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The Kromosomer Project

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Abstract

This article is a reflection on the Kromosomer project, a storytell-ing performance held in the physical world and implemented through digital, virtual and social media. The motto was the traditional Norwegian legend characters that represent "the other", the not "normal". They were illustrated as avatars in the metaverse, where they were also distributed as unfinished arte-facts, open to mutation. We will describe and analyze the main work method used on this project, a shared creative process of collective and distributed creativity. We will also focus on how metaphors constitute them-selves as paramount to our way of working.
CONFIA . International Conference on Ilustration & Animation
Ofir . Portugal . November 2012 . ISBN: 978-989-97567-6-2
421
420
THE KROMOSOMER PROJECT
Catarina Carneiro de Sousa.1
csousa@esev.ipv.pt
Heidi Dahlsveen.2
heidi.dahlsveen@hioa.no
Abstract
This article is a reection on the Kromosomer project, a storytell-
ing performance held in the physical world and implemented
through digital, virtual and social media. The motto was the
traditional Norwegian legend characters that represent “the
other”, the not “normal”. They were illustrated as avatars in the
metaverse, where they were also distributed as unnished arte-
facts, open to mutation.
We will describe and analyze the main work method used on
this project, a shared creative process of collective and distributed
creativity. We will also focus on how metaphors constitute them-
selves as paramount to our way of working.
1. Escola Superior de
Educação do Instituto
Politécnico de Viseu,
Departamento de Co-
municação e Arte, Rua
Maximiano Aragão
3504 – 501, Viseu,
Portugal
2. Oslo and Akershus
University College of
Applied Sciences, Fac-
ulty of technology, art
and design, Postboks
4, St.Olavs plass, NO-
0130 OSLO Norway
Keywords
storytelling, performance,
legends, avatar,
embodiment, shared
creativity.
CONFIA . International Conference on Ilustration & Animation
Ofir . Portugal . November 2012 . ISBN: 978-989-97567-6-2
The Kromosomer project
Catarina Carneiro de Sousa and Heidi Dahlsveen 423
422
1 · Introduction
Kromosomer was a traditional storytelling performance that
interacted with digital, virtual and social media during its adap-
tation and implementation process1. In the realization of this
project two visual artists, a social entrepreneur, graphic designer
and lmmaker and a storyteller participated. The project had a
“distributed” dramaturgy, where dierent participants contrib-
uted equally, but creatively independent. The Norwegian story-
teller and initiator of this project Heidi Dahlsveen (aka Mimesis
Monday) grew up with a grandfather who used storytelling, more
specically folk legends, as a way to deal with the daily life. It was
as an adult that she realized that these stories were more than
everyday anecdotes. Briey, one can say that a folk legend is a
short traditional narrative that has been told as a true event. The
Kromosomer project was developed as an attempt to understand
the disturbing concerning these stories.
In the project avatars were created based on characters from
Norwegian folk legends; they formed the basis for new stories
mainly mediated through pictures and they were distributed in
Second Life free and with full permissions. This meant users
could copy, transform and share them. In this way the avatars
could be embodied in an open and creative form.
The users were encouraged to take pictures and machinimas,
or to use the avatars in any other creative form. Some of those
pictures were used on a blog2 where readers were invited to create
new stories. These stories were then passed on either in social
media or verbally told in the performance. These produsers’3 in-
terpretations were later assembled into a video that was projected
on two walls during the physical performance. There were also in-
stallations with picture stories of the avatars created by produsers.
One of the stories in the performance was told simultaneously in
world and in the physical world. The storyteller (Heidi Dahlsveen)
was then using one of the avatars created for the project.
In this paper we will describe the background for this project,
i.e. Norwegian legend characters and the way it was developed
through virtual world, social media and physical performance. We
will concentrate on two important aspects of this project’s imple-
mentation — a shared creative process and a metaphorical way of
working.
