The superhero persona of Theo-Mass Lexileictous, spells for…?
Theo-Mass Lexileictous is an anagram to my real name, Alexis Themistocleous.
The project initially started by exploring iconic notions of paranoia and my boundaries and limitations as a person. I realized that the goals and standards I had set for myself were really high, that the only way to achieve them was by getting some sort of superpowers. Conceptually, the reason I became a superhero was to acquire these superpowers and enable myself to achieve those things I’d always desired to accomplish. The aim of the project was to completely erase my real self and create a new character. And that’s how Theo-Mass was born in 2011.
I can’t say I am a performance artist; it might be a performance for the audience but I don’t see it that way. It is a personal project with an audience but at the same time it remains a personal project. In a nutshell, is important what the project has offered to me as an individual and not what the other people think of my project.
How many Theo-Mass are there in Lexileictous?
Only one. However, a new character will be revealed soon, who will be another extension of Alexis.
What superpowers does Theo-Mass Lexileictous possess?
Consequently the idea to become a superhero was born (not in the sense of becoming the next Batman or Spiderman). Theo-Mass Lexileictous’s superpowers are: Fashion Money and the Media. These superpowers are continuously explored, evolved and applied. Inside the project these superpowers are making references to stereotypes concerning power, through such symbols as the ones explored in the first Theo-Mass episode titled ''My Power Is Beyond Your Understanding”. This episode targeted these superpowers: I printed my own currency (''Theo-Mass dollars''- referencing the US Dollar), I established connections with the fashion world through the costumes, masks and headpieces I wear, as well as my collaborations with designers and artists who work within the fashion industry and so on. Then I started collaborating with the media internationally, while publishing my own newspaper, Theo-Mass Times – referencing the New York Times.
What distinguishes Alexis Themistokleous from Theo-Mass Lexileictous?
Theo-Mass Lexileictous (alter ego) is the exact opposite of myself. Theo-Mass follows a series of opposites to my real self: The white (Alexis) vs. the black (Theo-Mass), the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly: Alexis and Theo-Mass. In episode 5, “The Ultimate Acceptance”, Theo-Mass overpowers Alexis, in all senses, even from the digital world; hence I had to delete the profile of Alexis from all social platforms of any sort. In other words the alter-ego overpowers the ego. The fact that I needed to create my alter ego, which today is 5 years old, indicates that there is something deeper, there is a deeper personal need beyond creating a project or a series of performances.
How do you experience the concepts of metamorphosis and transformation in your work?
My project has undertaken a crucial transformation; as it’s a personal project the transformation that I experience is principally as a person. For two years I undertook a metamorphosis process, transforming from Alexis Themistocleous to Theo-Mass Lexileictous. It has been and still is an interesting procedure; looking back five years ago, I would say that the best decision I have ever taken as a person was to explore this side of me (Theo-Mass). It was a decision based on taking risks; the risk of quitting my job and move to London, in order to explore this “project”. The transformation I experienced was the outcome of a series of decisions, such as lack of money, hard times, the unknown, and so on. . I experienced this transformation as a storm in my personal life. I came to discover many sides of myself, which, I was never aware of their existence. It took a couple of years to get used to the whole process and manage to adjust to it.
In episode 6, your work has been identified with #POSTDIGITALISM; how do you define #POSTDIGITALISM and what is the POSTDIGITALIST manifesto?
#postdigitalism is a concept that I developed in 2013; it was a new ground of exploration, following the “Ultimate Acceptance” episode. This is when my work and the project itself started to change. This is also when I stopped performing. Firstly, I believe #postdigitalism as a word cannot be separated into two parts like post and digitalism. It has to be one word and always accompanied by the hashtag sign (#) at the front in order to be identified as part of this decade’s language formation and highlight the emergence of a hybrid language evident in our everyday communication, present in all types of media. My #postdigitalism explores the relationship between the digital and the physical. How the digital language penetrates and exists in the physical environment. When I was in Vienna for a residency at the Museums Quartier Wien, I completed my research on trying to define #postdigitalism. Within the spectrum of defining and documenting #postdigitalism, I have developed the #postdigitalist automatic writing, the #postdigitalism manifesto, the #hybrid language and the #postdigitalist objects.
