Monday, April 16, 2007


On top of the Eiffel Tower in New Paris; From rear to front:
Gazira Babeli, Great Escape, Wirxli Flimflam, AliseIborg Zhaoying,
and special guest, Second Life foster daughter of Wirxli, Fwwixli Swindlehurst

On Friday, April 13th, Patrick Lichty (Man Michinaga) and Scott Kildall (Great Escape) along with Second Front opened for ‘Crossmediale 2’ an international new media event held at Chicago’s Gosia Koscielak Studio and Gallery. Both Second Life audiences and real world gallery visitors enjoyed a projected online performance that had Second Front avatars enact textual performances that were ‘communicated’ through the avatar spirits of four dead performers – Tristan Tzara, Ana Mendieta, Charlotte Moorman and Rudolf Schwarzkogler.

Online sources of Dadaist and Surrealist texts were entered by the avatar performers into the Altavista’s translator engine, Babel Fish, which were then processed through numerous times to produce often confused and ludicrous meanings. As part of the projection, Second Life’s chat history window showed the translated text next to one of the four dead performer’s names; the text also appeared in thought bubbles above the heads of the performing avatars depending on who entered the original text.

Sources of text included French Surrealist poetry of Andre Breton, Louis Aragon and Pablo Picasso and excerpts from Neal Stephenson’s highly-celebrated Science Fiction novel, Snow Crash, in which its characters delve into the origin of languages and the biblical Tower of Babel. Second Front avatars also improvised their own textual scripts that provided a responsive immediacy to the work that further produced the disconnections and ruptures between language and meaning.

This re-processing of text through a language translator generates a hybridism of natural human language and computer coded language which in turn, remind us how it is software, not we as human beings, that ultimately shape our online interpersonal experiences and communication.

A video performance of Translations/Tower of Babelfish will also show at the Bridge Art Fair in Chicago, April 27 – 30, 2007.

Special acknowledgements:

Gosia Koscielak
for inviting us to perform.

Patrick Lichty (Man Michinaga) and Scott Kildall (Great Escape) for getting us these gigs and for videotaping and taking care of all the technical details of the performance!

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