babycastles presents anna anthropy presents the road to empathy

oh god

so this past saturday i put on a show with babycastles, a new york diy arcade group i’ve collaborated with before. i’d like to shout out to everyone at babycastles who helped my show happen. this is gonna be a long list so bear with me.

thanks to: sonya, who did installation and painted the footstep path leading around the gallery; robin, who installed the games and ran the projector and television array; jen who managed the item shop in a cool reflective fox mask; and krissy, sam and frank who were working the venue. also the musical acts: kate mohanty, eartheater and dark sister. without you my show wouldn’t have been a music show. i want to thank anton for designing the tiny usb boots we sold at the show, jeanne for printing and producing and shipping them, and miracle for making sure they got to babycastles. thanks to adam, leon and liz for being magnificent collaborators and putting up with my ridiculous demands. most of all i want to thank joe for coordinating all of this, helping make my staggering vision into a terrifying reality, and being the best host i could have asked for. all of y’all really came through for me.

as for the show itself: it was real cool. my mom was there. there’s a recorded livestream of the entire thing; it’s kind of dark, but you can hear my poetry reading at the 1:09 mark, and then the musical acts afterward.

the centerpiece of the show was an installation called “empathy game,” an old beaten-up pair of my boots with a pedometer attached, and a five-foot podium to hold them. visitors earned a single point for every literal mile they walked in my shoes. as i expected, most visitors tried them on, walked around the space once and put them back. two people made a dedicated effort to earn a point. those are the ones who truly learned to experience empathy.

i don’t want to get super artist statement, because i did some interviews about the exhibit that should be out soon, but the installation is a reaction to the conversation around “empathy games” and especially how privileged folks will use them as a kind of shortcut to allyship, using a game like dys4ia as a substitute for truly educating themselves on issues surrounding trans women’s lives and how to support them. you can walk literal miles in my shoes and still not have learned anything about my experience or how to be a real ally to myself and other trans ladies.

empathy game’s companion piece, “walking simulator,” was a text-only stream of consciousness projected on the wall and also on a cluster of TVs (see above). walking simulator wove together fragments of internal monologue from my daily life: anxieties about my lack of control (over my appearance, the bus schedule, the world), rambles about femme villainy, lyrics from cyndi lauper’s time after time, and stories about weird things that have happened to me on public transit. essentially, a psychic projection of what’s going on in your head as you’re wearing my boots.

i also used the show to foreground some of the less goal-oriented, more exploration-and-play-oriented digital work i’ve been doing. there was a special endless mode of gay cats go to the weird weird woods and the debut of emotica, an editable emoji game world, featuring a special recreation of the gallery itself that i built just for that night. emotica will be out this week (i hope), along with the babycastles world and a snapshot of that world that i saved at the very end of opening night, featuring everyone’s contributions and changes.

one note: if you bought one of the usb boot sculptures, due to a goof up on my part, your copy of emotica is missing sounds. when emotica goes live you’ll be able to download the sound libraries and install them in your copy of emotica.

thanks to everyone who came out to my show! the road to empathy is a long one, and the exhibit will be on display at babycastles until july 16. check it out if you’re in town during co-working hours, 10am to 6pm monday through friday! GUARANTEED TO DEVELOP EMPATHETIC CAPACITY!!*

*NO

(this post mirrored from my patreon.)

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