[ISEA2011] Panel: Patrick Lichty & Susan Eliz­a­beth Ryan (moderators) – Virtual Doppelgangers: Embodiment, Morphogenesis, and Transversal Action

Panel Statement

Chair Per­sons: Patrick Lichty & Susan Eliz­a­beth Ryan
Pre­sen­ters: Gre­gory Lit­tle, Elle Mehrmand, Micha Cárde­nas & Stephanie Rothen­berg

In 1969 Gilles Deleuze the­o­rized the “BwO” or Body With­out Or­gans (in The Logic of the Sense, after Ar­taud’s orig­i­nal term). It refers to the vir­tual di­men­sion of the body and its po­ten­tials, likened to the egg as site of em­bod­i­ment (in Deleuze and Guat­tari’s Anti-Oedi­pus)—a set of mul­ti­ple po­ten­tial­i­ties as well as dys­func­tional rep­e­ti­tions. In this panel we seek to ex­plore the re­la­tions be­tween fleshly bod­ies and dig­i­tized ones as sites of em­bod­i­ment for our cur­rent, in­for­mat­i­cally en­er­gized ex­is­tences. From Face­book re­la­tion­ships to per­for­mances in Sec­ond Life, many of us ex­pe­ri­ence var­i­ous parts of our lives vir­tu­ally today. But how are these ex­pe­ri­ences ab­sorbed into our so-called “real lives”?  In what ways do our vir­tual and phys­i­cal spaces in­ter­sect—are they ag­glom­er­ated re­al­i­ties (Har­away), or em­bed­ded in some on­to­log­i­cal con­tin­uum? There have been con­tro­ver­sies and sup­port­ing stud­ies (esp. con­cern­ing vir­tual games) sug­gest­ing that ex­cess so­cial me­di­a­tion is harm­ful to­wards our “sense of re­al­ity” and abil­ity to in­ter­act in so­ci­ety. But re­searchers of vir­tual life like Nick Yee (Di­rec­tor of the Daedalus Pro­ject sur­vey of MMO play­ers) have shown that avatar ex­pe­ri­ences pos­i­tively af­fect our phys­i­cal lives and per­son­al­i­ties. Still, new re­search sup­ports old wis­dom that too much vir­tu­al­ity is harm­ful to­ward our “sense of re­al­ity” and abil­ity to in­ter­act in so­ci­ety. How are we to think about our bod­ies and their vir­tual dou­bles? Artists and de­sign­ers know the meta­physics of the BwO. They have cre­ated in­no­v­a­tive ways to ex­plore how vir­tual ex­pe­ri­ences can rad­i­cally trans­form our real-world iden­ti­ties, as with Micha Cárde­nas’s Be­com­ing Dragon (2008); or so­cioe­co­nom­i­cally im­pact the phys­i­cal world, as did Rothen­berg and Crouse’s In­vis­i­ble Threads/Dou­ble­Hap­pi­ness Jeans pro­ject (2007-8). The ses­sion will ad­dress both art­works and the­o­ret­i­cal frame­works that en­gage our repli­cated bod­ies, the af­fec­tive re­la­tions they cre­ate, and trans­ver­sal ef­fects across mul­ti­ple en­vi­ron­ments, plat­forms, and phys­i­cal ap­pear­ances.

  • Patrick Lichty is a media artist, writer, in­de­pen­dent cu­ra­tor, an­i­ma­tor for the ac­tivist group The Yes Men, and Ex­ec­u­tive Ed­i­tor of In­tel­li­gent Agent mag­a­zine. He began show­ing tech­no­log­i­cal media art in 1989, and deals with works and writ­ing that ex­plore the so­cial re­la­tions be­tween us and media. Venues in which Lichty has been in­volved with solo and col­lab­o­ra­tive works in­clude the Whit­ney & Turin Bi­en­ni­als, Mari­bor Tri­en­nial, Per­forma Per­for­mance Bi­en­nial, Ars Elec­tron­ica, and the In­ter­na­tional Sym­po­sium on Elec­tronic Art (ISEA). He also works ex­ten­sively with vir­tual worlds, in­clud­ing Sec­ond Life, and his work, both solo and with his per­for­mance art group, Sec­ond Front, has been fea­tured in Flash Art, Eikon Milan, and Art­News. He is also an As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Media The­ory and Ex­per­i­men­tal Gen­res at Co­lum­bia Col­lege Chicago, USA. voyd.com
  • Dr. Susan Eliz­a­beth Ryan, Ph.D., Professor of Art History at Louisiana State University and Fellow of the LSU Center for Computational Technology (CCT).  She teaches contemporary and new media art history and has helped found an interdisciplinary Art/Engineering undergraduate minor at LSU entitled AVATAR. With Patrick Lichty, she curated Social Fabrics, an exhibition sponsored by the Leonardo Educational Forum, for the College Art Association, Dallas 2008 (http://www.socialfabrics.org/). She has lectured internationally on dress and creative technology, and contributed articles to Leonardo and the online journal Intelligent Agent. She is currently writing a book on wearable technology art.  artistory.us   socialfabrics.org