[-empyre-] week three: Pain, Suffering, and Death in the Virtual

Charles Baldwin Charles.Baldwin at mail.wvu.edu
Tue Oct 16 10:54:33 EST 2012

The third week of October's -empyre- discussion will start tomorrow, continuing with the topic of Pain, Suffering, and Death in the Virtual. The guests will be Johannes Birringer and Deena Larsen. Their biographical information is below. The discussion so far has been intriguing and provocative, and I look forward to more of the same (and new things as well).

Sandy Baldwin


Week 3: Johannes Birringer (UK) and Deena Larsen (US)

Johannes Birringer is is a choreographer and artistic director of AlienNation Co (www.aliennationcompany.com), and co-founder of a telematic performance collective (ADaPT).  He has directed numerous multimedia theatre, dance, and digital performances in Europe, the Americas, Japan and China; collaborated on site-specific installations, and exhibited work at film and video festivals. Author of _Theatre, Theory, Postmodernism_ (1991), _Media and Performance_ (1998), _Performance on the Edge_ (2000), _Performance, Technology and Science_ (2009). Founder of Interaktionslabor (http://interaktionslabor.de), and co-director of DAP-Lab, Brunel University (London), where he is Professor of Performance Technologies.

Deena Larsen has been a hypertext/elit/new media writer since the early 1990s. Her first work, _Marble Springs 1.0_ (Eastgate Systems, 1993) explores loss, death, pain, and suffering by showing connections in a virtual world. _Marble Springs 3.0_ (http://marblesprings.wikidot.com/ ) now showcases these ties in a wiki where tags take readers through adultery and alcohol, death and deafness, stillbirths and secrets. Deena has merged her own real-life pain of losing her soul-mate with her virtual work. Deena met the love of her life, MaJe Larsen (nee Mary Jean Kindschuh) in 2006. On their first date, MaJe read the tattered notes of Deena's hypertext mystery novel, _Disappearing Rain_, on Deena's living room wall and understood the virtual multi-dimensionality of the work immediately. They had four and a half years of electronic writing, true love, hospitals, and death (MaJe saved Deena's life by advocating for good, innovative doctors as Deena was dying from complications from a rare disease, but MaJe did not survive her own battle with ovarian cancer). They wrote one work together, _A Modern Moral Fairy Tale_ and, as they were writing, they each knew that MaJe's portion was also her eulogy. The salmon history MaJe crafted (http://www.deenalarsen.net/mmf/s1.html ) represents a taoist attitude toward death and suffering, using zen koans as a navigational aid to underscore the cyclic nature of pain and death in a virtual world.  This guest discussion is dedicated to the memory of MaJe Larsen, 12/18/1958 - 10/18/2012.

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