Can An Avatar Be Beautiful?

BeautyThere was a showing at a New York art gallery recently of the portraits of 13 Second Life avatars.  This showing took place in a real life replica of a virtual space where the same show was conducted two weeks prior in Second Life. 

The 13 Most Beautiful Avatars showing was at the Postmasters Gallery in New York.  All of the portraits were on 36″ x 48″ canvas.  All thirteen are posted on the 0100101110101101.ORG website.  Make sure you visit the Essay link and read about avatars and their humans.  The essay also details the two shows in real life and virtual.  A very interesting read indeed.

One passage hit at the core of online avatars and their owners (quoted from “Life and Its Double” by Domenico Quaranta):

“As we have seen, this hall of mirrors is typical of virtual worlds. Expressions like “in world” and “out of world”, used by residents to refer to Second Life and the outside world respectively, are like a kind of inverted anthropocentrism. The most famous avatars in Second Life, those who have made a name for themselves “in world”, are rarely well known in the real world. After much insistence, Aimee Weber [5], the famed fashion and content designer who Eva and Franco Mattes dedicated a triptych to, came along to the opening of the show at the Italian Academy in New York. The photograph that captures her in front of the portrait of her avatar bears witness to a singular paradox: that of a real person completely outdone by her virtual self-representation. The image prevails over the person, as is always the case in the star system. But on a closer look, there is an element of novelty: what we are calling ‘image’ is in actual fact the immaterial projection of the self within a virtual space, within a world and community that does not exist outside the computer screen. The avatar has taken the upper hand.”

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