[-empyre-] RE: [-empyre-]:An Avatar Manifesto::response to Melinda
thanks for your kind words about my manifesto!!
I will post more of it later today...
Michael Heim's Avatar Manifesto,
written in 2000, BTW :)
"The Avatar Manifesto
- By 2010, buildings unsupported by avatecture will seem lifeless and
irrelevant, boring relics of pre-interactive construction. Auteur architects
like Gehry and Koolhaas, for whom computers are mere desktop appliances,
must descend into avatar or die as dinosaurs.
- A global 3-D operating system will support minor components in 2-D, just
as black-and-white movies also appear on color televisions. Computer games
will have converged with avatar worlds to exploit new advances in hardware
- The spatial metaphor "cyberspace" becomes literal as three and more
dimensions become cues for orientation. The knowledge locked in the human
body will be tapped for purposes of navigating information.
- The desktop metaphor expands into the world metaphor, with private worlds
belonging to larger software universes of networked worlds with their
- The inhabitants of cyberspace become telepresent avatars who interweave
human with a rtificial identities. Avatecture involves habitats for avatars
(Latin tectum = "roof"), and avatars are telepresent identities (Sanskrit
avatar = "to cross down into").
- The continuing development of new metals and plastics permits the merger
of electronic and physical structures.
- Networked collaborative communication becomes the norm for business,
commerce, and the arts.
- Experiments with Internet 2 reveal that photo-realism provides only a
small component of what is needed for interactive fantasy and visionary
I love his advocacy, and I really enjoyed "The Feng Shui of Virtual
Environments", and his essay in "Cyberspace first steps", but for me he is
just so utopian in his vision that I think it dangerous......and for me
doesn't say enough about the darker sides, the "absent cause" driving these
utopian visions, or the lived effects on the human.
I was not aware of the "Brainscore" piece, but it looks really cool.
Reminds me of some of the work going on collaboratively between Julio
Bermudez, Yacov Sharir, Tom Lopez and others; where biometric data from
Sharir, as he dances, drives 3D animated projections... I am very interested
in turning the body inside out, in other words, externalizing the
interstitial impulses of lived bodies through these technologies, and having
that externalization act back on the body....for me, the most interesting
terrain is the potential to remap consciousness, is the potential effects
back on the human, cognitive remapping, to address our current incapacities;
in Jameson's words, "the incapacity of our minds to map the great global
mulitnational and decentered communicational network of which we find
ourselves caught as individual subjects".
And, speaking again of the avatar broken away: While watching Sharir's
performance, observing his biometrics drive 3d environments in RT, though
fascinated and inspired, I felt a strong sense of disconnect. Which
animating form is being driven by which biometric impulse? What if
something goes wrong with the dancer? What if he experiences fear, has an
aneurysm, or, even, what if he experiences a great epiphany? Would I see
this in the abstracted forms of the virtual space in a way I could
understand?? Are his biometrics really driving the virtual world? How
would I know?? OF course, this is not to question the integrity of the
collaborators, it is more a philosophical question, like how do I know if my
monitor really has 6 sides, when I can only see 2 at a time? In their piece
in particular, and some other interactive pieces I have seen, the virtual
world is so aestheticized that it becomes a kind of philosophical zombie.
Was this the case in "Brainscore"?
>im starting to think of the avatar as an Other life form..
hmmm, well definitely an Other, but how alive? Not that I do not treat the
avatar with respect, etc, but what advantage is there is seeing it as alive,
and how do we define that....gulp, sorry...
[mailto:email@example.com]On Behalf Of Melinda Rackham
Sent: Tuesday, November 19, 2002 8:03 PM
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Virtual Construction::An Avatar Manifesto
luv the manifesto.. (have you seen michael heims one where he predicts by
2010 that we will all be living as avatars in our shelteres designed by
"avtatecture" and communicating in 3dspace ?)
im also interrested in how the avatar extends itslef beyond "strap-on
software" as you describe it .. i know you wrote this text some time ago..
and im wondering if you have further thoughts on it considering what others
are doing with avatars recently..
one example is a work i came across at a poster session at ISEA..
Brainscore is performance http://www.brainscore.org produced by
Slovenian artists Darij Kreuh & Davide Grassi. In Brainscore, tracked eye
movements and electrical pulses from sensors attached to the head of the
user (who remains physically constrained though out the performance) control
cute blobby avatars(the audience watches thru 3d glasses..)These inputs
allows the avatars to collect data from the Internet which alters their
shape, size, location and colour over time. The changes in turn affect the
eye movements and brain functions of the user to provide a feedback loop.
the avatar actually does fill up with new data organs.. Here the avatars
coded attributes alter the users physiology making obvious the impact soft
space has through its continuum into hard space...
im starting to think of the avatar as an Other life form..
> - which I think is more-or-less what occurs with chatrooms, etc. But there
> are extensions which can be of incredible interest, at least to me. With
> Stelarc, for example, some of his recent work deals with an online avatar
> driven by expert systems that modifies Stelarc's stance/body itself - a
> not-so-distant Net will enable 'its' intelligence, of one form or another,
> to be embodied, almost as a secondary or parasitic entity, in a living
> person. Stelarc talks about remapping of the body in this regard.
> There are also things like the wandering Julia bots, which can be consid-
> ered software that has broken away.
> In my own work, 'Nikuko' is an avatar, but psychologically she 'takes
> over' in my work, as if she's speaking through me; the psychoanalytical
> processes of this internal ectoplasm are different from the usual
> projections (i.e. such as I might use in a conference or IRC chat).
> In other words, there's a tearing-away involved which is related to, but
> not the same as, the usual issues dealing with the future autonomy or not
> of virtual life and intelligence.
> empyre forum
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