There’s already lots of info on Vaneeesa Blaylock / Company and on myself here on iRez, but I thought I’d do a brief update on virtual performance adventures and on the partial metamorphosis from “Vaneeesa Blaylock / Company” to “iRez.” VB/CO is still alive and well, in fact we’ve installed 41 performance works in the past 41 months, still, the majority of those works are site-projects conceived by one or a few people and then set on many.
In year 1 iRez was mostly an archive of performance documents; in year 2 it evolved into a richer, true blog, and in this past year into a Virtual Salon with many authors who, far from merely having work set on them, bring their own rich, diverse, ideas, works, and perspectives, to our conversation of what it means to be an embodied being in the 21st century.
We take great inspiration from 27 Rue de Fleurus, the legendary address of Gertrude Stein’s apartment in Paris. Exactly 100 years ago Stein hosted the world’s most famous physical salon in that apartment. It was a big conversation about art, culture, and ideas. 188.8.131.52 is a less romantic address, and we can’t claim that our modest virtual salon can live up to Stein’s legend, but it’s at least fair to say that Gertrude Stein is our patron saint.
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey. At last count, 301 unique avatars have made a total of 865 appearances in VB/CO performance works, and 31 authors have published a total of 681 salon pieces here on iRez.
As you scroll through the set of captioned images below, you might consider the dynamics of this cultural conversation, and then perhaps leave a comment on where you think this exploration might wander toward in 2013.
Click on any image to enter full-screen / slide-show mode and then use arrow keys to scroll through.
Vaneeesa Blaylock / Company was launched on 18 April 2009 when Esparanza Freese of Kansas State University invited me to create a virtual performance work for the Vista Hermosa Art Gallery
Two months later we performed in the Steampunk world of the Caledon Arts District when our gallerist Patty Poppy invited us to install a piece in the gazebo at Caledon Kintyre
In October 2009 we performed at what would turn out to be the last Linden Lab sponsored Burning Man Regional, “Burning Life ’09” and had a spectacular experience there.
In April 2010 we celebrated the 1-year anniversary of VB/CO’s formation by operating a 24-hour virtual laundromat where guests could take off their virtual clothes, pass them to us, and wander around in a complimentary spa towel as we laundered their wardrobe.
In one of our more formal works, “Dark Side of the Moon,” we wore brightly colored latex unitards and connected together to form a human dodecahedron.
In Sept & Oct 2010 we returned to the Burning Man Virtual Regional, which had been taken over by the “real” Burning Man Organization and rechristened “Burn2” We expected another wonderful experience, but unfortunately found the BMO impossible to work with.
Distraught at being evicted from our expensive plot at Burn2 I nearly committed avatar suicide before choosing instead a somewhat less violent “Ascension” as my exit from the virtual world of my birth.
Wandering around the many worlds of the metaverse I found a part time job at a yoga studio where I taught cultural values to young avatars.
On another world we performed “New Clothes” an adaptation of Allan Kaprow’s 1975 piece “Match.” It symbolically marked the building of new community through the sharing of clothes.
Later we performed “Multiverse” a simultaneous performance work in 3 virtual worlds.
In April 2011, six months after my Ascension, it seemed time enough to return to my home world. I planned a “Resurrection,” but influenced again by the simplicity of Kaprow, I opted instead for a less grandiose “Return.”
My 1st encounter with our now very familiar photographic genius Strawberry Singh was when she invited avatars to post data about their bodies on Flickr. Vaki took all the data and generated the “average” avatar, and we took that and did a performance of “average avatars.”
Regaining stride after leaving a life, ending a marriage, and returning to a new life, I married the one man in all of virtuality who always seems to really get me. I married Ze Moo at Covent Garden in London on 4 June 2011.
I guess life is experienced faster the second (third?) time around. From Return, to Average, to Marriage, to “The Seniors Project,” where, like the Nikki S. Lee’s of avatars, we imagined our future selves.
And then my daughter wasn’t a teenager anymore. We wanted a simple yet powerful way to mark this birthday, so we stood in a long line on a ledge outside the window of her Palestine art gallery and waited in the cold, crisp air for the clock to strike midnight. And then the girl was twenty.
Enough Drama! On 30 March 2012 we joined the international cast of Dance Anywhere and spent an hour dancing in the fountain at Trafalgar Square, London.
I’ve been really influenced by Ernesto Ramirez talk “Your Chair is Killing You,” so a while back I built a treadmill desk, and here in VB37 we did a 5k, 21-sim walk through the Second Life Mainland with a Start/Finish line at Circuit La Corse.
iRez’ dramaturge Kathleen Cool has had a life-long resonance with legendary cellist Charlotte Moorman and in July we brought her legacy to virtual life with “TV Bra’s” for everyone!
