Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Living the Hyper-Real

The concept of space has much meaning for most people. There is public and private space. We inhabit spaces shared by others; whether a square, park, mall, or party, the social drive to share space creates feelings of togetherness and community. In private spaces, we enjoy our personal space, social interactions with family, roommates, and friends. Spaces can be locales of identity: Boys Town for a gay identity, Yorkville for an upper class identity, and quite popularly, Jane & Finch espousing a welfare identity and a racialized criminal identity. So space is so far geo-spatial, but space is also virtual. Sometimes representing physical landscapes like Second Life, and sometimes space is articulated in the exchange of communication and media through internet social networks like Facebook.

Are online communities fulfilling our social needs? Facebook allows us to look, to see one another in the ebbs and flows of daily life, with the control of constructing that representation in whatever way we choose. Myspace, once a location of static presentation of self, has become a billboardland for naive artists going pro on page hits, ranging from musicians (Lilly Allen) to porn stars (Tia Tequila). The blogsphere has given voice to millions. Blogs are used to discuss culture in as many ways as there are cultural perspectives to mention; textual cache that adds to the fabric of being. mp3s and music downloads, pirate or legitamate, have changed the way we interact with music. YouTube replaces MTV, iTunes replaces HMV.

Our neo-tribes are globalising. Gaining strength in numbers. Sharing experiences. Closing Gaps. An emerging artist from Toronto transmits to Berlin, Paris, London, Japan in days; goes viral; a band is born. F2M and M2F transformations captured on video diaries, shared experiences normalize, reify.

I want to go out tonight. I log on to Facebook. Check my events. Who's attending? Cool. You go out. Twelve hours later, the experience is logged in a series of images, and news feed items. Photoblogs capture the scene and create a record of who did what, where. Tagged images, comments, wall posts add to the story. Our lives re-presented. Representations inform us on our experience... the nuanced and idealized story. It tells us who we are, what we did, how we feel about it, until the next. There is a auto-feedback loop forming between our lives in the flesh and our lives in the virtual.

How do virtual space and "real" space relate? How does our used of the virtual change the way we represent the self? Do these representations change the way we see ourselves? Is the virtual satisfying some neo-tribal social need? A turn to the Dyonesian? Or to hyperspiritualism? These are a few of the questions this blog seeks to treat. Stay tuned.

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