(image of Rala Froct from Mteran's idoru website)



the_living: tonight is body language night where i wanted to see if we could think about the limited visual experience

the_living: of the videoconferencing environment

shm: well, color is my limit presently

shm: but yr thought is interesting

the_living: are you familiar with erving goffman? a sociologist

the_living: erving goffman was (you are the only lurker jt)

the_living: a seminal sociologist

the_living: that categorized behavior

the_living: and poses

the_living: facial expressions

the_living: and i was wondering the last week about this in the videoconferencing environment

the_living: because folks are always sending video of their faces

the_living: well.... yes, also they send video of their stiff weewees

micha: because conversation always occurs between faces

the_living: jt is a visual image in my private space. that's the best you can do, right now, babe, until you get a pci port bridge thingie

the_living: ah micha is exhibiting now a very feminine behavior

S: go back to color living

the_living: she is exhibiting the 'feminine touch'

the_living: vidconf..... not often used

the_living: women

the_living: put hands to mouths

the_living: men never do

the_living: men stare

x: never say never, i put hand to my mouth all the time.

the_living: men have almost always a frontal camera position

x: you know this.

the_living: but x, gender,

micha: the man i have with me now is simply staring

the_living: is your personal playground

x: lol

the_living: i got a veritable bble of facial expressions right here in front of me



Hello my name is M@ggie and I am a persona. Since 1995 I have been performing via video conferencing facilities available on the internet to anybody with a computer, a telephone line, a modem and a camera. I'm also a cyberfemme and what makes me a cyberfemme is my very special tool, or weapon if you like. Hang on, I'll show it to you [pulls out a plunger]. This tool epitomizes the digital-gender-binary form we so often hear spoken about connected to cyberspace, being both feminine and masculine at the same time. 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1. Well, I hope you are all enjoying the show and if you haven't seen me in the flesh yet, I can assure that you will soon."

(From a RealVideo segment from M@ggie's archives. Performed by Amanda Steggell.


Digital Personae - Michelle Teran

"In the future, will the richness and diversity of your life online exceed that of your life in the physical world?"

D.A. Solomon

Saturday , 1:34 pm. I have just logged off my computer after spending some time chatting, transmitting and receiving visual fragments with my friend Ulf. The meeting took place in a private cyber room using ivisit, a videoconferencing software. He lives in Norway, I live in Toronto. Since acquiring my modem and ISP account a little over a year ago, my involvement within the Web community has grown from sending the occasional e-mail, to participating in live, on-line text and video-based chat sessions.

I have observed that within this domain the languages used for communicating are slightly different from those used in face-to-face conversations. There is a restructuring of body language and the written word facial expressions and gestures are encoded into written text, and some phrases are abbreviated, possibly to account for slow typing speeds. Actions and expressions turn into stage directions similar to those in a play. Visually, there is careful framing with the camera. The way that you present yourself, what is being broadcast, becomes your digital persona.

Debra Solomon and Amanda Steggell, two artists currently working in digital environments, have been instrumental in helping me to understand and develop my digital persona. Both women produce interactive videoconferencing performances. Solomon (the_living) and Steggel (M@ggie) explore the existence of the on-line body to illustrate the many ways that digital personae can be represented and perceived.


In 1997, Debra Solomon created her digi-persona, the_living, a purely digital body whose psychological makeup is based solely upon her interactions. The_living, considered a separate entity by Solomon, interacts with her audience by holding mobile CU-SeeMe and radio broadcasts, providing a forum for relevant issues concerning on-line existence, mind uploading, cryogenics, transhumanism and the use of body language within a videoconferencing environment. Occasionally these broadcasts take place in challenging physical situations for example, from the bottom of a pool, or rowing around one of the canals in Amsterdam illustrating the unlimited possibilities within the digital world and the many ways that we can be connected. According to Solomon, "I already have a life, and my priority this year consists of providing the visual and narrative for [my] digi-persona, the_living. Her life consists only of what I give her to live plus her interaction with others on-line."

As her project progresses, Solomon will allow the_living to exist twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. By embarking on a global journey to the "birthplaces of digital mythology," and by broadcasting from these mythological sites, the_living will be able to contextualize her on-line interactions further.


Since 1995, Motherboard (aka choreographer Amanda Steggell and musical director Per Platou) have created performances which relate to digital pop culture and explore the interactivity and sometimes seamless connection of the digital and real-time body.

In M@ggie's Love Bytes, three dancers and a female mouse make up M@ggie, a persona who interacts with her on-line audience through sound, text and videoconferencing while also performing live within a public space. She is accompanied by her male musicians, Nood, and a whole bunch of shareware.

Motherboard's recent project, Switch Bitch, focuses on the definition, of cyberfeminism, or rather, its current ambiguous state. Drawing upon a years research into the many interpretations of cyberfeminism, Switch Bitch is a live event where the audience is offered several simultaneous interpretations of the cyberfemme through a real-time mixing of performance with interview footage. The on-line dweller is provided with a selection of links leading to cyberfemme sites (Orlan, Sandy Stone, Venus Matrix, and others).

Since writing this article I have discovered that more and more artists are using the internet as their performance playground. As with projects by Motherboard and the_living, the on-line body is redefined through videoconferencing performances or other live-internet events. The relationship between the audience and those that are performing is intimate yet detached: everybody hides behind their digital personae. The line between the audience and the performer becomes very blurred and everyone ultimately performs for each other.

Michelle (Micha) Teran is a Toronto artist.

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