Estimated reading time: 3 minutes —
I was looking at a book of Helmut Newton photographs, many from the 1980’s, and I found myself wondering which of his subjects were now dead. And Newton, himself, is of course, now dead.
And I thought about all that Roland Barthes photography and death stuff. And that as non-corporeal sentiences, avatars don’t exactly die, not exactly, but since they tend to be tied to a single, corporeal, typist, that just like “fleshvatars,” avatars do, for all practical purposes, die. Often, in fact, at “younger” ages than meat puppets.
Some consider their physical and virtual lives to be isomorphic, that there is no distinction. Others take a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” or RP “never-the-twain-shall-meet” perspex.
Yet isomorphic or dimorphic, the avatar’s life is almost inextricably linked to the life, or less, of a given corporeal being.
Even if Marcel Duchamp had “given” Rrose Selavy to Walter Hopps, would Selavy be able to continue in a “real” way? This example is more of a thought example as I don’t think Duchamp actually developed Selavy all that extensively, but what if he had? Could Selavy then live on? Would Hopps be “breathing life” into Selavy? Or “performing” Duchamp performing Selavy?
Corporations, of course, often live on in powerful ways. Is the Walt Disney Company more or less “Disney” since his death. In the Eisner era some complained that the aesthetics weren’t always “Walt Aesthetics,” yet in becoming a corporate behemoth, one might argue that post-Disney Disney was more-Disney than living-Disney Disney was. That Eisner’s legacy (before the fall anyway) was Walt’s vision writ even larger.
Google has already changed a lot during Page & Brin’s lifetimes. How might it look when they have been gone for as long as Walt Disney has now been gone for?
Is an avatar more human than a corporation?
Does a corporation possess longevity beyond an avatar?
Previz #59 – Polymorphic
In this work I propose to create a virtual, non-corporeal, intelligent, probably conscious, possibly sentient, being, who uses the “typing” services of more-than-one corporeal beings and therefore might have a reasonable possibility of living beyond the death or non-participation of any one, or even all, of the original corporeal beings.
These multiple typists would not instantiate an at-all-times identical being. Just as we are all non-clinical, non-acute “multiple personalities” in the different parts of our day, in different contexts, and in interaction with different individuals, so too these different typists would almost certainly manifest distinctions of persona, behavior, and dress.
Still, I wonder if it would be possible for them to instantiate a persona that is diverse enough to be “real,” yet not so inconsistent as to be “fake.” That is, to find the space in-between so-unsurprising as to be boring, and so-unbelievably-surprising as to break itself, as to be “fake.”
This “performance” is necessarily far more longitudinal than most of the works I have produced, and if it should be executed, I am uncertain of how to document the work without “outing” and possibly diminishing the integrity of this being.
Lots to think about.
The Avatar could be male or female, old or young, human or non-human. Whatever this identity might be, as suggested above, the various “participant typists” would not have to create lock-step services, yet The Avatar probably would not change from male to female nor from sixteen to sixty. There should be a level of consistency. Consistent but not monochromatic. A single, consistent person might wear a business suit, casual cotton, and perhaps even a latex catsuit, on different occasions and in different contexts.
An activity blog might be a nice way for the different “participating typists” to maintain a level of meta-awareness about The Avatar. Each participating typist could contribute funds and resources to The Avatar as they see fit, and each could reasonably disperse available funds and resources. “Dramatic” decisions, such as deleting wardrobe because it is too inconsistent could be at least presented, and perhaps debated, on the activity blog.
The virtual space I currently find the most productive is that of Second Life, but The Avatar could have presences or instantiations in multiple 3D environments including Blue Mars, WoW, OS Grid, EVE Online, and many others. Similarly, The Avatar could inhabit as many 2D / Online Social spaces (websites) as the Participating Typists are inclined to develop a presence on.
While this previz has focused on The Avatar surviving the death of the typist (“character surviving the death of the author”) it is likely that the experience, at least in the short-to-medium term, would be most compelling in the process of multiple typists collaborating on the instantiation of a rich, intelligent, presence. Perhaps a little like the old surrealist game “Exquisite Corpse.”
Oh, haha, “corpse” – back to the beginning – Helmut Newton’s exquisite photographs of people then living, but sooner-or-later-to-be corpses.