Professor Noah Travis Phillips
Internet Art Cultures
May 4th, 2021
Midterm: Internet Artist Report
LaTurbo Avedon is an avatar artist and curator of internet art pieces who began exploring the realm of the anti-body, as brought up and addressed by Legacy Russell in her Glitch Feminism Manifesto, while in a strictly digital world in 2008. Her pieces frequently spark dialogues surrounding the literal physicality of the internet by using simulated realities or settings after originally being formed on the game Second Life. Some examples of Avedon’s most notable projects include Panther Modern (2013) for hosting 3D model files, Club Rothko (2012) which mimics a night club scene for avatars, and Hatsune which is a collaboration with a young singer to put voice synthetizations into popular songs worldwide.
The avatar LaTurbo Avedon is constantly growing, gathering, changing, updating to continuously form her ‘being.’ Avedon exists on pretty much every single form of social media, gaming, or internet hole because this is the only way she can be continuously developed, and ultimately keep up with the reality actively and simultaneously being created around her on the internet. Because of the length of her existence, Avedon has become a stronger force not just in recognition, but in literal structure beneath the ‘skin.’
By taking an avatar crafted with internet coding in its foundations or roots, understanding how we as developers can see and measure that sort of ‘persona’ strength which is often obtained after creating a figure with a sort artificial or reactive and everchanging intelligence. It almost feels a little bit easier to apply this seemingly abstract construct to human life: things come into our lives, happen to us, change, and overall have an effect on us. As humans just doing the day by day, we take these situations and apply them to our lives and grow or make changes surrounding from mistakes, successes, failures, all of it. This looks similar to how an algorithmic avatar may collect data and information from social media and other corners of the internet and directly apply that data back into the roots and foundation code they were built and 'born' on.
The overall theme guiding my research starts with the Avedon's piece Morning Mirror / Evening Mirror and the idea of staring into someone else’s realm from a screen and generally blurring the line between reality and digital. The newspaper article style framing the piece adds even more to this realism because it mimics something from our 'normal.' The emphasis of someone’s digital creative workspace being created in a digital realm through a mirror feels hyper realistic and throws us into this loop of either creating a mirror image of ourselves or someone else looking in through our screen with a more menacing undertone.
In finding an artists’ work in comparison to the style and feeling of the avatar artist LaTurbo Avedon, I knew I wanted to explore a great realist painter to mimic the reality blurring that surround Avedon’s internet art. Edward Hopper’s, an American realist who worked until 1957, pieces bring me a deep sense of surveillance and even voyeurism in certain cases just because of how strong the emotional context of his famous and consistently themed paintings is. The colors and detail bring in a consistent vibe that feels like perhaps you are the one watching or stalking someone through a window in their home or even through a restaurant. This felt very similar to the feelings brought on by the pieces by Avedon that I explored on a deeper level, emphasizing the tone that people are watching you through the windows on your internet browser where you are sharing parts of yourself. I have used Hopper's piece Office in a Small City due to not only the viewer of the piece being subject to watch this man in his small office, but we watch the man peer and pine at the city below him as well. This to me mimics Avedon's tranceful mirrors and triggers that sort of thought loop of who is watching who.
I think this entire windows concept can become even more conspiracy when exploring the idea that while Edward Hopper and LaTurbo Avedon both may have had models and inspiration from the world we consider AFK, the characters and models ultimately exist and live only within their window. The painted humans in Hopper’s pieces are stuck within what he has given us about them from behind the glass, whereas Avedon’s simulated reality and workspace truly does only operate within internet windows. This sparks curiosity in me around different realities more generally, as LaTurbo Avedon’s entire persona exists only in her own literal reality within that window.
Following up with LaTurbo Avedon's internet art piece, which was created in a Fortnite creative world, Your Progress Will Be Saved allows viewers to quite literally become Avedon's avatar. The screenshot on the right of the work depicts her avatar being spawned into this game world during a video tour being given of this new realm or reality. Viewers are right behind the screen watching this avatar to drive the mechanisms of a nonphysical, but seemingly physical world it created for itself. Because of the POV style, this piece and installation for Virtual Factory in the UK perfectly wraps up and summarizes this feeling of watching and surveilling a person or persona through either their physical windowsill or from behind a computer screen. While from our perspective, this plays like a simulation, while for Avedon, is this world more comparably an avatar vacation spot or destination?
Legacy Russell explores surveillance especially in the digital realm as capitalistic. Data and algorithms are working to keep users on the internet longer by measuring which next result will trigger you to continue on your infinite scroll of customized and tailored content, while breezing past advertisements and marketing targeted for a consumer like you. Russell mentions that despite this ever-looming presence of surveillance on the internet and watching our screens, non - conformation and interesting data points will continuously spew algorithmic results that may not match your actual persona AFK but captures and records the essence of what has been shared and revealed within the internet space. Interestingly enough for artist LaTurbo Avedon, this internet space just happens to be her ONLY existence. Maybe this blurring between reality and internet is actually just a newer way to understand actual human operations as well as internet measurement operations.