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THE TRANSCENDENTAL EXPERIENCE OF FILTH: Interview with artist and zine-maker

Updated: May 26

“I’m a huge believer in the transcendental experience of filth.” -- DEV






Dev is an artist and zine-maker in the Boston area, in my opinion an undiscovered zenius (zine genius.) They were kind enough to let me interview them over discord. In this interview, we talk about art, technology, drugs, BDSM, fungi, and cannibalism. I don't know if it's true, but I've heard that good writing is vulnerable--in this interview I expose myself as a weird nerd who likes to talk about romantic cannibalism; those of you who know me can do with that as you will. The following text has been edited for clarity, legibility, and to remove the 400 or so times I said the word “like.”


FELIX: The first thing I wanted to ask you about is technology, coincidentally. One theme in your artwork is the fusion of organic and robotic elements. Does that reflect the invasion of technology into our lives? Or maybe the power of technology to enable transgressions?


DEV: I think to some degree I’ve always been interested in the physical interactions between humans and machine interfaces, or just inorganic material, period, rather than cybernetics or robotics ultra specifically. I don’t think it represents an invasion in my work, more like a reconciliation, and the tension there is really interesting to me. The border between what’s organic and what’s inorganic in a philosophical sense has always been of interest to me as far back as I can remember, including who decides that and how it’s measured, and in what specific ways these borders are transgressed. Part of it is definitely that making art like that lets me explore and transgress borders that we take for granted as ‘self-evident’, for sure. Though I’d be lying if I said that the way technology manifests increasingly in our lives wasn’t part of that as well; the boundaries between offline and online have been severely eroded over the past year of the Covid pandemic in particular, and it’s going to be both interesting and difficult to deal with the effects of that. What’s especially pertinent to me about that boundary erosion, in relation to your question, is that offline traditionally was referred to as ‘meatspace’ in most online communities I was in, especially in the days of Web 1.0. But now if there’s no clear boundary, where does the meatspace end and where does the internet begin? I think the way we frame these terms has some fascinating implications!


FELIX: The boundary between unnatural and natural is interesting to me as well. Particularly as a queer person socialized in this heterosexual world what is thought of as natural and healthy often feels deeply unnatural and unhealthy to me, and vice versa. The separation between online and real world is also interesting to me. One aspect of this, kind of terrifyingly, is that there's no real boundary between my cell phone and my mind. I think maybe this has to do with the generation I'm from, but there feels like there is no hard line between the self and technology.


DEV: I often wonder about that especially with younger people. I’m pretty young myself but I’m also just old enough to have been through some major technological changes, and I was an adult by the time smart phones were ubiquitous.


FELIX: I also find the early 2000s nostalgia in your work interesting. I was online right around the demise of life journal and I find that aesthetic really charming, especially the way it seems a lot less self conscious and commercial than social media aesthetics now.

Especially since the youth culture at that time actually felt rebellious - - maybe I'm just not cool enough to know about whoever's being transgressive now, but it feels like there's not an equivalent of punk or emo subculture right now. Or maybe I'm getting my years mixed up, I'm talking about cybergoth.neocities.org


DEV: A big issue for me and probably others who have been online for a while is that the internet used to feel more boundaried and now that’s gone, so I always wonder how that feels for people young enough that such a boundary never existed to them to begin with. Which is even worse with the domination of commercial interests that now kind of psychically steer social media engagement, unacknowledged and unseen. It wasn’t really possible to monetize your presence on LJ; when they started letting ads in, it was considered a major betrayal by most of its user base and that also opened the door a little to censorship issues because now advertisers could be swayed to care more about what they were being associated with via LJ’s content. But now that’s sort of the default state of social media.


DEV: Also thank you! It was an interesting time in culture for sure. But I think the embers of that are still around actually! I often look at the carrds of people on tumblr and see that there’s a lean towards an aesthetic I typically would associate with the earlier 2000s. It wasn’t necessarily as popular when I made my original cybergoth arrangement on NewHive, but in the years since 2016 or so I feel like there’s been more of a resurgence in interest in that for a variety of social and political reasons.


