Theatre Experiment on Virtual Reality
The project „wonderland“ is about asking questions concerning virtuality using the means of classical theatre. By confronting classic theatre with digital virtuality we try to explore the power and strength of theatre, as a basic form of virtuality itself, and how it relates to the rather cold and soulless life in virtuality. We also wanted to see, how new media production can find its way out of the closed virtual context.
Virtuality has a long history in story telling of mankind.
From the greek Pandora to The „Theatre of Marionettes“ by Kleist or the Figures of Oscar Schlemmer, these Themes all deal with virtuality, with the search of human beings for an artificial being, the search for the perfect Alter Ego, if not for a better understanding of oneself through the eyes of a mirror- picture….
Carroll’s „Alice in Wonderland“
Alice is an autonomous human being, out of her fantasy she creates a world with a law of its own. With a world, in which language runs its own way and the world itself is upside down. The Alice stories are the ground base for what has become the Surrealism over hundred years later. The world in which Alice is falling in, is mainly hostile. She is confronted with absurdity – and she has to take a stand – make up her mind – she learns – but she emancipates from the forces she meets.
Alice in Wonderland as a story of search for identity.
We extended the surrealistic element, as for example the real life Alice has a monologue taking the parts of the so called avatars (virtual figures), but in fact the scene is a „talk within the avatars themselves“- so we as audience look in the very insight of virtual life.
The real life Alice has an alter ego Alice in virtual life. Both are getting sort of identical… The real Alice speaks for the virtual Alice and defends her or distances herself from her…
The avatars in Second Life are actual partners for the real life Alice, like in a dream she does not question them, she takes them as they are and asks her way through to the big party of the Queen of hearts. But the longer the story goes, the more the characters creep into the brain of the real life Alice, and the play ends in a kafkaesk accusement in front of the Queen.
This leads in the essence to the most interesting questions: How does virtuality affect our thinking? What kind of behavior result in dealing with eyeryday virtuality? Is there a certain sociology of virtual worlds? What does identity mean, in a world where your identity is exchangeable?
The virtual “second” Life
What is so specific in a virtual reality such as Second Life? What is new about virtual realities we are finding nowadays is, that the systems are getting more and more internal – meaning that we do not see a virtual figure outside of ourselves, but we are getting active part of the virtual happening. That means, the human body is transforming into a corpus, whereas the mind finds its way into new areas of fantasy and creates own realism. In former days one would find virtuality in figures or fields of projection.
Second Life enables a three dimensional perspective with its 360 degree camera views and cinematographic possibilities.
Nevertheless, we see Second Life as one momentary stadium of virtuality. There will be better graphics and digital solutions soon. The important fact is, though, that the matter of virtuality will not leave our thinking. For now, avatars don´t have an own piece of mind, meaning they are still completely directed by man. But what, when an avatar finds his own history, his own computer generated thoughts? The absurd constellations resolving out of this are not so far away. Here again the point of identity is mostly important.
Identity means a history. What, if a Avatar learns from his „Life“ as himself as an avatar- and for example can create himself in history, by having children? What, if he becomes a learning figure with sensitive feelings.
Theatre has the internal power of sensitivity. In the moment a real life person stands on stage, there is a moment of a sensitive area. In „wonderland“ we want to counter the sensitive theatre towards virtual reality. An experiment where not one show is the same – we encounter new people, different perspectives, …