1. A compilation social
media dissemina-
tion can be seen at
the Scoop.it page of
Project: Kromosomer:
http://www.scoop.it/t/
project-kromosomer
2. http://mimesismon-
day.com/?cat=360
3. When a user con-
tribute into the project
we decide to call them
produsers, according to
Axel Burns’ concept of
produsage that we will
address later on.
2 · Background
The background material for the project was collected from oral
tradition, more specically Norwegian folk legends. It was primar-
ily natural mythic legends that formed the basis for this project,
meaning an encounter with the supernatural, the unseen,
the other4.
The folklorist Linda Dégh states that “legend contextualises
and interprets belief ”[1]. Belief is the core of the legend, and not
only that – the science (knowledge) is a necessary counterweight
when the legend occurs [1]. Folk legends are told spontaneously
as people orient themselves within community norms: “It is com-
mon knowledge that the human being is, by nature, a homo reli-
gious, who by compulsion constructs personal variables of the es-
tablished Church canon in which he or she had been indoctrinated
by public education” [1]. The belief does not itself come forth as a
narrative, but it lays behind the folk legend as a hidden reference,
as a fear of the unknown, as a pattern, an explanatory model. The
frame around the folk legend is the real life topology [1], “every-
day life” is there prior to the folk legend and it is there afterwards.
It is as if life stumbles along the way, discovers something and
moves on. We must emphasize that what separates folk legends
from other traditional stories is the radical encounter between two
worlds. Folktales also portray the meetings with other worlds, but
there they exist naturally next to each other. When a protagonist
encounters a troll or other “unnatural” being it is as if they meet a
neighbour. In folk legends you meet a character gallery of trolls,
mermaids, sea serpents and so on, but also characters bearing a
likeness to human beings like ghosts and huldra. In people’s sto-
ries about meeting with “the other” the folk legends pose social
F1. Heidi Dahlsveen
performing at PopUp
hub, in Oslo, 2012.
4.We use the term
“the other” referring to
an origin legend about
how “non-humans,
but similar to humans”
were created. The
story is related to The
Fall (Adam and Eve),
a legend you nd
in many european
countries, explaining
why some people are
“dierent”. Shortly it
tells about how Adam
and Eve were kicked
out of Garden of Eden.
They got quite a lot of
children and heard that
God wanted to visit
them. They were em-
barrassed by all these
children, so they hid
some of them away: in
the basement, in holes
in the soil, in caves
CONFIA . International Conference on Ilustration & Animation
Ofir . Portugal . November 2012 . ISBN: 978-989-97567-6-2
The Kromosomer project
Catarina Carneiro de Sousa and Heidi Dahlsveen 425
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and existential questions. This meeting may be analogous to what
occurs when you meet an avatar, as we shall see later.
It is useful to include Julia Kristeva’s concept of “abjection
here. The abject is located outside both subject and object, it is
something else. The clearest description of abject, often used and
collected from Kristeva, is the meeting with a dead body, a corpse.
The corpse is similar to life, but it is not “life”. It reminds us of
nothing but we nd it oensive, we are disgusted, it makes us feel
sick because of the comparison and alienation [2]. The logic, the
meaning is broken down because we lose the distinction between
subject and object, “I” and “the others”. Abject is the feeling of
seeing an open dirty wound:
It is thus not lack of cleanliness or health that causes abjection
but what disturbs identity, system, order. What does not respect
borders, positions, rules. The in-between, the ambiguous, the
composite. The traitor, the liar, the criminal with a good con-
science, the shameless rapist, the killer who claims he is a savior. .
. . Any crime, because it draws attention to the fragility of the law,
is abject, but premeditated crime, cunning murder, hypocritical
revenge are even more so because they heighten the display of
such fragility [2].
This may also relate to the concept of the “Uncanny Valley”
developed by Masahiro Mori, when studying robot design — a
sharp and sudden depression in a line chart describing growing
familiarity caused by increased human likeness in a robot [3].