FELIX: This relates to my question about your 2018 work PORNOPTICON. It made me think of how our culture has become more accepting of some lifestyle transgressions, the internet has enabled people to access and invade others' lives in a way that didn't exist before. Was that a comment on surveillance?


DEV: It was! It was almost definitely in direct response to SESTA-FOSTA.


FELIX: I think we're living in a pretty interesting time re: censorship and monetization. It seems like there are forces pushing for more censorship and more family - friendly media but at the same time, I can access the links to like 20 of my friends' Onlyfans. Far be it from me to speak against pornography, but it's interesting that basically anyone can sell their personal life right now. And like, on the human liberty side of the matter, I'm real fucking mad about censorship, but I think censorship can produce really interesting art, and sublimated sex and violence is actually more interesting to me than straight forward stuff.


DEV: There is certainly something to be said about the Disneyfication of online spaces. OnlyFans in particular has an interesting model to me; it’s obviously vital to sex workers but its popularity among people who don’t use it for those purposes, like some celebrity figures, will almost certainly end up with the people who depend on it the most getting pushed further and further out of scope until the people who primarily built the platform’s base to begin with are having trouble making ends meet on it, if they’re even there anymore. The same thing happened with Patreon, so there is something of a pattern there I think in terms of who gets prioritized and who’s considered more of a liability as time goes on and userbases grow, but I guess we’ll see what happens with that. It’s hard not to be discouraged by that state of affairs for the people who will be losing out the hardest. But also you’re right in that all of this is happening at the same time as there’s a much wider cultural tendency towards monetizing as many aspects of your life as you can tolerate as part of a never-ending gig or hustle, and generally with fewer expectations of privacy and a hard ‘boundary’ between the online and off, which has its dangers for sure. The pressure to sell and monetize my art and hobbies as a creative is pretty big; there’s definitely this idea now that anything you have any amount of skill in is fertile ground for monetization and beyond that, making it your career or part of multiple part-time gigs, and I’ve never had a particular drive to do that.


DEV: It’s sometimes challenging to have a cultural conversation that acknowledges something like OnlyFans maybe being within that constellation of experience for particular individuals in our world without immediately running into morally condemnatory attitudes towards the broader idea of ~selling your body~ in a sexual way. That’s a non-starter for me and I think all jobs include an aspect of ‘selling’ yourself; in a world where you can sell your lifestyle and autonomy in so many other ways, including as an influencer or streamer on social media, it’s interesting and telling to me that there’s still a serious cultural hang-up around doing so as a sex worker on your own terms. [Dev asked me to edit this last paragraph, to better express their point.]


DEV: Also it’s interesting that you say that [about censorship] because the ways people specifically try to work within the bounds of censorship, especially to evade it or get things under the radar, is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently.


DEV: Like you, I obviously don’t like that it’s happening, but it’s still part of our world and the cultural legacy and artifacts associated with it can be interesting and really meaningful in their own rights.


FELIX: Personally, I find subtextually queer media like Rebecca to be a lot more interesting than a lot of contemporary queer media that I find kind of saccharine and commercial. And the stuff that I like is the problematic stuff like call me by your name


FELIX: In your work you use a lot of disembodied body parts, leather/rubber masks, and medical diagrams. Does that represent dehumanization? I mean both in the negative sense and the positive. Particularly in Savior I get a sense of freedom from personhood.


DEV: I think one thing I would like younger LGBTQ people in particular to develop and/or maintain a skill in is the ability to read and engage meaningfully with subtext in media, since I feel like in an age of “representation,” often soulless and commercially motivated in the imperial core, that’s something that’s easy to lose the ability to do. And it’s still vital for interacting with LGBTQ people globally and cultural artifacts through history in an age where we were a little less socially open. I don’t necessarily “enjoy” subtext more and would rather get some nuanced and good and messy textual queer and trans content, but outside of the work of independent and small queer and trans creators, good luck finding that...!


