South African artist Olivié Keck’s latest project Long Distance Caller is a patchwork of digital tales about self-doubt, love, loss, regret and infatuation. The virtual reality video explores South African youth culture in the 21st century through the lens of the artist’s vibrant and dynamic aesthetic. “I relish loud colours, juxtaposing ideas, jumbled associations and subverting expectations. I tend to use a variety of mediums to estrange people from the commonplace narratives,” Olivié tells It’s Nice That.
Long Distance Caller, which is a collaborative project with game design studio Free Lives, is made up of multiple scenes of mini-narratives set in various locations. One scene, for example, shows a vibrant, flowering landscape with a voice reflecting on how to win back a significant other: “I’m going to try and convince him to stay together so I made him a nice picnic that we could take to the park.” Another clip hones in on an elegant, pastel house, with a worried voice expressing fears of “romantic suicide” after falling asleep during their last night with their loved one. These stories are made all the more impactful by the multi-coloured fabricated worlds of blossoming trees and fantastical raindrops. “My colour combinations are largely spontaneous and decisions are made according to my mood although I do have some favourite hues of pink that I keep returning to. The Copic marker range has 101 colours to choose from, so I am creating new colour combinations all the time. I do have a homemade colour chart that I refer to as I fill in layers of colour. Other than that I just go for it.”
The stories featured in Long Distance Caller derive from interviews Olivié conduct with various South African teens and young adults of different races, genders, sexual orientations and ethnicities. “The VR format combines aspects of new visual media, sound art, game design and South African biographical storytelling into a distinctive digital encounter. The over-arching foundation of the project is aimed at exploring young South African narratives through ground-breaking digital storytelling and interactive visual gameplay,” the artist explains. Olivié has already explored a diverse range of aesthetics and mediums; like prints and ceramics, making the move to VR and other available technologies feel like a natural progression.
“Collaboration is one of the ways I’ve tried to challenge my creative process. Recently, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some talented individuals within diverse creative industries to create work that offers something new and unexpected. I feel like collaboration is a fantastic way to gain new insights, especially as artists tend to be introspective and self-referential.”
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