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