Madelife is a mutable space. From one day to the next, furniture gets moved around, meetings happen, creative projects get worked on, events happen, and you just never know what might pop up throughout the day. People are always passing through and the vibe waxes and wanes with the influx of employees, students, and passersby. One treat we love about our space and our work is the accessibility. You just never know who might walk in the door at any given moment. Enter Kello Goeller.
Goeller rolled up one day and rocked our world. As we sat around the table working away at planning events and pulling together accelerator programs and making sure mentors were having good sessions with accelerants, boom. In walked this laid back, colorful, approachable human being looking for opportunities to play, learn by doing, and do. The more we learned about Goeller’s work, the more excited we got about getting to have them around for a while.
After earning a BFA with high accolades, Goeller received awards, prestigious nominations, and grants and prizes for their multimedia work in animation, projection art, installation, video production, and music. In a “success doesn’t equal happiness” tale, Goeller could have stayed working in the Brooklyn-based animation studio they co-founded, but that gnawing creativity bug gnawed away until they made a leap. They left the studio and headed out for greener pastures and more creative adventures. And we are so pleased that lead to our madelife doorstep.
Literally and figuratively roaming and exploring new ideas, Goeller’s work now has a new name and a new identity. Working on their given mortal mission, Leyla Daze is an alien who continues the multidisciplinary work of Goeller with an added layer. The work goes deeper and is more experiential for audiences, but is neither kitschy nor cheeky nor cheapened. On the contrary, Leyla Daze, self-identified non-binary neuroQueer, delivers transmedia performance-based art that, “imagines a utopic future called Next Place, where all humans bask in harmony with the oneness of immediate experience.”
Adopting this extra-terrestrial identity provides a window through which Leyla Daze objectively treats art objects— sounds, projections, digital images, and material goods— to invoke an unavoidable subjective experience of them and with them. To see a Leyla Daze exhibition is more than seeing. “Leyla creates sensory portals which dunk participants in the slime of the present moment,” yielding an alien experience that triggers human sensory and perceptual engagement. Fragmentary, intense, overwhelming, vibrant, and glowing are all words to describe the work of Leyla Daze. And yet, these words largely describe the digital, built environments of Leyla Daze’s work, which leaves the participant to bask in the ephemerality of it all; the stimuli might be overwhelming, but the experience does not have to be.
The experience is a spell. The musical performances encourage audience participation and movement while set to a backdrop of interactive sound projections that demand and beg to be played with. Sounds control the projections, and as we hear and make sounds that change what we see, we react and act and our behaviors change and impact how we interact with the environment and make new sounds as we complete a loop of interactivity.
Technologically, the work is just as interactive. More than multimedia, the work is transmedia. Not only visual, not only sonic, and not simply sounds set to visuals, Leyla Daze’s new art blends, not merely layers, visuals, sounds, and performance. This blending makes the loop of interactivity possible. The projections react to the sounds and to our being in the space around them, and our being in the space and making sounds changes as we view the changing projections. At a time when it often feels like anyone can spit out digital art, Leyla Daze’s work reminds us that truly creative work is still getting made. The work is both highly intelligent, deeply thoughtful, and analytical, and it is emotional and evocative. It drenches the experiencer in the ephemerality of emotion and feeling in a very intentional manner.
With the neon imagery and multi-sensory quality of the art, it might be tempting to write it off as spectacle psychedelia. Although influenced by psychedelic art that pushes the experiencer to altered mental states, Leyla Daze’s work is not transcendent; the work does not evoke a sense of outside influences in, the likes of imbibing substances to make the mind quiver and see things differently, or make things appear. Instead, it works in the opposite direction, more like, “omg, I see this everywhere, all the time, all day, and I cannot turn it off,” which is why we describe the experience of Leyla Daze’s work as being drenched or dunked. The objects are visible and the projections change, but experience evokes an altered mental state from the inside out, as a product of that loop of interactivity. The work is there, you see it, feel it, think about it, and that motivates action (talking, moving about the spaces), which makes the projections change, and makes you see, feel, and think differently.
The content of the visual projections are not literal. It is fragmentary, manipulated, and stretches the boundaries of what is technologically capable or acceptable, like producing work by breaking Photoshop or making audio engineering software crash, or delivering sounds that are too layered or distorted, yet somehow integrated into the experience as a whole. The work takes these digital artifacts, or shards of digital broken glass, and retools them into perceptual art objects. Like text that has lost its orthography, the artifacts are forms that manage to preserve the digital decay. Letters, but not really, not all the way, and certainly not words, but we know they once were. Or like kick drums + bass = a weird, warpy, flubby sound object that is neither drum nor bass, but certainly made from them.
While the visuals are fragmentary, Leyla Daze’s upcoming show adds a literal element to the mix. TOYBOX of cultural assumptions invites you to play…and there are toys. The sound-reactive projection instrument provides a hybrid between sculptural video installation and music performance while the interactive black lights provide an experience that evokes exploration of the boundaries between mundane and arcane realities. Macro landscapes emerge from small plastic toys within the space while real faces iterate until fantastical faces evolve as plain objects glow oddly under the lights. From Leyla: As adults we have run from our childhood toward a world of bricks and products, leaving many hearts devoid of meaning. Return to the formative toy box and search the imaginary realm for a pathway back.
Join us for the opening night of Leyla Daze’s gallery exhibition at madelife to drench yourself in some art. And always feel free to walk on through our doors and see what’s happening. Create. Culture.
Free opening event is Saturday, January 26 at Madelife. Doors open at 7:30, Leyla Daze performs at 8:00pm with a special guest set from JL Kane. Doors close at 10:0pm. All humans welcome.
The work of Leyla Daze (aka Kello Goeller) has been internationally featured in museums, film festivals, and print publications, including the Fondazione Prada Milano, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, and the Wooster Collective/Taschen. Recent performances include Eminent Domain, an international feminist art takeover in NYC’s Chelsea district, and a midnight show at Burning Man. They are now roaming all over the West Coast & Colorado.
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