For ‘What Should I Say’, Sondra Perry has constructed a Black 3D avatar and a blue-screen space in which to fracture his identity into pieces. The avatar is replicated eight times, and each of those eight puppets are made to perform different actions alongside one another: he jogs, he struts, he sashays, he ambles, he tiptoes, he retches with disgust. He runs a whole gamut of emotions for the duration of the song, so many different sides of him are presented to the world simultaneously. Characters, Perry shows us, are contradictory and complex.
Her piece explores how we all perform different roles, how easily identities can be appropriated – particularly in digital spaces – and how one person’s image can be cast into other people’s narratives whether they like it or not. The questions it asks expand on the song’s lyrical themes of transformation, redemption, and the feeling of being obliged to explain oneself:
“They’re calling out your name
Must have been something you
They’re calling out your name
What should I say?”
In this film, as in some of her previous work, Perry uses Rosco Chroma Key Blue as a background and an environment: an empty stage of possibility on which anything can take place and anything can be said. She has described this deep Chroma Key Blue void as a place in which time flows in every direction and a story can go down many separate paths:
“The space of post-production being the space where the thing either has yet to happen, or it has, and everything has happened. … It’s like we have the obligation to create the images ourselves, so what are you going to do with that opportunity or responsibility and that space of the ‘post’?”
We can ask ourselves these questions every time we make an image. What should we do? How should we act? What do we want to change? What should we say?
Sondra Perry responds to ‘What Should I Say’