Monday, March 15, 2010

Fox Roulette

"Of all the transformational devices, the most important and spectacular are the masks of the Kwakitul...The masks play a critical visual role. For the Kwakiutl, the mask is what is real. It isn't symbolic because it covers up and disguises; it is symbolic because of what it makes present: the spiritual reality. As such, masks are seen as objects of immense power." - Martha Padfield.

From Loki in Norway to Anansi in Ghana to Tezxatlipoca in MesoAmerica, tricksters act as conduits to the spiritual. They serve as teachers, working along the boundaries of what is socially acceptable, finding their manifestation through human imagination, forcing us to reflect on the roles we play – whether they are imparted upon us or chosen - through surprise or upset. Through this process, the trickster hopes to get us thinking about our social boundaries and questions why they exist or if they make sense. In many native cultures, a mask was used to conjur up the voice of the trickster, confronting and teaching through dance and performance.

Kitsune Chat 2 from otolythe on Vimeo.

In Chatroulette, an “uncensored mess” of a site, visitors have the chance at a boundary-less experience where anything goes. There is a glaring lack of imagination that abounds via the hands of the majority of users – namely 22 year old boys and older men with hands on themselves. The perfect zone for a trickster figure to insert herself, in this case, in the form of a kitsune. “Who are you”, she cocks her head, sniffs, and silently confronts. “What are you doing here?” Technology plows forward, giving us hardly any time to reflect. Likewise, our social mores and rules have little time to catch up. Chatroulette is the ultimate reality show, exposing all of us as voyeurs. With the “next button” so close to the fingertips, it’s easy to make a quick scene and depart, before anyone finds out who you really are. Kitsune hopes to give you pause.