Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Body Parts by Alpha Auer

In response to the last post - can cyberspace offer a place for the soul – I visited Alpha Auer’s “Body Parts”, an installation that confronts the idea of loneliness in cyberspace and the avatar as a sole soul. She writes, “once all the beautiful words have been uttered and all the chips are down, in the end love is a physical thing - and like Kafka in relationship to Milena, we are not. The sum total of our physicality is a bunch of cleverly strung together pose animations purchased from Vista. At best.... No corporeality = no love. There is no manifestation of love in the metaverse. Lots of other things - yes. Absolutely. But love - no…”

Visitors to “Body Parts” are invited to don cold monochromatic skins to blend in with the silvery sculpted figures clutching at and towards one another. The figures travel across the landscape like a Rubens composition (I thought of Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus), across and up. Jump on one of the pose balls and complete a circuit with a fellow avatar – aka human being – and notice how the figures struggle between refusal and gratification, between wanting the connection and revolting against it. I don’t know if I agree with Alpha’s claim that love cannot exist in the metaverse without physical connection...there are enough descriptions by others about the rl sensations felt when first dancing a waltz with a partner, or the shiver of the typist when crossing a snowy sim, not to mention the hundreds of seemingly fruitful partnerships. But because so much of our experience in-world relies on imagination which we use to fill in the blanks, (and there are blanks) are we ultimately only loving ourselves? Commune we will, our fellow avatars are our hand-held mirrors, but ultimately, we must self-gratify. Love can be blind and the brain compensates in the actual world as well as the virtual one. Writes Edward Castronova, “for the first time, humanity has not one but many worlds in which to live.” One could argue that there are more choices for love as well. /me jumps back on Alpha’s pose ball and continues to wrestle the thought....