Panel: Virtual Doppelgangers: Embodiment, Morphogenesis, and Transversal Action
This essay addresses the issues of performance, affect, and virtuality in terms of interventions in online environments, and the phenomena of affect in virtual performance. Brian Massumi, in the foreword to Deleuze & Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus, wrote of the affective as different from feeling or emotion in that affect is prepersonal, or before the personal aspects of feeling and emotion. This leads one to believe that affect is as much hardware as wetware as far as the brain is concerned. Neuroscientitst V.J. Ramachandran popularized the discovery of “mirror neurons,” or a network of neurons dedicated to empathetically projecting the actions of others into the individual. The functioning of this set of neurons explains any number of behaviors such as distress for another’s trauma or projection when playing with dolls. This is why the mirror neurons are also nicknamed the “Gandhi neurons.” But what of virtual performance? During the rise of performance art, the object had observed the Greenbergian implosion to pure form, and with Fluxus and conceptualism, the object itself as necessary part of art praxis had been obliterated. The body had become the repository for direct expression in art with the coming of performance art. However, with the recontextualization of seminal works by Marina Abramovic, with her Seven Easy Pieces, the meanings of the works as immediate, site-specific happenings became circumspect. This was further compounded by artists Evan and Franco Mattes, self-proclaimed “haters” of performance art, who remediated other seminal works, including those of Abramovic in the online virtual world Second Life. The process of draining the site of performance through decontextualization, then disembodiment, should have destroyed the event of meaning, but the performances of Mattes, Second Front, Kildall, et al retained some element of impact. This presentation will explore the epistemic arc of performance art from Fluxus to Gazira Babeli, and discuss the importance of affect as intrinsic criteria of performance and where is has been retained in the virtual.
- 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
Full text (PDF) p. 1526-1529 [Different title!]