June 18, 2007

UpStage version 2



You are warmly invited to join the UpStage team to celebrate the launch of UpStage version 2 :: June 28, 5:30-7:00 pm :: New Zealand Film Archive (cnr Taranaki & Ghuznee Streets) :: To mark the software launch an exhibition, Puppets to Pixels – an interactive playground for children of all ages, will run at the New Zealand Film Archive Gallery from June 28 - July 15. And 070707, a festival of UpStage performances, takes place on July 7, online and screened simultaneously at the Film Archive.

UpStage is a ground-breaking web-based venue for live, online performance. First launched in 2004, it’s time for the second release with improvements to the interface and innovative new features. UpStage V2 has been developed by Avatar Body Collision and Douglas Bagnall, with funding assistance from the Community Partnership Fund of the Digital Strategy, and the generous support of sponsors CityLink, MediaLab and Auckland University of Technology.

Posted by jo at 05:09 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2007

070707 UpStage Festival


Performances Announced

Shadow puppets, flights of fancy, air guitar and a visit to a London building site will be some of the virtual attractions at 070707 UpStage Festival - a feast of online performances on July 7, 2007 to celebrate the release of UpStage 2.

New Zealand and international artists are creating work specifically for the UpStage environment, which will be performed for an online audiences and simultaneously screened at the New Zealand Film Archive in Wellington.

UpStage is software that allows audiences from anywhere in the world to participate in live online performances, created in real time by remote players. Audiences need only an internet connection and web browser and can interact through a text chat tool while the players use images to create visual scenes, and operate "avatars" - graphical characters that speak aloud and move.

The diversity of proposals for the festival has impressed the organisers. "It's exciting to see UpStage being used in such a variety of ways," said UpStage project manager Helen Varley Jamieson. "We have all manner of artists - writers, musicians, dancers, performers, videographers, story-tellers - experimenting with how they can use the internet as a creative medium and a site for their work."

The full list of performances and artists is on the UpStage web site. Performance times will be publicised on the UpStage and New Zealand Film Archive web sites soon, and live links to the stages will be accessible from the UpStage web site on July 7; online audiences just need to click!

The performances will be screened live in the the New Zealand Film Archive mediagallery where visitors can buy a coffee, take a seat and watch the performances taking place from remote locations around the world. Exhibitions Manager Mark Williams says "It will be like watching a live movie, as the shows unfold in front our eyes."

UpStage workshop facilitator Vicki Smith has been providing graphic, technical and tutorial support for artists and education groups who are creating performances, and says that the level and range of work being produced promises breathtaking cyberformances (online performances) for audiences to view and take part in.

UpStage 2 is funded by the Community Partnership Fund of the NZ Government's Digital Strategy, with the support of partners CityLink, MediaLab and Auckland University of Technology, and developed by programmer and digital artist Douglas Bagnall.

The launch takes place on 28 June and will be accompanied by an exhibition at the NZ Film Archive from 28 June to 15 July, and the festival on 7 July.

For further information and images, contact:

Helen Varley Jamieson: helen[at]upstage.org.nz
Vicki Smith: vicki[at]upstage.org.nz http://upstage.org.nz/blog/

Posted by jo at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2007

UpStage: a web-based venue for live online performance


Open Walk-Through

The UpStage team have had a good holiday and are now ready to launch into what will be a busy six months. The launch of UpStage 2 is scheduled for the first week of July and we are planning a festival of performances in UpStage to mark the occasion. More on this to come, but if you are interested in the idea of creating a short performance for the festival, start thinking about it now and come along to the open sessions to learn about the new features.

The first open walk-through for 2007 will be this coming Wednesday, 7 February at 9pm, NZ time. Convert to your local time here. We will be on the Swaray stage, so audience members should come directly to http://upstage.org.nz:8084/stages/swaray; if you'd like to log in and participate as a player, you must email me for a log-in as we need to make sure you aren't all trying to use the same guest log-in. Then you can log in at http://upstage.org.nz:8084/.

We are now using the alpha version of UpStage 2, so you can experience the new features and enhanced interface (and help us identify bugs - this is the ALPHA version after all!).

helen varley jamieson
UpStage project manager
UpStage: a web-based venue for live online performance

Posted by jo at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2007

Networked Theatre of the Oppressed


Second Life Theatre Group Meeting

Networked Theatre of the Oppressed :: First informal Second Life theatre group meeting in Bootlab Berlin :: Sunday February 6, noon (brunch time, 12.00 h) :: Tucholskystraate 6.

The dictatorship of the bourgoise melodrama stage has been an inspiration to living theatre, Brecht, Boal, and many. By combining the poetics of storytelling, digital narrative and network performing, the ghostly streets of Second Life become an open stage where the practice of everyday life becomes the raw material for political intervention thru classical drama, literature and net.art techniques. It is time for the triple alienation of the cyburbian multitudes!

Second Life's publicity is generated outside of the internet based on old media PR, circumventing the rest of the net. It is a newbie honeypot, or a themepark for cyberspace history most of all it is a "opera buffa" a theater of vulgarities, and shallow motivations, certainly more reality than what the cultural institution of the theatre has to offer today.

In our first 2 hour practise meeting we want to discuss possibilities of stage design, choreographic moves, myths and topoi, requisites and figurines, sketches of existing 3d datasets and scripting knowledge, we want to identify interesting text resources and invite people researching the field, detecting possibilities for a theater of net.art 2.0 etc. pp. not just revolting but playing with the zombie cybermyths of SL.

The Second Life can not be lived rightly...

- - how can you have virtual sex and no virtual communism?
- - between underworld and purgatory, spaces for the organized networks of
- - did 1995 avatar utopia needed lindon economy to reach the masses.
- - there are more than 3 million condemned waiting for liberation.
- - come and sacrifice your pets at a pergamon temple.
- - a virtual world is impossible. lindon dollars are halluzinogenic.
- - california dreaming, do you feel the network effect?
- - zoylent green is us!
- - instalaremos la primera antena zapatista de radio insurgente y la
otra campa??a en second life.


Posted by jo at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2007

Performing Second Life


Gaza Stripped

These past couple of months has been extremely productive for me... Not only was the performance-art group that I co-founded, Second Front formed within days of me actively creating my avatar (Second Front est. November 23, 2006) – this very same group was able to add Gazira Babeli to our roster almost exactly a month later. For those who do not know Gazira Babeli already, she is probably considered to be the very first dedicated performance artist in Second Life. Little is known about the RL life of Gazira Babeli. This is an avatar who likes to hermetically exist only within the virtual bubble-economy of Linden Labs. All the public knows for sure is that she hails from Milan, Italy and is a “code performer”.

