Monday, February 19, 2007


Second Front infected by Code Deforma! From left: Great Escape, Man Michinaga (with guitar), Wirxli Flimflam, Tran Spire, Alise Iborg; Far right: Tea Chenille trepidatiously looks on.

Dear Performance Art Fans,

On February 11th, 2007 Second Front performed Spawn of the Surreal at the NMConnect Campus (New Media Campus) as part of the Chaos festival program organized by In Kenzo. Spawn of the Surreal was a three-act performance with the first act comprising of a spectacle of avatar B-flick horror as members of our audience, unbeknownst to them at the time, mutated into Cubist-like configurations as they sat in the scripted staircase chairs that were part of our installation.

Second Front's Alise Iborg observes audience members deforming.

The idea of mutating avatars came to us when one of our members, Gazira Babeli, reported that one of her code scripts was behaving badly and deforming her avatars. Second Front took this as an opportunity to interrogate the idea of beauty and perfection in avatar beings since it seems that human simulation in Second Life and generally, in other virtual worlds (ie: multiplayer online games), there is a compulsion to create physically attractive avatars. What better way to interrogate this remediation of Classical idealism than to ‘infect’ fellow Second Life beings with our ‘bad’ code a.k.a. Code Deforma which produced elongated arms, inverted heads and contorted limbs!

Spawning is Wirxli Flimflam in pink, Alise Iborg in lab goggles and Tea Chenille with miniature head.

Enclosed within our "No Entry" border tape, from left: Alise Iborg, Tea Chenille, Wirxli Flimflam and Tran Spire.

The title of our performance came to us after much back and forth discussion and we finally settled on Spawn of the Surreal which we liked because it encapsulated the Fantastic of the B-horror film genre and the kind of Surrealistic operations of disturbance, disorientation and rupture that we were planning on releasing on our audience (at least one audience member fled in terror with his avatar still deformed)!

Infected by "Code Deforma", "spawned" audiences trample Second Front member, Tran Spire (the one in blue) as they flee the stage!

With the closing of the first act, I witnessed not only avatars fleeing the scene but also others requesting more deforming, or ‘Gazzing’ as one audience member put it (a fitting tribute to our coder, Gazira Babeli), Second Front performers joined in on the spectacle, performing a variety of shape-shifting animations.

I felt like I was participating in a morphing dance of sorts as our limbs and bodies were wrangled into bizarre forms.

Our morphing dance encompassing a frenzy of spastic movements, makes it almost impossible to know who is who! From left, Gazira Babeli in red, Alise Iborg, Tran Spire, Man Michinaga (with guitar) and Tea Chenille in far right corner.

Unexpectedly, part of our dance went aerial when myself and others were flown out of the space - a very disorientating experience indeed!

Flying "spawn" - Alise Iborg with unknown "spawn" at left, and in the background right, is Gazira Babeli.

The third and final act of Spawn of the Surreal involved Second Front members making a group sculpture out of barricades that we used at a previous performance entitled, ‘Border Patrol’ part of JC Fremont’s Imaging Place SL: The U.S./Mexico Border at Ars Virtua.

Beginning formations of our group sculpture.

The barricade sculpture at times, seemed to take on the forms of Cubist geometry and also made me think that our 'infected' avatars were conspicuously coded to create a totemic idol of worship to "Spawn" - I think, either way, a perfect tribute to our spectacle!

Please read on for recollections of Spawn of the Surreal by other Second Front members.

Virtually yours,
Alise Iborg a.k.a. Penny Leong Browne

Wirxli Flimflam's Recollections:

Hey there performance art fans,

Feb 11, 2007 marked an important date for Second Front. This was the first time that we let the audience become the performers for a change :-)

If we “performed” at all, it was all to lure the audience into sitting on Gazira’s scripted seats which would mutate their avatar’s appearance to become the “Spawn of the Surreal" which became also became the “spectacle of self-consciousness”...heh heh!

Many members of SF acted as ushers (complete with flashlights) and insisted that a performance event was going to occur. Since the theme of the sim for this event was “Chaos”, we figured that continually goading and frustrating the audience would simulate a potentially chaotic situation.

A personal highlight for me was trying to convince one of the audience members that he was at the correct campus event... He was there do see a concert in a nearby sim area (also in the “chaos” section of “Outreach Island”), and I insisted that he was indeed in the right place and that the musical performance would begin shortly. He sat for awhile and then his intuition got the best of him and he realized he would need to bail fast if he wanted to catch the musical concert. Fortunately for us, he still sat in our of Gaz’s chairs and became a member of the "Spawn of the Surreal". He also had difficulties getting out of the exit door – he sure was considering alternative exit strategies! Heh heh!

My only regret was that I kept on getting airlifted out of the performance space (probably by a mutated audience member), this prevented me from properly participating in our impromptu performance sculpture towards the end of the audience-mutation portion.

I would imagine this performance at the NMConnect Campus that was organized by In Kenzo will be one of our last formal and official performances for a little while because we as a group are itching to do some more top-secret performance interventions. We are definitely wanting more balance in our lives :-)

So, stay tuned next for archives of previously unpublicized events... If you are lucky, you will have managed to fluke upon seeing us execute one of our most recent performances!


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