Basically, our sense of familiarity tends to increase when a robot
appears more human until, suddenly, it drops to negative levels,
when this human likeness becomes uncanny. For Freud the “un-
canny” is “that class of the terrifying which leads back to some-
thing long known to us, once very familiar” [4].
Reinforcing Kristeva’s argument, Mori investigations also put
the dead corpse at the bottom of the valley and even further down
if this body would move, becoming the “zombie”, the animated
dead corpse, the lowest peak in the chart. It seems that we are
more terried of what looks familiar but falls outside our explana-
tory models, than we are of the utterly fantastic.
In folk legends about the changeling6 or “utburden7 our
concept balances on the edge of meaning. The legends point to
something terrible behind them: the killing of children and the ex-
and under the bushes.
When God came, he
asked if these children
were all their children,
they said yes and God
said then: “Let those
children who are hid-
den remain hidden but
not forgotten”. So all
the children hidden
away remained hidden
away, living their life
like we live ours, but
under our feet. They
became the unseen
people. Both in Norway
and in Ireland (and
maybe other places)
there are still people
who believe in these
unseen people or the
“other” people as they
also might be called.
We avoid using the
term “fairy tale”
because there is con-
siderable disagreement
about what it really is
within the type of story
today.
6. Changeling is a child
who has been replaced
by a child from the
“huldre (fairy) people.
perience of having children that are “not normal”. It’s disturbing
because we understand and do not understand, because we reject
what lies beyond our safe and comforting civilization. Abject is
prior to the subconscious, it is an encounter with something primi-
tive that has not yet manifested itself symbolically. In legends we
already nd traces of assimilation. Once we have verbalised the
meaninglessness it gains a symbolic value. Once we submit to the
symbols a new order arises:
Sublimation, on the contrary, is nothing else than the possibil-
ity of naming the prenominal, the pre-objectal, which are in
fact only a trans-nominal, a trans-objectal. In the symptom,
the abject permeates me, I become abject. Through sublima-
tion, I keep it under control. The abject is edged with the sub-
lime. It is not the same moment on the journey, but the same
subject and speech bring them into being [2].
Often the folk legends portrayed the meeting with “the other”
as a physical meeting, either because they look dierent (trolls are
giants, huldra have a tail, draugen/ghosts without head and so on)
or that it is actually a physical confrontation between the protago-
nist and “the other”. The sublimation associated with the folk
legends somehow implies an embodiment of the uncanny.
If meeting a character from folk legends can correspond to a
meeting with avatars, can we infere that this meeting provides a
tool to extend the language that can handle the feeling of mean-
inglessness?
The folk legends arose
because they had no
other terms for chil-
dren with for example
Down syndrome.
7. Utburden is a child
who is murdered and
not buried. The folk
legends tell of places
that are haunted by
the murdered child. It
is always a man who
discovers the crime
and there is always
a woman, the child’s
mother, who is the
killer. The women are
poor single mothers
who are sentenced to
death for their action.
The child’s father is
never mentioned.
F2. Catarina Carneiro
de Sousa aka CapCat
Ragu, Peasant becom-
ing Skurekallen, 2012.
Surekallen installation
on Second Life.
CONFIA . International Conference on Ilustration & Animation
Ofir . Portugal . November 2012 . ISBN: 978-989-97567-6-2
The Kromosomer project
Catarina Carneiro de Sousa and Heidi Dahlsveen 427
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3 · The avatars
Second Life avatars not only enable this meeting, they actually
allow the embodiment of the uncanny. One can become “the
other”.
The Kromosomer avatars were built around the characters
in the Norwegian folk legends as we mentioned before. They
resulted from free interpretation through avatar design. Heidi
Dahlsveen (aka Mimesis Monday ), the initiator of this project,
commissioned Catarina Carneiro de Sousa (aka CapCat Ragu )
and Sameiro Oliveira Martins (aka Meilo Minotaur) to build these
avatars. The two artists were given a document where a number
of characters were briey described. They were inspired by this
document but had total creative freedom for reinterpretation of
these characters. Three groups of avatars were built in articulation
with the virtual installations in which they were to be distributed.