You may have seen her at Ars Virtua slinging endless pans of singing pizzas or possibly had to scrape off the globs of both the nanotech industry’s and Linden Labs’ worst virtual nightmare, “grey goo”. If “Gaz’” (as she is known in SL) took a special liking to you, you may have had the privilege of being barfed on! If you have not already witnessed Babeli’s official performances and artistic interventions yet, you are very likely to be her unwitting “audience” sooner or later. Just make sure you do not offend her with any foul language as she is likely to send an intelligent yet sinister tornado after you in order to make you repent your impolite ways. http://www.gazirababeli.com/DONTsay.html)


I interviewed Babeli about modernist White Cubes, contemporary Pop-(T)art(s), “Fluxus Hut” pizza toppings and the generally non-lucrative enterprise of performance art in Second Life...

Wirxli: The Second Life art-critic, Lythe Witte has written a previous article for SLatenight magazine called “The White Cube of the Virtual Art Space” where she questions whether or not the modernist white cube gallery model is worth reproducing in Second Life.

You might recall from a few days ago that we were all hanging out together feeling depressed and bored about the fact that even Second Life itself felt like one big and boring white cube.

"...My question is, what kind of methodology do you think is needed to make interesting art that can be comprehended within the unique context of Second Life?

Gazira: To realize an “artistic” or “aesthetic” experience, it requires a frame-space that is contemporarily physical and conceptual; it could be a frame, a museum, a computer network, a bedroom... or just a plain box 'dressed' like a RL art-galley. This referential "cube gallery" reminds me of the ironical artwork made by Marcel Duchamp called "Box in a valise" (Boîte-en-valise, 1942)

Although the "box gallery" could be a valid expression, I prefer thinking the whole SL environment as (a kind of) frame-space. It means that scripted and built objects, avatar-people and their behaviors become essentially parts of the artwork...a "world in a valise", in this case. :)

Wirxli: So there are parallels between the Second Life infrastructure as a kind of “artistic” framing device and the statements made by the early RL performance-art group, Fluxus where they blurred the boundaries between “art” and “life”?

Gazira: Sure, and it is very similar with the Linden's statement: "Your World. Your Imagination". We still don’t understand what “life” is and yet, we are talking about a second one. One life at a time, please! Maybe these lives (RL and SL) are not so different: symbolic abstractions and virtuality are common attributes.

Wirxli: Is there a difference in your mind between "performance art" in SL and "performing arts" (theater etc) in SL? Also, everyone in SL seems to be either intentionally or unintentionally an artist of some sort - in what way does a performance art group like Second Front stand out from the regular surreal, yet routine activities of SL residents?

Gazira: Yes, SL looks like a very democratic kind of theatre. Everyone is an actor, director and audience together. But is that so different from what we call RL? I think that "intention" is the keyword. The artistic goal could be primarily some shared aesthetic way of thinking and it also needs a shared kind of intentions, so I enjoy being part of the Second Front crew. I think Second Front is the first example of Second Life as the embodiment of a "native" artistic proposal..."

From Gaza Stripped by Wirxli Flimflam, Slate.


Performance Art for a Virtual World

Aidan: I read on your blog that you're an Alien…
Wirxli Flimflam: Yes I consider myself an alien but at the same time accessible enough to pass for Post-Human ;-)
Aidan: Do people react instinctively to your avatar appearance?
Wirxli Flimflam: Hmmmm..most people are polite, it is always hard to know what people really think. Some have immediate surface reactions though, they can tell right away that I am an artist of some kind, usually.
Aidan: And it's a benefit to Second Front that you all vary in appearance?
Wirxli Flimflam: I have noticed that by instinct, performance artists choose to be Tranny-esque. I like to keep my avatar recognizable. I would like to endorse the meme of brand recognition. Other avatars in the group like to change their appearance, but I am also the PR face of SF so I like to keep things familiar.
Aidan: How did your last performance go at Ars Virtua?
Wirxli Flimflam: No regrets, if that is what you mean, I consider it "early work". We learned a lot from it. Continue reading Performance Art for a Virtual World by Aidan Aquacade, SL Enquirer (scroll down).

Posted by jo at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2006

When Is a Smile Not a Smile?


Which Uncanny Valley Expo finalist captures the most human-like expression in an avatar? [via]

Posted by jo at 06:55 PM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2006



Open Walk-Thru and ADA Swaray

The last UpStage open walk-thru for 2006 will be combined with the last ADA Swaray for the year, and held on Wednesday December 6 at 9:00 pm NZ time. To join the online festivities, just point your browser here at party time (we have some surprises up our cyber-sleeves!). To find your local time, go here. If you'd like to log in and play, email me for a username.

Helen Varley Jamieson: helen[at]creative-catalyst.com

Posted by jo at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2006

Upstage Performance


Students' Performances

The students' performances on Friday 3 November will begin at 5.30pm
NZ time (just to give them a bit more preparation time ... ).

There'll be live links from here - and there's a link to a time converter on that page as well.

Helen Varley Jamieson: helen[at]creative-catalyst.com

Posted by jo at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2006

Upstage Walk Through


Try out UpStage 2

The next open walk-through will be this coming Wednesday, 1 November, at 8pm NZ time. Convert to your local time here. We will be on the Swaray stage, so audience members should come directly here; if you'd like to log in and participate as a player, it's imperative that you email me for a log-in as it's now impossible for more than one person to log in with the same username, so we need to make sure you aren't all trying to use the same guest log-in!

We now have the alpha version of UpStage 2 running on our server, so this walk-through is your first chance to try out the new features and enhanced interface (and help us identify bugs - this is the ALPHA version after all!). We're extremely grateful to the AUT student team - Beau Hardy, Francis Palmer, Lucy Chu & Wise Wang - who have been working on UpStage all year, and also our wonderful programmer Douglas Bagnall who is back on board to integrate the students work & continue with other developments for UpStage 2.

Hope to see you online on Wednesday,

helen : )

PS - Wednesday is also Leena's birthday - she's immersed in her current project (the interactive TV series "Accidental Lovers") so can't join us for this walk-through, but we'll definitely be drinking a virtual toast to her virtual birthday in her virtual presence/absence ...

Helen Varley Jamieson: helen[at]creative-catalyst.com

Posted by jo at 07:50 AM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2006



Three Events

1. UpStage Workshop at the Dunedin Fringe Festival - Wednesday 4 October
2. Familiar Features - Avatar Body Collision's current work in progress - Saturday 7 October
3. UpStage Presentation in Wellington - Thursday 12 October

If you're not in Dunedin or Wellington, don't worry - you can join us online for part of the workshop and for "Familiar Features". Read on for details ...

