May 21, 2019

Families, Reimagined: A Slice of Life in Odorless County by Lu Yim

In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we present our "Families, Reimagined" art series! Organizations like APANO have long recognized the diversity of families and have been working to expand definitions of family in legislative policy. To explore this expansive notion further, we commissioned six artists to create original artwork responding to changing definitions of home, family, and community. Today's piece of original writing comes from artist Lu Yim. Read on and join us in celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander artists.

A Slice of Life in Odorless County

Sunny opens the refrigerator and finds it nearly empty. On the bottom shelf is an old pack of cigarettes that belonged to his mother. Next to them is a note from his guardian Steve. I’m recharging at the station. Sorry there’s no food. The Odorless device is in the living room, please don’t wait for me to set it up. Sunny shuts the door of the fridge and walks towards the monstrous pile of unfinished projects growing in the living room since his mother’s death. Eventually he finds the device hiding under its catalogue of set-up instructions. Welcome to your Odorless-NON. Its main function is to know and fulfill your needs. Once secured the NON-Mindreader headset will immediately sync to your brain’s frequencies and communicate via your home network.

Sunny takes the Mindreader into his room, pulls it over his ears, and collapses onto his bed. He rubs his mother’s pearl pendant between his hands and squeezes his eyes shut, aware of the risk that comes with being intimate with this device. As he takes in its peculiar new smell, he recounts the Yaoi viewing party he had with Tay the previous evening. He had meant for it to be sexy and cute but the scene where Hiroshi dies made him abruptly stop the show and demand Tay make a record of his will. I want you to have the pearl pendant and I want my ashes buried under the cherry blossoms and take Steve back to AI headquarters…

...If only Google-subsidized AI guardians were better with their tasks. Sunny immediately feels guilty for having such thoughts, as Steve’s companionship has been crucial in keeping him afloat since the death. Distracted by his hunger, he trails off into his imagination, feeling his teeth sink into the crispy edges of a seafood pancake and into the pillowy dough of fresh, steamy bao. Saliva begins to form around his tongue and his phone buzzes, alerting him of a delivery.

Wiping drool from his mouth, he rushes to open the front door. At eye level is an Odorless drone quietly hovering at the threshold and clutching two large crates. It scans his thumb and follows him inside. He tears the lid off the top of the first crate and finds placed at the bottom a small royal blue box. From it he pulls a thin silver chain with an engraved tag that reads A NON gift to keep what warms your heart close.

He slips it through his mother’s pendant and tears fill his eyes. As they threaten to roll over his eyelashes, the sudden aroma of freshly fried pancake awakens his stomach. His hunger pulls him into the kitchen where he encounters the drone unpacking plates of pajeon and multiple steaming baskets of bao. Glimmering immaculately on the counter is a loaf of Slice of Life, the most coveted brand of egg bread in all of Odorless County. For our first time NON subscriber, this is on the house. Sunny digs in without hesitation.

His phone buzzes with a delivery update: CHEF, the Odorless replacement of your current Google guardian “Steve,” arrives tomorrow. He rips the Mindreader off his head and dials Tay as quickly as he can. Tears finally spill over the crest of his eyelashes as the egg bread sloshes in his stomach. They read me wrong and now Steve is in trouble. I need you IRL. Please hurry.

Performance maker Lu Yim is interested in embodied knowledge in relation to language. They are consistently in retrograde, moving with a dramaturgical process and undertaking research that does not always appear to move in the same direction as their dances. The material alchemy that occurs in their work is opaque and with non-linear consequences. They are part of artist run groups Physical Education and pidzn club, creating collaborative spaces and gatherings that begin as they come to be. Lu is a queer, trans, 1.5 generation Korean-American. They are a recent MFA graduate in Sculpture from the Milton Avery School of Fine Arts at Bard College (‘19).

Artwork by Ameya Marie