New page on this website: Mythologies


In PASSAGES, the heart of the conflict is the philosopher King of the Gods, Sum’o’s, desire to experience giving birth like a human in his quest for transcendence.. His youngest sister, Sum’a the Enforcer hates humans because they have developed spoken language; one day during a confrontation, she accidentally kills a human. Sum’o’s older sister, Sum’i the Arbiter, is interested only in maintaining balance through observance of the laws, traditions and principles handed down by their ancestors.


“Night” is the identity chosen by The First One, who comes into existence out of the void of light and immediately hates being alive. This video exploring her character and developing her subtext is my second experiment showing her struggle to escape existence into a black hole. CREATION is a mythology based on Mbombo, the creator god in the religion and mythology of the Kuba of Central Africa, who created the world by vomiting various parts of it. I am in the pre-production phase of CREATION, composing a live action storyboard through a process of creating and uploading pre-production worldbuilding, story and character development videos. CREATION is shot splitscreen and chromakeyed; and montaged with shots from the natural world. There is no dialogue (vocalization and singing are improvised) and the movie will be subtitled and or intertitled as necessary. The sound of the world of the story will be gathered as much as possible from the characters’ movements and mixed with found sounds to enhance the ambience.


SEQUENCE 13 combines animation and live action an experimental, greenscreen art film inspired by the Central African creator god, Mbombo, who created the world by vomiting it. There is no dialogue. The soundtrack is original, minimalist music. The characters in SEQUENCE 13 are The Second One, a creator god who begins vomiting all the parts of the Universe, and one of his/her hatchlings. This is my first movie in which animation is a dominating component.

THE HARPY TRIBUNAL by Sylvia Toy, excerpt (rough) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

A goddess disagrees with her sisters about The Humans and is put on trial for treason.


The Cape Experiments by Sylvia Toy are performance art events improvised by a large, greenscreenable cape, the environment, my husband, Michael Lewis, directing behind a handheld camera, and myself. These scenes were shot in Cold Creek, Nevada USA, which is located in the Toyabe National Forest near Mt. Charleston.

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Updated page: Lucy, The First Human

LUCY, THE FIRST HUMAN by Sylvia Toy (remastered rough cut) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

 

TITLE: Lucy, the First Human by Sylvia Toy (remastered in 2017)
YEAR: 2017
SPECS: 23:44 minutes, 16:9, H.264, AAC, Color/Stereo, Silent/No captioning
COUNTRY: United States

On Tuesday November 24, 2015, the 51st anniversary of Donald Johanson’s discovery of Australopithecus afarensis (“Lucy”) at the Afar Triangle of Ethiopia, my ‘Lucy, the First Human’ trailers on YouTube got a total of five hours of airtime. That means my Lucy came up in searches and someone probably shared her. That is a real thrill.

LUCY, THE FIRST HUMAN is video art/microcinema crossing genre into nonlinear science fiction fantasy. The subject matter is paleoanthropological. The setting is a barren, shadowy, womb-like or cave-like environment. There is only one character in the movie. She is based on the hominid, Australopithecus afarensis.

This movie is composed of a series of improvisations of what the first human would do, think, feel, and how it would develop. The solitary female character is like an infant, mostly sleeping in the beginning. In her waking hours, her primary interest is herself until things begin to suddenly and surrealistically appear in her “cave.” She gradually is drawn out of her self-absorption into the real world.

Sylvia Toy St. Louis | List of Work (Exhibition List | Videography), January 2018

Year of creation: 2008

Psychotic Artifacts. Exhibited in The Revolution Will Be Televised, Altered Esthetics Gallery, Minneapolis, MN, 2008.

Year of creation: 2010

Depression As Geography. Exhibited in ‘CologneOff VII, Marrakech and Turkestan, 2011.

Year of creation: 2011

Indigo Lady. Selected for L.A. Neo Noir Film Festival, Femmes Fatales Grand Jury Award, 2016.

Indigo Lady pre-production videos. Exhibited at Galerie Chartier, West Haven, CT, 2013; KAPAS Film Festival, Spain, 2012.

Runnn. Exhibited on Skye Arte TV, Italy, 2013-2014.

Traveling To. Exhibited in STREETVIDEO Art on the streets of Paris and at Larcade Gallery, Paris October 2012, March 2013.

TYFTB (thank you from the bottom), (remastered and re-released 2017). Pre-production video screened at Galerie Chartier, West Haven CT, 2013.

Year of creation: 2013

Lucy, the First Human (remastered and re-released in 2017). Featured in The Unstitute Projection Room, November – December 2017.

running out. Exhibited in Pineapple Underground Film Festival, Hong Kong, 2014.

VOICE Pre-production videos. 2013-2016. Exhibited in International Video Art Exchange Program, Marrakech (2016) and in the Chemcraft Exhibit, CM Projects, London (2015).

Year of creation: 2014

before chill. Selected for Creative Arts Film Festival and awarded Honorable Mention for Best Cinematography, Online festival, 2016.

Queen. Exhibited in “Clash,” Siger Art Gallery, London, November 2017.

Year of creation: 2014

The Sound of Being. Toured internationally in Magmart F.I.V.E., 2014-2015. Exhibited in CCIFabrika “Now&After17,” Moscow, RU, 2017.

Year of creation: 2015

The Blue Lady by Sylvia Toy. Exhibited in 1974-1978 UNL Alumni Exhibition, Eisentrager-Howard Art Gallery, Lincoln, NE, 2016.

Passages, a Myth. Excerpt, PASSAGES, A MYTH | DISCOVERY OF THE PREGNANCY OF THE KING, exhibited in Festival Miden, Kalamata, Greece, 2016 and at Visual Container, Milan, IT 2017.