The Surekallen installation and avatars (the Peasant and
Surekallen) were based on the myth of a grain spirit associated
with the fear of being the last to cut the grain. If this was the case,
one had to accommodate Skurekallen through the winter, or even
worse, one could be forced to sacrice oneself and continue life
as a grain spirit, in order to ensure the spirit’s existence. For this a
harvested corneld was created, where an old peasant, realizing
he was the last to crop his corn, transgures into Surekallen (see
g.2). This scene illustrates the whole concept of these avatars,
the possibility of embodying “the other”, the legends became a
pretext for the exploration of a dierent kind of body. As we said
before, through avatar manipulation in virtual environments one
can actually experience the embodiment of “the other”. Nick
Yee and N. Jeremy Bailenson studied this process of inhabiting
alterity. These two researchers argue that “immersive virtual
environments provide the unique opportunity to allow individuals
to directly take the perspective of another” [5], and even suggest
the possibility of embodied perspective-taking in virtual environ-
ments having an impact on the reduction of negative
stereotyping [5].
Two more installations were created in order to distribute
other avatars: the Attganger installation sheltered four avatars,
the ghost and its earthly family8 ,while “Ocean Avatars” gathered
some of the characters from “vannvetter”9 , where ve avatars
8.Attganger means
“walking back” – or
to be more precise, it
means ghost. This is
one of the characters
you nd often men-
tioned in Norwegian
legends. It has a
number of meanings,
beyond being a dead
person. The usual
description is that of
someone who broke
a promise, and the
dead comes back to
remind the person of
the betrayal. How-
ever what inspired this
group of avatars was
the tale from a valley
in Norway, called
“Osterdalen”, the story
of a child who dies
and comes back. The
child plays with her
sisters and brothers,
and the family grows
so accustomed to the
dead child that they
forget she really is
dead. The installation
consisted of a dream-
like children’s room,
resting on a cloud,
where one could ear
the continuous sound
of a music box. In the
walls one could see the
old photographs of
were given in the eggs of an enormous Sea Monster: Havfrue
Melusina, Lindorm, Draugen and Kraken10.
All avatars were distributed with full permissions, meaning that
their new owners could copy, transfer and modify them, thus
broadening the ways they could embody them. Second Life
avatars have the characteristic of being very customizable, one
can change one’s appearance quite dramatically solely with the
platform’s interface. In addition, the platform also gives one the
ability to upload content such as textures, meshes, animations and
so on, whereby avatars can be customized to an unprecedented
level. In this way the avatar designers are the residents them-
selves, through their own designs or through what other residents
share or sell.
According to Nick Yee, N. Jeremy Bailenson and Nicolas
Ducheneaut virtual environments can signicantly alter self-
representation. Their studies show that behaviour can change
according to the avatar, not only online but in subsequent oine
interactions as well. To these changes in behaviour resulting from
the handling of avatars, the authors called Proteus Eect [7].
These ndings have highlighted the importance of avatar design
in virtual worlds, as embodiment can have a very real impact in
both self perception and self expression, as Celia Pearce remarks:
“If the avatar is framed as a form of personal expression, as
performance medium, it is not hard to see the ways in which the
components of the avatar kit dictate the forms of expression that
occur” [8].
a mother and her two
little girls. The avatars
given there were the
mother, the two sisters
and the Attanger.
9. Folklorist Ørnulf
Hodne distinguishes
between “landvetter”
and “vannvetter”, a
distinction that corre-
sponds to whether the
character lives on land
or in water [6].
10.Havfrue was a mer-
maid, half human and
half sh. She was pri-
marily seen at sunrise.
Her face was beautiful
and down her back, she
had long, wavy hair,
which she would braid
while sitting on a rock.
Melusina was quite
similar, but with a more
tragic perspective.
