Panel: Virtual Doppelgangers: Embodiment, Morphogenesis, and Transversal Action
From 2008-2011, Cárdenas and Mehrmand have collaborated and made individual artworks which bridge realities and extend the body sonically and visually. Through these experiments, they have developed new technologies, aesthetic strategies and forms of political embodiment which are transreal, crossing the lines of realities and using reality as a medium. These projects work within what Ricardo Dominguez describes as, “concrete practices as speculation and speculation as concrete practices – at the speed of dreams,” experimenting with ways of linking their physical bodies with our virtual doppelgangers. These experiments form a trajectory of Science of the Oppressed and point towards new lines of flight, models such as transreal, holographic and clone identities. Becoming Dragon questions the one-year requirement of “Real Life Experience” that transgender people must fulfill in order to receive Gender Confirmation Surgery, and asks if this could be replaced by one year of “Second Life Experience” to lead to Species Reassignment Surgery. For the performance, Cárdenas lived for 365 hours immersed in the online 3D environment of Second Life with a head mounted display, only seeing the physical world through a video feed, and used a motion capture system to map her movements into Second Life. Subsequently, Mehrmand and Cárdenas collaborated on Becoming Transreal, using expanded versions of this technology to map two avatars’ motions in a slipstream narrative about futures of nanobiotechnology. Cárdenas and Mehrmand began to collaborate on mixed reality performances such as Technésexual, in which the performers commit playful erotic acts in physical and virtual space simultaneously, using devices to amplify the sound of their heartbeats for the two audiences. An electrocardiogram was used to monitor the heart rate with an Arduino/Freeduino, playing a recording of the heartbeat at the live rate using Puredata. Temperature sensors modulate the pitch based on touch. DIY biometrics are used to bridge realities with audio, finding ways of exploring the space between realities. The mixing of realities in this project can be seen as paralleling our own experiences mixing genders and sexualities, queering new media. Virtualworlds such as Second Life facilitate the development of new identities, allowing for unimagined relations and relationships. Technésexual looks closely at these new relationships, and how they affect our everyday lives and horizons of possibility.
- Elle Mehrmand is a performance artist and musician who uses the body, electronics, video, sound and installation within her work. She is the singer and trombone player of Assembly of Mazes, a music collective who creates dark, electronic, middle eastern, rhythmic jazz rock. Elle is currently an MFA candidate at UCSD, US, and received her BFA in art photography with a minor in music at CSULB. She is a collective member of the Electronic Disturbance Theatre 2.0 and the b.a.n.g. Lab, and is a researcher at CRCA <Center for Research and Computing in the Arts> at UCSD. Her work has been internationally shown at venues such as Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions <LACE>, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego <MCASD>, Highways Performance Space, Orange County Museum of Art <OCMA>, UCLA Freud Playhouse, CECUT, Mapa Teatro, the Nevada Museum of Art, and the Gallery of the National College of Art and Design. She has been discussed in Artforum, Art21, the LA Times, Juxtapoz magazine, WIRED, Networked Performance, the LA & OC Weekly, Furtherfield.org, the CityBeat, and VICE magazine.
- Micha Cárdenas is an artist/theorist whose transreal work mixes physical and networked spaces in order to explore emerging forms of queer relationality, biopolitics, and DIY horizontal knowledge production. She will be starting her PhD study at University of Southern California’s Media Arts (US) and Practice PhD program in Fall 2011 and is currently the Interim Associate Director of Art and Technology for UCSD’s Sixth College in the Culture, Art and Technology program. She was previously a lecturer in the Visual Arts department and Critical Gender Studies program at UCSD. She is an artist/researcher with the UCSD School of Medicine, CRCA and the b.a.n.g. lab at Calit2. Her recent publications include Trans Desire/Affective Cyborgs, with Barbara Fornssler, from Atropos Press, “I am Transreal” in Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation from Seal Press, and “Becoming Dragon: A Transversal Technology Study” in Code Drift from CTheory. Her collaboration with Elle Mehrmand, “Mixed Relations,” was the recipient of the UCIRA Emerging Fields Award for 2009. She has exhibited and performed in biennials, museums and galleries in cities around the world including Los Angeles, Tijuana, New York, San Francisco, Montreal, Alexandria, Egypt, Bogota, Colombia, Malaga, Spain, Saas-Fee, Switzerland and Dublin, Ireland. Her work has been written about in publications including Art21, the Associated Press, the LA Times, CNN, BBC World and Wired. vimeo.com/azdelslade
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