[-empyre-] text as virtual space: response to stacia

Message: 1 Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2007 10:37:26 -0700 (PDT) From: Stacia Yeapanis <stacialy@yahoo.com> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] FW: introduction [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED] To: soft_skinned_space <empyre@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au> Message-ID: <730082.27518.qm@web43138.mail.sp1.yahoo.com> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1

I'm glad you brought up the point of the virtual as
fiction. The word has so many potential meanings. I
feel that it's useful to try and define it in a few
ways, for the sake of conversation and to clarify it
in my own head.

A quick Google search yielded this:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&defl=en&q=define: virtual&sa=X&oi=glossary_definition&ct=title

I've recently been thinking of the "virtual" as head
space. as psychological space, creative space, fantasy
space, emotional space, intellectual space. This fits
with your idea about fiction.

This brings me to thinking about performance in
general, and in virtual spaces, in particular. I tend
to use the word "performative" when I talk about my
own work. I don't consider myself a performance artist
in the sense that a text or idea is conceived of and
then acted out for an audience. (Yes, this is a very
restrictive definition which we can happily blow
apart.) "Performative" for me connotes an exageration
of the truth for an audience. For example, I make work
about fandom and that uses the idea of fandom as a
tool to explore meaning-making. It's important to me
that the work I make springs out of my own fandom. So,
I am a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. That exists
outside of my work as an artist, but I also
consciously emphasize that fact in my artistic persona
so my work will be framed in a certain way. Coming out
of a period of time and an art school, when and where
irony is a given, I feel I need to ground my work in
sincereity in order to say what I want to say. So my
fandom is both authentic and performed. Similar to
what Jill says about writing down a story that "did

This brings up the idea of text as a virtual space.
Books have always done what games and tv and movies do
now. (Makes me think of what mez said about World of
Warcraft- games just seem to embrace their lack of
control over the narrative.) Books as virtual spaces.
I'm curious what you think, Barbara, about this,
considering your use of narratives in your
Yep - an interesting idea, text as virtual space. Certainly books (good ones) create a virtual space for the readers to share but it's distributed over time. Whereas, when you tell the story to an audience (which is what I do) the space is created in time. Yes, I think you're onto something here Stacia. It's not just the fact that I insist on these webcasts happening in shared "real" time - the creation of the space has to exist first in order for that to happen.

I was reading a recent posting by Tim Etchells (director of Forced Entertainment and one of the 1001 writers) on his not-quite-a-blog about re-presenting a piece called Dirty Work: "Back in 1998 it seemed like a big ask (or even a provocation or an affront) from us that an audience would just listen to a performance that consists of talking for an hour; that a piece would so self-consciously refuse to have any action, that it would instead conjure action virtually, through language alone... I was shocked by how *material* some of the text seems. How much really like an event in the room it can be..." http://www.timetchells.com/notebook/notebook/dirty-work/

Of course shared time AND space are givens in theatre but how often have we felt in theatre that we are NOT sharing the space with the performers precisely because they haven't been able to create another space for us all to inhabit? So here we are again, turning over the assumptions that often underpin such spurious opposites as real and virtual: where virtual space can create real experience and real space can create disengagement. I realise I've been using the word "share" a lot. Am I over-emphasising this as a value to be aspired to? Hmmm.

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