1. UpStage Workshop, 12.30-5.30pm (NZ time), Wednesday 4 October :: The workshop is part of the Blue Oyster Gallery's "Performance Art Series" within the Dunedin Fringe Festival. It is a hands-on workshop in which 12 participants will learn the basics of UpStage and create short performances. The performances will be shown in UpStage from 4pm (NZ time) on Wednesday 4 October. To join the performances online, go to http://upstage.org.nz:8084 at 4pm (NZ time). If you are in Dunedin and want to register for the workshop, contact Charlotte at Blue Oyter Gallery, boat[at]blueoyster.org.nz. The fee is koha/donation.

2. Familiar Features by Avatar Body Collision, 12.30pm (NZ time), Saturday 7 October :: Avatar Body Collision invites you to Put yourself in the Picture with our current work in progress, "Familiar Features", designed for both online and on-site audiences. Go to here for more information. The presentation is also part of the Blue Oyster Gallery's "Performance Art Series", and two colliders will participate in a panel discussion at the gallery on Sunday 8th.

3. UpStage Presentation @ MediaLab (Wellilngton), 6pm Thursday 12 October :: If you're in Wellington, please join the UpStage team and our partners to mark the beginning of "UpStage Phase 2" - the development of the software to its second release and community workshops to promote UpStage as an accessible platform for community content and projects. Please RSVP to Meremeraea Cowan, email meremaraea[at]medialab.co.nz or phone (04) 381 4468.

Helen Varley Jamieson: helen[at]creative-catalyst.com

Posted by jo at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2006



ADA Swaray

There will be an ADA Swaray in UpStage this sunday, 10th September,
at 9:00 p.m. New Zealand time. For other local times, check http://www.worldtimeserver.com/

ADA is Aotearoa Digital Arts, a network of digital artists in New Zealand. The swaray is a social forum for us to meet & discuss things. This sunday, a number of NZ artists who attended the recent ISEA in san jose will be reporting back on their experiences.

if you'd like to join us as audience, please come to

helen varley jamieson: creative catalyst helen[at]creative-catalyst.com http://www.creative-catalyst.com http://www.avatarbodycollision.org

Posted by jo at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2006



Open Walk-Through

The open walk-through is a chance for you to learn about the UpStage environment and to play around in it with others. The next UpStage walk-thru will be held this coming Wednesday, 9 August, at the following times: California, USA: 2am; New York, USA: 5am; UK: 10am; Western Europe: 11am; Finland: 12am; Australia - NSW: 7pm; NZ: 9pm. Check here or here for your local time.

Audience members, point your browser at http://upstage.org.nz:8081/stages/presentation. If you want to participate as a player, email Helen Varley Jamieson for a log in--helen[at]creative-catalyst.com


Posted by jo at 04:48 PM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2006

Intimacy and In.yer.face


Blurring Online and Physical Performative Space

Intimacy and In.yer.face (July 20th, 8 p.m. (NZ time)) is a live performance / installation event and remix project, featuring an interdisciplinary selection of local and international artists, operating in the nexus between art and technology. Our conception of site is fragmented when agents participate from spatially dispersed locations, and when the boundaries between online and physical performative space are blurred. Intimacy and In.yer.face explores this fragmentation, the endless and cyclical encoding and decoding of information that occurs in the interface between humans and machines.

Curated by Daniel Agnihotri-Clark, Intimacy and In.yer.face commences with a one-night event featuring simultaneous live performances and interactive installations, linked by real-time streaming of audio and video signals which will be broadcast over the internet. The event will feature new works by the globally dispersed cyberformance troupe Avatar Body Collision (New Zealand, London, Helsinki), the interdisciplinary artist Kartini Thomas (Wellington), aerialists / actors Pipi-Ayesha Evans and Rhys Latton (Wellington), and audio / video artists Emil McAvoy and Damian Stewart (Wellington).

The performance/installation event will take place on July 20th in the former Dominion Museum Building, Wellington (8 p.m. NZ time), at a mystery location in Paris (10 a.m. FR time), and everywhere else via http://www.intimacyandinyerface.net. Intimacy and In.yer.face is truly a simultaneously local and global event, pushing the understandings of site and indeterminate modes of performance practice in the interface with technology. Intimacy and In.Yer.Face follows last year's Indeterminacy and Interface - the first of performance event curated by Daniel. These projects form a significant component of his on-going doctoral research at the Massey University School of Fine Arts.

Following the performance / installation event, an open call for remix will expand the role of the audience, facilitating active participation and dialogue. Audio and video files will be available for download from the website. This remixed material will then be collated into a limited edition DVD release.

For full information about the project and the artists involved please see

Intimacy and In.yer.face
July 20th, 8 p.m. (NZ time)
Old Museum Building, Buckle St, Wellington, New Zealand
and Mystery Location, Paris
and http://www.intimacyandinyerface.net

Online Soiree
10 a.m. - 12 noon NZ time/ 10 p.m. - 12 a.m. FR time

Artist/Curator talk
School of Fine Arts seminar room, Block 2, Level C, via Gate C, Wallace St.
12.15 p.m.

For further information, images or to arrange an interview with the participants please contact: Louise Menzies, on tel: 04 801 2794 x6197, email: L.C.Menzies[at]massey.ac.nz. or Aaron Kreilser on tel: 04 8012794 x6341, email: A.P.Kreisler[at]massey.ac.nz.

Posted by jo at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2006

BBC Radio 1


Talent-Spotting in Virtual Worlds

"...At Radio 1 we want to bring a new level of social interaction to our virtual broadcasts. We are hoping that the bands featured on-air will have their own custom-built avatars, playing in the virtual world. So if we have the Red Hot Chilli Peppers playing a gig, visitors to a Radio 1 virtual space will see avatars of Anthony Kiedis and Flea, mimicking the action in the real world.

We also believe it is crucial that the virtual audience can interact with the event. It is about replicating the "liveness" of an event, not just broadcasting it. Additionally, Radio 1 wants to find ways of allowing the audience in these worlds to actually affect the real event. I see no reason why they cannot be asking their musical heroes questions, alongside virtual Radio 1 DJs, either via Instant Messenger or VoIP. This deeper social interaction, that mirrors real world events, would do much to enhance the ripples that resonate around digital communities." From Talent-spotting in virtual worlds by Daniel Heaf, BBC.com.

