Doll

by Harley Weir on until July 27th

Words by XXXX

JUNE – JULY 2022

Words By Charlotte Cotton

Stage Directions By Asher Hartman

[1]

Morning. L.A. Charlotte sits at her kitchen table, the floral curtain drawn across the window to shield against the morning sun. Her aged fridge grumbles and hums. Amalia comes on screen, sitting in an apartment that Charlotte thinks she recognizes from some of Molly Soda’s videos on YouTube.

Amalia Soto [Molly Soda]: It’s not like one day I woke up and I decided I was going to start being online and that was going to be my art practice. It was a gradual evolution, like growing up. Once I had access to a one-megapixel digital camera, I was taking pictures of myself in my room and posting them to strangers on blogging platforms, pre-Facebook, pre-Instagram, pre all of that. It was always like a very normal part of my life from the age of about 14. That desire to perform myself online has always been there but it’s changed a lot over the years – as the Internet has changed as well. At the start, no one I interacted with in my daily life knew what I was doing. My online life that felt very separate. It turned into an art practice later – incorporating the sort of things that I’d grown up doing online and then thinking about that and being able later on to articulate what my practice was becoming. A lot of it was just me playing and experimenting…I immediately play…I don’t want to say that I play a character because that’s not…I think a lot of people are under the impression that Molly Soda is a character, and it’s really not the case. Molly Soda was just a username that people just started calling me, and then it bled into my real life and now most people know me as Molly and not Amalia. I don’t write a script, I’m not performing in that sense, it’s not going to be a thing that’s carefully plotted out. I’m really only doing one or two takes. It has to be a bit off-the-cuff for me and because I’m so enmeshed in this world and it is such a part of me, it’s easy for me to sort of turn that on. I’ve just spent more than half of my life performing myself online in different states of knowing what I’m doing and what I’m not doing. I’m working on a piece right now where I have to go through my archive of webcam videos that span from about 2010 to now. Every day I’m going through this archive and re-living these memories. I know exactly what year it was, what I was thinking about, who had wronged me or whatever had happened that forced me to take that video. It’s just like this diary. At first, I was really an active participant in Web communities. And now, I feel like I’ve taken a more observational approach where I’m watching things happen, and then maybe using myself as a stand-in to understand that. It’s not the same. I’ve come to see my online self as a flattened image that can be saved and manipulated and could play on a loop forever. I see myself more as that than anything else, I’m disembodied and I’m not precious about myself on the Internet.

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