Tape (2012)

Tape (2012) integrates the online platform with the female Asian body as a source of presence, freedom, and pain. A single-page website is constructed with transparent freeze frames of a Caucasian Vogue model performing “yellowface” with tapered eyes, and a static video of the artist taping her own eyes. The draggable images on the site allow users to voluntarily superimpose the two faces. Phantasmagoric images are the result, informing “types” that haunt one’s Asianness and mistakenly become internalized.

Full Description

Last year, I came across a Youtube video of a Vogue photo-shoot that portrayed a Caucasian model playfully performing the antiquated notion of "yellowface" in fashionable contemporary garb. The people at Vogue were probably not trying to deliberately offend anyone, however, what struck me was that it was a representation of my own Asian image being utilized merely as an aesthetic, stripped from its personal and historical context. Moreover it was living on the internet for everyone to consume and admire its glamour. Tape (2012) speaks to such pervasiveness, and how the nonlinearity and timelessness of the online platform, although categorized in postmodern thought, are not simply meant to brazenly reduce oppression to something that is recyclable merely for its aesthetic. It suggests a progressive way to express and read identity that is both historically derivative and new.

The materiality of the interactive media I work with asserts its own historicity, which aims to criticize and conceptualize pervasive rationalities of Asian visibility/invisibility in contemporary media culture that align with issues of settlement, language, generation gap, body image, etc. I also breach narratives of victimization by interrogating interstitial spaces of my bicultural individuality in my own situated life circumstances as a female Korean American artist.

Work metadata

  • Year Created: 2012
  • Submitted to ArtBase: Monday Nov 12th, 2012
  • Original Url: http://allielee.com/tape
  • Work Credits:
    • Allie Lee, primary creator
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Artist Statement

Combining the use of interactive media platforms with cultural bodies and spaces to call attention to liminal subjectivities informs my creative work. My research and practice focus on diasporic visual art that emphasize self-reflexive and self-assessing expressions of identities. Through installations, web-based art, and generative performances I explore a fragmented sense of racial identity, nationality, rage, and freedom. To me, the articulation of diaspora is not simply a depiction of collective cultural experience, but rather an exploration of what is internalized and how an ethnic individual re-contextualizes culture by virtue of language, gesture, and memory.

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