Posted by jo at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2006

Doing Virtually Nothing


Awareness and Accountability in MM Online Worlds

"Abstract: To date the most popular and sophisticated types of virtual worlds can be found in the area of video gaming, especially in the genre of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG). Game developers have made great strides in achieving game worlds that look and feel increasingly realistic. However, despite these achievements in the visual realism of virtual game worlds, they are much less sophisticated when it comes to modeling face-to-face interaction. In face-to-face, ordinary social activities are “accountable,” that is, people use a variety of kinds of observational information about what others are doing in order to make sense of others’ actions and to tightly coordinate their own actions with others.

Such information includes: (1) the real-time unfolding of turns-at-talk; (2) the observability of embodied activities; and (3) the direction of eye gaze for the purpose of gesturing. But despite the fact that today’s games provide virtual bodies, or “avatars,” for players to control, these avatars display much less information about players’ current state than real bodies do. In this paper, we discuss the impact of the lack of each type of information on players’ ability to tightly coordinate their activities and offer guidelines for improving coordination and, ultimately, the players’ social experience." From Doing Virtually Nothing: Awareness and Accountability in Massively Multiplayer Online Worlds by Robert J. Moore , Nicolas Ducheneaut and Eric Nickell. [via pasta and vinegar]

Posted by jo at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2006

Avatar Body Collision and the Aotearoa Digital Arts


ADA Swaray

The second ADA Swaray takes place this Sunday, June 11, 9pm NZ time. Join members of Avatar Body Collision and the Aotearoa Digital Arts network for virtual cocktails, fine frocks, flowing conversation and a few surprises.

The ADA Swaray is a social meeting space for digital artists and other interested people, in the online performance environment UpStage. All you need to participate is a browser with the Flash Player plug-in. Check http://www.worldtimeserver.com for your local time.

Posted by jo at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2006

Metaverse meets mash-up:



Metaverse meets mash-up: come June 15, there's going to be another Free Culture/Creative Commons event in Second Life, this one springboarding off the recent CC Art Show 2006 at NYU and the Sharing is Daring event at Harvard. The object here is to take the art featured at those sites, and then remix it for an in-world showing on the 15th. You can do the remixing with Photoshop and other standard tools, of course, but for this event, the ideal medium is SL itself. Which is what I did with an Untitled photo by Joseph Gergel (above), uploading it as a texture, displaying it in-world, and using it as a backdrop for a dramatic screenshot, above.

No doubt Residents can come up with way better remixes, taking the appropriately-licensed art from here and here*, then converting them into screenshots, 3D sculptures, interactive sites, whatever. I'm looking forward to reporting on what comes out of this.

Deadline for submission is end of June 13. E-mail a screenshot of your entry to Jennifer Yip of Creative Commons (Genevieve Junot in SL), and be sure to include your RL and/or SL name for proper credit. Prizes will be virtual CC t-shirts and other tchotchkes, real and virtual. In any case, do come to the event to share your work, and hopefully meet some the original artists who may also be in attendance. (Full disclosure: I'm now honored to be a part-time consultant for CC's events and activites in SL.) ... [blogged by rubaiyat on New World Notes]

Posted by jo at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2006

Second Life Exhibition Opportunity


'The New West: An Exhibition of Virtual Folk Art'

Artists are invited to submit work for a specially created area of the online community Second Life (SL).

Art must be created within SL, using easy-to-learn modeling tools. Textures can be made in paint programs and uploaded to the SL world for use. Ideas will be accepted approximately one-two months before the conference date. Artists will be instructed how to set up their own avatar in SL, and given parameters for the actual artwork creation. All work is due before the conference to allow the jurors time to adequately examine and interact with the works. Criteria will include orginality, skill, aesthetic qualities, and interaction. Example images will be posted in the near future. This competition is hosted by the game collective, Ludica, with support from Linden Labs, makers of Second Life.

The best of show will be on display at the San Jose Museum of Art throughout the ZeroOne / ISEA2006 Conference.

Posted by jo at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2006

Next UpStage Walk-Through and Swaray


Online Performance Environment

The next open walk-through in UpStage will be on Wednesday 7 June at the following times: California, USA: 2am; New York, USA: 5am; UK: 10am; Western Europe: 11am; Finland: 12am; Australia - NSW: 7pm; NZ: 9pm. Check http://www.worldtimeserver.com for your local time.

The open walk-through is a chance for you to learn about the UpStage environment and to play around in it with others. To participate, point your browser at http://upstage.org.nz:8081/stages/presentation at the appointed time; if you'd like to log in & learn how to use UpStage, or if you already know how & want to come & have a play around, please email me for a log in: helen[at]creative-catalyst.com

Another date for your diary is Sunday 11 June, 9pm NZ time: the second ADA Swaray will take place, with more mischief, mayhem and maybe even a little morsel of discussion ... put on your best frock and join us at http://upstage.org.nz:8084/stages/swaray on sunday.

Posted by jo at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2006



Indigenous Maniacs

The next UpStage open walk-thru on Wednesday, 1 March, will include a short performance by participants of the recent UpStage workshop at the Computing Women's Congress in Hamilton, NZ.

The performance is called "Indigenous Maniacs" and was inspired by material presented at the congress, including Liz Bryce's MFA Master's project "Becoming Indigenous: an impossible necessity". Liz's work explores concepts inherited by Pakeha (white) New Zealanders through the desires of their colonial ancestors, and speculates on the paradox - to "become" indigenous. "Indigenous Maniacs" was created during 4 3-hour workshop sessions, and when it was presented at the conference we were all in the same room together - so it will be a new challenge to perform it with everyone in different locations, some on dial-up, and no physically present audience.

We'll meet in the Introduction Stage at the following times, then proceed to the Indigenous Maniacs stage: USA California: 12am; USA New York: 3am; UK: 8am; Western Europe: 9am; Finland: 10am; Australia NSW: 7pm; NZ: 9pm. For other local times, check http://www.worldtimeserver.com/.

Point your browser at http://upstage.org.nz:8081/stages/presentation; there's no need to log in for the performance (in fact we'd prefer it if you didn't), but if you'd like to log in and play afterwards, please email me for a log-in.

UpStage is a web-based venue for live performance; in this creative online environment, multiple players in remote locations work together to compile avatars, images, text, speech and web cams for real-time digital story-telling.

Helen Varley Jamieson: creative catalyst helen[at]creative-catalyst.com http://www.creative-catalyst.com; http://www.avatarbodycollision.org; http://www.writerfind.com/hjamieson.htm

Posted by jo at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2006



Indigenous Maniacs

This week I'm teaching an UpStage workshop at the Computing Women's Congress at Waikato and have a small but highly talented group of students who have progressed so rapidly that we're going to give a little performance on Thursday, February 16 at 12.45pm New Zealand time entitled "Indigenous Maniacs". Check here or here for your local time.

