old me wished I could be. It’s part of a tale of teenage pop idolatry as old as time. But it’s certainly not one I’ve grown out of in this three-year dash to adulthood; in fact, my investment in music media — the verified accounts, blogs, ‘cultural publications’ and YouTube accounts that make up our generation’s tabloid press — has only deepened right along with my investment in music making. Since my first year, I’ve quit smoking weed, become a local DJ, and felt my hope for a cosmopolitan life, rich in friends, travel, and cultural investment, crystallize. At the same time, not at all coincidentally, my music taste has pivoted away from hazy instrumental hip hop and towards ecstatic house and techno. So of course, the world of DJ Instagram has taken me like catnip. I get to watch, practically in real time, the people who make the music I love, as they use it to make their living and travel all over the world. A bitter and disillusioned computer science major, and a wholly obsessed laptop DJ/producer, 3


Statik Selektah .......... “Birds Eye View” Mobb Deep .......... “Temperature’s Rising” Flying Lotus .......... “Coronus, The Terminator” Avalon Emerson .......... “2000 Species of Cacti” Objekt .......... “CLK Recovery” AUTODIVA .......... “INSIDE” I am particularly inspired by a pair of coder-cumglobetrotting techno artists: Avalon Emerson, who left school in Arizona at 19 to live in a warehouse in Oakland and moonlight as a DJ while working for a startup, and Objekt, an Oxford-educated electrical engineer who worked as a software developer for an electronic instruments maker until a pair of early singles brought him worldwide recognition. Both are absolutely brilliant musicians whose recorded output (and DJ work: I’ve seen Avalon once and Objekt 3 times) has provided me boundless inspiration. But their interviews, forum posts, and yes, social media presences have been a fount of equal obsession. I guess that from where I sit, usually a plastic chair in Alderman or the foot of my bed during my morning procrastination time, it’s a profoundly hopeful prospect that there’s people out there like me, who love music but, instead of trying to ‘make it’ while balancing some menial day job, perennially hungry and stoned, invested themselves in learning how to write code so they could find some comfort in the neoliberal, Western city. I cling to their stories as some semblance of evidence that the career I want is out there. Because I am a laptop musician, as much as I am also a laptop surfer and scroller, the two worlds I’ve been talking about — that of art-making and art consumption — are physically inseparable. Indeed, often during sessions I literally have Twitter and YouTube tabs overflowing right next to my Ableton session window. So blurred are the two that a lot of my music ends up really being about the both of them — both the embodied experience of music making and the endorphins I get from feeling invested in this

big underground scene I watch through my Retina display. Of course, I am in no material way a part of the scene at all, at least not yet. When I play house and techno at events I DJ for real human bodies, the feeling is akin to that of forcing an only semi-amiable tween to eat their vegetables — I really believe this shit is good for you, even though some people don’t like how it tastes at first! I do my best to engage the community with this work which I believe in so strongly, to show all my friends — many of whom love house and techno just as much as I do — how this work makes me feel. But it’s beginning to feel weird that I spend so much of my day in the fairytale land of Instagram musicians, inhabiting this mostly invented world. I hope as I stretch my legs and walk away from Charlottesville, that I find the chance to connect my music with something material, something physical and genuinely imagined. But I give the biggest props to my friends, most of all Susan Grochmal, who records as AUTODIVA: she makes incredibly compelling music that inhabits the laptop existence — the liminal between production, consumption, and cultural voyeurism — with overwhelming honesty and intensity. Listen to some selections from the artists I mentioned by accessing the QR link:

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Thoughts composed across state lines I never knew the world could look as flat as it did outside the smudged windshield. Missouri was nothing but miles of uninterrupted earth, almost alien in its simplicity. An unfamiliar creature stretching out its wide, muddied hands until they reached the sky — a melding so intimate that it seemed both like a beginning and an end. Seeing it all felt a little like your arm brushing against mine in the clandestine back seat, as we sped past exit markers heralding gas stations and tackle shops and diners — brief illuminations of hidden gem towns whose names I didn’t recognize. We were as immediate and impermanent as our presence in this place itself, though I tried to picture us otherwise through closed eyelids. I didn’t want us to reach the horizon. I wanted to stay sitting with our legs cramped, breathing the same air and parsing the words of the same songs across the seeping marshes and corn-dotted fields. I wanted to keep looking over at you and reveling in the giddy precariousness of our unbroken gaze, re-configuring ourselves and re-tracing our way home under the ebbing blaze of the Southern sun.

