Tacky papier-mache dolphins. Multicolored mannequins. Clothes-hanger chandeliers. Schmaltzy elevator muzak. VHS tapes.
Welcome to Aileen Quintana's vaporwave mall, a 6,000-square-foot installation debuting at the III Points Festival, the music, art and technology shindig returning Oct. 7-9 to Mana Wynwood Miami. Quintana's mall, titled "Sunset@Noon," is housed in a windowless, mural-covered warehouse across the parking lot from Mana, and is filled with rows of neon mannequin legs, pastel-blue floor tiles and velvety R&B slow jams piped in over a loudspeaker.
The project, she says, is inspired by vaporwave, an electronic music subgenre and art movement born on Internet Reddit and Tumblr threads in 2012. As an art form, vaporwave blends early 1990s computer graphics – think blocky 3D bubbles, the old Apple Macintosh logo, tacky DayGlo colors – with chopped-up audio samples of smooth jazz and shopping-mall ambiance.
Describing the look as "vintage, recycled Internet nostalgia," Quintana says her vaporwave mall, which she began building in February, is her most ambitious project.
"This is my homage to the dead malls of America," says Quintana, on a tour this week of her in-progress installation at Mana Wynwood. "Malls are becoming obsolete, going into foreclosure, so I wanted to re-create one with elevator music, kiosks, water fountains, random ambient music. I have all this space to make a weird wonder world."
A full-time Miami Beach artist now semi-retired from Miami's celebrity-studded fashion world, Quintana was a makeup artist, beautifying faces for fashion brands MAC Cosmetics, Chloe, Louis Vuitton and Givenchy. She was briefly a Covergirl brand ambassador and helped manage South Beach's glitzy Funkshion Fashion Week. Curating fashion shows grew tiring, Quintana says, but vaporwave's bizarre design aesthetic appeals to her fashion background.
"I would travel to fashion shows throughout the world and get bored by it, but I would always come back to my home base in Miami," says Quintana, 31, and also III Points Festival's creative director. "I was like, 'Oh my God, bro, there has to be something more than another f------ stark-white rooftop show with hot blondes.' "
The "Sunset@Noon," project began inside her Miami Beach apartment, transformed into a public art installation titled "Open Art House," during Art Basel Week in 2015. Quintana styled her home like a vaporwave testing ground: Wood-paneled tube televisions filled her bathtub. Blacklights, zebra-print clothing and disco balls covered the bedroom.
"It felt like some tacky, cheap, cyberpunk motel," Quintana recalls. "Some of my friends would actually crash in the bed, and I would give art tours while they were passed out. I would live there, too."
During III Points, visitors to "Sunset@Noon" can stroll through custom-built shops in the vaporwave mall. There's a "VHS Store"; a "Dale Zine" lounge; a papier-mache dolphin mounted over a water fountain; and a trio of faux department stores, called iShine365, Style Mafia and Algae, displaying vaporwave-inspired outfits. A fake beauty salon, Make It Up Salon, will give make-overs to local musicians, who will perform inside the warehouse. Each night during the festival, Quintana will showcase her performance-art work "Interdimensional Baths," in which the artist covers her body in psychedelic paint swirls.
"Sunset@Noon" is one of three exhibits distinguishing III Points' ambitious lineup of art. Another project, on display inside Mana Wynwood, will be "Mars 2030," a virtual-reality game that imagines a NASA astronaut's first expedition to Mars. The brainchild of Julian Reyes, a virtual-reality producer for the Fusion network, the sci-fi simulation is played by donning an Oculus Rift VR headset. Once the game is booted, festivalgoers are transported to the sandy Martian surface, where they can pilot rovers and explore active volcanos. Think the 2015 drama "The Martian," but without Matt Damon.
"You definitely won't see Matt Damon on this Martian surface," says Reyes, 27, who spent two years designing the game. "I'm drawn to the idea of space colonization. The way we build the tech that gets there, it's very important that we push that forward, and make it a reality. It will solve some of humanity's biggest problems."
Reyes designed the game in partnership with NASA and actual astronauts at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The virtual-reality map itself, which covers 20 square kilometers of explorable terrain, was charted using NASA geographical data and photos of the Martian surface. At III Points, users can play "Mars 2030" inside an installation built to resemble a Martian habitat, filled with red sand and mountain set pieces.
The third III Points exhibit is "Surface Imagery," a collection of experimental art videos curated by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. The group show features Miami artists Domingo Castillo, Agustina Woodgate, Kenny Riches, Nicolas Lobo and others.
"Sunset@Noon," Mars 2030" and "Surface Imagery" will run Oct. 7-9 during III Points Festival at Mana Wynwood Production Village, 318 NW 23rd St., in Miami. Admission is $70-$125 and $135-$299 for VIP. Go to IIIPoints.com.
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