The accompanying visuals are created using Maya, a software application for animation, modeling, and simulation. Trained as a painter, Satterwhite has been working in new media since 2008 and loves the possibilities it affords. In past works such as Reifying Desire 1–6 (2012–14), which will be screened as part of his long weekend at SFMOMA on November 17–20, animation allowed him to double, triple, even infinitely multiply his own avatar in his visual creations. This new work also features him in multiples, but the motivation, he says, is more about making the motions of the characters support the story being told through the album’s sequence of twelve music tracks.
The work’s visual component features up to sixty different cast members, some friends of the artist, some complete strangers who create “a palette of people, software, props, costumes, language, and drawing.” On several occasions Satterwhite threw parties with a green screen and recorded people’s movements for later use.
“I approached each cast member as a kind of archive to mine,” Satterwhite reflects. “What is their personal mythology? Their background? I use that, but in the end their existence in the work is passive, not so much about them as a character per se. They’re like music notes. They’re orchestral—they’re accents, or markers, of a certain kind of visual ballet that I’m trying to build. Like ballerinas, I’m making them act out a language. But of course with a different ebb and flow than a ballet piece.”