Tuesday, March 9, 2010

S/he raped me with his/her eyes

The Rape in Cyberspace ( Dr. Bombay?) and social network sites (Boyd)- seemed to be viewing the psychological attraction of virtual and cyber spaces as expressions of real experiences and dynamics in private and public spaces. The social network piece mapped the use of social networks by teenagers to the desire and need of teens to move from private places to public spaces. It is in public spaces where teens navigate and perform their identities. The VR piece also dealt with the formation of identity. The author made a case for the formation and expression of identity in the community of Lindamoo, and also seemed to point to how identity is conditioned by the community. (Ex: the change in the author, and the reincarnation of Mr. bungle)

Isaw an interesting tension between and individuals desire of agency and society’s control of the individual. Individuals desire agency, and conditions which simulate free choice, expression will. (these conditions must necessarily exist outside of RL society because we are never free to make our own choices, in society). VR allows users to create public spaces and community that are ideals of real society.

I felt the central argument was underscored by :"VR and RL are parallel and the meaning and implication lie in the gap between the two" The central tension that arises with the internet and VR, is exactly that the virtual becomes assimilated into the real and vice versa. What happens when you stop being able to tell when one ends and the other begins? That type of question is addressed by the media when for instance: a Grand theft Auto player murders someone in real life. Or when facebook relationship statuses cause jealous ex boyfriends to also murder their exes or the new boyfriends (excuse the gender implication here, I’m sure women could do the same, Ijust haven’t read any articles about it), Or also when a American Idol contestant is eliminated off the show and decides to commit suicide outside of Paula Abduls home.

The article directly addresses this question, "where does the body begin and the mind end?...is not the mind part of the body?" What constitutes the real and the virtual when computers, social and imagined networks , tv, become a daily and inescapable physical presence in our lives? ALAS and YET AGAIN, i cannot help connecting this to the simulacrum, and now the Lacan’s absent history effect. The article says that the rape in cyberspace "produced physical responses to unreal stimuli" ie the tears of the "rape victim". So what we are seeing in the VR phenomenon is something that theorists have described for a while now.

I want to complicate this idea a bit. Here goes, So..... lets say that representation (not real) produces real measurable effects in the real world. What happens to the real when we create fiction from it. VR and Social networks seem to be based on real spaces that we then inhabit physically. (Stay with me) So then what will happen when we are able to simulate IDEALS, which are unrealized in the real world but nonetheless models to strive for?????? I think this is kind of what we are seeing in virtual reality. LINDAMOO is an IDEAL SPACE, every player has equal agency, they are authors who can control what happens, and create what they imagine. Ideals are based on reality but are untrue. Fiction creates real responses. and now we have reality creating fictional responses (i use fiction not in the literary sense but in the imagined)

How is what WE are doing - using theoretical lenses to understand real phenomenon - any different than whats going on here??? Okay so now i lost my thought.....

I want to get back to the idea of AUTHORSHIP presented to us in the VR rape piece and to some extent the social network. Both Lindamoo and social networks allow users to "write their identities into existence" and therefore they control how they are perceived by their peers, and society. I think this deals with a question of agency. Social networks are imagined, idealized spaces where users can exercise a certain free will, or agency that is denied to them in our real society.

Are they then utopias? i think Foucault would argue no because these utopias are frustrated by the very fact that they are predicated on language. Language in and of itself is a structure, that inhibits real communication, by confining and restricting meaning. This i guess brings me to the ultimate question of language. Does it confine us or liberate us. Does it restrict or enable thought and production? WHAT ARE ALL OF THESE PIECES SAYING ABOUT LANGUAGE? And now we have all this new media stuff which is based on mathematical codes and language, and which we also respond or interact with using symbolic language. So that is where im stumped…. Is Language our captor or our liberator? Does it even matter because we are all on a boat anyway?

Friday 11 section.

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