Misread Signs

Audiovisual performance featuring projected animation, animatronic sculptures, music, and movement.


Misread Signs

Duration: 12 minutes
Performance and visuals by Yuliya Lanina
Original music by José Martínez
Choreography by Andrea Ariel
Technical support by Theodore Johnson and Michael McKellar

"Misread Signs" is a multimedia performance by Yuliya Lanina featuring animatronic sculptures, three channel projected animation, music, and movement. It explores the effects of trauma on human psyche.

Dressed as one of her feathered creatures with antlers, Lanina performs in front of the projected animations, accompanied by her animatronic sculptures. She is illuminated by only two light sources: her stop-motion hand-painted animations and the sculptures – plastic anthropomorphic skeleton birds with human baby heads and lights shining out of their pupils. Each animation is 10 feet high by 14 feet wide projected onto the adjacent walls, creating a seamless immersive story.

In the course of the performance, we see Lanina desperately trying to tell us something and being unable to. Based on her personal experience of surviving brutal rape and becoming speechless for five days after, this piece examines the inability for someone who just went though traumatic experience to express and even connect with how they feel.

Her collaborator, composer José Martinez uses recordings of Lanina’s voice as his audio material, rendering her heartfelt and revealing text beyond recognition while transforming her voice to the extreme in order to convey the urgency of expression.

Lanina’s images are inspired by the Surrealist and Dada approach to creating images, with the subconscious taking the lead and leaving analytical thinking behind and by embracing the nonsensical and surprising. By exploring the life of fantastic and bizarre creatures, the artist is able to reach places unavailable to the rational self, inviting the audience to do the same. In this piece, most of the characters on the screen are masked. At first, they are aloof, unmoved by Lanina’s pleas; later, they urge her to “let go of the past”, a sentiment re-addressed by Lanina to the audience.

The piece transcends the particulars of artist’s painful experience into a universal story of survival and redemption.

The piece is currently in the works and Is scheduled to premiere at Gray Duck Gallery in April 2019.
The first movement of the piece was presented during SoundSpace at the Blanton Museum on February 17th and was dramatically modified to fit the space.

Work in progress video/audio link

Photos by Scott David Gordon