Lara Croft <listen:do>

Somedays I don't really feel like myself. I feel kind of, what's the word .. meshy. I feel like there's somebody out there controlling my motion, pushing my buttons ... making me jump...and shoot... and kill... and run? I feel like there's somebody out there who makes my decisions for me, making me do things that a girl just has to do. This niggling feeling that somehow this is all just a big game

Without a doubt, Lara is one of the main icons of cyberfemme representations of the last decade. Apart from starring in the Sony Playstation game series <<Tomb Raider>>, Lara Croft has appeared in U2's 1997 tour, and was a central figure in Motherboard's performance <<Switch Bitch>> at Black Box Theatre in Oslo, 1998. She is currently the main attraction in the Elite Virtual Model Gallery, and also appears under the pseudonym of Rala Froct in Motherboard's net performance series <<Idoru>>, in collaboration with Toronto-based Michelle Teran.

Lara visited the Norwegian Folk Museum in the flesh on 20th and 23rd October 1999, where the public had the opportunity to try out their skills in controlling her. She "listened" and "did" commands they gave her through a user-friendly console designed by Motherboard.

Here are Lara's twelve commandments!

forward run jump backwards
turn left okay running jump turn right
walk to the edge action look back to the start

The public has easy acess to a simple console : a sampler with twelve buttons. The buttons are labelled with the commands as shown above, and when the public pushes these, a voice sample "says" the commands such that Lara can hear them.

Dancer Kristine Øren is Lara Croft! She occupies the space, complete with big tits, a rucksack, sunglasses, two blazing lazer playpistols - the works! She executes these commands with acute precision according to Lara Croft's movements in Tomb Raider. If she is commanded to run, she will run until she is stopped by a physical barrier (a wall or another person) in which case she crashes and says "ughhhhh!", or by the "okay" command, where she will nod appreciatively. If she receives a "turn left" command, she will keep turning left in her own spesial manner until she is commanded otherwise, and so on.

There are no instructions for the public, but the console stands in the middle of the floor and invites people to push the buttons. Once a button is pushed, Lara hears and responds, so it is pretty obvious what is going down. If the public don't get the connection at first, curiosity leads them to push again ... they see Lara respond.

Though dancer-Lara is pretty restricted by these twelve movement patterns, she has to work within the simple, but demanding structure in a creative manner ..... she has to link the movements together - create transitions. If she decides to dive and shoot on an "action" command and her movement is interupted while she is on the ground, by, let's say, "running jump", then she has to get on her feet before she can run.

So she continually choreographs transitions on the fly. Each movement command has it's own rhythm and speed - the dancer has to change immediately between, e.g., walking and running, she has to jump immediately into the air from, say, a more contained "Look" mode. Her expression must change from the teeth-baring shooting mode to the smiling, nodding "okay" mode.

The Playstation construction of Lara's movements is pretty cool .. a jump has a usable preparation for a human. The end of a jump, and a stop, involves three changes of weight, bringing Lara into a postion where she has a solid base - her weight divided equally between two legs. So it is possible for dancer-Lara to carry out these quick transitions in a split second after receiving the new command - but she has to be always aware and ready. She has to be uncomprimising, precise and extremely confident in her performance. Through her interaction with the commands, ie with the public, she recreates the rules of the exhibition space.

Walls and people are equal barriers - there is no distinction, except that people can move out of her way (if they see her and react that way). People become targets: if they happen to be in Lara's undiscrimating range when she receives an "action" command, or a "look" command .. she will look at them, or shoot them with her blinking lazer playpistols straight in the eye. She will crash into people who have their backs turned to her if they happen to be in her way .... so there is no chance of taking a passive look at her, and then dismissing her without leaving the space.

There is no ESCAPE