Rikognition (Kenson Lee) has been a VFX artist & motion graphics designer since 2012. He spent five years at Wong Fu Productions, one of the original YouTube filmmaking groups, building the Asian American community and working with clients like Disney, ABC, and Warner Bros. Games.
More recently, Rikognition has partnered with a number of notable digital artists and brands to release original works of his own. His work includes collaborations with Bosslogic, Funimation, Wuz Good, Riot Games, tedslittledream, and others.
Rikognition is passionate about increasing the awareness and visibility of Asians and Asian-Americans in culture and media. He’s inspired by the anime, games, and pixel art of his childhood.
Aurora EX! is Rikognition’s genesis drop on MakersPlace. The pieces represent nearly a decade of ongoing creation, refinement, and reimagining.
The work is in part inspired by the story of long time friend and collaborator GOWE, who grew up in a Chinese family, but was later shocked to find he was adopted from Korean biological parents. Like the destruction of a city, this moment shattered GOWE’s sense of self.
In Aurora Ex, the character “Go” fights a sinister masked villain and an army of minions in his attempts to rescue “Aurora.” Rikognition imagines Go’s struggle as a parallel to his own battle waged against the systemic under-representation of Asians and Asian-Americans in culture and media, and GOWE’s battle to reconcile his own identity. Aurora, a symbol of freedom and community, ultimately returns to help Go win the day, ushering in a new era of profound opportunity.
This piece is important to me because it marks the start of my own journey into the industry in 2012.
I was planning to move to LA at the end of the year to work more directly at the OG YouTube group @wongfupro, but even though I was knowledgeable on a technical level, I didn’t feel like I had a completed piece in my portfolio to really show.
My friend @GoweHipHop had reached out to me to make a music video for his single “Aurora,” and the idea I pitched to him ended up being a version of this piece: mixing all the influences, experiences, and nostalgia of our childhood into one 8-bity adventure.
Gowe (pronounced “Go”) scraped together $500 but I suggested we put it back into whatever printed material and event space he would use to promote the launch of the music video. And then I shut myself in for 9 months drawing and putting together… everything.
You’ll find everything thrown in there, and while it tells Gowe’s story, I secretly amalgamated a majority of my own being into the character. Anime, video games, WWE, 90’s cartoons, more anime — but above all, our EXP. & identity as Asians living in America.
On top of that, I was heavily inspired by Paul Robertson’s work on the Scott Pilgrim game (this man is God-tier). I utilized what I saw as cost-saving techniques, including the use of black outlines instead of tinted ones for all the sprites.
I even had a cameo from all my subgroups of art/animation friends, from @vinnieveritas‘ CCC blimp (of @Newgrounds era) and @snakepixel‘s contribution to the fighting crowd who went on to create @DPadStudio and the indie game “Owlboy”)
There were many gaps left in the animation which I had to pad with live performance footage in time for the original release. And then I learned that they were not able to secure licensing for the music sample they used. The song was ultimately discluded from the album.
In the last several years, I spent time on and off finishing out the animation as it should have been and rewriting original music to better fit the style I was going for, to compensate for the partial disappointment I felt with the original release.
The intention was to rework it closer to what I had envisioned, but setbacks, file corruptions, and a lack of a visible platform demotivated me from finishing the piece — until now — when I realized this was already a metaverse made for the metaverse.
So I present to you the never-seen/heard-before version of Aurora…EX? Turbo? Final Mix? Re:Master? HD? Definitive Edition?…
And finally close out this chapter. Just in time for its 10-year-anniversary! ~You made it! ~
Pricing: Accepting Offers Only
Pricing: $400 / Edition
Pricing: $400 / Edition
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