KILLER JANE Pre-production videos. 2015-2017. Selected for L.A. Neo Noir Film Festival and awarded a Femmes Fatales Grand Jury Award, 2016.

Year of creation: 2016

THE HARPY by Sylvia Toy. Selected for Bucharest ShortCut CineFest, September, 2016.

VOICE, a performance art movie. Selected for Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival, 2017. Awarded Honorable Mention laurels by Los Angeles Underground Film Forum, 2016. Awarded Honorable Mention laurels by Experimental Film Forum, 2017.

VOICE Festival Cutting 2. Exhibited at VisualContainer TV (2016 and 2017) and toured in HearteartH to Barcelona, Berlin, Milan (2016).

VOICE Festival Cutting 3. Exhibited in Underground FilmFest, Munich, Germany, July 2017. Exhibited in Black Underground Film Fest, Rancho Cucamonga, California, October 2017.

Year of creation: 2017

THE HARPY Tribunal. Exhibited on Art Web Gallery, La Spezia, IT, online June-July 2017.

KILLER JANE by Sylvia Toy. Exhibited at Klanghaus, Oakland CA, May 2017. Selected for Chicago Amarcord Arthouse Film Awards, November 2017.

AND SO I SAID. Exhibited in Burnt Experimental Video Art and Film Festival, Montreal, December 2017.

My Cinematic Kitchen Window by Sylvia Toy

There is nothing quite the light of late autumn/early winter. Shot on my iPhone while I was supposed to be making lunch. #experimentalfilm #sylviatoy #sylviatoystlouis #performanceart #sylviatoyindustries #AfricanAmericanartist

VOICE, a performance art movie is in the house

I have made autobiographical art about mental illness for twenty five years, including sculpture and solo theatre. One of my friends and theatre collaborators told me I’ve made so much art about it that I’ve almost cured myself of bipolar disorder. By the time I began working on VOICE, a performance art movie, it wasn’t autobiographical anymore. I was able to make surrealistic fiction about a middle-class woman who is so clueless about mental health that she is too embarrassed to tell her therapist that she was treated for an eating disorder as a young woman; a woman who is so out of touch with her inner self that her psychoses leave the planet without her. Also, the woman has had artist’s block since college – that’s not me! When the movie opens, she is a shell and her life has fallen apart.

I could never let my life fall apart like my character does. That’s not in my makeup. But I could also never let myself be vulnerable and as open to change as she is. I envy her vulnerability. I’m sure I’ve BEEN as vulnerable as anyone else; but as soon as I FEEL vulnerable, unlike the character in my movie, I become aggressive instead of falling apart.

This year, VOICE made me what is probably one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Her response to the movie has me in tears every time I think about it because she made it so personal. I believe that a work of art is not completed by its maker, but instead continues to be made by its viewers.

Years ago I toured a solo show about me and a mean voice that started inside my head when I was 8 years old. In the show, I play myself and the voice fighting constantly for control. When you’ve been living like that for 40 years, you can’t help but have a sense of humor or you’ll REALLY go crazy. But my audiences were usually dead silent in what I thought were the most deadly funny parts of my show until one night at the Midnight Sun in Olympia, Washington when the 15 schizophrenic outpatients I’d sold discounted tickets to, laughed so hard that I kept having to stop the show and I forgot some of my lines. That was art continuing in the viewer. My BFF making me cry about her response to VOICE is art continuing in the viewer.

A movie that I greenscreened by myself in my livingroom about a bipolar woman in therapy whose psychoses abandon her for outer space was such catharsis that I have to let it go – I have to let it continue. Thanks to Onlineum for spurring me to expedite subtitles so that VOICE could be part of Onlineum’s launch this past week.

VOICE, a performance art movie is in the house. https://youtu.be/SGJ4LnEDW2s

VOICE, a performance art movie (English subtitles) is playing on Onlineum

I am so happy that the new online museum, Onlineum, is featuring my performance art movie VOICE through November 23, 2017. ‘A bipolar woman’s psychoses begin touring outer space …’ @ http://www.onlineum.com/exhibitions/

Artist’s Life 101: I would be nothing if not for all my failures

I have been quite grateful for all the artworld rejections I’ve ever gotten for the past week. ​

On November 1, I got an email saying: “We really like your work. We were wondering if we may suggest screening AND SO I SAID piece, we think it would go better with the overall flow of our program.” I submitted KILLER JANE, which is 13 minutes, to this festival – the other movie is 5-1/2 minutes.​

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If you participate in the art world in more than one medium long enough, you will find yourself in the same sort of situation in more than one medium. I can recall exactly how upset I was the first time I submitted two sculptures to a competition and my favorite was passed over while the other won me a prize. That experience did not make any less awful the night my scene partner and I gave a staged reading of my first two-person monologue and right afterwards the artistic director of the venue said to the audience: “I think this should be a solo performance and (pointing out another actress who was in the audience) [she] should do it.” They had to scrape me off the floor that night.​

And then there’s the more than once of we-love-your-work-but-we-haven’t-made-our-final-decision-yet; and you wind up not getting selected. It takes years and years and years of rejections to recognize semi-finalist or honorable mention as currency.​

So with all the rejections, disappointments and in my face ego battering under my belt, I laughed and told myself: “Don’t get too excited about maybe getting into this festival – you know the drill.”​

I was going to write an essay about it however it turned out. I have been trying to get into art venues in Montreal for 20 years in three of my mediums. And I wish I could be there when Burnt Experimental Video Art and Film Festival screens AND SO I SAID.​