The themes I explore in my work are mostly centred around the idea of being watched and engaged with by viewers and audiences, the gaze and the narrative of the “awkward” black girl. Along with this, a growing theme in my work is observing and taking ownership of online spaces and dissecting the rules of engagement and where we stand in relation to algorithms. There is a big digital presence and acknowledgement of digital and technological influence, either through the character, style, sound or imagined world.

There is a constant act of placing myself in different contexts, creating my own world and watching how I engage and how the world reacts to me.

Imagination plays a big role in my work. I translate imagined worlds and characters and present them to an online audience using digital art. The internet has offered me a platform to perform my work and given it a space to exist. Therefore giving my imagination a space to exist.

Something Like Co-Star is a project that aims to imitate the interface and types of affirmations and predictions the app makes. The project aims to speak back to constant online interaction and participation and how there is very little release from online engagement. Looking at overstimulation as well as how this is contrasted by constant messages and notifications that remind us to take a step back and engage in acts of self-care.

Taking inspiration from the AI digital application Co-Star which is a hyper-personalised daily horoscope app. My observation is that many people my age use horoscopes and astrology as guiding forces to navigate the world we live in and this app has made navigating that accessible and easy. The piece as a whole aims to explore what it means to insert myself, a young black woman in an interface where I might have not always been considered. Placing myself and my own thoughts at the centre.


This work is not necessarily based on previous work but rather a continuation of creative research I have been doing over the past 18 months. I have used similar formats and different methods of application. Elements from other work have been inserted here. The images which make up the planets are from a body of work created during an online residency with Floating Reverie. The title of the series is called Hey MTV, Welcome to My Crib. The work, along with a lot of my creative research plays with the idea of world-building, using the Vaporwave genre as a tool and medium to express ideas, feelings and infinite worlds within which I am the centre.

Natalie-Ann Paneng

 She is awkward, complex, and has a quirk to her expression. Residing in Johannesburg and in the cyber village called the Internet.

Natalie Paneng is a digital artist who completed a BADA (Hons) from the University of Witwatersrand in 2018. Majoring in Production Design (Set and Costume Design) as well as Art Management, Natalie makes use of both her self taught digital skills and theatre background to create multi-disciplinary work.

Her work has been exhibited at Hazard Gallery through the Bubblegumclub Future 76 Residency in 2018. In 2019 she was part of Design Indaba’s Class of 2019 Emerging Creatives and was also a finalist for Bokeh Film Festival’s Emerging Talent Category. In 2019 Natalie participated in two residencies, Floating Reverie‘s online residency as well as Faku’gesi’s Digital Innovation Residency. She later exhibited at BKHz through her work from the Faku’gesi residency. In 2020 Natalie has exhibited with TMRW Gallery, The National Arts Festival, Blank Projects and Michaelis School of Fine Art.

In her work she explores what it means to have an online presence, the personae we develop online and how the internet and its algorithms control and influence us. Her videos and art become a way for her to interrogate as well as share how she manifests and navigates the world she lives in and creates for herself. The internet is MTV and she welcomes you to her crib.