Networked_Performance

Performing Second Life

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Gaza Stripped

These past couple of months has been extremely productive for me… Not only was the performance-art group that I co-founded, Second Front formed within days of me actively creating my avatar (Second Front est. November 23, 2006) – this very same group was able to add Gazira Babeli to our roster almost exactly a month later. For those who do not know Gazira Babeli already, she is probably considered to be the very first dedicated performance artist in Second Life. Little is known about the RL life of Gazira Babeli. This is an avatar who likes to hermetically exist only within the virtual bubble-economy of Linden Labs. All the public knows for sure is that she hails from Milan, Italy and is a “code performer”.

You may have seen her at Ars Virtua slinging endless pans of singing pizzas or possibly had to scrape off the globs of both the nanotech industry’s and Linden Labs’ worst virtual nightmare, “grey goo”. If “Gaza’” (as she is known in SL) took a special liking to you, you may have had the privilege of being barfed on! If you have not already witnessed Babeli’s official performances and artistic interventions yet, you are very likely to be her unwitting “audience” sooner or later. Just make sure you do not offend her with any foul language as she is likely to send an intelligent yet sinister tornado after you in order to make you repent your impolite ways. http://www.gazirababeli.com/DONTsay.html)
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I interviewed Babeli about modernist White Cubes, contemporary Pop-(T)art(s), “Fluxus Hut” pizza toppings and the generally non-lucrative enterprise of performance art in Second Life…

Wirxli: The Second Life art-critic, Lythe Witte has written a previous article for SLatenight magazine called “The White Cube of the Virtual Art Space” where she questions whether or not the modernist white cube gallery model is worth reproducing in Second Life.

You might recall from a few days ago that we were all hanging out together feeling depressed and bored about the fact that even Second Life itself felt like one big and boring white cube.

“…My question is, what kind of methodology do you think is needed to make interesting art that can be comprehended within the unique context of Second Life?

Gazira: To realize an “artistic” or “aesthetic” experience, it requires a frame-space that is contemporarily physical and conceptual; it could be a frame, a museum, a computer network, a bedroom… or just a plain box ‘dressed’ like a RL art-galley. This referential “cube gallery” reminds me of the ironical artwork made by Marcel Duchamp called “Box in a valise” (Boite-en-valise, 1942)

Although the “box gallery” could be a valid expression, I prefer thinking the whole SL environment as (a kind of) frame-space. It means that scripted and built objects, avatar-people and their behaviors become essentially parts of the artwork…a “world in a valise”, in this case. :)

Wirxli: So there are parallels between the Second Life infrastructure as a kind of “artistic” framing device and the statements made by the early RL performance-art group, Fluxus where they blurred the boundaries between “art” and “life”?

Gazira: Sure, and it is very similar with the Linden’s statement: “Your World. Your Imagination”. We still don’t understand what “life” is and yet, we are talking about a second one. One life at a time, please! Maybe these lives (RL and SL) are not so different: symbolic abstractions and virtuality are common attributes.

Wirxli: Is there a difference in your mind between “performance art” in SL and “performing arts” (theater etc) in SL? Also, everyone in SL seems to be either intentionally or unintentionally an artist of some sort – in what way does a performance art group like Second Front stand out from the regular surreal, yet routine activities of SL residents?

Gazira: Yes, SL looks like a very democratic kind of theatre. Everyone is an actor, director and audience together. But is that so different from what we call RL? I think that “intention” is the keyword. The artistic goal could be primarily some shared aesthetic way of thinking and it also needs a shared kind of intentions, so I enjoy being part of the Second Front crew. I think Second Front is the first example of Second Life as the embodiment of a “native” artistic proposal…”

From Gaza Stripped by Wirxli Flimflam, Slate.

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Performance Art for a Virtual World

Aidan: I read on your blog that you’re an Alien…
Wirxli Flimflam: Yes I consider myself an alien but at the same time accessible enough to pass for Post-Human ;-)
Aidan: Do people react instinctively to your avatar appearance?
Wirxli Flimflam: Hmmmm..most people are polite, it is always hard to know what people really think. Some have immediate surface reactions though, they can tell right away that I am an artist of some kind, usually.
Aidan: And it’s a benefit to Second Front that you all vary in appearance?
Wirxli Flimflam: I have noticed that by instinct, performance artists choose to be Tranny-esque. I like to keep my avatar recognizable. I would like to endorse the meme of brand recognition. Other avatars in the group like to change their appearance, but I am also the PR face of SF so I like to keep things familiar.
Aidan: How did your last performance go at Ars Virtua?
Wirxli Flimflam: No regrets, if that is what you mean, I consider it “early work”. We learned a lot from it. Continue reading Performance Art for a Virtual World by Aidan Aquacade, SL Enquirer (scroll down).


Jan 24, 20:26
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