DEV: “Savior” is definitely something of a transcendental piece! I do think those sorts of things can be useful, similar to the inorganic-organic boundary play, to display tensions in things like the experience of having a “mind” or some other presence that can’t fully be physically accounted for, and the more mundane constraints of its container’s upkeep or existence, flesh or not. including medical charts, medical or biological diagrams, inorganic material (plastic, steel, rubber), etc. A lot of these tensions I feel in my own life as well both due to my interactions with prosthetics and surgery and the sort of dehumanization—good and bad—that the experiences of transness and chronic illness and disability bring in society.


FELIX: (So cool!)


DEV: Similarly, the aspects of BDSM scenes and aesthetics that I find most interesting are ones involving a loss of sensation or typical body-mind connection, or human identity itself. For very similar reasons I’m interested in things like ego death and astral projection including through the use of drugs or sensory deprivation. The dissociated and depersonalized experience is one of great interest to me and I’m always fascinated to find out how that can manifest and what it means for the boundaries of humanity


DEV: (Thank you ^^)


FELIX: I also feel like there's a lot of exploration of the unglamourous and little explored (lol) aspects of having a body in your work, like in WASTEHOLE, and FTX I found striking because I rarely see clitoral symbols in art.


FELIX: While I see alienation and dehumanization in your art that combines technology and the body, I also get a strange sense of tenderness. CYBERMEAT feels like the dissolution of the self through combination through others--the brain at the center of computer circuits--and the manicured, ring wearing hands delicately clutching the cellphone in PORNOPTICON feels almost romantic. Maybe that's totally off base. Was that tenderness intentional?


FELIX: Also, I would really love to hear about your astral projection experiences if you'd like to talk about them.


DEV: Oh thank you! Yes, I’m a huge believer in particular about the transcendental experience of filth, or that the most sacred and most degraded or profane are more similar to each other than not, so in a way another boundary around the body I want to explore is how that dualism is reflected through it and how it can join political and historical conversations. I often think that stuff like WASTEHOLE is dated in a way because I would have made different choices now or explored things differently with a different knowledge base, but it was still an important thing for me to make in the sense of like, what ideas were really really resonant with me at the time, especially since it was one of the first zines I made on my own. And also thank you for the note about FTX, haha. I know yonic art is “overplayed” but that’s kind of why I wanted to experiment with it from a different perspective, especially a trans one since they’re all meant to be representational of post-T, pre-op trans masculine genitals.


FELIX: I am also really interested in yonic art that isn't about fertility - - I think typically feminist art is more interested in the birth canal, which is also cool, but vagina as creative power is overplayed in a way that vulva as a site of transformation or even as erotic pleasure is somehow ignored.


DEV: It’s so interesting to hear your perspective on some of these pieces because I feel like I’m actually learning new things about something I created, haha. Tenderness and gentleness and vulnerability are things that pop up in my work, but I think maybe not even always intentionally. I’m glad that it carries through regardless, though. That’s meaningful to me but I don’t always think I’m consciously expressing it.


DEV: Before I talk about the astral projection stuff, I would like to say [re: yonic symbols]; thank you! That’s something I rarely hear expressed as such but is pretty resonant with me. Especially because I’ve had a total hysterectomy and while I lack reproductive capacity due to that, I still have the other requisite parts and want to explore how those are depicted and in what contexts they are, as well.


FELIX: I guess part of my interpretation of your art as tender is that dissolution and destruction is kind of romantic to me? Not sure why, but ego death seems peak tender.

DEV: Haha, that reminds me of something an old coworker of mine told me, which was that he thought the most romantic way to share in being with someone was through cannibalism. He was trans/queer and I think the fact that I responded with “I can see that / I agree” probably shocked him a little since I doubt he heard that much in seriousness.


