Nina Hawkins aka. Ninocence is a multimedia artist in Los Angeles. She works at the intersection of fashion and technology. Nina's tools focus on photography, videography, as well as digital avatars via Lilium Labs. Numomo is proud to support Nina as she pushes boundaries with her art using NFT technology.
Nina's work is globally recognized across different audiences. She has worked with Amazon Music, Kendall + Kylie, and Mercedes-Benz, and she's been featured in Forbes, L'Officiel, and Billboard. She has also worked with celebrities like Rick Ross, DaBaby, and Teyana Taylor, and her work has been showcased in New York City on Times Square as well as in Tokyo on Shibuya Square.
NINOCENCE'S MARIONETTES GENESIS COLLECTION
Today, March 12th, 2021, Nina is releasing her MARIONETTES GENESIS COLLECTION. The collection consists of 1 video NFT and 3 photograph NFTs released on KnownOrigin. This article first discusses her video NFT and then her photograph NFTs.
The video NFT consists of Nina’s work for RHYME's “NOT THE TYPE” music video, featuring Nina under the artist name NINOCENCE both vocally and visually.
The NFT is part of a music video by RHYME who invited Nina to create a music video experience for her song. As part of the project, RHYME and NINOCENCE also created an avatar OnlyFans experiment.
The video shows life-like avatars, avatars dressed fashionably, avatars exposed as marionettes, and avatars as dancers, lovers, and plastic dolls. The music by RHYME gives a cerebral, immersive, and trance-like feel to the video.
The music and video piece express the artists' condemnation of female objectification and sexualization in the music and porn industry. A dominant modern marketing strategy in creative industries states that "sex sells". As a result, women have increasingly been represented in overly sexualized, shallow, and demeaning visuals, and this video NFT is meant to call out attention and condemn this state of affairs.
The video NFT avoids a traditional narrative in favor of conceptual visuals representing a short experimental film. Moments from similar situations are cut up and interjected variously. One is either in the piece or one is not; one is immersed in the piece or one is not. Rather than a sequence of cumulative actions or moments, the piece envelops the viewer into a durational experience with avatars that focuses on specific themes rather than a traditional narrative arc proceeding from a beginning to an end.
To us, themes include, among others, the following:
- Women in the form of life-like avatars are tossed and turned around, smashed against walls, reminding viewers of the conceptual violence exerted upon women as sexualized objects.
- The similarity between the avatars, as well as their multiplication, suggests that violence by way of sexualization isn't an isolated and idiosyncratic but widespread and common issue.
- The avatars' verisimilitude blurs the line between what is real and not, causing viewers to wonder whether these structures and dynamics of violence will persist over time and become replicated in the metaverse.
- The extended, trance-like duration of the video stretches the moment of thoughtless visual consumption of sexualized female representations in order to make space for viewers to ask questions about how and what they consume.
How would we call these types of pieces? Durational avatar experiences. Sounds pretty cool, don't you think?
The photograph NFTs depict two avatars. One avatar is a digital version modelled on the artist herself. The other avatar is a digital version of her friend RHYME.
We think the pictures deal with the theme of sexuality. Her two pictures on the left evoke safe, sane and consensual erotic practices related to BDSM, meaning bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism. The pictures emanate a steely, balanced feel of sophistication, and they make us curious about the relationship between avatars and sex.
Avatars are an extension of who we are. They are versions of us, similar but also different. Avatars don't biologically reproduce like we do. At least not yet. But who says avatars can't have fun? Who says avatars can't love? Who says avatars can't play? Perhaps they can. They can, right?
Several questions about sex and sexuality arise. For example, do traditional ideologies of sex and sexual reproduction apply in the metaverse? Avatars cannot engage in sexual practices like humans do. Does this indicate something about ourselves, IRL? Perhaps the view of sex as a natural act of people and families for the purpose of biological reproduction is being challenged.
What is the purpose of sex? The references to BDSM direct our attention to a hierarchical perspective on sex. For example, there are hierarchies of control implied in bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. Hierarchies of control also surface from the human-looking avatars depicted in a submissive pose. How should we think about the relationship between our physical bodies and our digital avatar bodies?
The third picture to the right depicts two women kissing each other. The image challenges heterosexual notions of love and sex as well as patriarchal hierarchies present in modern society. Yet love knows no boundaries, and the heart-shaped neon lights indicate as much. A fitting way to end, perhaps, this fascinating journey into sex and digital avatars in the metaverse.