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Kromosomer – an experience in shared creative work and expression



Kromosomer is a storytelling performance that interacted with digital, virtual and social media, using characters from Norwegian legends as a motto to raise questions on alterety: the "other, the not normal, the one that looks "different", which we want to distance ourselves from. The abject, something outside the subject and object, prior to the subconscious, something primitive that has not yet manifested itself symbolically.
Proceedings of the SLACTIONS 2012 International Conference
Life, imagination, and work using metaverse platforms
Kromosomer an experience in shared creative work and expression
Heidi Dahlsveen
Oslo and Akershus university college of applied sciences, Norway.
Catarina Carneiro de Sousa
The School of Education Polytechnic Institute of Viseu, Portugal.
Kromosomer is a storytelling performance that
interacted with digital, virtual and social media,
using characters from Norwegian legends as a
motto to raise questions on alterety: the "other,
the not normal, the one that looks "different",
which we want to distance ourselves from. The
abject, something outside the subject and object,
prior to the subconscious, something primitive
that has not yet manifested itself symbolically.
In the project and performance several artists participated
in a "distributed" dramaturgy where contributed equally,
but creatively independent. Avatars were created, based on
characters from Norwegian legends; they formed the basis
for new stories, mainly mediated through pictures which
were used on a blog, where readers were challenged to
create new stories. There stories were then passed on, either
through social media or orally narrated in the performance.
Participants were also instigated to record pictures and
machinimas. Many of the participants/produsers'
interpretations were later used in the physical performance,
some assembled into a video that was projected on the
walls, others printed to form part of an installation.
The background material for the project was collected
from traditional oral Norwegian legends (sagn). Folklorist
Linda Dégh states that "legend contextualizes" and
interprets belief' (Dégh, 1996). Belief is the core of the
legend, and not only that - the science (knowledge) is a
necessary counterweight when the legend occurs. It is as if
life stumbles along the way, discover something and moves
on. In legends there is a clash between reason and faith.
The logic, the meaning is broken down because we lose
distinction between subject and object, "I" and "the others".
Abject, as Julia Kristeva describes it, is prior to the
subconscious, it is an encounter with something primitive
that has not yet manifested itself symbolically (Kristeva,
1982). Legends are already a way of trying to assimilate
and give symbolic value to the meaningless. Often the
legends portray the meeting with "the other" as a physical
one, but by using avatars in the metaverse one can
experience the embodiment of "the others", thus creating a
process of actually inhabiting alterity, possibly providing
new tools to extend the language that can handle the feeling
of meaninglessness.
The avatars
Jacquelyn Ford Morie notes that in virtual environments
"our experience is very much influenced by how we
perceive our self, and yet, within most immersive
environments, as they exist today, this choice is still made
by the VE designer" (Morie, 2007). Second Life avatars are
unprecedentedly customizable, giving its residents the
ability to design themselves, making embodiment not only
an aesthetic experience but also a creative one.
Legends added a pretext for the exploration of a different
kind of body. Through avatar manipulation in virtual
environments, one can actually experience the embodiment
of "the other". Yee and Bailenson, who studies this process
of inhabiting alterity, argue that "immersive virtual
environments provide the unique opportunity to allow
individuals to directly take the perspective of another" (Yee
et al., 2009), and even suggest the possibility of this
embodied perspective taking having an impact on the
reduction of negative stereotyping (Yee et al., 2009). With
the free distribution of the Kromosomer modifiable avatars
we aimed to promote residents' disposition to have an
active and creative part in the process of their own avatars
design, as well as in the embodiment of the story itself as a
Creative collaboration
The free distribution of the Kromosomer modifiable
avatars promoted a different kind of relation between artists
and public, in this project, that might stride against
traditional roles. Instead of expecting a solely
contemplative audience to an artistic performance, we
proposed a shared creative process. Once the avatars were
distributed they became avatars of others, inhabited by
different identities that could take them literally as the
legends' avatars or radically transform them and use them
Proceedings of the SLACTIONS 2012 International Conference
Life, imagination, and work using metaverse platforms
to perform entirely new stories. This process relates to Axel
Bruns' concept of produsage, as a conventional sense of
production no longer applies to "massively distributed
collaborations [...] constantly changing, permanently
mutable bodies of work which are owned at once by
everyone and no-one" and in which the participants easily
shift users to producers and vice-versa, originating a hybrid
role in between (Bruns, 2010).
We call our work process a metaphorical way of working
because in new connections and meetings, we seek to
articulate and give meaning to issues that concern us
(Ricoeur, 2004). A metaphor is not a substitute but an
interaction between two concepts: in their juxtaposition, the
metaphors creates something new.
The virtual body is then a metaphorical one and therefore
a body of expression and language, open to
experimentation and possibility. By offering the avatars
copy enable, transferable, and most importantly,
transformable, we became more than authors, creators or
artists: we were partners in a shared creative flux.
In this project we freed ourselves from space and time,
working with what arises in creative meetings between
concepts such as legends and metaverse, professional
artists and amateurs, different disciplines, different
interpretations, ultimately achieving a poetic function.
Kromosomer generated a completely different way of
working within artistic production, one in which the
frontiers between artist and public are blurred, thus
revealing new parameters and consequently new
Dégh, L. (1996) What is a Belief Legend? Folklore 107, pp. 33-
Kristeva, J. (1982). Power of horror: An Essay on Abjection.
Columbia University Press, New York.
