Deep Space: Avatar 4D at NOMA Gallery and Reference Gallery

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Avatar 4D video by Chris Coy

In 1966, Allan Kaprow made the following statement in the Manifestos pamphlet:

Contemporary art, which tends to “think” in multi-media, intermedia, overlays, fusions and hybridizations, is a closer parallel to modern mental life than we have realized. Its judgments, therefore, may be acute. “Art” may soon become a meaningless word. In its place,“communications programming” would be a more imaginative label, attesting to our new jargon, our technological and managerial fantasies, and to our pervasive electronic contact with one another.

Fast-forward to 2010, and one wonders what Kaprow would make of "Avatar 4D," an evening of performances -- or, more precisely, a happening -- by seventeen internet-based artists "set up as chaotically choreographed circumstances that exist in a reality of virtual proportions." Taking its cue from the dually alienating and revelatory push-and-pull of our hyper-connected lives, and the existence of "pervasive electronic contact" taken to the nth degree, artists will webcam, stream, project, and otherwise stage work in both San Francisco's NOMA Gallery and Richmond's Reference Gallery this Saturday, April 17th. The event is curated by the collaborative curatorial team JstChillin (Caitlin Denny and Parker Ito), who are also behind the original and often humorous online exhibit series Serial Chillers in Paradise. The press release describes the artists in "Avatar 4D" as "reality hackers" -- citing Petra Cortright’s webcam videos and Ben Vickers' disclosure of his personal usernames and passwords as examples -- who experiment with "the theoretical apparatus of struggle" in the context of "the ever changing modes of the net" and its impact on the self. It seems the artists behind "Avatar 4D" are attempting to insert "art" into a reality lived in anticipation of its constant representation and performance online, perhaps becoming a form of "communications programming" within a self-programmed reality. Whatever the case may be, with so many talented artists involved, Saturday's event promises to deliver a spectacle -- in two, three, and possibly four dimensions.