RearView, Georgie Roxby Smith
Performance 6.30pm Friday 4 June
RearView, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia
The interfaces that lead us into cyberspace prove that one cannot detach technology from desire. Digital technologies promise to transcend familiar reality and to connect us to the paradise that reality has taken from us. Down with the detours and delays of reality: let us have instant gratification! What we cannot have in reality, we can have via the fantasy screen. As a “consensual hallucination” cyberspace would be the utopic, new ideal world.
Interface Fantasy - Andre Nusselder
Byte is the second instalment of a performative installation developed in residency at the Watermill Center, New York in April 2010. her Watermill Center residency, Roxby Smith collaborated with new media and theater artists from New York and New Zealand to develop interdisciplinary creation that incorporated visual arts practice, installation, new media art, video art, theater and performance, bringing them together in one "event."
Roxby Smith's recent creations have explored new possibilities of virtual reality media in contemporary art practice. In Byte, she extracts and re-injects her Second Life avatar into physical space so that her work exists on a kaleidoscope of planes: "in world," within a body of physical sculptures, as ephemeral projections in space; and as recreated performances by both humans and avatars. The effect is that of a hall of mirrors, in which viewers occupy multiple realities at once. In fact, through Second Life, audiences will be able access the virtual installation component of the final work not only in person at RearView, but from their own homes. A live stream of this installation will be made available to the original Watermill audience, flipping the two realities of their heads and allowing Melbourne the privileged view.
By creating an avatar or virtual self we create a strange balance between the level of investment and exposure of ourselves and role play. I am compelled by the general use of the “idealised body” by many users of virtual worlds and the desire to create utopian selves and environments in their blandest possible form. A cerebral longing to create a perfect self and life. Avatars are hollow - avatars are pure, avatars are clean, avatars have no orifices. They do not leak, shit, sweat, rot - there is no inconvenience to their bodies.
In exploring these ideas, I extract my self portrait avatar, Diogenes Wylder, from the screen, re-enacting her movements, wants and needs in a distorted and grotesque version of herself (in what has been referred to as eccentric figuration). The “real” Diogenes can never live up to the idealised world of avatar Diogenes. She becomes clown-like, desperate - stuck between two realities. Many of these performances are reinjected back into the screen and into Second Life where she can be confronted by her avatar self. My work also includes films and performances of the SL avatar - trying as desperately to be real as her counterpart tries to be virtual. These elements - live performance, virtual performance, mirroring, re-enacting , roleplaying - come together in a real world installation often alongside other performers who mimic both my performance and the avatar’s on screen presence. In this way not only the self will be fractured but also the position and role of the audience who are at once caught between realities, identities and their roles as spectator or actor.