FELIX: [re: yonic art] I find it kind of alienating that most of feminist yonic art is reproductive or about pain. Both of those things are valid artistic avenues, or whatever, but it's weird to me how much they dominate the genre. (except childbirth as a psychedelic experience I always want to hear about that.) and even though your art features surgery and scarring I get more a sense of liberation and transformation than pain.


FELIX: [re: romantic cannibalism] I was recently thinking about cannibalism as symbol for maternal love in fairy tales, but that is getting very far away from the topic, lol


DEV: Thank you! I’m trying for that sort of liberation, or at least trying for a synthesis there. I love pain but it has its place and needs to be contextualized in certain ways to me for ultimate appeal, and that often involves a dualism with care and self-transformation and pleasure. But in a way, you’re right, my experiences of ego death have been significant for me not just for their profundity but also because of how overwhelmingly good they feel, because in an ego death, you’re not alone, you’re just everything, and it’s like being hugged by the universe, but you’re hugging yourself. It can actually be a very healing and “tender” experience even if it’s an intense one.


DEV: [re: cannibalism] Ah, I could talk about cannibalism all day if we start! One thing I love is the experience of a cannibalism info dump from my partner, who knows way more about it than I do.

DEV: [re: astral projection] For me, all of my astral projection and ego death experiences have been facilitated through psychedelics. So in a way they were uncontrollable and didn’t involve much training or preparation beyond the usual ‘set and setting’ stuff for drugs like magic mushrooms. I had an experience with ego death and astral projection so intense during one trip that I was just laying on the floor of our spare bedroom and alternating between sobbing and laughing hysterically for hours, because the sensation of “suddenly” being human again and in my own body, over and over again, was so overwhelming, and so overwhelming with possibility!


FELIX: Holy shit! That's so cool! My own experience with drugs has been few and very negative, but I love hearing about other people's experiences. Gives me a fantastical lord of the rings adventure vibe!


DEV: It was horrifying at the time since I definitely took too large of a portion (and ignored my dealer’s advice to go easy on them; never do that, kids, even if you think you’re a seasoned psychonaut, haha.) But I’m very impressed with people who explore it through other means, like sensory deprivation or meditation or lucid dreaming. Compared to them, I’m an amateur!


FELIX: [getting back to Dev’s art] While I feel like your portraits feel like still-lives, your art featuring mushrooms feel like portraits. Could you talk a bit about your fascination with mushrooms? Both psychoactive and non-psychoactive.


DEV: Oh yes! I love fungi; I’m drawn to them for many reasons, actually! They’re tasty and nutritious and versatile for cooking, for one; my favorite mushroom to eat is definitely maitake / hen of the woods, lots of umami flavor. They’re also fascinating to me because they’re neither plant nor animal but are living and vital to our survival on a broad scale. Like it’s striking to me that if you asked a random person what the largest living organism is—or at least among them, there’s some contention there I guess—not many would probably list ‘honey fungus’ even though that might potentially be the case when measuring the gigantic fungal colony under eastern Oregon. It’s also nearly 2,500 years old. They have something of an eldritch quality to them.... not even getting into the ones that cause you to have visions that obliterate your mind! I really enjoy those the most and I also started having more of an interest in mushrooms even in a general sense after I started experimenting with magic mushrooms. It’s an extremely humbling experience. I think more research should be done into the capacity of psychedelics to treat depression and anxiety, really.

[here we took a break for a couple of days]


FELIX: Did you ever have any formal art training?


DEV: Sort of! Maybe not in the way people expect; I didn’t get a college degree in art or graphic design or anything related, I actually was a history and philosophy double major in college, and professionally I wound up in food service. I was at one point interested in attending art school….and I was even, get this, encouraged to by my parents! But that didn’t pan out.

