Resident: Leah Roh

Woman Digital Artist- Digital Residency:Leah Roh "X-Pop" - Digital residency at Agora Digital Art
Leah Roh, Lube River (2021) © Courtesy of the artist.

Project concept: X-pop

Curator’s Words

MiMi Lamine| Ed. Peter Traynor |  7 December 2021

What pops into your mind when you think about Oriental women? Are they smiley discreet yellow faces, are they K-pop chic or cynical like in the Squid Game series?

In this work called X-pop, Leah Roh confronts the covert and overt racist depictions of East-Asian archetypes from pop culture, in a gamified satirical web-based VR experience. The viewer will experience the X-pop, a virtual celebration of Hollywood’s “Asian-American” community, in Mozilla Hubs.

As soon as the visitors enter, they journey down a Walk of Fame with only the stars of prominent Asian actors who are excluded from the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The road leads to a museum reminiscent of classic Euro-architecture but overly saturated with Kawaii-field accessories.

The museum exhibits dioramas that feature recreated CGI scenes from films like “Sixteen Candles” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Aristocats.” Each diorama spotlights ‘East Asian’ characters such as Long Duk Dong and Mr Yunioshi accompanied with a plaque transcribing the scene like “Hey Howard, there’s your Chinaman” and “Shanghai Hong Kong Egg Foo Yung Fortune Cookie Always Wrong” with an interactive button that plays the scene’s audio.

Leah Roh’s Portfolio

Leah Roh, kawaii (2021) © Courtesy of the artist.

VR Exhibition in Hubs Mozilla

  • Women in Digital Art: Leah Roh - Residency "X-pop" 2021 - Agora Digital Art
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Conversation between artist, Leah Roh, and Digital Curator, MiMi Lamine (recorded on x x 2022)

About the artist

NFTs on

Leah Roh (b. 1991) is a Brooklyn-based 3D artist and educator. She builds computer-generated experiences that explore the ways in which interactive technologies can bridge the gap between new media and pop culture. Through 3D animation and game engine software, Leah designs engaging experiences based on her personal relationship with overt and covert systemic racism and sexism as a Korean-American woman, stemming from the inequities in representation in mainstream media. Her practice examines how virtual mediums can cultivate accessible spaces for cultural engagement and be applied for experiential education and storytelling. She is a NEW INC alum and currently teaches Experiential Art at Pratt Institute’s New Media program and 3D design at NYU’s Integrated Design Media program.

Artist’s statement

I build interactive experiences that bridge the gap between new media and pop culture. “BROAD-LAND” which premiered at Pablo’s Birthday Gallery allowed users to explore a Malibu Barbie island reminiscent of my lived experience growing up in the 90s. “BROAD-LAND” featured relics from my childhood, My Little Ponies, Legos, and Game Boys that were reconstructed to blur the gender binary. “BROAD-LAND” is a virtual retrospect of our society’s sexist marketing practices in the toy and gaming industry. Through game engine software, I design interactive experiences based on my personal relationship with the inequities in representation in mainstream media.

At NEW INC, I built a VR experience titled “Lube River” that was designed to critique the ways in which mainstream media talks about sexuality and autonomy over Womxn’s bodies. Users are able to navigate a vu-gondola, exploring topics excluded from traditional sex education such as consent, masturbation, and sexual orientation/gender identity. Providing users with full control over their virtual avatars in an intimate and isolated 3D environment allowed for a safe and fun exploration of these topics that are frequently considered too “taboo”.

My previous work, “Digital Arrest” also examines the influence of virtual embodiment and autonomy over identity. “Digital Arrest,” which was developed for Columbia University’s School of Social Work, features the virtual avatar of Jarrell Daniels, a Columbia student who was wrongfully incarcerated for his social media presence. “Digital Arrest” allows users to embody his 3D avatar and relive the day he was arrested exploring how social media can be used as a tool for policing in the 21st Century. 

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