Networked_Performance

“Curing the Vampire” by Lynn Hershman Leeson

Curing the Vampire consists of four interviews by artist-filmmaker Lynn Hershmann Leeson. Partially shot in the virtual world of Second Life, Curing the Vampire is being released one episode at a time.

Subverting the distinction between real and simulated, the interviews explore interwoven themes of revolution, empowerment, technology and the remix. Each interview examines how new and mass media mechanisms have generated change and how cultural and technological infrastructures have shaped the ability of individuals to have social and political impact.

Playing the part of Gene Ware, a character from the virtual world of Second Life, Hershman Leeson undertakes a set of interviews in conjunction with Tilda Swinton, posing questions to a selection of guests, including a politician, journalist, scientist and lawyer.

Interviews:

Gilberto Gil discusses his exile from Brazil and his involvement in The Tropicália movement, how after living and playing music in London, he returned to Brazil, eventually taking up the position of Minister for Culture, where he continues to promote free culture.

Elena Poniatowska, a renowned journalist and author dedicated to the promotion of equality and human rights, discusses how the mass media in South America remained silent at the time of the student massacres in Mexico in 1968 and how, through her use of publishing and distribution mechanisms, she inadvertently shifted state and cultural consciousness with an account of those events.

Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, who is credited with having identified “the aging gene” or Telomeres in our DNA, discusses how this information shifts our understanding of who we are as humans, how in fact we are ourselves a genetic remix; and how advances in macro photographic processes have aided that revelation.

Lawrence Lessig, the mastermind behind Creative Commons, discusses open content licensing and how it will function globally in allowing people to use copy left to shift the boundaries of ownership and shared knowledge.

Background: Lynn Hershman Leeson works in overlapping genres that explore questions of identity, presence, and the human body in relation to technology. Curing The Vampire carries forward themes explored in earlier work by Hershman Leeson, in which mixed realities operate between fact and fiction.

My path to interactive works began not with video, but with performance, when, in 1971, I created an alternative identity called Roberta Breitmore. Her decisions were random, only very remotely controlled. Roberta’s manipulated reality became a model for a private system of interactive performances. Instead of being kept on a disc or hardware, her records were stored as photographs and texts that could be viewed without predetermined sequences… — Lynn Hershman Leeson

Roberta Breitmore has since been re-animated based on her archive, physically housed in the Special Collections Library at Stanford University. The new work, Life 2 is an archaeological survey of Roberta’s history, re-performed, recomposed and remixed.

In Curing The Vampire, Hershman Leeson tackles questions of appropriation and distribution from a broad cultural and political perspective. Challenging authenticity through the personification of a surreal virtual world character, a discussion around free culture and a radical re-thinking about the essence of our genetic make-up.


Dec 12, 15:31
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