Abigail Clukey

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For the Spirit Who Possesses My Body You are mountain. You are missing picture on milk carton. You are empty icebox, star dust, airstream gypsy. You are shooting range accident. You are lost lover of pill popper. You are snow globe, crawl inside and live there. You are flower wallpaper. You are photograph in burning house, run inside to save it. You are pyrophobia campfire story. You are space junkie and ice magnet. You are sewing needle under skin. You are spilled bag of salt, sweep it under the rug. You are cold hand searching. You are pink baby blanket. You are black noon, lonely midnight, first child. You are forbidden mourner, quiet murmur. You are ghost bones. You are forgotten flesh.

Olivia Davis


Freetown Rain A return after the Sierra Leonean Civil War before the toubab cam women would decorate their hearths with sugar rock from the rivers of Kono. during the big rains silt banks would gulp then burst with grainy water: inviting the shine-stones to creep from their passing harmattan sleep and soar, coming to bloom with the season, like the cassava, and the kola, and the cotton trees. who then could have known that these pebble trinkets would one day draw blood? if only the rains had known, they would have skipped their song for a season. if the river sands had known, they would have hidden their radiant litter— if only the women had known.

Nathan Kweku John


Four Bodies Found In Local Pond Mary Royall Wilgis

We roam like summer hares, lithe and long, with bikes and basketball shorts and flip flops

hunger, hunger that drowns out the sluggish

that slap against the packed earth in dull clips. Hot

blue of the shadows that beckon us to bed. There we

air sucks at our skin, leaving wet kisses under our

quiver against the feverish sky, muscles tight with

armpits and behind our knees. The spilled sweat

anticipation, waiting for a catalyst. A catalyst that

stains the edges of our shorts in an uneven pattern

comes in the form of a dare. A dare to dump in the

of darker blue that ripples as we wave our arms. We

pond on Mr. George’s property.

swat against the mosquitoes purring viciously against our ears. They land and depart from our slick backs, leaving red welts that we will scratch until beads of blood form at the insistence of our fingernails. That afternoon’s heat lightning has left the air with a sharp metallic tang that fuels our

The best cat tails grow by that pond, like corn dogs on long stems, filled with fuzz. And the best honeysuckle grows by that house, filled with drops of nectar that no where near satisfy our sweettooths. But no one goes out to that pond anymore, not since Mr. George found the bone last spring.


Our mothers do not know that we know

rich, clotted aroma of rot. Skin run through with

about the bone. But we listen to their whispered

playground dirt and crushed beetles and dried yogurt

conversations about how it was clean of flesh and

that has now been morphed into that plump perfume.

unidentified. How Mr. George had taken his hunting

The old leaves have sucked up the remaining youth

hound for a swim in the pond. How the dog had

from those shoots and poured it out onto the tissue

emerged with that alabaster shape in its maw, still

that is stained the brown of dried blood or is thick

dripping with pond scum. How some people thought

with rotting fluid.

it was just from a wild boar who had somehow drowned. How the coroner said that it is definitely human.

