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September 01, 2004

more on avatar performance and definitions

The following is an email from Helen Varley Jamieson. I wrote to Helen in early August saying that we were really struggling with definitions for the various forms of performance--largely because the works themselves are breaking definitions down--and asking her for a definition of "avatar performance." We (the organizers) have since come to question our categories--but Helen's response is a good one and well worth reading.

From: Helen Varley Jamieson
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2004 12:56:22 +0200
To: Helen Thorington
Subject: Re: Re the networked_performance blog

hi helen,
there are lots of different terms & definitions & many of them are problematic for all sorts of reasons. that's why i made up the term 'cyberformance' in 2000 & have been using that since then to describe what i do. my definition of cyberformance is the use of the internet to bring remote performers together in real time for live theatrical/performance events. this includes purely online performances (where the audience must also be online); performances for a proximal audience (who are together in a physical space where the performance takes place), or a mix of both. the essential thing is that the performers are coming together via the internet.

to me, "avatar performance" would mean that the performers are represented by avatars, much like puppet theatre. so the cyberformance work that i & avatar body collision has been making includes avatar performance, but it's not limited to that - we also use "web cams": (sometimes with puppets!) & live performance (we talk about this as being multiple stages, & layers of re/presentation). "avatar performance" wouldn't necessarily have to involve the internet - i know of a group in belgrade who are developing what they call "avatar theatre" & at the moment it exists as a navigable cd-rom with avatar characters; they plan to give a live performance using a LAN in a gaming centre - so that would be avatar performance without being on the internet.

then there is the term "networked performance" - which i guess includes cyberformance but also other forms of networked performance that don't involve the internet.

does this help? it's an important discussion to have ... i haven't had a chance to read the blog for a few days but i will try to catch up a bit over this week & will have a look at the categories you're working on.

h : )

for earlier posts on avatar performance.

Posted by newradio at September 1, 2004 09:44 AM