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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 uneducated and 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 pose questions about the past trans occupants of the space I digitally inhabit: Who were these people? Is it enough to simply know that they occupied spaces that I have also come to occupy, almost a century later? How can we walk backwards against centuries of deliberate censorship and erasure of trans histories? 

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