To join the performance, simply go to http://upstage.org.nz:8081/stages/indidgenous">.

Helen Varley Jamieson: creative catalyst helen[at]creative-catalyst.com http://www.creative-catalyst.com http://www.avatarbodycollision.org

Posted by jo at 07:40 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2005



JeanRichard-family, life, art

LIFE2[at]SPACE is a live performance by Family JeanRichard, taking place in UpStage on Saturday 29 October at 10am MEZ. It will feature 3 works of JeanRichard; 4 avatars; 5 props. Check your local time at http://www.worldtimeserver.com. One hour before the performance starts, there will be a live link to the stage from http://jeanrichard.ch/life2.

JeanRichard work as family and show their processes and products on their weblog. The weblog represents the art project itself, but serves also as a gallery where posts are sold online, and we are up to build up a kind of museum (other artists/curators etc show works that are related to JeanRichard). See Baby Blogging.

Posted by jo at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2005



Next UpStage Walk-thru, October 7

Kia ora koutou: this is a reminder about the monthly UpStage walkthru's [the next one is next week!]--Wed 5 October: California, USA: 2pm; New York, USA: 5pm; UK: 10pm; Western Europe: 11pm; Finland: 12 midnight; Australia (NSW/QLD): 7am [thurs]; NZ: 10am [thurs]; or check -http://www.timeanddate.com [for your local time].

The format will be newbies in the introduction stage [over view of the tools and tricks in the UpStage performative space]. While other crew will be devising with members of Avatar body Collision [please come to the introduction stage first for directions :)]; To take your place as a player please email colliders[at]avatarbodycollision.org for a login and password. Audience members please proceed to http://upstage.org.nz:8081/stages/presentation.

Posted by jo at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2005

MayDay NetParade


Political Videogames Against the Dictatorship of Entertainment

The MayDay NetParade--by Molleindustria--is a virtual demo that runs thru a heavily guarded and branded city put under siege by insurgent legions of brain+chain+temp workers and assorted anarchists, commies, queers and greens. The marching avatars are digital simulacra of today's exploited masses of neoliberalism: précaires, precari@s, precari, cognitarie, contingent knowledge and service workers. We are a mixed bunch, a heterogeneous multitude of precarious jobs and lives. Yet we have not spawn out of fordist assembly chains, but out of dystopian retail chains and office spaces. Why don't you give your pictorial contibution to this multicolored parade, and reclaim that visibility that mainstream media, unions, parties are denying us? Make yourself heard! Voice your anger and/or irony! You will be able to be part of a piece of collective net art. But do it fast, cos after May 1st, the NetParade will remain visible online, but it will no longer be possible to join. By clicking on JOIN, you'll be able to create your avatar, singular and (un)crazy as you want it to be. You'll have to answer a few multiple choice questions first, but these will be totally anonymous, private and dissociated from your avatar.


About Molleindustria

We can no longer consider videogaming as a marginal element of our everyday lives. In recent years, the turnover of the videogame industry has exceeded that of cinema, and there are a growing number of adult and female players. There are more frequent overlaps with other media: there are videogames for advertisements (advergames), for educational purposes and for electoral propaganda.

How did videogames become such a central element of the mediascape? During the second half of the nineties, major entertainment corporations extended their activities in this sector and extinguished or absorbed small producers. Now videogames are an integral part of the global cultural industry, and they are in a strategic position in the ongoing processes of media convergence. These developments inhibit the political and artistic emancipation of this medium: every code line is written for the profit of a big corporation.

One solution: Gamevolution! We believe that the explosive slogan that spread quickly after the Anti-WTO demostrations in Seattle, "Don't hate the media, become the media," applies to this medium. We can free videogames from the "dictatorship of entertainment", using them instead to describe pressing social needs, and to express our feelings or ideas just as we do in other forms of art. But if we want to express an alternative to dominant forms of gameplay we must rethink game genres, styles and languages. The ideology of a game resides in its rules, in its invisible mechanics, and not only in its narrative parts. That's why a global renewal of this medium will be anything but easy.

Molleindustria is an italian team of artists, designers and programmers that aims at starting a serious discussion about social and political implications of videogames. This will involve media activists, net-artists, habitual players and critics and detractors of videogames. We chose to start with online gaming in order to sidestep mainstream distribution channels and to overcome our lack of means. Using simple but sharp games we hope to give a starting point for a new generation of critical game developers and, above all, to experiment with practices that can be easily emulated and virally diffused.


Also, see //////////fur////: fighting massive-single-user-isolation, //////////fur//// develops art entertainment interfaces for multidimensional multiuser involvement: software-programs in mechatronic artefacts that create dynamic action-spaces for two or more participants. [via]

//////////fur////'s guiding idea is the alternative interface which goes beyond providing solely a visual navigation, manual control and massive single-user isolation.

Posted by jo at 08:47 AM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2005

Myth Hacking


Art imitates Life

MEDEAEX is an adaptation of the classic Myth of Medea, projected cross-culturally to span the Middle-East Reality (Medea = Palestinian, Jason = Israeli officer, Chorus = audience) and the CyberSpace Virtual Reality (Medea is a hacker trying to debug and redesign the script). The Israeli-Palestinian framing of the myth addresses issues of exile, homeland and culture and the VR 3d interactive world creates a space of participation.

Developer Neora explains how the experience was conceived and structured and how the myth / story was mapped to current sociopolitical events. She propositions a would be audience:

What if I invite you to join Medea the hacker, in her confrontation with Medea the Myth, using Euripides and Muller lines in a simulated universe, where Medea is Palestinian, Jason is Israeli, and Middle East news dictate what they do and how they act?

What if I invite you to interact with objects and avatars in the immersive environment surrounding you, to react and say your word in a plot that its order of scenes is modular, and each performance may be different in ambience and in the “debugging” process of trying to recreate reality, to redesign the myth?

There are two ways to visit the ME DEA EX universe - physically attend the performance and see the live actress interacting with 3D world projected on the walls, or enter via the internet and affect the show, while watching the actress via her webcam. Both ways, you may become part of the chorus (the global village), that sing classic lines using text-to-speech mechanisms, saying: We could have saved the children... We could have done something...

