I'm simply blown away by "A Journey Into the Metaverse," a "mixed reality" video created by French filmmaker Tutsy Navarantha . He combines lush machinima footage shot in the virtual world of Second Life with equally surreal real life footage of India to create something completely new, unique and personal.
I have been thinking about the concept of the "avatar," a Hindu term roughly translating as a god manifesting in human form. Navarantha explores the connections between his virtual self and his real life self, who controls who, and what is the line between real and virtuality. The way that he blends the two realities and draws the viewer into his personal worlds is so brilliant.
It reminds me of the rich conversation we had with Philip Rosedale and Amos Mac in April at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts about the "customizable body" and multiple identities. I left that discussion realizing that these different tools of expression can lead us toward a much truer understanding and public manifestation of ourselves. Put another way, in a post-physical world we can become our avatars.
I'm also in the middle of reading Infinite Reality by Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson. These two researchers share their findings on how human psychology is effected by virtual representations of the self as much as physical ones. I.e. taller avatars make you more confident, uglier ones make you feel shame. The brain simply doesn't differentiate between realities, you experience them all as happening to you.
Like Navarantha, I am fascinated by what is happening to our psyches, our identities, our spirits, as our lives are lived and experienced in these intersecting but distinct realities. I'm not even convinced if these changes are good or bad, but they are happening in real time.
(Hattip to Hamlet Au at New World Notes for turning me on to this.)