If you mean in the sense that I’ve taken art classes at all, I have, just none past high school level…and a few incidental community college art classes that I went to with my mom as a very small child. I would say I think I’ve lived more of an ‘art life’ than anything else; one of the first things I immediately wanted to do with some amount of human consciousness was create art. When I was very young, before I was school-aged, I used to get up early and draw for hours like it was my job. My mom was also an artist with no formal training outside of evening community college art classes, and some of my earliest social groups as a child were with and around local (older, often elderly) artists who were in these classes, too. Even in the relatively conservative southeast, still a better group of people to be in with than not! So from birth I was going to small galleries, large galleries, art museums, artist’s residences and homes and studios, art supply stores, etc. and our parents definitely instilled an inherent value in art appreciation and expression in me and my brother from a young age. I don’t know how much all of that maps to common expectations of a formal art education, haha.


DEV: That said, a lot of what I “do” now is self-taught entirely, including graphic design and web design and HTML and CSS and Javascript, none of which I’ve had formal education on ever. I’ve heard it said that Myspace and LiveJournal and Xanga did more for the competency of teen girls with web design than any formal gender inequity-based web design initiative, and I think there’s some truth to that, haha. That’s where all of my knowledge originated; I just wanted to have a good way to make avatars and layouts for myself on forums and LiveJournal when I was 13, and here we are. Certainly that’s not limited by gender at all, but in the original context it was framed that way for a reason. As in, no one cares about something that makes them feel like they’re a token or fulfilling a quota for something vague like “web design”, but everyone cares about making sure their LiveJournal layout looks cool or at least pleasant to stare at. Okay, not everyone. But way more people!


DEV: So in that way I identify a lot more with the outsider artist experience. So much of my own method has involved self-education and experimentation. I just also came from a background that was pretty broadly supportive of and interested in artistic expression. A lot of what I do is driven by pleasure and experimentation as opposed to use of formal knowledge or training, which of course I incorporate sometimes. But I don’t inherently “value” it over my feeling that art is a staple of human expression, that every person is an “artist” rather than an “artist” being a type of person, and that every aspect of your life can be a part of artistic expression.

I also grew up reading all of the magazines my mom subscribed to, including ARTNews and such….which was part of my gateway into the really interesting cultural art engagement and criticism and censorship of the time. Which, when I was young, were things like Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ incidents at his National Gallery of Victoria retrospective in 1997, the continuing cultural scandal around Robert Mapplethorpe’s public arts funding from 1989, and the 1998 incident in England where the police confiscated a library book of his photos, the 2001 controversy with Tierney Gearon at the Saatchi Gallery in London that involved some public accusations of obscenity against her for displaying family photographs that included her children when they were running around nude or, in one case, urinating….and Sally Mann’s photographs of her family for similar reasons of childhood nudity. Those sorts of things, that really challenged public perceptions about art and obscenity and where those boundaries resided. I think all of that background is instrumental in my approach to art now, too.


FELIX: I love the concept of living an art life! I'm also really interested in outsider art (and very defensive of them.) I also really agree with every person being an artist. I feel like creating is a basic tenet of the human condition.


FELIX: Did growing up in the south affect your art?


DEV: I think in some ways growing up working class in the rural south had a major effect on me, yes, and that absolutely carried through to my art. I’m sure I would be a completely different person in some ways if I happened to grow up in a different social context without the same cultural markers and experiences…. I was raised in an area that's a food desert, it's polluted and exploited in many ways environmentally / ecologically, it's underfunded in its public works and education, it has limited economic opportunities and resources available due to rural isolation, it's in a whole different world from major metro cultural conversations on and resources for LGBTQ people, it's majority-minority in ethnic makeup….etc. None of those things are really the cultural “norm” in the U.S., inasmuch as there is a cohesive thing like that, though being white I objectively haven’t dealt with the worst effects of all of the above. Being gay and trans there sucks a lot of the time, though.