The MEDEAEX universe is a 3D environment that resides on the Internet and is projected during the performance in 360 degrees around the audience. It is a proactive environment, whereas Medea is a live actress (Khaula ElHadj-Dibsi) all the other characters are pre-programmed bot avatars, and the audience (e.g. the global village) can interact and influence the flow and ambience of the show, using SMS from their cellular phones.

The script is fully hyper-textual, based on the original texts by Euripides, Heiner Muller and Seneca. It is written and performed in English, Hebrew and Arabic, and so is the background music cross-cultural and cross-lingual. The exposition to each scene is the actual Middle East News (Medea - betrayed, evicted, exiled, and after all sacrifices her children by sending them as suicide bombers to Jerusalem). The chorus lines are performed with text-to-speech mechanism, allowing online and real time audience to add to their digital singing data bank.

Posted by michelle at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2005



Open Session & Improv: September 7

The next open session in UpStage will take place on Wednesday, September 7 at the times below. This time we will divide into two groups, with a beginners' session happening on the Introduction stage while those who've already learned the basics will go to another stage to improvise a short performance for an hour. In the second hour, we will invite everyone to watch and interact with the

Wednesday 7 September: California: 2am; New York: 5am; UK: 10am; Western Europe: 11am; Finland: 12 noon; Australia (NSW/QLD): 7pm; Aotearoa NZ: 9pm. Check http://www.worldtimeserver.com/ for your local times. If you want to come and learn, email me for a log-in. come to http://upstage.org.nz:8081/ to log in, then follow the link in the top right hand corner to the Introduction stage.

If you want to come & improvise a performance, you still need to email me (in case we run into double-ups with guest log-ins) & we'll also meet at the introduction stage, then move to another stage to work. I'm proposing the theme of "water" as a starting point (given recent floods in Europe & the global problem of the growing lack of fresh water in the world) so you can think about backdrops & avatars that relate to that theme. If you upload any graphics, assign them to the Virtual Tourist stage & we'll use this one for the improv.

If you'd just like to come to watch the performance, you don't need to log in. Come to the Introduction stage towards the end of the first hour of the session, & when the performers are ready you will be led through to another stage.

Any questions, email me, & i hope to see you next week.

helen varley jamieson: helen[at]creative-catalyst.com

Posted by jo at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2005



Cyberformance Bug Party

hi everyone,

we're having an UpStage bug party on sunday 21 august. 11am western europe time, 9pm new zealand - find your local time here.

we'll use the introduction stage as our starting and meeting place, and the aim of the party - apart from having a good time - is to identify and prioritise bugs, and hopefully allocate some to people who can work on them.

if you want to join us, email helen varley jamieson: helen[at]creative-catalyst.com; creative catalyst .

This year, the Eclectic Tech Carnival took place from 11-15 July in Graz, Austria. During the festival, UpStage workshops were taught remotely by Helen Varley Jamieson in New Zealand. Participants created their own avatars and backdrops, and improvised a short cyberformance.

A theme of the festival was open source chat and streaming video. In the screen grab at top left, Helen's web cam appears in UpStage with an overlay of the live web cam feed from Graz.

Posted by jo at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2005

This Spartan Life


A Talk Show in Game Space

This Spartan Life's Damian Lacedaemion is not your average talk show host. He lives inside an online game where daily existence is a struggle against overwhelming odds (and other, much better players). So he has taken it upon himself to create a little oasis of sanity where he can talk to people who aren't bent on his destruction. He invites guests to join him in a live game where he can walk about and discuss some of the finer aspects of life, music, art, sex, movies and yes, even games.

But he is finding it easier said than done. When other gamers join the game and don't know they shouldn't be shooting at his guests, Damian is sadly forced to revert to his old lethal self and clear the map of these brutes with their curt utterances and barbaric tactics. But once the fighting is done and the guests are blue in the face, the fine Solid Gold Elite Dancers are there to shake their avatars to the latest chiptune music.

Posted by jo at 07:33 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2005

Emotive Virtual Actors


Man looks at audience for 2 secs...

Emotive Virtual Actors by Ken Perlin:

INSTRUCTIONS: Using the mouse: Drag hands and feet with the left mouse button to move arms and legs + Drag with the right mouse button to change the view + Click/drag on any button, menu or slider + With "walk" enabled, click on destination to walk there + Click on "F1" or "F2" to select an actor.

THINGS TO TRY: Pull the hand away from the body to see torso compliance + Try lifting up a foot and watch him shift his weight. Then try putting the foot down again + Click on the "object" option, and watch how he holds an object as you drag his two hands around. You might want to turn on the "closeup" option to see this better...

Posted by jo at 07:44 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2005

Visual Identity and Virtual Community


From Avatars to Webcams

"Introduction: Identity plays an inherent role in defining our social interactions. In face-to-face communication, many physical cues exist with which to convey our identity and our intentions. In the realm of computer-mediated communication, identity becomes a much more ambiguous conception. Traditional platforms for online interaction are largely defined by language and text, stripping away many of the visual cues that we are used to. What are the ways in which visual identities are manifested online? This paper will explore some key issues related to visual identity in virtual communities, with a focus on avatars and webcams, and how traditional notions of identity may be transformed by these emerging modes of online representation." From Visual Identity and Virtual Community by Karyn Y. Lu, Atopia: Polylogic E-Zine.

Posted by jo at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2005

UpStage Open Walk-Through


Be UpStaged!

The next UpStage open walk-through will be on Wednesday January 12, 2005 at the following times: 1am California; 4am New York; 9am UK; 11am Finland; 8pm Sydney; 10pm New Zealand. Check your local time.

2004 was the full first year for UpStage: the first version of the software was launched on 9 January and immediately put to work in the World X project, a schools exchange between Aotearoa/NZ and the UK. In May, the first cyberformance using UpStage, "DTN2" was presented by Avatar Body Collision at the Machinista Festival, Glasgow. Zagreb Gay Pride participants used UpStage in June to give an online presentation about their march, and it was also used for presentation purposes at the /etc festival in Belgrade in July. In October a one-day online workshop was held for participants in Manchester, UK, with the tutor in Aotearoa NZ. There were several other workshops and presentations during the year - more information and links to various projects are on the web site.

A significant event in December 2004 was the relocation of the UpStage server from MediaLab South Pacific, who kindly provided hosting during the development of the project, to our new sponsors CityLink. As we don't have any funding at the moment, finding a hosting sponsor was vital and we greatly appreciate CityLink coming on board without hesitation. Thanks! : )

Regular open walk-throughs began in October, on the first Wednesday of each month, and many of you have taken the opportunity to have a hands-on experience of UpStage. Everyone needed a bit of a break by the end of the year so the first walk-through for 2005 is taking place on the second Wednesday, which is the 12th - times above or see http://upstage.org.nz:8081. Please email helen @ creative-catalyst.com to register (the upstage email addresses haven't quite got hooked up properly since the server shift...you can't have everything all at once!).