We must complete the dare, walk through the water. One by one we silently step forward until we are all up to our shins in darkness. Our toes feel

The body was a mother who cut the crusts

along the bottom, bumping into pulpy leaves and silt

off of grilled cheeses and served canned peas with

and rocks that we hope are not bones. We are up to

TV dinners and screamed when her child was

our waists, our shorts, now fully that darker blue,

ripped from her corpse. A mother whose belly, once

floating up and around our thighs. The water runs

comforting and warm, is now clotted and waterlogged. Roots suck from her plump flesh and from her womb is birthed the tender shoots of new life that arc towards the sun like a child for his mother’s bosom. They are pure and supple and heavy with life. The body was a priest who

“One by one we silently step forward until we are all up to our shins in darkness.”

over the crowns of our heads and gulps down our body like a warm swell of oatmeal. Down its throat we descend. The body is us, lithe and young, shuddering in the wet earth. We are swaddled in thick swaths of sweat and air and water. They

spoke with a sonorous voice about the rapture that

combine to drown us. Purple shadows move over our

stole his body and dumped it in this pond. His words

bodies, becoming darker and darker until they match

now give life to a new congregation, a congregation

the black of grease and dirt that has become caked

of thick stems whose leaves are like messages to

under our fingernails. Or the black of the leaves that

heaven, reaching out and up, desperately searching

have given into time. Or the black of the rot that is

for salvation. One stem tilts its face towards the sun

beginning to spread across our once flushed and

in reverence while another folds into itself in prayer.

sweaty skin, skin that dripped and stung and hurt and

Both have drunk from the chalice and are saved.

shed. But now our skin fades into the black, into the

The body was a child whose bruised flesh

vegetation.

now matches the clouds. The crook of an elbow

That is how they find our bodies, tangled in

where a new leaf crowns its forehead. That childlike

leaves and water, rotting and bloated, thick with life

musk of sweet, yeasty skin and fullness now like the

and decay.


uNTITLED Daniel Ajootian


In the house of junk there are no chairs.

up early, I can hear the upstairs shower running.

The yellow chair in the living room flashes rainbow,

One day the boys at school decide that we’ll

covered as it is in silver discs. The chairs at the

make our moms drive us to cool places. Michael says

kitchen table are collapsing, weighted as they are

that we’ll go to the park and Aaron says that we’ll

from plastic bags and cereal boxes, dishes and toys,

go to a football game and Kyle says that we’ll go…

box-tops, scissors, dishes, jars. In fact there isn’t

somewhere. I say that my mom can drive us to the

actually a kitchen table at all because it’s met the

aquarium and at recess we write our phone numbers

same fate as the dinner table. It’s become a resting

onto slips of white paper and shove them into each

place for anything but food, a place where clothes go,

others’ hands before the teachers yell at us to come

and family photos, and newspapers, and coupons,

back inside it’s freezing. That weekend Michael’s

stacking so high up into the air that sometimes the

mom calls me and before I know it I’m on the stairs

papers and photos and clothes collapse and slash to

saying I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m

the floor in an avalanche, and when that happens I

sorry, we can’t actually go to the aquarium because I

don’t have a choice but to hold as much as I can in my

didn’t ask my parents. And even though the mother

arms and throw it back onto the table so that I can

takes pity, says she understands, and that maybe we

sit on the radiator which is cold in summer and hot

can do something else another time, in my head I’m

in winter but it’s okay because sitting on the radiator

saying that we can’t do anything at all unless it’s at

helps all of us find a place to sit by the table for dinner.

your house or somewhere else because my house, it’s

In the house of junk there is no second

under construction and it always will be.

shower, though the parts of a second shower still

The only visitor we ever had was a bluebird

exist. It’s in the first-floor bathroom where there’s

and that was because my grandma was dying. The

a shiny white tub and a faucet inside the tub and

children from the old country, the children that

above the faucet is a showerhead. But we have never

my grandma’s mother had birthed before her, they

turned the faucet handles because the tub is a muck

all died because the Turks marched them across a

of clothes that no one has ever worn, dressing gowns,

desert; my grandma was dying from cigarettes. She

and baby clothes, and the kind of jackets that go swish

said in her last few days that she wished she had never

when you run in them for gym class. And where a

smoked. And it was in her last few days that my uncle

shower curtain should be is a line of men’s shirts and

saw a bluebird fly around the bedroom ceiling. The

sometimes I take them down and wiggle my way

bluebird stayed in the room where my grandma died;

