Briefly describe the work you do.
My work deconstructs the form and function of technology in society. Using projection, video, and appropriation, I isolate individual elements of the digital world and juxtapose them with the physical world to highlight our inherent knowledge of interactivity and digital literacy. Sometimes this involves carrying around a micro projector and portable battery so I can project recognizable digital icons out anywhere in the physical world. Other times I’ll pull things from the Internet or generate content with my computer and edit them together.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
Much of my interest in the digital world is rooted in my identity as a video gamer. I grew up playing video games with my family all the time (we still play whenever we’re together). At its core, a video game is just a game that requires the interaction between a human and an interface that generates visual feedback on a screen. Deconstructing this interaction is where my interest in the digital world at large started.
My academic background is in biochemistry. My comfort with methodology, procedure, and experimentation gave me a framework to investigate the world and evaluate my art.
I am also Filipino American. My journey to fully understand my cultural identity and pinpoint where I fall on the spectrum of Asian American culture influenced how I compare and contrast. My internal comparison of Filipino versus American parallels my interest in the digital versus physical.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My studio is pretty much anywhere I have my laptop and headphones. Usually this is at my desk at home, but I’m happy to work anywhere so long as I’ve got a power source and there’s no glare on my screen.
Even when I had access to a shared studio space I never did any work there. That studio became a place for me to engage with the other artists and enjoy being a part of the artist community.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I never thought I’d get involved in teaching. I had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant and now I hope to teach at the college level.
I also didn’t envision learning such a wide range of things while installing or troubleshooting my own tech. For example, I know how to properly wall mount a television, how to set up a synchronized multi-channel video installation, and how to install projectors on the ceiling of a gallery without a proper ceiling.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
Nighttime is the right time. Though I do some planning in the daytime, the majority of my work happens in the evening. Some of it is out of necessity. In order to minimize light pollution in my projection work outside, I need to wait until after sunset to get video documentation. I don’t have a regular schedule set aside for art, so the amount of work I do varies each night.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
My work has always been digital, but it has transitioned from cartoon illustrations and animation to video art and appropriation. Though I still enjoy drawing cartoons or caricatures for fun, my interests are now more conceptually driven. My sense of humor has been a subtle constant in my work.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
All the communities I’ve been a part of have influenced my work. Whether our conversation is about emerging artists, keeping up with social media, or minority issues, I am eager to learn from others while also sharing my own experiences. Audience accessibility is important to me. The incredible people around me humble me constantly.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
For a long time, I wanted to become a medical doctor. I still believe in the power of medicine, but I eventually realized a career in medicine was not my vocation. My passion for art and science is ultimately rooted in their pursuit of the truth.
Occasionally I dream about playing video games professionally.
Angelica Verdan is a video artist hailing from Northern Virginia. She earned a B.S. in Chemistry specializing in Biochemistry from the University of Virginia in 2014. Angelica was awarded the Aunspaugh Fellowship from the McIntire Department of Art at UVA. Her work investigates the integration of the digital and physical world and how people interact with the interface. She invites the viewer to see the depth of our relationship with technology.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.