Misread Signs

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


Misread Signs
multimedia audiovisual one woman performance

Duration: 16 minutes
Concept, performance, paintings, animations, sculptures and costumes by Yuliya Lanina
Music and sound design by José Martínez
Choreography by Andrea Ariel

"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.

Donned as one of her feathered creatures with antlers, Lanina performs within the projected animations, illuminated solely by her anthropomorphic sculptures - skeletal birds with human baby heads and phosphorescent eyes. 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. The animation is projected onto three adjacent walls, creating a seamless immersive story.

In the course of the performance, we see the artist desperate, but unable to tell us something. Based on her personal experience of surviving brutal rape and becoming mute for five days afterward, this piece examines the inability for someone who just went through a traumatic experience to express or even connect with how they feel.

Her collaborator, composer José Martinez, uses recordings of Lanina's voice as his audio material. He renders her heartfelt and revealing text and songs 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, 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 her 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 the artist's painful experience into a universal story of survival and redemption.

This project is supported in part by Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department and The Center of Women and Their Work Inc. 

Photos by Scott David Gordon