Spacetime Pastries

Queer Existence in Social Media

By Coley Mixan

Coley Mixan, :::anxiety / anorexia, 2016, video still. YouTube performances of emotional labor consumed by body dysphoric disorder. This and other images courtesy of the artist.

“My suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” —Physiologist and geneticist J. B. S. Haldane, Possible Worlds, 1927

My art practice encompasses performance, video, installation, and ecologic and comedic inquiry. The images here are stills from video collages that function as projections on stage—mise-en-scènes that flood my body as I perform original songs and comedy sketches. Combining footage filmed in tallgrass prairies with characters I create and pastries I want to eat, these video collages are flattened representations of living beings (and my body) which are constantly changing and overwhelming the eye with stimulus and color. These moving images are further transformed and stylized when a performance is documented and shared on social media networks.

A still image from Coley Mixan's  video Quantum Entanglement.
Coley Mixan, Quantum Entanglement, 2018, video still. Video of two separate persons climbing the same tree four days apart within 4th dimensional earth-time.

In my video work, I utilize the concept of queer/queering spacetime: where a body is a body until it is just an image reproduced instantly in many locations at once, interacted with in the nonspace of online data sharing. Queer spacetime permeates throughout social media platforms—particularly in relation to the consumption of digital media arts in our transient, nontransparent, and smart-device-fed ecologies. When we as a community, when we who are the queer and the marginalized, when we who are not represented in the patriarchal society create and post content for an online audience, we are radicalizing a set of alternative temporalities in a way that allows any participant (ourselves included) a pocket-sized peek into a reality outside of the paradigmatic markers of white, hypercapitalist patriarchy. We cocreate queer realities by reposting and hashtagging and connecting with other beings that do not need to directly impact our physical selves; these are friends, followers, and subscribers that invite us to be creators outside of a linear timeline, deep within the abundance of content we desire to observe. Yet, can an alignment with the queering of spacetime (and a flattening of self in the infinite scroll of our binary cloud/shroud of the “Web”) truly generate a creative, nonnormative edge when social media seems so closely tied to the capitalist promotion of reproduction? The answer is found in the way we choose to dance: circles of motion, spiraling with the outrageous desire to know that there is more! And that what is more in our Now is always changing.

A still image from Coley Mixan's  video The Spiral Who Loved Me.
Coley Mixan, The Spiral Who Loved Me, 2018, video still, Instagram video screen grab from filming the nonlinear film, The Spiral Who Loved Me. Images courtesy of the artist.

Queer spacetime dances us into the courageous-outRAGEousness: rapid-breath edits of video layers piling on top of one another, establishing a frame that congeals over time to produce a veil of substance digested in the GUT (grand unified theory) of all that is and can be. Our artwork is an (g)astronomic athleticism: we consume and are consumed in the toroidal gasp of being. In the act of consuming this visual content, complexity arrives within the intersections of our cultural institutions, mass imaginations, personalized spiritual grocery lists, and ecological systems. This is the fulcrum where queer spacetime can help us flip systematic oppressions inside out: our collective posts of femmes and memes, unconstrained by convention, manifest power over these systematic oppressions through our own creativity and exercised control over virtual space.

A still image from Coley Mixan's video FLAVORBURST.
Coley Mixan, FLAVORBURST, 2018, video still. Videos of corn shucking and plastic thank you bags floating through a Midwestern ice cream stand’s pricing chart (7 oz. of fried pickles for $3.80!!).

Coley Mixan is musician, public library activist, performance artist, radio DJ, and vegan pastry/prairie enthusiast. They currently work in Seattle, sleuthing through a multiverse of clues, hunches, and downright queer shenanigans. You can discover more on their Instagram: @astro.ooze