Digital America interviewed Jody Zellen in April of 2024 on her work No Turn on Red (2024).


Digital America: No Turn on Red (2024) is an interactive web piece that explores patience and timing through a socially constructed lens. It’s a metaphor representing how we must wait at a red light even when we don’t feel like it. Can you recall the moment that inspired you to explore waiting? How does that experience shape the work? 

Jody Zellen: I recall sitting at a red light a short time ago when there was no one else around and thinking, why can’t we go? This was the starting point: it prompted a chain reaction of thoughts about waiting and patience and traffic and the signifiers of the color red and I began to explore ways I could translate this into an interactive narrative.

Dig A: No Turn on Red presents numerous experiences on the webpage where the user must identify whether the waiting “pays off” or doesn’t. How did you construct this experience? How far have you seen users go with these pieces? 

JZ: As in many of my net art projects, I don’t always want the navigation to be immediate or obvious. For No Turn on Red, I continued the system of moving to the next page that I began in Avenue S by clicking on three red squares at the bottom of each page. These squares are meant to signify … (literally: dot dot dot). I use a lot of hidden links, so in this work, clicking on the images is also a way to move forward. 

I guess the waiting comes into play through the act of watching the animations. The viewer must decide how long to watch and wait: do they let them loop before moving on? Do they watch more? Do they click before the loop starts over? It’s their choice. Ideally, I’d like the viewer to watch each short animation all the way through.

Dig A: Today, we often experience too much information at once which creates our shorter attention spans. In No Turn on Red you force the viewer to slow down and unravel the interactive web frame in the form of green light – red light. How does this intentional pacing affect the viewer’s connection to the piece?

JZ: I think because I live in L.A. and am hyper aware of how traffic constrains my life, the red light/green light or stop/go as a metaphor is always present and a major factor in really doing anything and everything. I wanted to make a work that one could participate in independent of traffic where there was no reason not to “go.” The pacing is really up to the viewer. They decide how long to “look at” each page before moving on.

Dig A: This work is a companion to Avenue S, which we published in issue 18. Avenue S is a net art project filled with animations and photographs that captured the emotions and impressions during isolation times with visits to nature and documentation of anomalies and urban graffiti. Both of these pieces connect the metaphor of roads and streets with stopping to acknowledge your surroundings when you are in that waiting period. It makes me feel as though when you slow down in this fast-paced environment—you are more aware of your surroundings. How do you think these pieces intertwine with each other and how do they stand by themselves? How did the artistic approaches differ between the two?  

JZ: Avenue S is gigantic. It is now  more than 500 pages. And while I add to it regularly, I wanted to create a smaller, more contained work that involved less clicking and fewer pages. The works are connected, but No Turn on Red can stand by itself for sure. I want the silhouetted figure that appears in the animations to connect with the viewer and for them to embody that form while traveling through the work. Anonymous, yet also everyone.

Dig A: You have an extensive portfolio filled with interactive web pieces, net art, and installations. Is there a specific piece and/or media that you enjoy working with the most?

JZ: I really like working in a lot of different media and jumping between them. I might make a simple line drawing with a figure one morning that then is translated into an animation and that later might then become a painting. The back and forth between analogue and digital processes is really key for me and I find it both challenging and satisfying to create works across multiple platforms.

Dig A: Can you talk about what you are working on currently?

JZ: Currently, I am thinking about the best way to display the numerous animations I have created over these last few years. I put together about 200 different iterations that were offered as NFTs but that went no where. I also edited them into a sequential narrative with a score by composer Jonathan Zalben. I have them online composited in a grid ( but think seeing them all together makes it too hard to focus on the individual works. 

I am also beginning to select individual frames from the animations which will become lenticular prints. I am really excited about presenting them this way as they will be still and animated simultaneously. 


Check out Jody Zellen’s piece No Turn on Red.


Jody Zellen is a Los Angeles based artist who integrates animations, interactive installations, net art, and drawing. Her work explores innovative ways to engage with emerging technologies and blend them with traditional art mediums. She has an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and an MPS from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.