into them and look in the bathroom mirror which

the bluebird stayed for a few days actually, watching

is lined with smiley face stickers from Wal-Mart but

over my uncle and his older brother and the other

the shirts they don’t fit anybody anymore. I put them

brother and the younger brother and my mother as

back, my feet crinkling the newspapers that litter the

they figured out the funeral and who would get the

bathroom floor, whose headlines we sometimes use

house. But I never saw the bluebird or my grandma;

to practice reading. On Sunday mornings, if I wake

they had left before I knew the house that was a home. 13


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heather mease

2nd year | Composition and Computer Technologies

“What is gained from loss and lost from gain, it’s as much a question for reflection as it is a technical consideration for exploiting the point of convergence, conversion, and degradation in the meeting of different media. I often think about this, what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it means.”

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gabriel andrade

2nd year | Pre-Professional Architecture

“Ecuadorean kid from Orange, NJ by the Highland line station. Life is filled with many deep 3-dimensional events that range in various aspects and take effect (both +/-) on an individual in different ways. At times it’s hard to really understand these events within a linear time frame, and often this leads to a feeling of loss. However, these events are all connected by the line that defines one’s life. My work is a response to this as all my pieces are singular contour lines. Each piece acting as a diary entry, either in an observational or self-reflective manner, of my life and response to it. These events have such a deep breath to them, but they are all are connected to one another, through the line of me. In their uniqueness, and seemingly disconnectivity to one another, is the person of Gabriel Ildefonso CastroAndrade formed. As even in the now, their connectivity is present and play active roles in my everyday life now.”

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alejandra vansant

4th year | English and Studio Art

“I spend a lot of time thinking about how absence informs my life. Much of my work is a deliberate attempt to understand & reconcile distance, which can manifest in innumerable ways­–– from missing a lover who you’ll see tomorrow, to feeling disconnected from your identity, to grieving a death. I try to encapsulate what yearning feels like from a gentle space, one that allows life to go on as it will but watches closely & carefully.”

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Cyborg

Artists

The first government-recognized cyborg, Neil

Harbisson finally found a doctor who was

Harbisson, pioneered a cyborg art movement in the

able to implant an antenna able to detect varying

early 2000s. Harbisson uses his art, created with the

light frequencies, then translate these into audible

enhancements of his mechanical body parts, to share

vibrations within his skull. Harbisson still sees in

his colorless version of the world through making

greyscale, but has been able to experience the world of

complete use of the world of color. Born with a

color by memorizing the various audible frequencies

severe form of colorblindness called achromatopsia,

for each color, even colors that are typically outside

he grew up memorizing colors that he didn’t see,

the visible spectrum. Anyone unfamiliar with

then coming to reject color completely by asking

his disability who looked at his artwork would be

his parents not to buy him any hued clothing.

shocked by his former resentment of color, as it fully

However, as he discussed in an interview with NPR,

embraces

he quickly realized that living in a colorless void was not an option - “Think about sport, there’s color codes in sport. If you think about chemistry, there’s the importance in the color of material. And color is in literature.”


the world of color. They provide contemplations on

disabled state. As Frida told Time in 1953, “I am not

colour and its variety and relationships across the

sick, I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long

spectrum. Harbisson’s antenna not only allows him

as I can paint.”

to create unique pieces of art, but it also allows him

Frida painted her social realities by rendering

to experience others’ art uniquely. As he once told

them in a fictional world. Her work embodied the

the Guardian, “I like listening to Warhol and Rothko

personal, social, and political experience that she had

because their paintings produce clear notes. I can

with dream-like symbolism similar to Surrealist work.

listen to DaVinci or Vélasquez because they use of a horror film.” Given these uniquely positive

“living in a colorless world was not an option.”

insights into colour, it is not surprising that Harbisson

But, as Frida once clarified, she was not a surrealist at

is a proponent of mechanically enhanced body parts;

all. Frida painted her reality as a cyborg. It allowed

he argues that his own human augmentation has

her to cross certain boundaries by uncovering

positively enhanced the way in which he is able to

topics such as identity, postcolonialism, gender,

experience life.

