The enigmatic illustrator Elevator Teeth occupies Twitter under the description “creator of missing content” and in the location “internet void”, periodically posting fragments of cryptic text: “professional sunflower seed”, “live pond scumming”, “built to spit”, “16 pages of guts”, “my cousin told me I smelled like a church”, “yeah, I licked the drawing”, “my ceramic head”. Their illustrative style is reflective of their online identity, combining text and image to visualise the obscure interior landscape of the mind. Speaking of this interaction between the linguistic and the visual in their work, Elevator Teeth says: “For my work, words are of equal importance to images, as both can help guide you into a certain place, or create a certain feeling, or a kind of confusion. And I like to play with words, in the same way that I play with lines, shapes, and so on in the visual realm.”
Having published multiple Risograph zines, as well as making and selling prints, T-shirts, headwear, keyrings and patches based on their work, Elevator Teeth has created a new book with California-based art publishers, Tiny Splendor, entitled My Body Feels Amazing. The book, comprising of text, symbols and imagery, pans out like a series of disjointed episodes in a meandering thought process – a mind turned in on itself, following spiralling trails of logic. “These ideas complete themselves”, as one passage reads. Elevator Teeth tells us: “I began by writing out some of the text of the book as little fragments of poetry. I don’t like to start with a clear idea of a story or narrative. I like to work in the moment, in a stream of consciousness style, and see where the work takes itself. It’s less interesting for me to create work, especially a book, if I know the outcome.”
The book’s colour palette, which merges high-contrast monochromatic gradations with acid-bright blues, violets and reddish pinks, lends to the whole the quality of a neon-saturated, psychedelic dream sequence. This hallucinatory aspect is enhanced by the presence of surrealist touches, such as floating, dislocated body parts and otherworldly landscapes featuring craggy mountain ranges. Much of the imagery is also reminiscent of the computer graphics in old-school video games. One page is divided up into eight sections resembling monitor displays, the first of which acts as a start screen with the words “I chose to start here” enclosed in a text box and with a cursor-like triangle implying a click-through element. Another “split-screen” page shows two figures contemplating the loops and twists of an unknown, floating substance, a scene which then “cuts” to the opposite page where one character appears in a box, accompanied by a question, directed as if to the “player”, “what will you do with it?”
There is also a suggestion of the biological and molecular in the helix-like coils and amoeba-shaped blobs that are dispersed throughout the book, almost like cellular structures viewed under a microscope. It is as if Elevator Teeth is conducting an examination of the matter that makes up consciousness, which makes itself known in the strange shapes that float across the backs of our eyelids when we’re about to fall asleep.
If the book lacks linearity or a clear narrative, that’s entirely the point. For Elevator Teeth, it’s the symbolic, meditative element that is important: “I am not interested in communicating in a direct way,” they state. With My Body Feels Amazing now available on their online store, they’re continuing to explore print as a medium of oblique communication and conceptual expression. “I just started working on another book, this one a little looser and more playful than the last. I hope to debut this at the Tokyo Art Book Fair in July. I am also doing artwork for the band Electric Guest, for their upcoming release.”