Notes on a Conditional Form (2020)
In May 2020 English pop-rock band The 1975 released their fourth studio album Notes On A Conditional Form. To accompany their release the band commissioned several artists, including Lu Yang, to produce artwork in response to the tracks on the album. The artists had complete creative control as the band was inspired by society’s increasing dependence on technology and wanted to highlight the positive aspects of embracing new digital media.
Yang’s video submission featured her nonbinary digital alter-ego Doku, short for Dokusho Dokushi which means ‘you are born alone and you die alone’ in Chinese and is also a reference taken from a Buddhist sutra (ancient and medieval text). Lu constructed Doku using the latest 3D scanning, digitally modelling 50 of her facial expressions with the help of Facegood, a Shenzhen-based studio that uses motion capture technology to create digital animations.
The majority of the video shows Doku in an empty digital arena, with a chest inset with glowing lights and hands producing purple after images whilst dancing and miming the song. Doku’s dance moves were produced using animation programs, such as MikuMikuDance, which she mastered whilst studying in China. In recent months Doku has taken on the persona of a celebrity, adopting a personal clothing stylist and tattoo artist, and is in the process of teaming up with Li-Ning, a Chinese sports brand.
Yang continues to evolve Doku’s aesthetic, as CGI requires constant development, but also because she considers Doku as her digital reincarnation. The process allowed Lu to create a gender-neutral body helping her to establish a greater sense of identity. Doku demonstrates that the world of digital creation is a space where understanding and empathy are in abundance, liberating ourselves from the rigid confines of gender, race, and sexuality.