VB30 – Born Again

CONCEPT: To celebrate the dawn of a new year, and Vaneeesa Blaylock / Company’s 4th year of performance work in virtual space, we baptize new avatars. Colloquially, and often pejoratively, referred to as “noobs,” the new avatar holds all the promise and peril that newborns have always held in physical space: Will he die of childhood illness? Will she change the world? The pejorative use of “noob” is perplexing since it has always been the young that introduce innovation and progress. We may cue up for hours to witness the accomplishments of the talented young, even as we’re willing to commit or permit infanticide on so many others. Historically, overpopulated countries have been especially harsh on girls, perpetuating yet again the cycle of objectification and discard. Today however, our performance simply seeks to “baptize” 0-day old noobs in the waters of their new life, and to help them acclimate to this world in whatever ways we are able.
PREVIZ: http://vaneeesa.com/2011/10/08/vb-previz-50-born-again/
PREVIZ: http://vaneeesa.tumblr.com/tagged/vb30-pre
FLICKR IMAGES: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaneeesab/sets/72157628798717631/
PERFORMANCE DOCUMENT: http://vaneeesa.tumblr.com/tagged/vb30-doc
PARTICIPANT LIST: http://vaneeesa.tumblr.com/post/15503118597/vb30-participant-list
PERFORMANCE DIALOG: https://docs.google.com/open?id=

It’s one of those things.

You see it coming.

Yet somehow… you just can’t avoid being hit by it.

How many times have you been dashing somewhere in a hurry, and been collared by a noob with boring questions? Do you say “sorry, gotta run”? And maybe leave someone confused or lost in a sometimes uninviting world? Or do you hang out and answer a predictable litany of uninteresting “personal” questions about things external to here and now?

“How are you doing?”
“How old are you?”
“Where do you live?”

That wasn’t the unavoidable part… the unavoidable part was that no matter how many times you stood there and tried to be polite… no matter how many noobs you let clutter up your friend list… somehow you just knew… when you actually wanted to go find a noob to “baptize” into their “new life”… it wasn’t going to be easy.

Hours at the always degrading and monumentally mis-named “Help Island”

Hours at London City (at least we got to go to a Blondie concert! 🙂

And no matter how many times I swore I wasn’t leaving before we dragged a noob (willingly, of course) (OMG how hard did I try all day not to be the creepy stalker?! 😛 …dragged a noob back to Gallery Xue / San Francisco Bay to “baptize” them… as the project time approached six hours, I really wondered if this simple vision just wasn’t so simple after all.

Late in the day I chatted up a couple of noobs (no, really, no, nobody calls them “fresh meat”) who I really thought would finally go for it… but then one said that this virtual world was lame and she’d never be back… and the other said this virtual world was totally cool… just my project was lame…

With my very last ounce of noob-hunting-strength I sat at a table in a square in London City and as my forged-in-persistence-if-nothing-else luck would have it, to my right was the newest noob in all of the 4-sim London archipelago… and to my left was the oldest avatar in the entire archipelago…


Incredible but true… I was sitting with none-other-than less than 1-hour old, rezzed right here in London and never TP’d or even walked anywhere Beautiful Nature, and the young-supple-remarkably-well-preserved 1,872 day old Sulla Knibber.

We chatted for a while and they both agreed to come to Gallery Xue / San Francisco Bay… Sulla made it over easily enough, but it took a long time to help Beautiful figure out how to teleport… but not half as long as it was going to take him to figure out how to sit on a pose ball! 😛

Half way through this day I’d already given up the self-indulgent fantasy that we were going to “help people” and just wanted to drag someone to our (hahaha) “healing waters” to complete the formal aspect of this performance… in the end… after six hours of doing our best to be friendly and helpful… we actually did help one noob with lots of information and general welcome-ful-ness.

It was so hard to help him to teleport… to sit on a pose-ball… to accept a group invitation… it’s sort of a wonder anyone survives their first day in this world at all.

In the end IDK if I have anything overly profound to say about noobs… the noob experience… how to help noobs…

It was all so difficult and frustrating… and granted, contrived and forced… that it kind of accomplished the opposite of what was planned… it made me even more appreciative of the many, diverse, unique, idiosyncratic, wonderful friends I have somehow managed to meet and spend time with in this world.

Almost everything we do in the physical world benefits from 10 million years of evolution working on getting it right. As far as I know, waking up in the morning, opening your eyes, and “seeing” your partner or your cat or the tree out the window… is… in fact… the most complex computational task in the known universe… but after 10 million years of refining that “algorithm”… it all seems pretty easy to us…

When you do something “simple” in the virtual world… like walk or teleport or animate your body… you’re using technology that was written in this decade and skills you likely acquired this year… it’s amazing that anything ever work at all…

Out of all of that morass, somehow, I have “friends”… “artistic co-conspirators”… “fellow journeyers”… who, as of today, have accompanied me on 30 research projects… 30 performance artworks… in virtual worlds…

thanks guys

thanks for everything

— VB

The Participant List for VB30 is unusual in that it wasn’t a set performance cast, but was a group of us meeting first at Gallery Xue / San Francisco, then going to Help Island, then to London City, and finally back to Gallery Xue / San Francisco.

Our “hunt” was to find a noob to “baptize” into their new virtual or avatar life. So there’s “us” and the people I tried to speak to but who said nothing in reply, and the people I actually did speak to, either briefly or for some time, and then finally Beautiful and Sulla who actually came back to the pool at Gallery Xue / San Francisco with us.

Agnes Sharple
Fiona Blaylock
Gina Broono
Kikas Babenco
Marmaduke Arado
Martha Graham
Monerda Skute
Pixel Reanimator
Rhiannon of the Birds
Trilby Minotaur
Xue Faith

Mrs. Roboto
Amy Horses
Lust To Envy
Gothic Gal 27
1710 1992
Devil’s Eye 57
Zoeey 203

Alex Laiho
Kitty Zen
Alex Alicia 1997
Greedy Vix
Beautiful Nature
Sulla Knibber

I was asked twice how old I was and in both cases the person I was chatting with seem to “hate” the answer “42”. I had a “nice” chat going with Esquim, but when he asked my age and I said 42, he never said another word.

Bibilo didn’t believe I was that old because she thought it impossible that anyone that old would “have time to play here”

[14:20] bibilo: sorry but how old are you?
[14:20] Martha Graham: 42
[14:21] bibilo: are u kiding ?
[14:21] Martha Graham: no, why?
[14:21] bibilo: no way
[14:21] Martha Graham: way
[14:21] bibilo: okey and you have got time to play here?
[14:21] Martha Graham: apparently I do. How old are you?
[14:22] bibilo: im too young
[14:22] Martha Graham: and you have time to play here?
[14:22] bibilo: yes only one day
[14:22] Martha Graham: aww, just one day? And you’re not coming back?
[14:22] bibilo: promise never will play this game. i am going to be a doctor so i have got much to study. whats your proffesion
[14:25] Martha Graham: I’m an artist
[14:25] bibilo: really?
[14:25] Martha Graham: yes. So if you’re never coming back then why did you “friend” me?
[14:25] bibilo: it means drawing?
[14:26] Martha Graham: well, artists do lots of things besides drawing
[14:26] bibilo: i just wanted to know what was that, an i friended u

As a virtual public artist my work invites avatar communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.

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