Only one folk legend
from a part of Norway
called Helgeland
mentions her. Because
every Saturday half of
her turned into a sh,
she was unloved and
evicted from her home
after giving birth to
nine children. Lindorm
was a big serpent that
guarded a treasure and
was able to take people
down in the water to
eat them. One way
F3. Eupalinos Ugajin,
Untitled, 2012. Ele-
ments of the Attanger
avatar combined with
other elements to cre-
ate another avatar.
CONFIA . International Conference on Ilustration & Animation
Ofir . Portugal . November 2012 . ISBN: 978-989-97567-6-2
The Kromosomer project
Catarina Carneiro de Sousa and Heidi Dahlsveen 429
428
With the free distribution of the Kromosomer modiable avatars,
instead of dictating the design and subsequently the avatar ex-
pression, we aimed to promote residents’ 11 disposition to have an
active and creative part in the process of their own avatar design,
as well as in the embodiment of the story itself as a character.
These avatars became illustrations that enabled the public not
only to actively participate in the telling of the story, but also to
embody these characters in a creative and parcipatory way.
4 · From the storytelling community to creative
collaboration
The original avatars themselves were built in a shared
creative process.
There are two dierent ways in which one may address this
concept of shared creativity — one is through collective creation,
the other is through distributed creativity.
When we address collective creation we refer to a creative pro-
cess in which all of the agents involved act as one creative entity.
This derives from a high level of intimacy between co-creators.
In this case, CapCat Ragu and Meilo Minotaur constructed the
avatars on an equal partnership basis in which each of them relin-
quished her own authorial mark in favour of the group’s author-
ship. The complete dissolution of one’s identity within a common
one is of course utopian, but Capcat and Meilo worked as a plural
organism or a two-headed monster. This kind of creative process
not only requires a high level of intimacy but also complete trust
and openness.
Another process of shared creativity began once the avatars
were distributed, becoming the avatars of others, inhabited by
dierent identities that could take them literally as the legends’
avatars or radically transform them and use them to impersonate
entirely new stories, as they are always “unnished artefacts” [9],
that can not only be used but also modied into a new creation.
This brings us to an emergent concept born online, fundamental
to this project: produsage.
Axel Bruns developed the concept of produsage to describe
a new arising reality “emerging from the intersection of Web 2.0
user-generated content, and social media since the early years
of the new millennium” [10], realizing that the conventional
to get rid of it was by
running seven times
around a campre
while being chased by
it and then lure it into
the re. Draugen was
a drowned man who
was never buried. He
howled terribly at sea
as warning. His scream
sounded like that of
someone in distress.
He could have an arm
with a claw and often
rolled himself up in a
boat, and then made
himself so heavy that
he would sink the
boat. Kraken was a
horror from the sea. If
the shing was good,
one should be aware
because it could hap-
pen that Kraken was
around, one had to be
ready to move the boat
on in a hurry.
11.Residents of Second
Life.
sense of production no longer applied 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 [10]. He denes
the concept of distributed creativity as “projects which harness
the creativity of a large range of participants to build on and
extend upon an existing pool of artistic material” [10]. This can
also be seen in online creative sharing communities based on the
dissemination of visual output, from Flickr pile-ups to Creative
Commons collages, such as DeviantART fan art.
Kromosomer avatars were just the beginning of a creative ux,
in which users needed to become producers in order to full their
aesthetical experience of the project. Their productions would
then “feed” the project through social media dissemination of
this creative output. This would in turn become input once again,
integrating the physical performance.
In our project we can also refer to Rebelo’s distributed drama-
turgy [11] where each individual is responsible and contributes
something specic to a production. The idea of collective creation
relates to a storytelling situation. Norwegian legends are part
of the oral tradition, a cultural storage that is readily available
for everyone within a given community. One of the important
principles of this project was that the materials used were free of
copyright, according to Norwegian law. The entire project, includ-
ing process and performance, should be transparent and free to
share and use without any compensation. Moreover, participants
were free to interpret the material as they wished.
