Tramaine Townsend is a mixed media visual artist and Houston native that currently resides in Dallas, Texas. Townsend is one of the many artists that played a part in bringing Sweet Tooth Hotel's Chapter Three: Discotech to life. He’s known for animation, design, photography, and filmmaking, yet this time around Townsend dabbled in experiential art as he brought his room, DEIFIED, to life. His installation is a part of a larger construct of work that he’s been designing for the past few years. This installation, specifically caters to the interconnectivity of humans and how we deal with social media.
“DEIFIED is the name of the piece," Townsend says. "DEIFIED is a palindrome and it’s spelled the same way forwards as it is backwards. DEIFIED, I guess, would be a past tense version of deity, like defying people as gods or just larger than life kind of entities or constructs of where we are now.”
In a self-glorifying, selfie-saturated world, DEIFIED makes guests the center of attention. Standing in an infinity mirrored room lined wall to wall with cameras, Townsend explains how this is similar to the way we see ourselves in multiple outlets.
“With the cameras in the room, it makes you feel like you’re being watched constantly,” he says. “We’re also always being watched ourselves and that can be a good or bad depending on what you’re talking about and who you’re talking to.”
Townsend points out that this room highlights, “the infinite possibilities of where things can go, especially within yourself.”
His room has a dark undertone, but he views it as majestic and a contrast to the other pieces that Discotech has to offer.
Townsend also breaks down the video piece he created for the room which plays on the middle TV screen you'll notice above the entry door.
“The film that I’ve created has people applauding and that’s usually how it is when we look at technology,” he reveals. “We’re usually looking for people to give us an ovation or some sort of validation. We look at people through our social media, putting them on this high pedestal and sometimes they’re just regular people like you and I.”
Drawing inspiration and creativity from people, social interactions, and technology, Townsend hopes to create immersive experiences that get people talking.
“My biggest responsibility to my audience is creating a dialogue," he said. "I feel like because we’re separated by so many things we don’t know how to talk to each other anymore. Creating that sense of dialogue is very important because it makes you think for yourself instead of being handicapped with immediate answers.”
Growing up, he always wanted to create innovative work and learned new skills to make those visions come to life. Even it meant he'd only use the skill once. Simply put, this is a snippet of his why and what pushes him to keep going.
"My 'why' is creating work that is more gravitating and can personify within each one of us as we see it," he says. "I want people to really see the types of work or see themselves in the work that I’m producing. My 'why', is really just creating work that is somewhat weird and somewhat dark and gets people talking, creating works that are strong for people to resonate with."
"A man who can't visualize a horse galloping on a tomato is an idiot." This quote by André Breton is one that keeps Townsend pushing the limits when it comes to the work he creates.
"I take that as anything is possible, anything is able to be shown visually, you just have to really push it and push boundaries past yourself."
After being approached by longtime friends and Sweet Tooth Hotel co-founders Cole and Jencey Keeton, Tramaine shares how he feels to be a part of something changing the cultural landscape in Dallas.
"Cole and Jencey have always told me about how they wanted to do this, so it's great to see that they've accomplished this much so far and I'm happy to see that they're doing greater things," he exclaimed. "I'm just happy to be a part of it, especially in knowing that my piece is completely different from everyone else's.
"I was very happy that they really dug the concept that I put together for Discotech and I was able to show my work despite it being a darker tone where their stuff is strong and very beautiful."
Tramaine leaves us with important advice to share with other creatives and those that aspire to do work similar to what he does, while mentioning the importance of running your own race and not getting caught up in the race of those around you, no matter how similar it may be to yours.
“Whatever it is that you do, whatever it is that you want to do art wise, keep up with it and never stop,” he shared. “Keep true to what you’re going to do. You’ll never become a master of your craft if you’re always comparing yourself to everybody else."