[ISEA2011] Panel: Paul Ser­mon – Lib­er­ate your Avatar: The Rev­o­lu­tion will be So­cially Net­worked

Panel Statement

Panel: Travels Through Hyper-Liminality: Exploring the space where digital meets the real

This pre­sen­ta­tion pro­vides a cre­ative-prac­ti­cal per­spec­tive on Sec­ond Life through a sur­vey of my work as a vi­sual artist, set against a the­o­ret­i­cal and philo­soph­i­cal back­drop that com­bines post­struc­tural­ism and semi­otics. My prac­ti­cal ex­am­ples of merged and cre­ated Sec­ond Lives draw on my mixed-re­al­ity in­stal­la­tions in the form of en­coun­ters be­tween Sec­ond Life and First Life. My aim is to pro­vide a vi­sual back­drop and prac­ti­cal ex­am­ples to this un­der­ly­ing the­o­ret­i­cal and philo­soph­i­cal dis­course, where the dis­em­bod­ied par­tic­i­pant and (re)-em­bod­ied avatar in my in­stal­la­tions find them­selves in an in­creas­ingly so­cial and po­lit­i­cal sec­ond life con­text. Whereas the un­der­ly­ing the­o­ret­i­cal frame­work of this pre­sen­ta­tion clearly iden­ti­fies a num­ber of crit­i­cal and philo­soph­i­cal stand­points rang­ing from a post­struc­tural­ist po­si­tion that fol­lows the lin­guis­tic and semi­otic guid­ing prin­ci­ples of de Saus­sure to the for­ma­tion of the ego in re­la­tion to the body image in Lacan’s mir­ror stage, it is the artis­tic out­comes of my own prac­ticed-based re­search that iden­ti­fies and pro­nounces these the­o­ret­i­cal stances within my art in­stal­la­tions. Through the de­vel­op­ment of these artis­tic works since the early 1990s a philo­soph­i­cal dis­course has emerged through ex­pe­ri­ence and prac­tice rather than ini­ti­ated by the­ory alone, but one that is now com­pletely en­twined where as an artist I feel both the the­ory and prac­tice are at the fore­front of my work.

  • Paul Ser­mon is Pro­fes­sor of Cre­ative Tech­nol­ogy and As­so­ci­ate Head for Re­search and In­no­va­tion at the School of Art & De­sign, Uni­ver­sity of Sal­ford, UK. He has de­vel­oped a se­ries of cel­e­brated in­ter­ac­tive telem­atic art in­stal­la­tions that have re­ceived in­ter­na­tional ac­claim. Through a sus- tained re­search fund­ing in­come he has con­tin­ued to pro­duce, ex­hibit, and dis­cuss his work ex­ten­sively at an in­ter­na­tional level. Paul Ser­mon grad­u­ated with a BA Hon’s Fine Art de­gree under Pro­fes­sor Roy As­cott at the Uni­ver­sity of Wales in 1988 and re­ceived an MFA de­gree from the Uni­ver­sity of Read­ing, Eng­land, in 1991. He was awarded the Prix Ars Elec­tron­ica ‘Golden Nica’, in the cat­e­gory of in­ter­ac­tive art for the hyper media in­stal­la­tion ‘Think about the Peo­ple now’ in Linz, Aus­tria, in 1991. He pro­duced the ISDN video­con­fer­ence in­stal­la­tion ‘Telem­atic Vi­sion’ as an Artist in Res­i­dence at the Cen­ter for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karl­sruhe, Ger­many, in 1993 and re­ceived the ‘Sparkey Award’ from the In­ter­ac­tive Media Fes­ti­val in Los An­ge­les, for the telep­re­sent video in­stal­la­tion ‘Telem­atic Dream­ing’ in 1994. Paul Ser­mon was a nom­i­nee at the World Tech­nol­ogy Awards 2005 and holds a num­ber of ex­ter­nal ap­point­ments that in­flu­ence re­search pol­icy. Since 2004 he has been an AHRC Peer Re­view Col­lege mem­ber, mem­ber of the NWDA funded North West Art & De­sign Re­search Group, Chair of Media Arts Net- work North­west [ma-net], and ad­vises on var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional jour­nal and con­fer­ence ed­i­to­ri­als. Ex­ter­nal col­lab­o­ra­tions in­clude the AHRC funded REACT (Re­search En­gine for Art and Cre­ative Tech­nol­ogy).