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Commissioned as a part of Trinity Square Video's Moving Ether Way exhibition, Strada Statale 696 is a VR work that explores trans presence in public hypermasculine spaces, using the Italian piazza (public square) as a point of departure. My body is inserted into a Google Street View image of a piazza in Celano, a small Italian town where my grandparents grew up. This work seeks to trace a trans oral history ambiguously passed to me by my Nonna: an oral history about (closeted) trans and queer people that she was friends with as an adolescent and young adult in Celano. Strada Statale 696 explores my distance from this history: temporarily, geographically, and linguistically. This linguistic distance is informed by my lack of fluency in Celanese, a dying Italian dialect geo-specific to Celano, which is often associated with the working class, and is my Nonna’s first language. Accompanying the image of my trans body—plainly out of place—moving through the cis-hyper-masculinized public sphere is a spoken poem, delivered in both Italian and Celanese. Drawing from my attempts at learning Italian—ultimately attempts to close the distance between myself and a suffocated trans history—this poem gleans its form from the simple sentence structures typical of language-learning apps like Duolingo. Overlapping this spoken poem is an AI-generated soundscape developed from Google Street View images of Celano’s piazza. Hyper-location-specific sound, imagery, and language combine to invoke the past trans occupants of the space I digitally inhabit.

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