In the late 1990s Gabriela Kiliánová examined the social
network around storytelling situations in Slovakia. Community
and sharing of the stories appear as necessary to socialization and
dissemination of knowledge, but there is also an aesthetic pres-
ence: “Storytelling is, on the one hand, a form of entertainment,
a performance during which the audience appreciates the artistic
qualities of the narrators. Yet, on the other hand, it is also a means
of transmitting information and knowledge.” [12] In the oral
storytelling tradition the stories are part of the collective property;
this is conrmed by Parry and Lord who researched the bards in
the former Yugoslavia in the early 1930’s [13]. The bard performed
CONFIA . International Conference on Ilustration & Animation
Ofir . Portugal . November 2012 . ISBN: 978-989-97567-6-2
The Kromosomer project
Catarina Carneiro de Sousa and Heidi Dahlsveen 431
430
for an audience who knew and had a sense of ownership of the
material. This condition aected the aesthetic on several levels all
the way down to the dramaturgy of the moment [13].
The community’s ownership of the material is similar to the pro-
dusage concept. The term includes the collective and sustained
expansion of existing content in order to improve this:
When – exactly because what takes place here is no
longer a form for production in any conventional sense of the
word – the outcome of these massively distributed collabora-
tions appear in the form of constantly changing, permanently,
mutable bodies of work which are owned at once by everyone
and no-one, by the community of contributors as a whole but
by none of them as individuals [14].
Furthermore a low threshold in terms of participation charac-
terizes produsage, artifacts are unnished in favour of a continu-
ous process and the hierarchical structure is oating [14]. Picone
stresses that within this denition the commercial market values
cannot dominate: “Still, it is an amateur-driven, non-prot way of
producing information.” [15] The focus is on procreation and not
consumption. In our project, roles were often blurred and without
clearly dened limits. We navigated between creation, procrea-
tion, and recreation without prior agreement, as did all sorts of
participants. This was inuenced by and inuenced temporality,
where kairos were cultivated over chronos [16]. There were no
xed working hours, one oated in what occurred. There were
only a few coordination points like deadlines and
performance times.
Yet, there are important factors that might extend beyond the
term produsage. If we go back to the storytelling situation, we
see that the collective also highlights someone who will man-
age the community’s knowledge[13]. There are some who have
the talent and knowledge to level information up to an aesthetic
experience. The project’s initiative and input did not arise from
an information need, but had an inherent power to create and
the desire to seize the world with a rich multivocal language, to
inspire aesthetic experiences. People who dene themselves as
artists, who were paid, created the project’s framework and the
arts council supported the project. It is necessary to stress that the
artists worked with as much intensity and commitment as in any
art project. The paradox and the tension was that they gave up any
ownership as soon as an artistic contribution was made.
5 · Metaphors
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: “metaphor holds two thoughts
of dierent things together in simultaneous performance upon
the stage of a word or a simple expression, whose meaning is the
result of their interaction” [17].
The metaphor has been understood as a stylistic gure of
speech, mentioned by Aristotle in Poetics. Traditionally, the meta-
phor had two functions, or belonged to two dierent disciplines:
Poetry and Rhetoric. The metaphor’s two functions are the crea-
tive and the ornamental: “The second seeks to persuade men by
adorning discourse with pleasing ornaments, it is what emphasiz-
es discourse in its own right. The rst seeks to re-describe reality
by the roundabout route of heuristic function” [17].
