Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Zombie Attack

Hey, take a look at this.
Second Front is an avatar performance art group on the virtual world Second Life. Its members come from all over the "real" (or, should I say, tangible?) world--the US, Italy, Canada, etc. The video you see here is a Machinima document of one of their recent live performance pieces, ZOMBIE ATTACK: 28 AVATARS LATER (horror film fans, you'll see hints of George Romero). If you're interested, you can read this interview of Second Front on

In the interview, Second Front member Great Escape says that "Second Life offers a unique space for performance. Without the normal constraints of the body ― the usual center of performance -and without a traditional audience, we can try and do things that have been previously thought to be impossible."

This is fascinating to me. Second Life allows the members of Second Front to be in two places at once, to be in Milan or Vancouver and simultaneously perform in a virtual meeting place. However, I would like to think more about the ways in which Second Life DOES constrain the body. Are we ever really free of our bodies? Can we ever really leave our "usual center[s]"?

I've recently started playing Second Life and was both physically and emotionally affected by an abusive run-in with another player. A male avatar shoved and--for lack of a better phrase--sexually assaulted my avatar. I was too new to the game to know how to report this behavior.

Of course, this was not "real" and can't be compared to an assault that occurs in our tangible world. And yet, I was quite frightened by the whole thing, making my avatar run away as fast as she (or I) could. How can we account for the physicality of immaterial bodies?

1 comment:

Ryan Sarnowski said...

"we can try and do things that have been previously thought to be impossible"

So, with realm of virtual possibilities at their disposal they decide to make a zombie piece filled with gore?

Just like your attacker, this performance appears to have used Second Life as an escapist fantasy world where they could live out actions their conscience prevents them from doing in their 'First Life'. It's an indulgence in fantasy freed from the supposed reality of the tangible world. Yet, you were hurt by this actions of this player. Its impossible to tell if anyone was harmed in this performance. I am guessing not, but why spend time on such violence, haven't we enough in the tangible world?

If the world of Second Life can make the previous impossible possible, I would hope that at some point people would be able to confront the monsters that lurk inside of themselves and honestly ask ourselves why we act the way we do, rather than let these monsters manifest in some alternate world.

What is the impulse that makes a performance group want to rip one another to pieces without an ounce of consideration for the physical and psychology pain that all violence places upon the world - virtual or real?

I don't think we can ever really leave ourselves, but perhaps if we worked at it we could change how we act, for the better. If not in this world than perhaps in Second Life .