Thought 1: Can’t tell you how dismayed I was when they stopped allowing you to be a robot in AltspaceVR, (won’t even mention the giant Pottery Barn –everyone can be white!–called Facebook Horizons). The normalization of identity through avatar is to be expected. It is a digital form of what Foucault called “bio-power” and it is our future. But, that doesn’t mean we won’t find ways to resist.
In keeping with physicist Karen Barad’s suggestion that “matter is …not a thing, but a doing,” we propose to explore fashion and the body as vital phenomena that perform, communicate and relate.
For Barad, “relata do not preexist relations.” What appear to be separate categories: human/nonhuman, male/female, self/other, etc. are in fact, appearances that manifest when an “agential cut enacts a local resolution within the phenomenon of the inherent ontological indeterminacy.”
The photograph is the cut. Film, through its suturing of frames, offered us the illusion of time based phenomena as “things” in space.
VR can act as a lab for trying out new relations and exploring the tenacity of certain relations. In our exhibition/game/performance space, we explore this by having the visitor choose and don a wearable avatar, quite literally becoming the art and moving through the environment–becoming de facto performers (thanks Judith Butler! )Quite simply desire moves you toward something. Aversion moves you away. Sometimes you are caught looking.
In Fairytales, you go where you are not allowed, Goldilocks, Jack up the Beanstalk. As a child, there is that sense of shame. You feel it for them because they broke the rules. The late great Eve Sedgwick wrote an amazing essay with Adam Frank called “Shame in the Cybernetic Fold”.
“Shame is one of those affects whose digitalizing mechanism works to “punctuat[e the system] as distinct.” Perhaps, along with contempt and disgust, it can
be a switch point for the individuation of imaging systems, of consciousnesses,
of bodies, of theories, of selves, an individuation that decides not necessarily an
identity but a figuration, distinction, or mark of punctuation. And unlike
contempt or disgust, shame is characterized by its failure ever to renounce its
object cathexis, its relation to the desire for pleasure as well as the need to avoid
Maybe that’s what we are getting at.
We literally construct an edifice around the photographs of amateur models wearing Loise Braganza’s marvelous “queer skin” fashions. Thus, your viewing the photograph begins as a peepshow and your movement into the interior, an undressing of sorts. But, of course, there is no original. There is no naked version of an image or an artwork. We clothe images in memory, personal and cultural expectations and taboos. The baroque gets at this.