Jacolby Satterwhite uses video, performance, 3D animation, and drawing to build intricate digital worlds and movements that explore memory, desire, and mythology. His works feature dance and performance as well as drawings of speculative inventions designed by his mother. He borrows from aesthetic portrayals of science fiction and fantasy, relying on preexisting technologies and their surrounding subcultures to build new worlds. His future-gazing visual and sonic constructions privilege the immediacy of tactile pleasure over Western-centric myths of steady progression towards an idealized civilization.
1–8. En Plein Air: Abstraction is a series of eight short videos that draw from Satterwhite’s 2015 work En Plein Air: Music of Objective Romance, a visual album made in collaboration with Nick Weiss (of Teengirl Fantasy). The album sourced sound from his mother’s early a cappella albums to create a virtual reality dreamscape. En Plein Air: Abstraction also features images and music from the influential Miami rapper Trina, whose work has focused on material and immaterial objects of desire. In Satterwhite’s highly aestheticized science-fiction landscapes, Trina’s presence serves as a proxy for desire’s creation and fulfillment. She assumes multiple forms as she rides in floating chariots over futuristic architectural structures and aerial images of disaster zones. Many of the utopian machines and architectures are 3D-rendered interpretations of drawings made by the artist’s mother.
Satterwhite trained as a painter but abandoned this practice in favor of pursuing new media and performance, exploring narratives and ideas that felt less weighed down by the history of their medium. The title En Plein Air refers to the practice of painting “en plein air,” i.e., painting an outdoor landscape in situ, and suggests that digitally constructed environments are much like those observed. The title is a reminder that the appearance of landscapes in fine arts has always been mediated by technologies of seeing. With Trina as its muse, 1–8. En Plein Air: Abstraction presents an experience of fantasy pushed to the limits of what is realistically representable.