George Morl, Edvardo Shadalow

ATM Avatar Series

ATM Avatar Series
(Orange Orient Warrior; Orange Orient Gatekeeper; hippoCAMPus-nd-them)

Digital Images & Photographic Prints

︎ Summary

Following the artist’s first film ‘Infinite Beings’ (2020), the landscape and social history of Essex which is used to reimagine and trace the emergence of the queer ‘Network’ from physical to virtual platforms in 1990’s, and the ‘infinite’ possibilities and opportunity of modernising technology which facilitates space for queer and autistic commune and connection.

Made as part of an artist residency at The Old Waterworks (TOW) and Agency of Visible Women, a further series of digital avatars were made to be encompassed within the imaginary world of the ‘Autistic Trans Matrix’; a homage to the Automated Teller Machine and it’s relation to the Access Card which was made in Southend. This is in response to Essex born Margaret Cavendish’s novel ‘Blazing World’, the first feminist sci-fi literature text in England which imagined a futuristic post-gender society, as well as the representation of trans identity in Felsted writer Thomas Cooke’s play ‘Triumph of Love’ in which cross dressing actress Charlotte Charke went on to establish Punch shows and the use of the queer ‘Polari’ language, becoming influential in informing Essex dialect, as well as Grayson Perry’s ‘Chelmsford Sissies’. Together these explore the merging and the examination of the realms of language, the imaginarium, and gender identity.

In Morl’s underground secretive world and virtual space of the ‘Autistic Trans Matrix’ (ATM), a visual collective of emblems and characters become vehicles for depicting a community that distribute technologies and access to networks, which are adapted and evolved to support the immediate mutual understandings of differences in communication and identities.

The ATM avatars are about crafting a virtual space where there is mutual exchange and understanding in communication whilst sustaining individual identity.

These avatars were crafted through conversations with other autistics and those from LGBT community in Essex. These align with the way these are often used by queer and autistic people online as a means to communicate identities in the same way weapons and objects in Anglo Saxon burial cultures in Chelmsford or Prittlewell declared status of people, as well Roman artefacts like Emperor Hadrian’s Antinous love deities or household Goddess Venus idols, which similarly reflect the way in which queer spaces have idols.

These reflect the ways we often use avatars and images in virtual worlds such as electronic games, servers, chatrooms, social media accounts, to communicate our interests and personalities through colour codes, emojis, pride flags, often without language barriers.

The construction of avatars such as the 'Orange Orient Warriors' (2020) which are a queer response to the riot police which are subverted and reimagined as peaceful warriors, implanted into the archives of the Chelmsford’s Gay Liberation Fronts during 1972, who as individuals now carry technology devices and headsets to communicate with others without language barriers and scavenge and destroy weapons;

'Hippocampus-nd-them' (2021) which merges how the Hippocampi, the symbol of the naval sea and in reference to the mermaid world of Peter Pan, the Hippocampus, the half horse half fish, also the name for part of the brain which informs learning and memory could be an analogy for autistic and transness. Merged as a contemporary virtual idol, it becomes a metaphor and figure which educates about gender fluidity and neurological differences;

Orange Orient Gatekeeper (2020) taking form of the household Roman deity such as Goddess of Venus, an object in Southend Museum’s collection, which as a modern day queer idol implants themselves in data centres around Essex redistributing stocks or followers on social media, or manipulating algorithms, thereby redirecting users to view suppressed voices.

These together are about reimagining or examining historical figures and scenes whether deities or objects as modern day avatars, which instead of presenting us as subjects, they celebrate the present and the diversity of us as individuals and our agency.

︎ Assosiated Awards

TOW Residency, 2020