The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

December 9, 2007

Intimacy Chat Transcription

Transcript of Intimacy Session
December 8, 2007, England
Participants: Sandy Baldwin ("You"), Alan Sondheim (Alan Dojoji)

Discussion of avatar theory and practice.

(Please check this out - the event was excellent and the chat covers
a great deal of the theoretical/practical work we've been doing.)

Check out the blog for the event: - there are images from the session here.

Images also at:

Partial description:

"14:00-18:00 - FREE book via email to drp01mc (at)
"Leaders: ASS. PROF. SANDY BALDWIN, West Virginia University & ALAN

This workshop will take place in the virtual world Second Life, and will
be conducted by Alan Sondheim and Sandy Baldwin, with participation by
other artists and performers in Second Life.

Participants from the Intimacy conference will be supplied with location
and others details within Second Life. The workshop emerges from Sondheim
and Baldwin's ongoing exploration of analog and digital bodies, using a
range of technologies to remap the solid and obdurate real of bodies into
the dispersions and virtualities of the digital, and then back again into
real physical spaces. The "avatar paste" of the title means at least three

Firstly, the pasting of viewpoints together, the suturing of the subject
into the avatar. Secondly, paste as glue, as half-liquid and half solid,
as a materiality of renewable and infinite pliability. This is the chora
of the avatar, the body matrix that is less a framework than a smearing of
paste. And thirdly, paste as pasty and dis/comfortable substance, paste as
slimy and dripping. While this abjection is already implicit in paste as
glue, the pastiness of paste involves the projection and dreaming through
of the avatar, the inhabitation of avatar bodies and the emptying of real
bodies into the avatar.

"Avatar paste" comes out in avatar motions and behaviors. Firstly, these
are formed by symbolic orders, presenting surfaces to read in terms of
sexuality, power, emotion, and other projections. At the same time, the
pasty avatar body tends towards collapse and abjection. Work on the avatar
becomes a choreography of exposure and rupture, modeling and presenting
inconceivable and untenable data, within which tensions and relationships
are immediate and intimate. One might imagine, then, this inconceivable
data as a form of organism itself: as part of a natural world or a world
already given; out of this we might think through new ideas of landscape,
wilderness, hard ecology, the earth itself.

The workshop will theorize and demonstrate these topics. The first part
discusses theoretical frameworks. Alan Sondheim will introduce the topic
of dismemberment and telepresence in terms of the presence or appearance
of abjection in Second Life avatars. He will connect this to the
epistemology of emptiness vis-a-vis sheave theory and Buddhist philosophy,
and then to the problems of motion and behavior of avatars. Sandy Baldwin
will discuss the topography of limits in Second Life, both body limits and
spatial limits, an connect this to issues of the hunt and animal display.

He will also discuss the dynamics of performance and audience in Second
Life. The second part of the workshop will show off Sondheim and Baldwin's
approach to re-mapping live bodies into Second Life performances, includ-
ing: video and other examples of motion capture and scanning; intermediate
processing of files (e.g. editing .bvh data or working with Blender); and
then the resulting works, including documents of Second Life performances
and re-mappings back into "first life" spaces with dancers and other live
performers. The final part of the workshop will include avatar performance
by Sondheim, Baldwin, and other participants in Second Life.


the radio comes on in the room.
the radio whispers in the room.
it speaks the unspeakable.
i can't keep this up, it says.
this world is far too tired, it says.
the world can't do anything more.
the world tried over and over.
nothing worked.
the world is exhausted.
the world doesn't need the radio.
night. the computer's gone to sleep.
there's nothing online.
there never is.
there is no subsequence-consequence.
gloom of cold rain.
gloom of cold.
i don't want to touch myself.
i don't want to touch anything.
i sleep on this floor.
there are no noises in this place.
i know i am wise.
i am wise because there is no substance.
there is no consequence-subsequence.
there is nothing to release.
dead phone. keyboard disconnect.
defuge of supine body.
defuge of dead air.
defuge of radio whisper.
the floor is exhausted.
the ceiling is exhausted.
the wall is exhausted.
i leave the skin.
i take the skin.
the radio.

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