Footnotes: Jesse Kanda on the Art He Created for Arca’s Xen

Arca’s longtime collaborator shares some of the quotidian inspirations behind his strange yet luminous figures.

October 07, 2014
  • Jesse Kanda's "portraits of Xen" for Arca's debut album

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    From the magazine: ISSUE 94, on stands October 21st. Pre-order a copy here.

    The cover art and liner notes for Arca’s debut album come from 3D designer and animator Jesse Kanda. A longtime collaborator of the producer’s, he based the visual concept for Xen on Arca’s childhood alter ego of the same name. “They are all portraits of Xen,” Kanda explained to us over email, naming some of the quotidian inspirations behind those strangely mutated, luminous figures, lurching out of the darkness like fragments of a dream. Read our FADER 94 cover story on Arca here.


    In my work, I try my best to make every decision count and mean something. It’s often minimal, but it makes whatever is there mean more. 


    I think confidence is key to happiness. Showing yourself and the world who you are takes confidence, and when you do it, I think it makes you a better person. I love portraying confidence in my work.


    I don’t really use dialogue in my stuff. You can say a lot with just a body. It’s probably an influence from the TV and manga that I used to love as a child.


    Sex is the most beautiful thing bodies can do!


    When you work with a computer, every frame has to be created and calculated, so it’s prone to mechanical results. I try my best to set up my working environment so that accidents can happen. A good [method] is working really quickly. Like making large brush strokes to start with and then adding/subtracting details later.


    This is another advantage I have working with computer graphics: the control I have over lights. I have complete freedom over how many lights I have in a scene, where to put them, even whether to automate them. Sometimes they can have a life of their own, like the light itself is a character. 

    Footnotes: Jesse Kanda on the Art He Created for Arca’s Xen