[-empyre-] More about remediation

Hi all,
I come out the lurker mode to send you some considerations about re-enactments in SL, a possible follow-up of Patrick Lichty's Missive on Remediation. It's from my blog "Spawn of the Surreal", http://www.domenicoquaranta.net/blog/

My bests,


RE-ENACT! (Part 1)

"The difference between what is evoked and what is real can even be sensible: I always happen to take no account of it."
André Breton, July 1925

I started thinking to post on reenactment some time ago. That's why when I read on -empyre- Patrick Lichty's "missive" on The Issue of Remediation, I was happy and disappointed at the same time: disappointed because he came first, and happy because he showed the way, giving me some points of departure to enter this complicated issue. Let me sum up Lichty's points:

- "ironic tension between the physical and the virtual" vs "affective connection [of the user] to online identity";
- history and memory vs ephemerality and ahistoricity in virtual worlds;
- reenactment of performance-based works as "a way to preserve their degree of affect in space and time" vs reenactment as a way to challange/criticize Performance art.

As for the first point, I completely agree with Lichty. The problem is: which is the target of this irony? Lichty notes that, in the passage from the real to the virtual, an act, for example, of violence, doesn't become "wholly symbolic", because "residents in Second Life clearly have investiture in the avatar as extensions of themselves." That's right, but this observation works only when the victim of violence is your own avatar. In other words, in Second Life this affect takes the shape of self respect, but doesn't produce solidarity for other virtual identities. So, if I'm frightened, worried and even angry when Gazira Babeli confines me in a Campbell's soup can, or when she breaks up my legs with Code Deforma; I don't feel anything similar to what might have felt the audience of Chris Burden's Shoot (1971) when Eva Mattes fires Franco Mattes, or when Wirxli Flimflam shoots Great Escape.

In the same time, I believe that these two reenactments of the same performance are coming from a very different order of ideas. In his Paradise Ahead Series (2006 - 2007), Scott Kildall aka Great Escape "captures the anticipation and familiarity of [the] simulated environment by restaging iconic art installations, films and photographs. Using only primitive graphics of Second Life, the documentation of these performances - large-scale prints serves as a historical record of the initial launch point into simulated worlds." His target is the graphic environment of Second Life; or, better, Second Life as an artistic medium. And his message is, I think, that in Second Life reality becomes powerless, ineffective, fake. Even the most emotional, dramatic event, when re-staged in Second Life, becomes a parody of itself. Kildall's prints are more similar to comics than to the source images he used for his remediation. In other words, the medium is stronger than the reality it tries to emulate.

Coming to Eva and Franco Mattes, in their interviews they are very critical about Performance Art: "Eva and me, we hate performance art, we never quite got the point. So, we wanted to understand what made it so un-interesting to us, and reenacting these performances was the best way to figure it out." With their Syntethic Performances, they are questioning the works they recreate, reproposing them in the most literal way in a context where they appear senseless and paradoxical. Their realistic avatar are perfect to this purpose. And in fact, their reenactment of Shoot is more similar to the source, and much more dramatic than Kildall's one: they are not saying that in a virtual world violence is meaningless and reality loses its own drama; they are saying that, in a world anaesthetized by media, the original Shoot is almost as powerless as their own virtual version. In a world where, in front of a car crash, people take pictures with their beautiful smart phones instead of trying to help the victims, Shoot can't be anything more than an interesting spectacle. Video killed the performance art stars. RIP.


Domenico Quaranta

mob. +39 340 2392478
email. qrndnc@yahoo.it
home. vicolo San Giorgio 18 - 25122 brescia (BS)
web. http://www.domenicoquaranta.net/

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