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Luca Lee

Ancestral Knowledge, Climate Crisis, Machine Learning, Marginalized Community, Speculative Fiction, Curation, Digital Illustration, Virtual Space



Metamorphis, Luca Lee, 2022. Virtual Space. Dimensions Variable.

"Metamorphis" is a WebXR experience that delves into the themes of time, communication, and transformation from a personal storytelling perspective, challenging Western views of linear time. "Metamorphis" derives its name from the biological process of metamorphosis, where organisms transform from one state to another. The experience consists of three sub-worlds that are in dialogue with the speculative fiction super-genre.

The first sub-world, Metamorphis, set in 2026, depicts the initial interaction between Luca (a fictionalized version of the creator) and L, an artificially intelligent being that resembles Luca's former self before his gender transition. Cuir AI, the second sub-world set in 2022, portrays Luca's failed attempts to communicate with AI image generators to create a museum of queer Latinx representation. The third sub-world, Hain, set in 2051, takes Luca's character back to ancestral knowledge to seek meaning in the nearly extinct nineteenth-century Selk'nam tribe's rituals.


Xhimeras, Luca Lee, 2024. 3D Rendered Image. Dimensions Variable. Image Source: DOK Exchange XR 2023

Xhimæras is an extended reality experience that takes you to the year 2112 to explore the evolved ecosystem of the Xhimæras, a community in the Southern Pacific Ocean that needs human help to overcome extinction.

The experience is a unique portal to both the past and the future, inviting visitors to contemplate the intrinsic languages of the natural world for a deeper understanding of evolution and adaptive processes. It is a speculative fiction story that helps us imagine the potential consequences of climate-related shifts that may irreversibly change human existence as we know it.

In 2023, Xhimæras was presented at Dok Leipzig - Dok Exchange XR Showcase.

Artist Interview

Q: In this new edition of the UAAD online magazine, we're exploring the theme of "[Matrix] of the [Not-Yet]." How would you interpret these two words, and how do you see your work aligning with the concepts of [Matrix] and [Not-Yet]?

The term "Matrix" implies a structure or framework in which different realities are formed and exist. In my work, I often utilize mediums such as extended reality, 3D art, video, and sound to create scenarios that serve as matrices for the exploration of complex themes—mostly related to the evolving nature of existence. These matrices are not static but rather dynamic, capable of shifting and transforming in response to the narratives I weave within them. They represent the interconnected web of identities, experiences, and possibilities that shape my understanding of the world.

The concept of the "Not-Yet" speaks to the realm of potentiality, the liminal space between what is and what could be. It embodies the speculative elements of my practice, where I often seek to challenge conventional notions of temporality and linearity, inviting viewers to contemplate the myriad possibilities that lie beyond the present moment.

Q: We are very interested in the trajectory of your creative practices and their connection to the theme. Could you provide us with a little more information about your background?

My path toward exploring creativity has taken a fascinating turn. With a foundation in journalism, my focus was primarily on documentary research, delving deep into the factual aspects of existence. However, my current artistic practice diverges from this path, embracing a multidisciplinary approach that intertwines various mediums and is highly speculative. While this shift may seem dramatic, research remains a fundamental aspect of my creative process and plays a crucial role in shaping and informing my artistic endeavors.

My projects are generally in dialogue with a theoretical framework that draws upon diverse sources to situate my work within artistic and cultural contexts, where research enriches the conceptual depth of my ideas and fosters dialogue with the central themes of my practice, such as evolution, transformation, identity, and communication—between humans, and with non-human (artificial or natural) beings.

Q: The creators participating in this magazine work across various mediums, including moving images, interactive installations, music composition, etc. What factors influence your choice of medium for your works?

My choice of medium for my works is deeply influenced by the concepts I aim to explore and the narratives I wish to convey. I approach each project as an opportunity to experiment with different mediums, allowing the content to dictate the form. For instance, when delving into themes of identity and transformation, I often gravitate towards immersive mediums such as extended reality, WebXR, and interactive installations. These mediums offer a heightened level of engagement, allowing viewers to enter the worlds I create and interact with the narratives unfolding within them. Ultimately, my choice of medium is driven by a desire to push the boundaries of storytelling and world-making. Whether through XR, moving images, interactive installations, or soundscapes, my goal remains the same: to create artistic experiences that challenge canonical perceptions, provoke thought, and embrace the future as a space of possibility.

Q: How does your work reflect or actively engage with the cultural and social dynamics of your community or the communities you interact with? Are there elements in your art that seek to bridge, disrupt, or transform these dynamics?

My work is deeply rooted in my experiences as a queer immigrant and draws inspiration from the cultural and social dynamics of the QTPOC and Latinx communities I interact with. By centering these identities in my narratives, I aim to amplify marginalized voices and celebrate the richness and diversity of the human experience. Through storytelling and world-building, I seek to create spaces where these identities are affirmed and celebrated, challenging normative assumptions and fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment. Whether through speculative narratives that imagine alternative futures or immersive installations that invite viewers to question their perceptions, I aim to create experiences that provoke contemplation and dialogue around pressing social issues.

For example, in my extended reality project "Metamorphis," I offer a critical perspective on the lack of inclusive training of large language models used in generative AI platforms, especially AIs' inability to understand gender-inclusive language and Spanish words a few years ago. In my ongoing project "Xhimæras," a speculative fiction exploring climate-change-related adaptive evolution, I center the narrative on a resilient Latinx community facing environmental challenges. By highlighting a perspective often marginalized in discussions about climate change, the experience seeks to broaden the scope of environmental activism and advocacy and serve as a unique portal to the future that encourages audiences to take action in the face of potential climate-related shifts that could fundamentally alter human existence as we know it.

