Still from Wendy Vainity’s “death’s dynamic shroud” on YouTube

Does Wendy Vainity actually know what she’s doing? The 48-year-old native of Adelaide, Australia is one of the weirdest YouTube users I’ve ever come across, with a collection of homemade 3D animations that range from the surreal to the creepy to the outright bizarre and disturbing. As far as I know, Wendy is entirely serious about the videos she makes. There’s a clear sense of humor in the videos and a sarcastic edge to her internet presence, but these clips are not, as they might seem to be, intentionally weird internet art. They’re just the creative output of one very out-there mind.

Wendy’s videos, created using open-source video software, all share a certain number of key visual tropes. There’s her obsession with tacky, curly typefaces, which often pop up before the videos begin, and her interest in particularly wild hair. In more than a few videos, hair, whether it’s on the head of a humanoid figure or an animal, moves in glitchy, alien waves not unlike the tentacles of a flailing octopus. For a demonstration, see the wild undulations of “viral vaccuum” or the absolutely freaky “bare-arsed Tedda bear does lunch in the park,” in which a costumed bear does hip-shaking dance moves on a picnic blanket.

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Wendy herself often stars in the videos, as in “Me in 3D.” Her own face appears behind her animated avatar, speaking out loud as the computer model lip syncs. Her hair is another monstrosity, alternating waving and sticking straight out from her head. Maybe “death’s dynamic shroud” (great name for a piece of video art, right?), an animation of a skeleton with flowing hair wearing a satin dress doing a dance in a mysterious empty landscape, is the momento mori version of the artist’s earlier self portraits. As the Papyrus text reads at the end of the video, “Die until you are dead aaaaaahhhh.”

Are the videos outsider art, or the work of a knowing artist making amazingly weird work on purpose? Wendy Vainity might be the Henry Darger of the web, an artist working outside of the mainstream but creating something so strangely compelling that you just can’t look away. Wendy’s world, much like Darger’s, is a weird and fantastical one, but it’s fun to run into out of the blue online. I don’t think her private universe could exist anywhere else. Check out a few of the videos below:

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

6 replies on “3D Video Artist Wendy Vainity is the Henry Darger of the Internet”

  1. In assessing art like this a critic must first be made aware of the artist’s intentions before any qualifying statements can be put forth. Ms. Vainity appears to be playfully experimenting with certain video-making computer programs and her narrow grasp of their capabilities is reflected in the limited narrative of each vid. To gauge her worth as an artist though again her purposes most definitely provide the necessary context for any evaluation. But without this knowledge she runs the risk of becoming relegated to the dreadful stoner artists clique.

    1. While her intentions and purposes could prove to be an engaging supplement to the work, it is altogether unnecessary for proper “assessment” or “qualification”. Without it, she may not be allowed in your contest. But she is most certainly allowed in mine. Stoner artists? Dieu m’en garde!

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