Digital Death

by Milli Encarnacion

Artist Statement

Milli Encarnacion lives and works in New York’s Hudson Valley. She owes much of her inspiration to her experiences as a makeup artist, a career which has allowed her to meet people from all walks of life. The transformative power of beauty has fascinated her since she was a child playing with her mother’s makeup, and that childhood wonder is a constant presence in her work. Through makeup, Milli is constantly exposed to the connection between vanity and emotion. She directly witnesses the change in her clients’ moods and behaviors once their makeup sessions are complete. The psychology underlying this connection directly informs her art practice.

Milli’s work explores the depths of identity, consciousness, and their relation to the digital world. She questions reality, aiming to alter it through multiple forms of digital media. Milli works in animation and game design, creating new worlds that aim to sweep the viewer out of their own reality.

Project Statement

Digital Death is a virtual-reality experience that visualizes what the contemporary ego death experience may look like. Ego death is a term used to describe the transcendence or surrender of self-identity and is the pinnacle of spirituality for many belief systems. In today’s digital world of selfies, social media, and surveillance capitalism, how much more difficult is it to “turn on, tune in, and drop out,” as famed psychedelic researcher Timothy Leary might say?

Like many others in her generation, Milli has battled self-esteem issues caused by the narcissistic and consumerist atmosphere that social media cultivates. These online reflections of ourselves are our alter-egos; it is much easier to curate our identities over the Internet than it is in-person. Digital Death is loosely based on the writings of Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Ram Dass (formerly Richard Alpert) in The Psychedelic Experience. Through this VR experience, Milli asks the viewer to see past their many cyber personas.