Meanwhile, here at iRez, we’ve had a few occasional contributors for some time, but it was really in May 2012 when one of the leading voices in virtual identity, Botgirl Questi, became a contributing author that the iRez salon was born.
A month after Botgirl, my long time virtual world exploring buddy Ironyca Lee joined us with her haunting images of WoW avatars rendered in porcelain.
Performance artist Marmaduke Arado has given us an extraordinary photographic tour of art installations around the virtual world. In this image his techno-doppelganger “Marmabot” seems to be doing the Kevin Costner “Bodyguard” thing to his partner Kikas Babenco’s Whitney Houston.
Long-time VB/CO cast member Trilby Minotaur launched iRez’ coverage of art fairs when she took her iPad to dOCUMENTA(13) and started sending back graphic novel pages of her activities there in the weeks leading up to the opening.
My 15-year-old Tumblr pal Hanna Lee contributed a remarkable piece, “Fat Girl Slam Poetry.” You have to love the Oliver Sacks book on her floor, in the lower-right corner of the frame.
Jacque Donaldson has kept us up to date on NYC exhibitions. Here’s her self-portrait in Yayoi Kusama’s “Fireflies on the Water”
Joseph DeLappe shared his new media mashup “Fifty Shades of Black Ops” with iRez
Nathan Shafer’s Augmented Reality project “AR in AK”
Os Ishmael is our photographer in Hong Kong, here sharing a simple portrait of a Praying Mantis that somehow survived the worst HK typhoon in a decade.
The one friend of iRez who’s thought about Charlotte Mooman and Nam June Paik as much as Kathleen, Pixel Reanimator, wrote about “Pixel Paiked Out”
Rafaela Lima started our conversation on the immaterial with her review of the “Invisible” show at the Hayward Gallery, London…
… and founding Manifest.AR member Tamiko Thiel carried the Immaterial conversation forward by documenting Manifest.AR’s Augmented Reality Intervention at the “Invisible” show at The Hayward Gallery, London.
Installation artist, gamer, hacker, feminist Krista Hoefl shared her hack of WoW Wiki’s entry on the more revealing nature of female armor with the text of Ashley Judd’s response to criticism over her “puffy face”
My twin sister of different mums Vanessa Bartlett shared her powerful podcast “Archiving mental health symptoms using new technology.”
iRez’ most successful virtual entrepreneur (or possibly our only successful virtual entrepreneur) Canary Beck writes about digital culture, from virtual citizenship to virtual weddings, and threatens to “show us the money” one day.
PhD candidate, VB/CO Dramaturge, and iRez philosopher-in-residence, Kathleen Cool is at the nexus of Art & Technology and has conceptually been both a powerful anchor, and a launch pad for iRez considerations of Avatars, Identity, and Existence in the virtual century.
Ravanel Griffon is that rare breath of fresh air around iRez, an avatar who doesn’t come from SL or WoW! She’s written about some of the must-see places in a number of different worlds and is currently in the middle of her 6-part series on Avatar & Identity.
When mixed-reality artist Kristine Schomaker commented on one of Kathleen Cool’s posts, Cool just about fainted, being a long running fan of Schomaker’s work. We quickly invited her to join the iRez authors and she’s been describing her Identity projects in Mixed Reality ever since.
With so many of us here going on about Identity and Avatars and embodiment, Eva Marie tells us she cares less about all that and more about the world itself, the details, the experience of the space, virtual or physical.
Yordie Sands is the heart and soul of this place. She’s the biggest romantic and the best cheerleader you could possibly imagine. And, hahaha, I think were all just slightly shocked when she had us on the edge of our seats with her 2-part mystery-thriller “The Hitcher”!
I have no doubt that there are staffers who walk the hallways of Linden Lab in San Francisco and refer to Strawberry Singh simply as “The Legend of The Lab.” Her iconic photography graces not only her own blog, and the Second Life home page, but also the pages of iRez.
Anthropology PhD candidate Katie Vizenor writes about Digital Citizenship and Accessibility in Virtual Worlds. She’s currently preparing a multi-part piece on Digital Ethnography legend Tom Boellstorff
I’ve long admired iRez’ next-to-newest author Mirae Rosner’s choreography. It’s powerful, fresh, and innovative. The work she’s done landing and lying on the ground in the physical world reminds me of similar explorations I’ve done in virtual space. Until her recent iRez post I was blissfully unaware that she was also a member of Graffiti Reserach Lab (GRL)
Our newest author, Sarah Elgart has written about her powerful, site-specific choreography “FlyAway Home” which she created for Los Angeles World Airports.