Q: What real-world strategies or methodologies do you employ in your art practice to manifest your visions of the future? How do these tactics serve as forms of resistance or intervention within the current socio-political landscape?

In my art practice, one of the key approaches I utilize is research-based inquiry, where I delve deeply into the subjects that interest me. By grounding my work in deep research, I can extrapolate plausible futures and speculate on the potential implications of current socio-political scenarios. I also find great pleasure in talking with experts from various disciplines, including scientists, scholars, and activists, as it enables me to enhance the conceptual aspect of my projects. These conversations allow me to incorporate diverse perspectives and insights into my work, enriching narratives beyond speculation to factual reality. My prevalent goal is to find a balance between the two.

Q: How do you hope your work impacts its viewers or participants, particularly in terms of rethinking potential futures or alternate realities? Who do you perceive as your audience?

I hope my work serves as a catalyst for reflection, dialogue, and imagination, inspiring viewers to rethink potential futures and consider alternative realities. By creating experiences that transport viewers to speculative worlds and challenge conventional notions of time, identity, and existence, I aim to expand their horizons and open up new possibilities for thinking about the future.

I believe my audience is diverse and inclusive, encompassing individuals from various backgrounds and communities. I strive to create work that resonates with people across different ages, genders, cultures, and identities, inviting them to engage with the themes and narratives on their own terms. In particular, I hope to reach those who may feel marginalized or excluded from mainstream discourses, offering them a space for representation, validation, and empowerment. By centering identities and experiences that are often overlooked or misrepresented, I aim to foster a sense of belonging and agency among viewers, empowering them to envision and shape their own futures.

Q: As a creator, what do you see as the threats or uncertainties we will face in the coming decade?

One of the most pressing challenges I see is the ongoing climate crisis and its far-reaching impacts on ecosystems, communities, and livelihoods. Rising temperatures, extreme weather events, and sea-level rise threaten to exacerbate existing inequalities and destabilize societies around the world. Another significant concern is the rapid pace of technological advancement and its potential consequences for privacy, autonomy, and human rights. As artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and other emerging technologies continue to evolve, we must grapple with questions of ethics, regulation, and governance to ensure that they are deployed responsibly and equitably.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of our global systems. As we navigate the ongoing challenges of public health, economic recovery, and social cohesion, we must prioritize solidarity, resilience, and collective action to build a more equitable and sustainable future. I believe artists and creators have a vital role to play in fostering empathy, understanding, and resilience. By imagining alternative futures, challenging dominant narratives, and inspiring hope and agency, I hope we can contribute to the ongoing work of social transformation and collective liberation.

Q: What motivates you to continue creating as an artist?

The belief in the transformative power of art to spark conversations, provoke thought, and inspire change motivates me. I am driven by the opportunity to amplify marginalized voices, challenge dominant narratives, and foster empathy and understanding across diverse communities. I hope my ongoing and future works create spaces for reflection, dialogue, and imagination, inviting viewers to question assumptions and envision alternative futures.

Q: Are there any theories, books, or artists you would like to recommend in your current areas of interest?

Many works influence me. In posthumanism, the works of Donna Haraway, particularly "Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature," offer insightful perspectives on the intersections of identity, technology, and the environment. Bruno Latour's "We Have Never Been Modern" provides another lens to explore the relationship between nature, culture, and technology.

Another significant influence is the speculative fiction genre, which has been a source of inspiration to envision possible futures shaped by contemporary environmental challenges. Authors like Octavia Butler, Kim Stanley Robinson, and N. K. Jemisin inspire me with their vivid depictions of ecological transformations and human resilience in the face of adversity.

"The Queer Art of Failure" by Jack Halberstam, different from the previous references, explores alternative modes of resistance and possibility through failure and non-normativity. These are some of the perspectives that align with my interests.

Q: If you could create an art piece with unlimited resources and no constraints, how would it look like, and why?

If I were to create an art piece with unlimited resources and no constraints, it would be a multi-sensory, immersive simulation that blurs the boundaries between reality and fiction, inviting viewers on a journey through a series of interconnected worlds and narratives. Ideally, it would be as accessible as possible, an experience that people can access whenever they want.

The centerpiece of the simulation would be a sprawling, interactive landscape that combines physical and virtual elements, allowing viewers to navigate through environments that shift and transform in response to their presence, emotions, and interactions. Utilizing cutting-edge technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and haptic feedback, participants would be fully immersed in a sensory-rich experience that engages all aspects of their perception.

Throughout the journey, participants would encounter various characters and creatures that encourage introspection and contemplation, allowing for a meditative escape from our pseudo-physical reality.

About the Artist

Luca Lee, a transmedia artist and researcher, delves into queer identity and speculative fiction within and beyond human-centered frameworks. His recent works employ extended reality, 3D arts, and artificial intelligence as world-making practices. Originally from Chile, he has showcased his creations at prestigious venues such as Dok Leipzig - Dok Exchange XR in Germany, FILE Festival in Brazil, and The Holy Art Gallery in the UK, among others. Locally, his exhibitions have graced spaces like ChaShama, ONX Studio, and Experimental Intermedia. Recognized for his contributions, Luca has received residencies and fellowships from institutions like the New York Foundation for the Arts and Culture Push. Currently residing in Brooklyn, New York, he serves as an AI Research Group Resident at Foreign Objekt and is a member of the Extended Realities track at NEW INC.

©2024 Underground Art And Design LLC | ISSN 2835-284X

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