Virtual Public Art Activities

Black and white photograph of 2 avatars wearing balaclava and playing electric guitars.

Activity No.1 – Pussy Riot Solidarity Parade. On 17 August 2013, the anniversary of the verdict in the Pussy Riot trial, we organized a march at St. Basil’s Cathedral in Virtual Red Square. In this image Vanessa Blaylock & Agnes Sharple play electric guitars (badly) on the St. Basil’s roof.


 

I’ve spent the last 4 years (2009 – 2013) creating 50 Virtual Performance Art works.

The earlier works tended to be more formal. Groups of avatars ranging from a few, to a few dozen, hailing from dozens of countries on 5 continents, would create performance works more-or-less according to my vision.

In the later works the formal design by me has taken a backseat to the self-expression of the individual. Most recently, a series of pride parades: Avatar Pride, Child Avatar Pride, Animal Avatar Pride, and others, have really been about empowering individuals to explore and express their identity.

With Child Avatars as one example, even as many choose to live some or all of their virtual lives instantiated in child bodies, many others are “disturbed” by them and passively or actively oppress them. As with the great tradition of Gay Pride parades, these events assert the essential: We Exist! As sentient beings, whether made of atoms or bits, we are proud of our identity and entitled to civil rights.

Art practice in the post-post-neo-neo age doesn’t really require titles. Still. To better express the intentions in my work I have decided to retire the title Virtual Performance Artist and take the new mantle of Virtual Public Artist.

My first virtual performance work, VB01 – Girl Next Door, took place on 18 April 2009. My last, VB50 – Farewell, took place on 28 July 2013.

My first virtual public work, Activity No.1 – Pussy Riot Solidarity Parade, took place on the anniversary of the verdict in the Pussy Riot trial, 17 August 2013.

The next work, Activity No. 2 – Mexico City, 1968, is planned for late October or November. With the Sochi Olympic Games only a few months away, it seems like a fitting time to consider the resonance of Russian patriot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova vis-a-vis American patriot Tommy Smith’s legendary action 22 years before Tolokonnikova was born.

One year ago I completed a Gamification course from Professor Kevin Werbach of the Wharton School. As an avatar, building your own, independent, CV is generally difficult. However the world of MOOCs and Open Badges is opening up new possibilities. I’m thrilled to be enrolled in an exciting new course Practice Based Research in the Arts, from Stanford Online / NovoEd. The course begins on 9 October and will be taught by Leslie Hill and Helen Paris.

Given this new focus on Virtual Public Art and the creativity & collegiality I anticipate from Practice Based Research in the Arts, now seems like a nice moment to launch this new VirtualPublicArt.com website and blog.VirtualPublicArt.com.

Also, I will have to start calling Practice Based Research in the Arts by the acronym PB-Rita, else go mad from repeatedly typing the long title.

Welcome to my new practice!

I would love for you to participate in any way you choose, here on the website, or in the various activities across cyberspace. And by all means do chime in with ideas for, or help create, new activities.

— Vanessa

Vanessa Anne Blaylock
385 route de Meyrin
CH-1211 Genève 23
Switzerland

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