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Indeterminate Romance post #5: digital phantoms

Today I built a rig and attached it to one of the 3D scans of my body. Using this virtual skeleton I was able to animate the avatar in some familiar and decidedly unfamiliar/impossible ways. I then made a datamoshed video clip with the animation and some flowers from a previous project. The way the datamoshing sometimes causes the avatar to freeze and fade out in space as another avatar appears someplace else always reminds me the oft-pictured astronaut falling past the event horizon of a blackhole, its image freezing and slowly disappearing as the light reflecting off the astronaut's body can no longer return to the viewer's eye. I like to remember that how the world appears to us is a function of how lightwaves travel through different mediums. Our reality is based on reflection and refraction and ultimately a whole lot of electromagnetic radiation bouncing off the retina which we then patch together to make a world. The astronaut is long gone but its light remains trapped at the event horizon like a ghost.

These avatars are ghosts too. They are phantoms of the digital arena. Their materiality is unfettered by human anatomy or gravity and, while convincing as humanoid, they can twist and contort into myriad impossible shapes in the blink of an eye. They are mercurial and playful like dreams, agents of the imagination. For me they show the ways that bodies make worlds, scattering whole planets of possible embodiment across time and space. In this world the brain is in the left leg and it dreams only of flowers and the movements of insects.


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