Beginning at 2 PM on Thursday, I will be presenting a showcase of four performance ethnography pieces that I have staged as part of my ongoing MA research at San Jose State University. These pieces were intended to introduce audiences previously unfamiliar with Second Life to issues of identity, immersion, and intimacy in a virtual world, and to resonate and open dialogue with those who have grappled with these issues in SL.
Due to technical limitations, this session will not have a live in-world performance component. However, the session will be recorded, so those who are not able to be in San Francisco Thursday afternoon will get a chance to see a video at a later date.
The performances deal frankly with online sexuality, with avatar nudity, strong language, and intense sexual situations (including BDSM) depicted. Viewer discretion is advised.
ALTER EGO (7 minutes)
"Alter Ego" is a one-woman performance that describes the transformation of a young woman, Anima, as she creates an avatar and sets out in a virtual world. As her digital image changes, she finds her avatar exploring dark and seductive areas and doing things that she would never do... but, then, who exactly is doing them?
PRETEND PEOPLE (6 minutes)
Adapted from an interview with a 15-year veteran of online communities, "Pretend People" tells the story of a young teacher who leads a vibrant personal life from within the four walls of her home office. When confronted about her time spent with online companions, she questions the societal assumption that physically proximate relationships are inherently superior to online ones.
PIXELATED (7 minutes)
Returning to the theme of "Alter Ego", "Pixelated" is a multimedia conceptual performance exploring online identity and sexuality. Combining projected machinima with live performance, "Pixelated" shows a female avatar engaged in three very different erotic scenes from Second Life. Meanwhile, the avatar's creator reacts to the scenes with increasing interest and identification with the events unfolding.
CAPTURING SWEETNESS (12 minutes)
In a new universe, why do we expect love to play by the same rules? "Capturing Sweetness" is a machinima/live action performance that tells the story of two people weaving an elaborate virtual romance together - and what happens when one wants to love the fantasy and the other wants to love the person.