Morie, J. F. (2007). Performing in (virtual) spaces. Embodiment
and being in virtual environments. International Journal of
Performance Arts and Digital Media, vol. 3, no 2&3, pp. 123-
Yee, N.; Bailenson, J. N.; Ducheneaut, N. (2009). Implications of
Transformed Digital Self-Represatation on Online and Offline
Behavior. Communication Research, vol. 36, no 2, pp. 285-312.
Pearce, C. (2009). Communities of play: emergent cultures in
multiplayer games and virtual worlds. Bogart, Cambridge.
Bruns, A. (2010). Distributed Creativity: Filesharing and
Produsage. In: Sonvilla-Weiss, S. (ed.) Mashup Cultures, pp.
Ricoeur, P. (2004). The Rule of Metaphor The Creation of
Meanning Language. Routledge, London.
Full-text available
A decade ago, the Immersed in Learning project was developed to evaluate the use of 3D virtual worlds as a teaching and learning tool in Digital Media at the University of Wolverhampton, UK. A question that the research set out to explore was what were the benefits of integrating 3D immersive learning with face-to-face learning for students who were already comfortable inhabiting the digital realm. The purchase and development of Kriti Island in Second Life saw the online virtual space rapidly assume a sense of real presence and became a focus for collaboration, nationally, and internationally. Although Kriti Island came to the end of its cycle in 2014, the ongoing research focuses on virtual and mixed-reality environments as platforms for creative practice. The chapter will analyse the development of creative practices in virtual environments and the implications for creativity and new forms of collaboration through pedagogy and arts practice. In itself, Second Life may stand the test of time as a continued interface to examine issues of the real and the virtual and may contribute to further theoretical and philosophical discussions of new technologies and artistic practice.
Full-text available
This paper focuses on how the body has been recontextualised in the age of digital technology, especially through the phenomenon of Virtual Reality, and specifically on fully immersive VR environments made as art or performative installations. It discusses the progress\ion in form and function from other digital media or ‘cybermedia’ to fully immersive virtual environments (VEs). This paper attempts to explicate the specialised and intrinsic qualities of ‘Being’ in immersive VEs, and how it impacts both the experience of the embodied person in the virtual environment, and our thinking about everyday reality. The unique state of Being in immersive VEs has created a paradigm shift in what humans are now able to experience, and affects how we understand our embodied selves in an increasingly digital world. Because of this, the contributions of visual and performance artists to VE's continued development is key to how we will know and comprehend ourselves in the near and far future as creatures existing in both the physical and the digital domains. The paper draws upon twenty years as a professional Virtual Reality ‘maker’ who has trained in both Computer Science and in Art, and finds fascinating affinities between these disciplines in the space of the VE where people and performers interact in new embodied modalities.
Full-text available
Virtual environments allow individuals to dramatically alter their self-representation. More important, studies have shown that people infer their expected behaviors and attitudes from observing their avatar's appearance, a phenomenon known as the Proteus effect. For example, users given taller avatars negotiated more aggressively than users given shorter avatars. Two studies are reported here that extend our understanding of this effect. The first study extends the work beyond laboratory settings to an actual online community. It was found that both the height and attractiveness of an avatar in an online game were significant predictors of the player's performance. In the second study, it was found that the behavioral changes stemming from the virtual environment transferred to subsequent face-to-face interactions. Participants were placed in an immersive virtual environment and were given either shorter or taller avatars. They then interacted with a confederate for about 15 minutes. In addition to causing a behavioral difference within the virtual environment, the authors found that participants given taller avatars negotiated more aggressively in subsequent face-to-face interactions than participants given shorter avatars. Together, these two studies show that our virtual bodies can change how we interact with others in actual avatar-based online communities as well as in subsequent face-to-face interactions.
I. Approaching Abjection2. Something to Be Scared Of3. From Filth to Defilement4. Semiotics of Biblical Abomination5... Qui Tollis Peccata Mundi6. C line: Neither Actor nor Martyr7. Suffering and Horror8. Those Females Who Can Wreck the Infinite9. "Ours to Jew or Die"10. In the Beginning and Without End...11. Powers of Horror
As contributor to the mistakenly conceptualised concept of “belief legend,” I want to survey the historical antecedents and the circumstances that at a certain stage prompted researchers to identify this category, formerly classified as mythical or demonological legend. This was the time when legend scholars began field-collection, experiencing the profound attachment of narratives to living local folk religion. After decades of meticulous field observation, which has led to the accumulation of a more dependable stock of legendry from diverse national, subcultural, occupational groups, it becomes clear that folk belief is a part of any legend, therefore there is no need to maintain the term “belief legend.” Belief is the stimulator and the purpose of telling any narrative within the larger category of the legend genre; it is also the instigator of the legend dialectic. The current confusion caused by the whimsical application of terms such as “truth,” “rationality,” “belief,” and “believability” in scholarly legend interpretations, should caution us to avoid making biased, outsider's judgements instead of presenting the viewpoint of tellers and audiences.
The culture of mashups examined by the contributions collected in this volume is a symptom of a wider paradigm shift in our engagement with information — a term that should be understood here in its broadest sense, ranging from factual material to creative works. It is a shift that has been a long time coming and has had many precedents, from the collage art of the Dadaists in the 1920’s to the music mixtapes of the 70’s and 80’s, and finally to the explosion of mashup-style practices that was enabled by modern computing technologies.
What is a Belief Legend? Folklore 107
  • L Dégh
Dégh, L. (1996) What is a Belief Legend? Folklore 107, pp. 3346.