Monday, 25 January 2010
Second Life: Superheroes of the surreal
Strange things live in second life; a universe where everybody wears a mask.
I couldn’t work it out.
Was this a world for online gamers or virtual lovers? The game is one of reinactment. Like children performing a play made up of memories. The fantasies and fictions, which are part of the subconscious of the media-fed generations. Avatars and characters engaging in alien, dream-like scenerios. Who are these people; a party of comically created caricatures of the programmer? Each pixelated persona is performing a strange, shifting tribal dance, they are often jumping off the screen.
The only ‘honest’ avatars seem to represent Eva and Franco. They always are naked, vunerable and act as our protagonist couple. They are lovers, collaborators, filmstars, heroes!
The spectator becomes absorbed by the light of the projection – the screen absorbs audiences. I questioned whether our being there had any affect upon the Second Life. Whether we could converse or control these avatars. It didn’t seem so.
They may fly.
Trees may grow.
Bodies overlap and merge.
Am I missing something?
I walk over to the computers…
Standing behind the silver machines driven by the artists, Eva and Franco, like organists. Pressing keys and buttons to engage in some sort of textual forum, all the digital ‘0’s and ‘1’s calculated and configured by the software, producing a visual Second Life for the spectator to interpret.
The game starts with the reinactment of Marina Abramovic and Ulay’s performance, Imponderilla, the two naked bodies stand facing one another. Hypnotised or meditating with and/or by each other. Every other body squeezes between them to get by, some bodies turn away in disgust.
The Police never came.
The sounds in the Slaughter House echoes through the performance rooms, the sharpening of knives, nextdoor, makes for a very unsettling backdrop for the other performances. I am sat on a wooden crate with fleece blankets. The sound of metal on metal at a steady pace is endless. It is the Slaughter House’s new rhythm and now everything moves to that repetitive punctuation. Second Life responds to this, the slicing through the air, with the hollow sounds of the synthetic, computer generated footsteps, the keyboard typing and some sort of Polaroid camera sound byte.
I feel ill at ease.
On edge. Maybe this Slaughter House has something to do with it. The smell of the dead pig at the entrance. I do not like being here. So cold and hard – durational discomfort. The audience are going through something here too, is it a drill? An endurance test?
I suddenly feel confined within this atmosphere, like I am for the chop! Utter discomfort. Perhaps this voyeuristic position I find myself in is too much. Watching Abramovic's performance, that I have read so much about, I am seeing reinacted in real time. But not real life, for these fictitious characters have no bearing on reality or the consequences of a policed society.
I feel a great distance between me and the work. The bucket of LSD, which Eva and Franco are so keen to release, has hit the water system – and I haven’t had a drop.