We are the Colliders: four women who met online in 2001 and formed the globally distributed cyberformance troupe Avatar Body Collision in April 2002. We collaborated from our homes in (mostly) London, Helsinki, Aotearoa/New Zealand and cyberspace. We have still never been all in the same physical space at the same time.
We devised and rehearsed online using chat software that is cross-platform and free to download, and then we made our own software, UpStage. Launched in January 2004, UpStage continues to exist as one of (perhaps the) only freely available cyberformance platforms.
In projects such as those of Avatar Body Collision, the play between the real women at once in
their domestic spaces and co-habiting virtual space with avatars, may ultimately afford greater opportunities for the
pleasures of "good theatrical nights out" and broad political resistance ... in this scenario, theatre re-conceived allied
to consciousness reframed has a radical potential like never before."
Prof. Robin Nelson: Keynote address for IFTR/FIRT XIV World Congress Amsterdam August 2002.
How did our performances work?
In our hybrid online-offline cyberformance, spectators saw one proximal performer (in the same physical space as the spectators), while three remote performers appeared on webcams and in avatar worlds, projected onto screens in the hosting venue. Narrative elements moved back and forth, across and between these multiple stages, webcams and online spaces.
Other shows were designed specifically for online environments and in direct interaction with the participating audience. We used existing web communities and tools like The Palace. Dress The Nation (2003) was created solely for the Palace environment, ie. all performers and spectators were online and represented by avatars occupying the same space. Since 2004, our work was been developed for the UpStage performance venue. UpStage is our own software development project - open source browser based tool for online performances with an element of audience participation.