The Living

Description of Debra Solomon's artwork "The Living," published in "The Art of the Accident," 1998.

Anytime we appear in the 'online' digital world, from the simple answering of an e-mail, to taking part in a internet chat or video conference, we do so in the form of our digital persona. This persona is not a mirror of who we are in the physical world, and is unlikely to be as complex. This digi-persona is formed not unlike our physical persona, by the environment in which it appears and by our ability to control the impression that we make upon the other. Whether we do nothing to control the presentation of this digi-persona or become absorbed in creating new or several digi-personas appropriate to our different social situations, the fact remains that this digi-persona always exists and is our sole albeit inadvertent representative on-line.

the_living is a digi-persona that has been created solely for the digital environment and that exists only in the public cultural space of the Internet. the_living communicates through her CUSeeMe reflector, a low-resolution online video conferencing and chat system for multiple users, and by inviting them to her online IVisit room, the_living_room. the_living initiates relationships with other digi-personas whom she meets in the video conferencing environment. She engages in prolific live correspondence in various media to create storylines and characters.

The home of the_living is the computer screen which is built up of web pages, windows displaying images, logs of ongoing chats, or computer code, as well as sound. Like in the kyogaru culture of Japanese high school girls, the_living sends midi sound-embedded web pages to her acquaintances, 'so that we can chat in a homogeneous space, listen to the same music, look at the same thing, be in the same room together.'

the_living experiences the 'future' presented in popularized science fiction of the present, as a seamless digital and physical existence. As a digital character, the_living embodies the dream of total connectivity; she is a veritable connectivity hero. Her live performances, a curated series of 'broadcast quality' live events, are rituals in blurring the borders between the physical and the on-line worlds. the_living continually appears in a highly engaging physical situation while interacting by broadcasting a semi-fictive video and chat narrative to the audience in the Video Conferencing Environment. In past performances she has been seen with her laptop at the bottom of the swimming pool, boating on the Amsterdam canals, and pedaling in a swan boat on the River Fulda in Kassel, all the while interacting with the other participants in the Video Conferencing Environment. the_living steals and recycles live events of real and ficticious personas, like reliving the life of Whirlgirl, a comic strip heroine who the_living imports into her medialised real-life fiction through video and chat narratives. In other performances she imitates the 'fixed camera perspective' style of CUSeeMe video by sending pre-recorded fixed camera scenes to her audience thus completely blurring what is perceived to be the 'live image.'

Living, communicating, creating and being part of a live-experience herself the_living attempts to 'be in the present' while simultaneously relaying her experience to her remote audience through streaming video and chat. the_living is hyper living, living more than once, at once. the_living explores the impact of the self-coined phrase, 'Using my Flesh-holder's body as an Experience Conductor...' She does not hide in a voyeuristic space as one individual or artist-performer presenting her work, but provides a mediated interactive space in which a new visual culture can develop and where participants will live a richer on-line life.

1998 V2_

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