We're enjoying the slower pace of the holiday season, so plans for 2005 are still formulating; we won't make any promises yet but we will keep you posted... meanwhile we wish you a peaceful and creative 2005 and hope to see you at the walk-through on the 12th or in the near future.

helen : ) (helen varley jamieson)

Posted by jo at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2004



Emerging Infrastructures of All (Inter)net Research

Dr. Reinhold Grether's network research | netzwissenschaft site maps the "emerging infrastructures of all (inter)net research endeavours. net.science as an anthropology of connectivity is trying to overcome the constraints of specialist method transfers on net matters. the protuberance of technical networks necessitates a professionalization of human net knowledge. neither the isolation of concepts as in basic research nor the encapsulation of processes as in applied sciences will ever be able to adequately describe the complex autopoiesis of networks. net.science is undoubtedly developing into a scienza nuova of its own right."

Check out his Mobile Art and Virtual Performance research areas.

Posted by jo at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2004



With Wings and Feathered Helmuts

Cockfight Arena (Eddo Stern with Mark Allen, Jessica Hutchins, Karen Lofgren): a one night parade of sweat and adrenaline hopes to reclaim performance art in the age of video games, pitting viewer against viewer in brutal virtual cockfighting theater. Audience volunteers suited up in custom-made wireless game controllers with full sized wings and feathered helmets. Combatants stepped into an arena to control their life size game avatars through vigorous flapping and pecking, competing for blood and birdfeed while rapaciously inflicting onscreen bodily harm in a custom made "joustlike" fighting game. [via]

Eddo Stern was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. His working interests are in structures of narrative and documentary, fantasies of history and technology, cross-cultural representation, and the phenomenological and cultural expanse of computer games. He works discriminately with a wide variety of media—computer games, electronic devices, software, video, sculpture and performance. His work has been shown internationally at new media and film festivals, museums, galleries, and game conventions. In 2000 he started «C-level,» a cooperative artist-run new media lab and art space in LA's Chinatown; currently lives near Los Angeles.

Source: http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/artist/stern/biography/, Florian Zeyfang, Interview with Eddo Stern, Tages Anzeiger, February 2002 and web at http://www.c-level.cc

Posted by jo at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2004

open sessions in UpStage

Avatar Body Collision announces monthly open sessions in UpStage. The sessions will take place on the first Wednesday of each month, with times & dates on the UpStage foyer: http://upstage.org.nz:8081. Upstage is a web-based venue and tool for artists who wish to compile different digital media into live performances, in real time, for online audiences.

Starting this Wednesday, 6 October, open sessions will be held where you can observe people at play in UpStage and have a guided walk-through the tools and ideas behind the software with the people who created it.

Times for the first session on 6 October are:
California: 2am
New York: 5am
UK: 10am
Tel Aviv: 11am
Helsinki: 12 noon
Kabul: 1.30pm
Beijing: 5pm
Sydney: 7pm
NZ: 10pm

Find your local time

We know these times won't suit everyone; we will do another session at 10.30pm UK time (2.30pm California, 5.30pm New York) ONLY IF there are people who want it. You MUST email if you want to come to the 2nd session otherwise it WON'T happen. We are also open to suggestions for other times that would suit people, for example a weekend time.

There are two ways you can participate in the open session: you can either come as a "chatter" (audience member) and participate or lurk in the chat; or you can log in, get dressed (hold an avatar), and experience the full walk-through.

Chatters need only point their browser at this URL at the specified time: http://upstage.org.nz:8081/stages/virtual-tourist You will then see and hear (turn your sound on!) what is happening. You can participate by typing in the chat window.

To register for the full walk through, please reply to this email -- Helen Varley Jamieson [helen at creative-catalyst.com] -- and you will be sent a log-in. We also recommend that you download the manual (online at http://www.upstage.org.nz/download.html) and have a browse before the session begins.

Any questions, email helen at creative-catalyst.com

Posted by newradio at 07:10 PM | Comments (1)

September 29, 2004



Troubling Utopia

From Edward Picot's review of AVATARA's DVD\"Machinima Documentary" by Donato Mancini, Jeremy Turner and Flick Harrison (536 Productions).

Avatara, from a Canadian team called 536, is a documentary about an online community - "a global subculture who spend their lives immersed in an online 3-D voice-chat program", as the blurb explains. What makes this particular documentary special is that "every second... was recorded in-world (ie. online, within the virtual environment), so we don't meet the people directly. Instead, their voices speak to us through the puppet-like 'avatars': rabbits, pharaos, seahorses, giraffes, the grim reaper, flowers, guitars, trolls (etc) which they've chosen to represent themselves in cyberspace." Because of this immersive approach the documentary is more than just a factual report about these people and their private activities: it gives us a sense of what their world feels like from the inside.

Posted by jo at 04:20 PM | Comments (1)

September 26, 2004



A Moblog Performance in Turin

During the week of September 23, 2004 Quixote, a puppet, will explore Turin travelling within a network of writers, undefined at the beginning and growing day by day. Their task will be to accompany him around sharing his story with us, chronicling his journey through the city.

Quixote's journey is tracked via a GPS/GSM system in order to show on the website the exact geo-location of each moblog post and to define the topology of the network arisen during the performance. The project is an ongoing investigation around digital mobility and social networks in relation to new forms of mobile expression and interaction.

As of March 2005, Quixote has a new moblog.

Posted by jo at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2004

The Avatar


The Avatar is Legal Voting Age

"I finally got around to scanning my copy of the first print reference for the use of the term Avatar to represent a user's graphical online presence.

Definition Habitat: A make-believe world inhabited by small, colorful creatures, called Avatars. Human beings may visit Habitat and move freely about its regions, interacting at will with with Avatars. Human beings reach Habitat by traveling many miles through tiny telephone lines and entering through a large gateway, called QuantumLink. Once a human being enters Habitat, he or she takes on the visual form of an Avatar, and for all intents and purposes becomes one of these new-world beings. In the world of Habitat, people can play games and go on quests, but mainly they meet other people and have fun. -- Run Magazine, August 1986

The Avatar just turned 18."

Posted by Randy on Habitat Chronicles, September 13, 2004

Posted by jo at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2004



UpStaging Performance

A new medium for online performance, theatre and storytelling is now in its first release. UpStage is a web-based venue and tool for artists to compile different digital media for textual and audiovisual communication into a live performance, in real time, for online audiences.