One of the pioneer founders of contemporary metaphor
research I. A. Richards claims that metaphor comes from some-
thing basic in our consciousness. We always think two thoughts,
or more specically, our thoughts are making comparisons. We
think two things at once and our thought creates an interaction be-
tween them. That is the way a metaphor operates [17]. A metaphor
is not a substitute – something instead of, something that occurs
when you replace a word. A metaphor is an interaction between
two concepts, it appears as a whole and cannot be replaced, can-
not be said in another way. In its juxtaposition of two concepts,
the metaphor takes something from the concepts and creates
something new. In this way, one can also say that the metaphor is
like a bridge between old and new knowledge. In the juxtaposi-
tion between the two concepts a number of specic connotations
is activated. The metaphor works as a lter in order to promote a
number of properties [18]. A cliché of a metaphor is: The girl is a
rose. The comparison evokes something recognizable latent in us,
it highlights certain properties at the expense of others. When we
see the concept: The girl is a rose, we do NOT think that she is red
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The Kromosomer project
Catarina Carneiro de Sousa and Heidi Dahlsveen 433
432
and has thorns.[19]: In this way metaphor confers an ‘insight’.
Organizing a principal subject by applying a subsidiary subject
to it constitutes, in eect, an irreducible intellectual operation,
which informs and claries in a way that is beyond the scope of
any paraphrase [15]. It is not the case that you can take any “two
concepts” and expect that a metaphor occurs by itself. It requires
knowledge, ability and talent to generate new insights.
In the virtual environment of Second Life the experience of the
body is mostly conceptual and not exactly an experience of the
esh. One cannot deny, though, a perceptual and sensorial aspect
to embodiment in desktop based virtual worlds, but they mostly
continue to be experienced through our organic body, not our
avatar body. That is the body that sees, shivers, gets aroused or
sickened by something. Yet, it’s the avatar that walks, goes places,
reaches for objects or other avatars, etc.
Jacquelyn Ford Morie emphasizes that the virtual world is not
completely imaginary, but is still “not fully based in solid physical-
ity” either [20]. This is a world that has abstract and variable di-
mensions, consisting of bits and ruled by conditional behaviours,
we experience in a metaphorical way, through simulations [21].
Lako and Johnson suggest the importance of metaphors based
on bodily experience, in how we think and act upon the world.
The authors consider that the ordinary conceptual system is fun-
damentally metaphorical – the way we think, what we experience
and what we do every day is a matter of metaphor. A signicant
part of our concepts are organized in terms of spatial metaphors:
up/down, in/out, forward/backward. These metaphors are rooted
in our physical and cultural experience [22].
The metaphor is fundamental to the way we interact with
the computer. When we drag an item from our “desktop” to the
“trash”, we are merely providing a command to the computer to
delete that object. Most current operating systems work through
this kind of metaphor which, according to Murray, is fundamen-
tal to the design of digital interaction [21]. As regards the avatar,
these metaphors are further extended, enabling one to feel as if
she can step into the computer and fully experience the virtual
environment. In fact, this metaphorical dimension of the virtual
body enables a poetic appropriation of this kind of corporality.
6 · Conclusions
Legends are already a way of trying to assimilate and give sym-
bolic value to the meaningless, a sublimation, an attempt to name
the prenominal: the other, the not normal, the one that looks “dif-
ferent” which we want to distance ourselves from; or the abject,
something outside both subject and object, prior to the subcon-
scious, something primitive not yet semiotized.
Often the legends portrayed the meeting with “the other” as a
physical encounter, but by using avatars in the metaverse one can
experience the embodiment of “the other”, this can be a process
of actually inhabiting alterity, possibly providing new tools to ex-
tend the language that can handle the feeling of meaninglessness.
Second Life avatars are unprecedentedly customizable, giv-
ing its residents the ability to become the designers of their own
avatars, making embodiment an aesthetical experience that is
in fact a creative one. The free distribution of the Kromosomer
modiable avatars promoted a dierent kind of relation between
artists and public, in a project that might stride against traditional
roles. Instead of expecting a solely contemplative audience to an
artistic performance, we proposed a shared creative process. This
included the collective creation of the avatars and the distributed
creativity that was constantly arising as derivative of the unn-
ished artefacts that we delivered.
This is in fact a very similar process to oral tradition, a cultural
storage that is readily available to anyone within a given commu-
nity, a distributed dramaturgy where each individual can always
contribute something to the ongoing process of building a story.