DEV: Due to what I assume were zoning violations, my public high school ended up being built way too close to industrial livestock farms, the miasma from which gave tons of school children and faculty persistent respiratory problems. I was pretty sickly in school because of that. People in my family have had to contend with MRSA infections via rural air pollution, too. Experiences like that were life-changing for me and also have had a hand in what I want to express artistically (as well as politically). The south is a region where some of the social conditions and historical tensions of power and identity formations in the U.S.—through race, through settler activity, through class, through religion (don't even get me started), through cisheterosexuality and the nuclear family—are laid most bare, and in some ways I feel like it's often in the role of the U.S.'s shadow self. Some of those conditions up there, like the health effects of agri-industry pollution on me growing up, were significant to me forming some of my relationships that I have with my body and health, including feeling alienated via those things. Which also carried over to my art, too. I'm very interested in things like waste, pollution, trash, biohazards, the political nature of "health / wholeness", and what it means to live in an already-compromised or alien-feeling vessel. I think those sorts of body feelings are all tied up in complex ways with my gender identity and instability as well. But that was just a glimpse of my home area, it's a wide and diverse region and I've lived in very different parts of it less like that; the urban and rural divide is a severe one sometimes. It's also just a weird and often spooky region, and there are some real characters living there. I feel like growing up there or living there long-term exposes you to flavors of humanity unavailable in other regions. There are weirdos everywhere, but the weirdos of the south are a different breed. (I would love to hear about your favorite outsider artists sometime!)


FELIX: (we should definitely talk abt cannibalism and/or Henry darger some time!) I was really interested in your zine WASTEHOLE. Not to sound privileged, but while I had heard about the effects of environmental racism/classism, I had never envisioned them so viscerally. I was honestly shocked that people contracted MRSA just from standing in their yards. Zines are often a tool for expressing political rage, but I think your use of the zine as creative nonfiction (both in WASTEHOLE and ANOTHER TRANS HYSTO ZINE) is unique. Were there any works of creative nonfiction that were particularly influential to you?


DEV: Thank you so much, I'm so glad you enjoyed them! For Wastehole in particular, the biggest inspiration was honestly 'Testo Junkie' by Paul B. Preciado, not necessarily just in the marriage of autobiographical experiences and wider history / social theory, but in many of the ideas approached in terms of biopolitics. Love it or hate it, it's influential for sure. I've always been kind of interested in the way people create narratives for all sorts of life experiences and events. There are soooo many memoirs in particular that I like that are really great examples of how to creatively and competently tell true stories.... 'Carsick' by John Waters was really fun as a concept to me when that came out, and more recently I really enjoyed Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's 'The Freezer Door.' I feel like a lot of graphic novels I love fall in this category, too. 'Red Rosa' by Kate Evans is one I love a lot; it's an historical biography of Rosa Luxemburg, very lovingly represented and well-researched, using the content from her writings and conversations. 'What Is Obscenity?' by Rokudenashiko is another one I recommend to other people a lot and has really stuck with me over the years; it's an autobiographical narrative manga by the Japanese woman most famous for facing obscenity charges for the art she makes of her pussy. (Including the 3D-modeled pussy boat she crowdfunded and sailed around in publicly.) So the manga is her writing about her experiences being arrested for her art, her legal troubles and stumbling blocks, her experiences in jail, her artistic method and inspiration, obscenity laws in Japan more broadly.... it's really fascinating!

(Yes, absolutely lol. Henry Darger is my favorite outsider artist probably)


FELIX: Your combination of nature and machines is also present in your zine FAKECATION. I find the computer manipulated landscapes to be an interesting combination of leisure and horror, of retro and contemporary. Where did you get the idea for a vacation brochure as horror?


DEV: I actually don't really know! I was interested in playing around with the surreal nature of computer generated landscapes as they'd feel alongside the trappings of traditional vacation ads...so many people were (and are) playing around with the uncanny qualities of combining standard cultural artifacts / symbols with surreal computer generated images, and I really love it. Experimenting with the inversion of color definitely gave it more of a creepy vibe, but that was accidental and happened during the process itself. I think horror and vacation are kind of intrinsically linked in general, since that's an easy “in” to a position of greater personal and social vulnerability for people and/or characters. But also, I guess that's part of what I wanted to call attention to in it as well, in terms of the actual retro vacation artifacts themselves. The horror of vacation in our culture's media, like in slasher films or creature horror films for example, so often involves situations like people going away somewhere new or 'foreign' and being taken advantage of in an unfamiliar situation or naturally isolated place by some unknown 'other', monster or human or animal, especially in a relaxed or unprepared mental and physical state. But with that as the default perspective kind of reinforcing the social usefulness of things like travel agencies or well established tourist industries, for example, there isn't necessarily the reverse view, where the vacation spot and industry itself is actually a form of horror and terror, just that they're manifested as capitalism and colonialism.