The first release of the software was launched on 9 January 2004, and online walk-throughs were held on in February to give people an idea of how UpStage works from the player's perspective. These sessions will be continued on a regular basis, lead by the members of Avatar Body Collision. If you are interested in having a hands-on experience with the software, and participating in live improv sessions, email colliders at upstage.org.nz for further information and to be notified of times. Visit the UpStage foyer, from where you can access a sample stage.

Currently, UpStage is being used for WorldX, a virtual exchange between schools in the UK and New Zealand, and DTN2, the first cyberformance using UpStage, was performed live from the Machinista Festival in Glasgow on Sunday 9 May.

Posted by jo at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2004

more on avatar performance and definitions

The following is an email from Helen Varley Jamieson. I wrote to Helen in early August saying that we were really struggling with definitions for the various forms of performance--largely because the works themselves are breaking definitions down--and asking her for a definition of "avatar performance." We (the organizers) have since come to question our categories--but Helen's response is a good one and well worth reading.

From: Helen Varley Jamieson
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2004 12:56:22 +0200
To: Helen Thorington
Subject: Re: Re the networked_performance blog

hi helen,
there are lots of different terms & definitions & many of them are problematic for all sorts of reasons. that's why i made up the term 'cyberformance' in 2000 & have been using that since then to describe what i do. my definition of cyberformance is the use of the internet to bring remote performers together in real time for live theatrical/performance events. this includes purely online performances (where the audience must also be online); performances for a proximal audience (who are together in a physical space where the performance takes place), or a mix of both. the essential thing is that the performers are coming together via the internet.

to me, "avatar performance" would mean that the performers are represented by avatars, much like puppet theatre. so the cyberformance work that i & avatar body collision has been making includes avatar performance, but it's not limited to that - we also use "web cams": (sometimes with puppets!) & live performance (we talk about this as being multiple stages, & layers of re/presentation). "avatar performance" wouldn't necessarily have to involve the internet - i know of a group in belgrade who are developing what they call "avatar theatre" & at the moment it exists as a navigable cd-rom with avatar characters; they plan to give a live performance using a LAN in a gaming centre - so that would be avatar performance without being on the internet.

then there is the term "networked performance" - which i guess includes cyberformance but also other forms of networked performance that don't involve the internet.

does this help? it's an important discussion to have ... i haven't had a chance to read the blog for a few days but i will try to catch up a bit over this week & will have a look at the categories you're working on.

h : )

for earlier posts on avatar performance.

Posted by newradio at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2004



space to think and dream

Avalon, brought to you by Second Life™, offers a variety of products, tutorials, and even a competition. Select from the Mrs. Jones or Sultana fashions, or download the Beginner's Guide to Clothing and Building in Second Life®. Second Life is "one of the most innovative, multiuser environments developed in the last decade..." Unlike recent MMORPGs like Everquest and Ultima Online, Second Life's users create and develop their own goals and content, and are writing their own history.

Posted by jo at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2004

coffee and avatar, please


The Chit Chat Club

It will be a real cafe, with real tables, real coffee and pastries...some of the chairs will be regular chairs;... others will be seats for avatars, equipped with monitors and network connections...There are multiple ways to interact ... in the Chit Chat Club. As in an ordinary cafe, people can walk into the physical Chit Chat Club space, order a coffee, sit down and talk with others and people watch. One can also enter the Chit Chat Club remotely through the website and occupy an avatar chair. This action opens a real-time two-way audio and graphical connection between the physical space and the online participant. Finally, a person physically present in the Chit Chat Club space may also occupy an avatar chair.

Sounds fun to me. Check out the website

Posted by newradio at 05:47 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2004

Avatar Theater and 'Time'

Plaintext Players, Desktop Theater, and Avatar Body Collision -- three theater groups working with avatars.

Plaintext Players performance of Roman ForumThe Plaintext Players, a group of artists, writers, playwrights and performers, began creating live online theater in the MOOs in ’94. Antoinette LeFarge, the founder and artistic director has written a fascinating analysis of performance there, A World Exhilerating and Wrong: Theatrical Improvisation on the Internet, which I would recommend to anyone interested in online theater, how it worked in the MOOs, and how it differs from regular theater.

In the past nine years the Plaintext Players have undertaken dozens of performances in the multi-user environments known as MOOs, and in online Chat sites at thePalace.com, where participants are represented by graphical avatars. In both environments the proscenium has been removed -- the boundary between performer and audience dissolved – and theater become a form of dramatic improvisation where there is no foretelling what may occur. Sometimes wonderful things do.

One of my favorites occurred when the Desktop Theater group, led by Adriene Jenik performed Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” in thePalace.com. The text was Beckett’s , the characters the same as those in the Beckett play, but they were joined by anyone who happened to log-on to thePalace and find their way into the room where the play was being performed.Plaintext Players performance of Waiting for GodotA hunk named Muscleman was one of the “chatters” in the room and his improvisitory interruption – he changed his avatar’s name to Godot -- made this performance a first: one in which Godot finally showed.

Desktop Theater, which began its experiments in ’97, is based at UCSD and has been doing theatrical interventions primarily in thePalacecom. Since Godot, they’ve compressed several other written works and developed original material for their growing troupe of international actors including avatar-based improvisations. “Visual chatrooms, “ Jenik says, “ represent anticipatory spaces ripe for dramatic play…Those of us committed to breaking down the barrier between actor and spectator find immediate interest in the arrangement of participants,” (the chatters) “sharing the same arena, already masked and performing versions of themselves.” Desktop Theater appears to have concluded performing in 2001.

Avatar Body Collision's performance of swimAvatar Body Collision is currently the most active of the three troupes (as far as I can tell) and co-founder Karla Ptacek has written about it in an earlier blog. Engaged in what is described as “an ongoing exploration of the collision between theatre and the internet” this group uses chat programs - sometimes combined with live-stage performers – and has created its own open source performance-chat software. Recently they have also begun to use wireless technologies – about which I hope we'll hear more in upcoming comments.

In her post, Karla says, a lot of the problems that beset theater in these spaces revolve around time. Antoinette LaFarge talks about “lag” in her 1995 article. I remember “lag” well from the short time I spent in MOOs – newbies are always taking the blame for it – but as LaFarge points out, in a text world, where the improvisational dominates and performance generates its own script rather than visa versa , lag too can have interesting results.

Perhaps we could talk about online performance and "time" from the point of view of avatar and other forms of online theater...thoughts?

Posted by newradio at 11:13 AM | Comments (4)