In this case, produsers could actually be a part of the story, as they
would literally go into another world to take part in the project.
This occurrence has similarities to the context of legend story tell-
ing – it is an event framed by ordinary life.
F3. Sameiro Oliveira
Martins aka Meilo
Minotaur, Little
Attganger playing with
his sister 1, 2012.
CONFIA . International Conference on Ilustration & Animation
Ofir . Portugal . November 2012 . ISBN: 978-989-97567-6-2
The Kromosomer project
Catarina Carneiro de Sousa and Heidi Dahlsveen 435
434
The way in which one takes part in it, however, has a meta-
phorical dimension, arising not only from metaphors embodied
in our interactions with computers, ¬, but because the metaphor
itself comes from something basic in our consciousness – our
thoughts making comparisons. A metaphor is not a substitute, but
the concurrence between two concepts; it functions as a lter, in
which a number of specic connotations are activated in detri-
ment of others. The insight produced in this way has a poetic
function.
The virtual body is a metaphorical one and therefore a body
of expression and language. If we think of the avatar as a body/
language entity, open to experimentation and possibility, then by
oering them copy-enabled, transferable, and most importantly,
transformable, we became more than authors, creators or artists:
we were partners in a shared creative and poetic ux.
To work in such a project is to follow the strategy of thought.
By freeing us from space and time and working with what arises in
creative meetings between diverse artifacts such as folk legends
and metaverse avatars, professional artists and amateurs, dif-
ferent disciplines, dierent interpretations, we achieve a poetic
function: “In service to the poetic function, metaphor is that strat-
egy of discourse by which language divests itself of its function
of direct description in order to reach the mythic level where its
function of discovery is set free” [17].
Kromosomer showed us a completely dierent way of work-
ing within artistic production. From there other parameters and
consequently other possibilities arose .
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... The meeting with 'the other' in legends poses social and existential questions. In this meeting the 'unnatural' occurs, which in turn constitutes the premises for both the work with avatars and the dramaturgy (Sousa and Dahlsveen, 2012). The meeting disturbs the identity and shows us how fragile social and cultural norms can be. ...
... In this way, the installation illustrated the whole concept of these avatars, the possibility of inhabiting alterity (Sousa and Dahlsveen 2012). Avatar manipulation in virtual worlds enables the experience of embodying 'the other'. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
The aim of this study is to understand how a shared creative process of construction of virtual corporeality in collaborative virtual environments becomes an aesthetic experience. The research is divided into two main but correlated themes: virtual corporeality and shared creativity. It is my purpose to find the relationship between the constitution of a virtual corporeality and the new processes of creative sharing and creation in collaborative virtual environments. I also aim to relate these two aspects to the new forms of aesthetic experience emerging from these virtual contexts. Meta_Body is the main practical artwork that sustains this investigation, an ongoing project since 2011. This is a participatory art project. Initiated in Second Life and in a tangible art exhibition (All My Independent Women 6th edition, at Vienna), it now continues in the collaborative virtual environment’s creative flux. Meta_Body focuses on two aspects: first, the avatar as expressive body, open to experimentation and potency; second, avatar building as a shared creative process and as aesthetical experience. Through the practice of avatar creation, distribution, embodiment and transformation, I aim to understand the processes of virtual corporeality constitution. I interrogate the role of the body in the virtual environment, its importance in engaging with the world and in self-expression, exploring its metaphorical aspects. The method used to implement this project is a shared creative process, in which multiple subjects come to be authors along different phases of the project. Through the embodiment and transformation of avatars, the artwork’s aesthetical experience becomes itself a creative process. This research is therefore grounded on an art-based and project-based methodology, whose results can be seen not only in this written thesis, but also in the artworks themselves, and their derivatives. I accomplished my intended goals and came to a new understanding of virtual corporeality and its connection to shared creativity and aesthetical experience. I believe this work to be an important starting point for new investigations that will arise with the new turn to virtual reality.
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