INTERMEDIA - VIDEO ART AND MUSIC // PRINCESS’S ONE-MINUTE SOCIAL REIGN
This past May, interdisciplinary performing arts duo Princess stopped by Oklahoma City’s 21c Museum Hotel to perform their conceptual video opera @1minworld (One Minute World) during their cross-country tour of 21c locations and other experimentally-friendly art spaces. Once they were home, I caught up with Alexis Gideon and Michael O’Neill, creative partners in Princess since 2009, for a Q&A session to unpack some of their thoughts about the project.
It could be easy to think of Princess as simply a band that performs songs with a cool live show. But how central are the visual and video elements to your work?
The visual element is paramount to the work. We want to create narrative immersive experiences for the audience. The visual element allows for meaning to operate on different levels, whether the visuals and audio contrast or are in accord, and deepen the impact of the work.
Tell me more about the one-minute animated films for @1minworld?
We used the process of stop animation—relying heavily on loops—to create a surreal repetitive universe. The use of Lichtenstein-esque Ben-Day dots reference both the pixels of the digital realm as well as the fakeness and mass-produced nature of social media experience.
What inspired the @1minworld project? How did it come about and how did it evolve into its finished form?
Our last piece Out There is a sci-fi feminist rock opera that clocks in at an hour. While promoting the piece, we were lamenting over how people’s attention spans had gotten so short. We jokingly came up with the idea of releasing video songs specifically for Instagram, as that’s where most people were digesting content. But then we quickly thought doing that would actually be really cool and that the one-minute time limit could inform the work in a very pointed way. As we started developing the one-minute video songs, we realized that social media and phone usage had to be the content as well as form.
One thing I found refreshing about the show is that you’re not critical of social media from on high, but you implicate yourselves. You don’t pretend like you’re exempt from the collective hallucination, or problem, or whatever it is. Did that happen naturally, or was it a conscious choice?
It definitely was a conscious choice. We strive to create work that is critical without ever being pedantic. We like to get into big issues, but always through a self-reflective and humorous lens. In order to keep the work personal and resonant for us, we have to look at how we are accountable and what behaviors we’d like to change in ourselves.
Why is keeping Princess within an explicitly queer frame of reference important to the band’s work?
To us, queerness represents much more than sexuality. We want to push the boundaries of “normal” with our use of genre and medium in order to exemplify our ethos of fluidity. Once society embraces the full gradient of identity, the richer, healthier, and more beautiful the world will be.
What’s a question you’d like to get asked about your work but never is?
We haven’t had much opportunity to talk about the piece we’re planning to do next. Loosely called Bubbles, it will be another futuristic dystopian video opera in which people are all living in individual bubbles, interpersonal human connection has completely ceased, and information is fed through a personalized algorithmic lens. (Wait, is this the future or is this now?!) We know the Flaming Lips are big fans of bubbles…perhaps a collaboration’s on the horizon?
Wayne Coyne, are you out there?? Give us a ring…
You can learn more about Princess at bandofprincess.com and experience selections from @1minworld on Instagram at @1minworld.
The annual 12×12 Art Fundraiser fuses 175 of Oklahoma’s finest artists with local food and live entertainment to create a memorable one-night-only art event.
September 29th, 2023