When Two Worlds Collide… Part 2

04Dec09

© Alexia Cournoyer. 2009  All rights reserved.

Fringe acts are always hard to review, simply because the standards that would normally be applied to professional performances aren’t directly relevant.  A lower bar has to be used in judging or the reviewer is not being fair. So in a way pure mindless entertainment has more importance than anything else. Yet for this piece I found it hard to lower the bar.

This set of performances were of interest to me on so many levels.  The technical, the artistry and the interaction between our two very distinct worlds.  To me, a successful performance is one that engages the mind, the eyes and the emotions.  A very tall ask at the best of times.

I went to the RoH performance with low expectations.  I expected it to be more of a “look how clever we are!” performance rather than something that would be a life changer.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Yet it had a more profound affect than probably intended simply because it brought into focus those questions of defining reality, authenticity and how conditioned we are in our views.

During the interval I glanced at the monitor that was showing the activity in the auditorium and felt a frisson when I saw the performers setting up. The screen with the Second Life feed was at the back of the stage and the symmetry of the link came to mind.  I’m standing in real life watching a monitor displaying people setting up in real life that has a monitor with people in Second Life that leads to people in real life looking at their monitors. The shame was that the feed wasn’t two way, the circle would have been complete if in the background the soon-to-be mourners could see the RoH audience.

Those of us who were there from SL tittered at the jibes at LL over the instability of the sim, could relate to some of the points that were made about the utility of electronic platforms but I came away thinking that it just brushed the surface of everything it touched. 

The second night I was inworld and it my perspective shifted.  The distractions of the RoH were gone and there was only the inworld visuals, the music and the text.  It became less stilted and more engaging.

© Alexia Cournoyer. 2009  All rights reserved.

The words did stir a response that they failed to do the previous night, perhaps because of the intimacy of being so close to my monitor and the immersion in the set.  Certainly it should have been the perfect second life drama, all the ingredients were there..  The announcement of leaving, the monologue prior to departure, the flouncing off and then the return the next day – all pure SL drama that is acted out countless times by countless people each day inworld.

and yet it felt stilted.  The performers are obviously in SL but I don’t they are of SL.  The attention to detail in the build (that glow!!) and the lack of AOs on the performers didn’t lead me to believe they spend a lot of time inworld.  I don’t  the believe the performers are actors/role players either and the conversation afterwards between the mourners and Trixiebelle (the newly bereaved) made me wonder if she was laughing at those mourners who claimed to be so affected by the performance.

I’ve spent the best part of a week thinking about the performance and why I couldn’t uncritically accept what was offered.  In the end my conclusion is that it didn’t further the human condition, it failed to entertain, it was technically adequate and I still don’t get the point of the monologue or the reason behind why Caspar chose death. 

That to me was probably the biggest failing and if everything else was stripped away, that would be why I’m less than enthused.  It has made me think about what real actually means – actors in a performance aren’t real, my Beijing Brothers look alikes are real but not as they initially appear and what makes the virtual world not real? What’s the difference between picking up the phone to talk to someone who hears your digitised voice against meeting someone in a space where they see a digitised you? Yet that wasn’t the objective of the performance, just a beneficial side effect.

The performance would have been better in a more intimate real life space.  The RoH auditorium is just too big and detached the audience from the world they are glimpsing.  It was a bit like going to see a foreign movie with subtitles, the nuances are lost.  Certainly had this been in a more appropriate place it would have been more engaging but it still wouldn’t answer the question of the point of this performance.

It was stylish and to some would have been a clever use of technology and may tempt some to come inworld to explore the potential. As a performance piece though, I just didn’t get it.  Yet it has made me think about the separation of the virtual from the physical and how we perceive and respond to each. 

So for that I rate it as one of the better performances I’ve seen this year.  The questions it raises will be food for thought for a long time and very few performances can make that claim.

© Alexia Cournoyer. 2009  All rights reserved.

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One Response to “When Two Worlds Collide… Part 2”


  1. 1 When Two Worlds Collide… Part 2 « Alexia Cournoyer: Alexia in … | Portal site of Second Life and metaverse"MetaLog-meta log"

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