class, and race in Mexican society in disturbing and

closely related tones – they sound like the soundtrack

Frida Kahlo can be understood through the lens

intimate ways. She often painted gruesome images of

of a cyborg even though her own cyborg-like state

disembodied organs, corpses, and fetuses and even

does not follow the same narrative. A childhood case

the invasion of the body by external objects. At the

of polio and a horrific bus accident in her teens left

same time that these paintings were empowering for

Frida disabled, causing her great pain and loneliness.

her and many other women, her artwork was also

Yet, it sparked a transformative moment for her as

reflective of her own difficulties. She differs from the

it allowed her to start painting. Throughout her life,

glorified and seemingly superhero-like cyborg.

her body was often fused with other objects, both in

Frida reflects a powerful female who is able

reality and within her work. Frida relied on certain

to express herself and cross many boundaries.

technological contraptions to help her be in the

However, her disability should never be confused

correct position to paint, turning her into what

with superhero strength. She still was greatly affected

might be described a cybernetic artist. These

by her pain, as reflected in her artwork. Much of her

contraptions are also part of the reason why

art forces the viewer to contemplate how disabled

she did so many self-portraits. Her paintings

persons must learn to navigate society, and further

were the means from which she would

acting as validation of her struggles rather than as

communicate her ideas and state to the rest

glorifications of her cybernetic existence.

of the world, often working to assuage her

Sarah Jane Freeman 20


Faking it

the true cost of the knockoff

For as long as there have been luxury goods, there

While some countries prohibit buying counterfeits,

have been knockoffs of luxury goods. From sneakers

US law only reprimands counterfeit sellers, leaving

to handbags, it’s becoming increasingly difficult

consumers without much motive to deter them from

to tell fakes from the real thing, and the ease of

faux goods.

e-commerce is making faux even more profitable. It only takes a few clicks to find coveted Golden Goose, Nike and Yeezy replicas for a fraction of their retail price on Instagram and Facebook, leaving consumers to question —when a near perfect replica is available at such a steal, why pay the full price? While the harm in buying a fake watch or handbag may seem minimal, the consequences are

"WHILE THE HARM IN BUYING A FAKE WATCH OR HANDBAG MAY SEEM MINIMAL, THE CONSEQUENCES ARE FRIGHTENINGLY REAL"”

frighteningly real. According to investigator Alastair

Despite the evidence that connects counterfeits

Gray, counterfeiting is set to become a 2.3 trillion

to human trafficking, gang activity, and the illegal

dollar underground economy, and that money

drug trade, there continues to be a demand for these

not only supports child labor, but has been linked

unethical goods. In today’s online market, designer

to funding organized crime and even terrorism.

replicas can be so sophisticated that and even the

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smartest shoppers can be fooled by counterfeits.

the rise of bootlegged logos helped raise awareness

Once considered a social taboo to buy fake,

for people who weren’t familiar with the label until

the popularity of today’s knockoff industry has led

they were being imitated. It suggests a certain

designers to invest in protecting their intellectual

amount of brand recognition as items are only

property through legal and creative methods.

copied if they’re in demand, where the perceived

From courtrooms to the catwalk, designers are

value of the brand is higher if people want to copy it.

taking a stand against counterfeiters. Gucci, in

Despite raids, lawsuits, and advancements in

particular, reclaimed the misspelled name “Guccy”

technology, the fight against the counterfeit goods

into their modern line, a trend which originated

market is a time consuming and expensive battle

from bootlegged styles in the ‘80s, and other

without an end in sight. From pharmaceuticals to

brands are using similar tactics. Despite radio-

luxury leather goods, fakes are supporting unethical

frequency identification tags and holographic image

and inhumane conditions. Whether deliberately

technology, the business of fakes is thriving at a high

seeking out knockoffs or unknowingly buying

cost.

one, it’s up to the consumers to be aware of the

On the other hand, some argue that the bootleg market adds visibility to a brand. For Canada Goose,

consequences of counterfeit.