FELIX: I wondered if there was homage to the movie Psycho. Were there horror movies that were particularly influential to you?


DEV: Not a knowing homage, anyway! But unconsciously....who knows. I like a lot of horror movies--it's definitely my most-watched genre in the broadest sense--but one of the most influential to me is House (1977), directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi. I don't know if you've seen it, but it's an insanely fun and visually dynamic Japanese haunted house movie. That's really underselling and simplifying it, though! Obayashi's experiences with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and how he worked that personal tragedy into the script and premise is also fascinating to me, same for the way he incorporated his pre-teen daughter's ideas about horror into the plot. One of my favorite film experiences was seeing a midnight screening of it at a local small theater. Other than that, I love the work of Lynch and Cronenberg....some other horror films that have really influenced me or just stuck with me include Alien, Begotten, It Follows, Beyond the Black Rainbow, The Shining, Misery, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Get Out, Lake Mungo, and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Oh, and Pumpkinhead for sure. My parents have always called me that. It's definitely my favorite nickname; we look pretty similar.


FELIX: I have a lot of things to look up now! I'm really obsessed with Alien. I don't think you could make that movie today. It's one of the movies that means the most to me.


DEV: Same! I saw it for the first time when I was like four, which might have been a little young........ but it's one of the first sci-fi and horror movies I remember seeing and it left an impression on me to say the least. One funny part of that is that when we were watching the rental, my mom ran over and, to everyone's yells and protestations, stood in front of the TV screen to keep me from seeing the John Hurt Chestburster scene. Which is so funny to me in retrospect because that was the only scene she did that for, I saw it regardless, and also there are so many more things in the movie that were pretty disturbing beyond that one for a young child to see, haha.


FELIX: haha, the penis monster drooling its acid on Ripley was no problem I guess? I really love the art in [Alien], and also it's amazing that the only franchise where I got to see real genuine dykes outside of lesbian genre television (and even then, it's usually femmes on the centre stage, with Lea Delaria in the background.) I think Ripley ends up being canonically attracted to men in the sequels but she'll always be a monster-fighting space - trucker bulldagger dyke in my heart.


DEV: Hey, homo is where the heart is....


FELIX: There are also occasionally religious symbols in your artwork. For instance, you have a corrupted Lucifer in lucifer.exe, and your art depicting rubber masks is entitled Savior. Were you inspired by Christian imagery in particular, or the use of Christian symbols in Gothic fashion?


DEV: I’d probably be drawn to them to some extent for reasons of aesthetics and power regardless of my own relationship with them (since like you said, it’s so often a goth thing,) but I had some pretty personal and ultimately traumatic and destabilizing experiences with Evangelicalism when I was young that kind of sent me fully in the other direction in reaction to that once I got into my teens. So I have a history there and that’s the origin of it. I think Christian iconography will always find its way into my life and art because of that, mostly.


FELIX: Does that relate to the juxtaposition of BDSM symbols and Christian iconography in your work? I'm thinking of our earlier conversation about Savior as a transcendental piece.


DEV: Yeah, I would say so. I think there’s probably some overlap in my experience of repression of the self and removal of the self as dictated by the religious mores and culture that I was dealing with, and the particular experiences I’m most interested in within BDSM practices. I’m sure my id has had a field day with all of that.


FELIX: I've run out of questions but I had a great time interviewing you, thank you so much for this opportunity!


DEV: Oh you’re so welcome! Thank you so much for the extremely thoughtful and delightful questions, I really enjoyed them and had a great time, too.



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