Estimated reading time: 2 minutes —
STORMWIND CATHEDRAL, 21 April — Multiverse traveler Ironyca is working the ether again, this time appearing as a judge on the live streaming webcast The WoW Factor, imparting fashion wisdom and passing out gold! With tonight’s 1000, 5000, 10,000 & 20,000 gold prizes, the WoW Factor’s total prize awards crossed the 2 million gold mark.
So this Jewish performance artist and her Chinese daughter are having lunch. About halfway thru the meal, the Jewish woman stands up and slaps the Chinese girl in the face. Stunned, the Chinese girl says “What was that for??”
“That was for Pearl Harbor!”
“Pearl Harbor!?” the Chinese girl exclaims, that was the Japanese, not the Chinese!
“Japanese, Chinese, they’re all the same to me” the woman replies.
Both sort of shrug and go back to eating lunch. Then a while later the Chinese girl stands up and smacks the Jewish woman hard in the face. Stunned, the Jewish woman says “What was that for??”
“That was for The Titanic!”
“The Titanic!?” the Jewish woman exclaims, that was an Iceberg, not the Jews!
“Iceberg, Greenberg, Spielberg, they’re all the same to me.”
Catching a tweet from Ironyca, I found myself tuned into the live stream of The WoW Factor. It was kind of fascinating to hear Ironyca and her fellow judges go into great detail about avatars that… hahaha… as if insensitive jokes about Asians and Jews aren’t bad enough… avatars that sort of all look the same to me. Whether we’re thinking about human ethnicity or avatar platforms, it makes sense that you are capable of perceiving the most fine detail in people who are most like you.
In fact in researching my recent post on Passing, I learned that transsexual people are most likely to be read by people of their own ethnicity, and therefore many trans-peeps, so I hear, move to a different country where they are more easily able to be accepted for who they are.
As I was simultaneously thinking that “they all look so similar” and realizing what a significant chunk of people find this world so compelling, I realized that… this is culture! In our ivory towers, we academics love to think about “high art” and celebrate our elitist values even as we strive not to think that we’re better than anyone.
In postmodernity and visual culture great efforts have been made to unite the arcane worlds of high art and the more popular, popular culture. In many ways this bigger, more inclusive tent is a much more democratized view of culture, and after all culture should unfold from the people who engage in it, not the self-appointed elites, no matter how rich and insightful their ideas. Still, others have responded to visual culture that, no, not all art is good, not all art is meaningful, not all art is equal.
Regardless of your position on this merry-go-round of cultural perspective, there is a power in spaces that so many people find compelling. Yet in spite of institutional exhibitions like the Laguna Art Museum’s WoW: Emergent Media Phenomenon, we’re not likely to see this work at the Venice Biennale, Documenta, Art Basel, or TEFAF Maastricht. New Media “Hacktivists” like Eva & Franco Mattes, Joseph DeLappe and others have done remarkably powerful work in virtual worlds, but whether the dominant culture will one day afford cultural privilege to “games” remains to be seen. A lot can change in a generation, so we’ll see what the future holds.
What do you think? Does a WoW avatar have any place in a museum next to a painting by Picasso? Is one “real art” and one “insignificant play?” Is all visual culture created equal? What will peeps walking thru museums in 2112 be looking at?
R E L A T E D . M A T E R I A L S
• The WoW Factor
• Eva & Franco Mattes
• Joseph DeLappe