kayde schwabacher

spot the the difference! difference spot prada nada


C.R.A.V.E. x V MAG PHOTOGRAPHY: MICHELLE MILES WILL JONES ANNA WARNER FEATURING: KORDELL BURGESS JUSTIN EPHRIAM JANEEN GRAVES MALIHA JAHANGIRI

CREATIVE DIRECTION: KATE SNYDER MAELISA SINGER BEN LERNER PAIGE HARPER MAYA BROWN MAKEUP: CAROLINE EHLER SET DESIGN: WILL JONES CARLOINE KINSELLA


Celeste: the mind behind the mountain “Just breathe.”

dangerous landscapes, while meeting a diverse set of characters along the way. While the premise may

These are the words that introduce you to the

seem simple at first, it is in learning about Madeline’s

brutally-difficult, yet highly-emotional journey

purpose in seeking to climb the mountain that the

that lies within the game Celeste. A nostalgic, indie

deeper meanings behind the narrative unfold.

platformer about climbing a mountain, one of

One of the main things we come to learn about

Celeste’s strengths lies in its grueling-yet-accessible

Madeline is that she struggles with anxiety and

gameplay—heralding to an earlier time when games

obsessive compulsive disorder. From having panic

were simple to learn, yet hard to master. However,

attacks during key moments of tension in the plot, to

what makes this game stand out from many of its

snowballing failure scenarios in her head, the player

contemporaries is the way it explores the subject of

comes to realize that Madeleine intends to climb

mental illness and the nuances of repressing, coping,

Mt. Celeste to prove to herself that she is able to

and overcoming it. Combining this surprisingly-

overcome the other ‘mountains’ in her life—despite

raw story with a set of intense gameplay challenges

the difficulty that may come with it. This aligns with

that only serve to enhance its overall message

the player’s own struggles in working to win against

of perseverance, Celeste—like its eponymous

the one-hit KO levels of the game, forcing the player

mountain—sets new heights for both gameplay and

to have a continued sense of determination after

storytelling for players to come.

being forced to restart sections repeatedly as the

The game begins by introducing the player to the

game continues to throw new obstacles and difficulty

protagonist, Madeline, a girl who has just arrived

increases at every step of the way.

at the foot of Mt. Celeste. Intending to climb to its

This struggle with motivation is made even more

peak, Madeline must jump and dash through various

apparent in the narrative by the encounters she comes

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to have with Badeline, a ‘part of Madeline’ made

Regardless, Celeste arguably succeeds in adding

manifest by the mountain’s energy that represents

its own unique voice to this wider conversation by

much of what Madeleine dislikes about herself—

melding its complex-but-upfront narrative with a

her skepticism, aggression, and fear. However, as

easily-recognizable and playable genre of gameplay

Madeleine continues to climb the mountain, ‘they’

that is able to be manually scaled down to better suit

(as free-thinking, but symbiotic entities) eventually

a player’s personal skills.

learn the difference that lies between suppressing/

In other words, Celeste’s beauty lies in letting

coping with anxiety (both healthily and unhealthily),

“the journey to healing lies in confronting those parts of ourselves we may not like in order to control them, as opposed to having them control us.”

and learning to truly overcome it instead. In other words, the journey to healing lies in confronting those parts of ourselves we may not like in order to control them, as opposed to having them control us. In an era where we are more concerned than ever on the effects that digital media has in our way of thinking and interacting with broader society, it

players of all backgrounds and skill sets journey with

is refreshing to see how Celeste plays to its strengths

Madeleine up the mountain. By having the gameplay

by presenting the player with a set of positive and

complement the message (as opposed to the

constructive outlooks in a game where they are very

opposite), Celeste avoids coming across as ‘preachy’

much needed to progress overall. While it is certainly

by giving the player a personal sense of investment

not the first game to place mental health as a high

in learning and acting on the game’s messages for the

priority in its game, it is nonetheless part of a subtle-

sake of victory at the end. While the mental effects of

yet-positive trend continued by other games, such

video games may not be conclusively known for now,

as Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and That Dragon,

it is relieving to find games like Celeste, that seek to

Cancer—which respectively dealt with themes such

promote a player’s sense of drive and dedication in

as psychosis and coping with the loss of a loved one.

the face of failure—both on and off the screen.

