Over the next week we’re going deep into the strange world of Sam Rolfes.
When we reached out to Sam Rolfes for this month’s residency, we had no idea what we were in for. Instead of sending us some illustrative examples of his work, as has become customary with this series, Sam sent us a mysterious VR game with little explanation. What unfolds is our experience playing through his strange world.
During our first session exploring his world a puckish avatar, who sounds suspiciously like Sam himself, guides us around the digital landscape created by Team Rolfes for esoteric super producer Rabit and Texan ballroom deities House Of Kenzo for their multidisciplinary performance, Morbid Angel.
Flitting between graphic design, 3D animation, motion-capture performance, digital puppeteering and conventional direction, Sam Rolfes is the definition of a polymath in 2020. Cutting his teeth reading his mother’s books on visual programming language MAX and messing around with open-source 3D graphics software Blender, he has developed an unmistakeable style in which both aesthetics and technology are stretched to breaking point.
Combining maximalist design with uniquely tight narrative structure, Rolfes creates live performances, videos and experiences that follow a sort of video game dream logic, a universe which he oversees as both a world-builder and chief antagonist, continually critiquing his own practice with a wry, prankster’s wit.
Morbid Angel originally premiered at Day For Night Festival back in 2017, a performance which saw Rolfes corralling a glistening stripper angel and a colossal moth outside a 3D-rendered model of Screwed Up Tapes And Records, the legendary record shop of Houston rap originator DJ Screw. By showing us around the digital world he has built, the artist allows us to experience some of the other worldly energy of a House Of Kenzo performance.
Guiding us around his work from the inside out, Sam Rolfes immerses us fully in the performance practice of Team Rolfes, showing us some of the tools and technology that serve to extend and amplify the artist’s own physical expression into an aesthetic dimension in which the virtual and the actual collide.
For more information about Sam Rolfes and his work you can follow him on Instagram.
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