Manipulating sensory necessities to unveil an “embryonic coating over inner realm bodies”, Laneya Billingsley (also known as billie0cean) is an experimental video artist and sound designer based in the Bay area. She delineates emotional currents of self-expression and tenders “a raw, damp mental space where our thoughts nest” in vital fluid.
What are your creative essentials?
A gut feeling, a computer, a camera, some filters, good music, energy, and a subject.
What propelled you to the bay of video art?
Being in front and behind the camera has always felt like a natural avenue for self-expression. Particularly because I was in dance, theatre, and have always loved film! So, I began filming these sort of video portraits where I would simply look or speak into the camera. I’d also film free dance pieces of myself, all in an attempt to convey a feeling through/with my body, which has led me to what my videos have become today.
When you begin a project, what creative rituals do you progress through?
Conceptually I like to experiment with different ways to approach the topic. Like I said previously, my vision is never clear, so I begin messing around on my camera filming random things that eventually line up more and more with the feeling or visual I have in my head…from a dream, a picture I've seen on the internet or from life. Once my idea is clearer, I then make a loose storyboard and start filming with more direction. A sound piece is always a necessity!! Typically, I make my sound pieces separately and then bring it into the film and adjust or add to the sound from there.
Your distinct aesthetic portrays digital richness and beauty, capturing physical phenomena like texture. I feel with my eyes. How did your creative identity grow into what it is today?
I began experimenting with representations of internal landscapes that comment on deep desires, inner demons, and insecurities; and how the outside world (specifically social media) affects our inner selves. Then I started playing around with ways to visualise a feeling, an emotion, the feelings of self-love and one’s inward journey to achieving [this] self-love. I, personally, am heavily motivated and inspired by feelings. I never have a distinctly clear picture of how I want a project to look in the end, just a crisp guttural feeling as I feel my way through with fuzzy eyes and a floaty intuition. Of course, now, I have a few constants in my work, that overtime thematically make sense within these worlds I piece together. I want to capture and reproduce feelings from our deep internal worlds full of wet, drippy desires, thoughts, and emotions by stimulating the senses with texture colour and sound. I began constructing these internal worlds/voids/rooms that at first seem or feel unfamiliar, yet slowly become clearer and more familiar because the environments, themselves, portray our deepest feelings…feelings of desire, jealousy, guilt, rage, confidence, insecurity, sex, greed, lust, manipulation, love and most importantly self-love.
Visually I’m also inspired by my selection of 90s-early 2000s video games. This sort of “plastic, honey” look and the plasticity in my work is a representation of our thoughts, dreams and desires forming a sort of seductive, oozy, embryonic coating all over our inner realm bodies. I watched a lot of scifi growing up and the aliens or people from other realms would always seem to ooze goop or be covered by some sort of sticky, shiny substance. This theme as well as 80s gore/horror films is definitely a big inspiration for that. My favourite inspirational moment in a film is neo “waking up” for the first time outside of the Matrix. He had previously been lying in a pod of embryonic preservative goop, “asleep”.
To me, your work often visualises almost a surreal, alternative realm. What are some of the main influences on your concepts, the fundamental columns you develop from?
I use a lot of water themes in my work. It’s one of the most natural and pure substances on this planet. We humans are 90% water. We are literally made of water. Water is a life source. It feels very natural to include this idea when commenting on life and the natural, raw self, in a fluid way. Water is also a conductor, and in my work, it’s a ‘conductor’ of feelings. Waves and currents of emotions crashing, dripping, conducting inside of us. I want my work to feel like a raw, damp mental space where our thoughts nest and fester. Nostalgic soft dreamy moments inspire me, especially the ones I’d see in 90s movies or the 80s movies I’d watch with my mum. I’m intrigued by the power of seduction and how the media can seduce or manipulate consciousness. My work definitely gives off heavy seductive energy, but it’s an attempt to seduce people into seeing how beautiful they truly are. I’m sure some people don’t need me to tell them that, but I want to take the tools that the media uses to make us feel half empty and use them to make us feel whole.
Your work is a perfect example of the creative opportunities the new age digital sphere can offer to the arts. Do you have any concerns about the progression of the video art and film industry?
I feel experimental work will always be around, just as it always has been, it just adapts. I technically fall under the “video art” category but I just see my work as self-expression just like any art form and there are always people who can relate to someone else's self-expression. As long as you don’t box yourself in, and are constantly expanding and growing as an artist, I personally don't have any concerns about that progression.
What is your fundamental creative aspiration?
I’d like to see the world through these eyes.
I want these gloopy seductive realms to stir up deep feelings within oneself, deep textural feelings that involve the use of our senses, or even just a few of them, like a memory. I want my work to stir up feelings inside someone, whatever those feelings might be… the most important part is to cause a feeling inside someone that wasn't there before.
Describe your utopia.
A realm where we’re all beautiful peaceful beings inside and out, full of love and support and affection for one another. Peaceful beings that mostly communicate through feelings, sensations, touch, eye contact, and energies that we transmit to one another. Soft synth sounds fill the air, maybe even some soft dream trap, deconstructed trap, depends on the sounds we want to hear in our heads in that moment. Perhaps everyone hears exactly what they want to hear. Sex is heightened, love is heightened, laughter is heightened. Everything is simple and soft. Blissful energy is constantly flowing through our bodies. But also, world peace and a healthy planet.
courtesy LANEYA BILLINGSLEY
interview KATE BISHOP
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