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Final Performance: Movements Through Virtual and Meatspace

leamirella's picture

My doctor's office used to be on the 7th floor of a building in Central, Hong Kong's CBD. To get to that office, I had to take an elevator that had mirror panels that reflected back and forth between each other and they formed this illusion that the mirrors went on infinitely, just like in the picture. This image served as the inspiration for my piece. In the first posting that we used to describe ourselves, I talked about the camera as being the piece of technology that I most identified with. This performance is a throwback to that.

These multiple reflections in the mirror serve as a metaphor for the multiple variations of real life/virtual life situations there are. Essentially, what I have here is a recording of myself in the 'virtual' world (Denbigh dance studio on screen) interacting with myself in meatspace and then being recorded again by another camera, thus making what we would have considered meatspace at time, part of the virtual world at another. Like the mirror, the variations between the virtual world and meatspace are infinitesimal.

What I have tried to show is that the line between the virtual world and meatspace is hard to define. The interactions that I have with myself on the projector in terms of the physical performance in class reveal that as technology has evolved, we have started to spread ourselves out between so many different spaces, both physical and non-physical. Each of the 'selves', is still us, however. There is something that is distinctly human that keeps from blending completely into the machines and although the 'self' remains present,  the ways in which it is expressed changes.

I think this way of looking at it answers (at least partly) the question of what will happen if, like Chorost has suggested, the interface that separates the human from the virtual is dissolved. (In the case of my piece, what would happen if there was no camera, screen or computer) This very essence of being human is something that I think we will always hold on to. Sure, there will be variations on the amount of 'humanness' that is displayed but at the same time, I do not feel as though we will ever lose it completely. Not to get too philosophical here but, I do believe that there is this undefinable thing that makes us human that will never be destroyed. Maybe this comes from a biased standpoint (as I am a human being) but there are so many texts that I have read (stuff that comes to mind is from theatre - Edward Gordon Craig and the 'ancientness' of his ubermarionnettes, Meyerhold and his biomechanics, Brecht and spirituality... the list can go on and across many different disciplines.)

Lastly, I wanted to pull in Sherry Turkle's article about the changing roles in virtual spaces. I recorded the original video in the dance studio because there was more space to move around. I also wore comfortable clothing so I was not constricted in terms of my movements. This space which, at first, started as meatspace but was then made into virtual space onscreen, allowed me freedom to do much more than I could do in the classroom. This symbolized the freedom of being able to choose your identity on the internet - there is more space and opportunity to play around with race, physical appearance, etc. My movements in the classroom were limited in comparison to my movements in the studio. This is similar to how there are barriers to changing and shifting between identities in meatspace.

I hope you guys enjoyed the presentation. I guess my theatre class came in handy more than I thought it would!

And here are the videos!

Virtual world 1

Virtual world 1 plus real life plus virtual world 2 (You may want to listen to this one with headphones in - the sound quality isn't that great)

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