Leonardo Colon

34


Art Imitates Life what was old is new again At this year’s Art Basel, Hajar Benjida, a 23-year-

pop culture. The page brings canonical pieces into

old photography student from the Netherlands

relevance by pulling inspiration from the larger

presented what was originally a school project.

entertainment world. These tabloid-style pictures are

Hajar created an Instagram page comparing various

then compared to an aesthetically similar classical

classical art pieces to pictures of her favorite artist,

work of art. One post compares the infamous orange

Atlanta-based rapper Young Thug. Similarly, in

square used in the Fyre Festival marketing campaign

2015 two sisters from Spain began an Instagram

to Robert Motherwell’s Untitled (In Orange With

account dedicated to comparing classical pieces of

Charcoal Lines) which also features a large orange

art to photos of model Alexa Chung. Some pictures

square. A comparison between a photo from Melissa

are incredibly resemblant of one another, and some

McCarthy’s February InStyle cover shoot is paralleled

are cheekier comparisons like a picture of Alexa

to A Lady in Her Day Bed (Portrait of Marie-Jeanne

Chung underwater compared to Damien Hirst’s

Buzeaud) with similarities in the odalisque form

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of

and pastel color palette that strikingly resemble one

Someone Living, a large clear box containing a shark

another. The page encourages submissions and often

preserved with formaldehyde. “Art-lexaChung” takes

reposts favorite submissions to their own page.

advantage of social media’s wide reaching audience

Adaptations of historically significant pieces of

to attract a wider following of art appreciators. Alexa

art have recently circulated in popular culture within

Chung followers who may not be familiar with these

the music industry. Beyoncé and Jay-Z, also known

canonical paintings can come to appreciate both

as The Carters, have begun to mold their celebrity

through the mirroring of the two in its side by side,

image together into a curated artistic experience

comparative presentation.

by incorporating elements of art beyond music,

Tabloid Art History, a Twitter account that has

including stage design, orchestration, and clothing.

taken advantage of social media to establish its

The power couple became the first ever to rent out the

creative platform, also combines art history and

Louvre which was estimated to cost around $21,000

35


(not bad), to shoot the music video for “APESH*T.”

pieces besides the Mona Lisa.

By introducing contemporary dancers, black figures,

As social media users become comfortable with

and modern clothes design, the Carters brought a

various digital and online platforms, these users delve

refreshing face to the traditional, grandiose Louvre.

deeper into the realm of arts education. Because of this,

Two bare black women wearing a conjoined veil sit

adaptations of canonical works of art have infiltrated

in front of Jacques-Louis David’s Portrait of Madame

mainstream culture—two centuries after their

Récamier. The Carters stand arms crossed in front of

first go around. These world-renowned paintings,

the Mona Lisa in pink and teal suits. A choreographed

which have received well-deserved recognition over

contemporary dance takes place on the stairs in front

hundreds of years for their creators, techniques, and

of the Winged Victory of Samothrace while the

public reception, have found themselves the subjects

Carters stand behind, stoic in white dress emulating

of modern-day adaptations-- a sort of face-lift for

the statue centered in the background of the frame.

the older paintings. These adaptations are used for

Emerging art adaptations serve as a smooth

entertainment purposes on platforms spanning

transition into the intimidating world of classical

from the fashion industry to the music industry.

art. Using social media, these artists can incorporate

The emergence and subsequent popularity of them

widespread pop culture, familiar to younger

has inspired independent and prestigious artists

generations, into the frame of a canonical painting.

to incorporate their image within this realm of art,

Viewers can make parallels between artwork

which typically reaches a larger audience through

they’ve already been exposed to in a more familiar,

social media platforms. In developing this new

comparative lens. The classics will continue to

art form, these artists are using their work to both

withstand the test of time, but with the incorporation

entertain and educate their audience.

of ironic adaptations, these renowned works of art will evolve to be more inclusive to a wider public as the adaptations familiarize viewers with the aged 36

Annie O'Donnell


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