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Dress The Nation
Colliders' performance diaries


Learning How To Kill, by Karla Ptacek

As Palace owners, 'gods', we can eject anybody from our server, and block their re-entry. This is known as being 'killed' - a rather dramatic name for a minor prohibition, which reflects the performative qualities of avatar identity: if you can't play, then you don't exist. We're often silenced in this fashion during online interventions, but have never used this option in our own Palace. I spent a lot of time with spectators 03/03 and was intrigued by the variety of behaviours on show - so much livelier than the usual 'performance of silence' by regular theatre spectators. But one incident raised many questions for me about online spectatorship: an avatar at one show erased our backdrop, graffitied the room, and spoke continuously throughout the performance. Vicki and I, still in character, tried to erase and repaint, and for a while we were all in some animated Jackson Pollock painting. Then I got a 'god' message from Leena: "Shall we kill her?" Nobody has ever asked me that before. I saw our show being obliterated and in a heartbeat replied 'Yes'. Its a moral dilemma, however small, and exposes some conventional expectations for spectator interaction.

Forced Conversations, by Leena Saarinen

What would you say to GW Bush if he suddenly came to your local pub for a beer? I’ve been interested in interventions because they can make visible some aspects or opinions in everyday life and force people to react up to a point where non-reaction is a reaction too. The purpose of our “Iraqi women” intervention was to provoke the people in the chat rooms to see the war from the point of view of the civilians, Iraqis and women. That happened to some extent but nothing surprising came out though: conversations were what one could expect. But, maybe the “substance” or “quality” of these talks is not in the core of the purpose of on-line intervention. The particular chat rooms that we visited were populated by people who go there to relax and have a casual chit chat. We were bullies that forced them to be serious for a change and talk politics. How annoying can that be?

Vicki Smith: Personal is Political is Personal

Having the audience in our palace was novel after all previous cyberformances, projecting our ideas to an audience 'out there'. There was a lot of chat and encouragement for the audience turning up and they were welcomed into the room where the show was to take place. Most shows went off like a dream, suitably passive audience members and interventions where the 'public' were unimpressed, even outraged with our appearance and protest. Throughout the night I enjoyed the chance to get among people that were potentially not 'the converted'. Some greeted us with pleas of "go take your political talk elsewhere" "ignorance is bliss" "it doesn't affect me i'm canadian" others were belligerent and many incredibly misinformed. The most rewarding actions were where people actually debated their positions a chance to experience just how 'media-washed' some people are, and for others to say what they really feel about what is going on. The strangest moment was when the call came to 'kill' an unruly audience member in our own Palace. How easily could we, in our 'protest against war', just snuff out a dissenting voice? With a keystroke, a switch flicked, a trigger pulled, a bomb dropped, an existance lost and in its place - the cold of void.

The Long Night, by Helen Varley Jamieson

One of my secret fears about this show was that we might have no audience, so I was pleasantly surprised each time I hauled myself out of bed after a couple of hours sleep to find that in fact people did want to see what we were up to. Playing Bubba Bush (and giving a fantastic impersonation of a bot), I was too busy to follow the audience comments during the show, but it was great to have them accompany us on the interventions. The presence of the online audience made a real difference to the performance. I felt like we were doing three things at once - performing, educating/introducing the audience, and protesting against the war.

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