I found that Surrealism as a movement has many elements in common with how I define #postdigitalism. When I was researching and studying the way people communicate today (the use of hashtags, random words, fragmented phrases and sentences) is what initially made me to look at the Surrealists’ practice of automatic writing and so on. My #postdigitalist_automatic writing is referencing the Surrealist automatic writing; my #postdigitalist_manifesto references the Surrealist manifesto. When I was firstly asked to explain #postdigitalism in one sentence I said: #When #I #cook #friedeggs #in #the #desert #ants #are #meltingclocks #in #my #pipe. I think that the above sentence can perfectly explain my concept.
#POSTDIGITALISM: What is the notion of hybrids?
Commonly defined as the composition of heterogeneous elements, the meaning of hybrid is put forward to denote exactly that: the merge of two diverse realities and the effect they provoke when juxtaposed. During the #postdigitalism episode, the Hybrid effect, referred to artworks that resulted from the cross of two diverse realities; that of the physical existence and that of the abstractness of the digital world. The main purpose of the #postdigitalism episode, was to explore new technologies and invent new avenues that would give us the opportunity to extract the digital into the physical, giving substance to virtuality, creating in this way hybrids: Artworks or pieces of text of mixed origin and composition. For example, all the words that compose the #postdigitalism manifesto are accompanied by the hashtag symbol (#). Consequently, the words accompanied with the hashtag symbol, when posted on social media, gives you the possibility to enter theme image archives accordingly, but when printed in a piece of paper they no longer seem to function in the same way. Instead a hybrid language is rising. The same phenomenon appears with the (@) symbol and so on. What happens when extracting the digital world from the screen to reality?
In this era of perpetual change and rapid technological development, is there anything you are nostalgic for?
I don’t believe I am nostalgic about anything; I find nostalgia a bit romantic and this is not an element of my character. I also don’t see the reason in going back longing for something.
Can you give us a preview of the next Theo-Mass episode?
In the next episode of Theo-Mass, episode 8, titled “This Is My World, You Are Just Living In It”, the whole project goes back to its roots; there will be a filtering of all that happened so far as well as an exploration of the notions of power, taking them however to a whole new level. For example, the Theo-Mass Times come with the Theo Mass Publishing House. The TML (Theo-Mass Lexileictous) bank will be a real bank, with a physical existence, where people can go in to change their Euros into Theo-Mass dollars. The digital persona of Theo-Mass in flesh and bone; a real character who provides to himself all the means he needs to survive, live, and co-exist amongst us. The next episode is scheduled to launch early in 2017.
Content Annie Markitanis, Antonio Ametrano
Cover animation ©Animation / the #postdigitalism manifesto / the #postdigitalism exhibition
Picture 01 © Theo-Mass Lexileictous in The Ultimate Acceptance Episode
Picture 02 ©Theo-Mass Lexileictous, Photography Stelios Kallinikou.jpg
Picture 03 ©Theo-Mass Lexileictous, Photography Stelios Kallinikou
Picture 04 ©Portrait of Theo-Mass / episode 1 ''A superhero is born'' / Photography- Yannis Bournias
Picture 05 ©Portrait of Theo-Mass / Episode 4 “The Planetary Alignment” / Photography by Stelios Kallinikou
Picture 06 ©Theo-Mass Lexileictous, Photography by Stelios Kallinikou
Picture 07 ©Theo-Mass Dollars / Side A & Side B
Picture 08 ©The Theo-Mass Times
Picture 09 ©GREAT MASTURBATOR by Theo-Mass in collaboration with Blør
Picture 10 ©Theo-Mass Lexileictous, Selfportrait
Picture 11 ©Theo-Mass Lexileictous, Selfportrait
Picture 12 ©Theo-Mass Lexileictous, Photography BLØR
Picture 13 ©Theo-Mass Lexileictous, Photography BLØR
Picture 14 ©Theo-Mass Lexileictous, Photography BLØR