Tehran Performance a Success!
My performance on July 28th, 2006 that was broadcast in the Azad Gallery in Tehran (Iran)turned out to be very succesful and a very fun and illuminating experience for me. Above is a picture of myself and the curator Barbad Golshiri doing a tech-check a day before the event took place. Barbad's avatar eyes acted as the Azad Gallery's camera into this virtual and interactive space.
The online world only crashed 2 times which in the Traveler Digitalspace community is a miracle.
This performance which was called
"Distro's State of the Union Address: A contingency plan for Cyberspace" opened up the opportunity for the Iranian Artistic and Intellectual community to interact and chat with my avatar and discuss the utopian possibilties for Cyberspace itself to act as a community of refuge and support.
This performance was also the first in a series of International performances being organized by Douglas Davis and his collaborative curatorial group called Extreme Solutions. Extreme Solutions is planning to host many more physical and disembodied performances between North America (Vancouver and New York) and Tehran. You can check out his blogs at: www.douglasdavis.blogspot.com
Here is the official speech from Extreme Solutions (authored by Douglas Davis) that I recited during the performance in Tehran:
"THIS AVATAR PERFORMANCE IS THE FIRST FIRECRACKER FROM EXTREME SOLUTIONS,
UNLTD;, CO-FOUNDED BY DOUGLAS DAVIS, BARBAD GOLSHIRI, NEDA RAZAVIPOUR,
AND JEREMY TURNER--THREE SOCIETIES ACTING AS ONE CULTURAL DISCOURSE, CONSULTING WITH NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, THE WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, JOHN CARL WARNECKE IN SAN FRANCISCO, FRANK GEHRY IN LOS ANGELES, AND OTHERS DETERMINED TO PROVE IN A SERIES OF PERFORMANCES THAT LIFE
DENIE DEATH, LOVE KILLS HATE WITH SHEER PLEASURE,, THE WEB AND THE BLOG
ARE THE FUTURE, GOD, ALLAH, JESUS, AND MOHAMMED ARE ONE, AND THAT JANE
BELL (Douglas's Wife - ed.)IS IMMORTAL, ALONG WITH ALL OF US NOW INTERACTING THROUGH MY AVATAR. WATCH OUT! WE ARE COMING AFTER YOU IN 2006 AND 2007 TO OFFER
YOU A BILLION-LINE ONLINE DRAWING IN WHICH YOU WILL BE THE SUPREME
So in addition to reciting this promo-text for Extreme Solutions I also delivered a long winded State of the Union Address modeled after Jimmy Carter's 1978 original address...here is what I recited in its entirety:
"Greetings Azad Gallery, Barbad Golshiri, Members of the Iranian artistic and intellectual community, Curators and Critics:
My name is Distro and I am one of the artistic representatives of the Digitalspace Traveler avatar community.
It has been about 5 years now since I first re-materialized in disembodied form as a square-head and later a red dragon head and eventually produced art comfortably as a free agent in this paranormal online dimension known to most of you as Cyberspace.
I appear tonight to fulfill one of my duties as an artist avatar in Cyberspace: to give to your artists—and to your physical Nation, Iran—information on the state of the Virtual Union.
Culturally, philosophically, and in spirit, the state of our Union is sound.
The realm of Cyberspace is a free domain, a global, a virtual and an ethereal domain—and so we will remain.
I want to speak to you tonight about who we are and where all of us, especially those in danger must go, about what we have done and what we must do.
Each generation and nation of artists regardless of cultural upbringing has to face circumstances not of its own choosing, but by which its character is measured and its spirit is tested.
Artists of this generation in Iran in particular have been the most connected in online culture in recent memory and so this is one of the many reasons why I seek direct solidarity with your various endeavors.
I am now pleased to announce that in 14th Century Iran, many artists in Tehran may no longer have to deal with feelings of isolation and desperation alone.
We can now play in a world where peaceful UN observers will never again be caught in the crossfire of this perpetual insanity, we call the “real” world.
At such times, the risk of feeling trapped inside the “real world” can be equally great. It becomes the task of artistic visionaries and avatars to call forth the vast and restless energies of your artists and intellectuals to transcend towards the future.
It's an achievement that belongs to every individual whether they be Iranian or Canadian. This unity ties together, and it towers over all our efforts here in Vancouver and Tehran, and it serves as an inspiring beacon for all of us who have chosen to transform from a human into an avatar.
As an Avatar, I've had to ask you, Azad art Gallery, and you, the Iranian people, to embrace the idea that in your year 1385, the virtual grass is finally greener on the other side.
We here in Tehran, Vancouver and in the Traveler community must move away from the specter of crisis management.
We must establish clear goals for the future-immediate and the distant future—which will let us work together and not in conflict.
Never again should we neglect a growing crisis like the perceived clash of civilizations, where further delay will only lead to more harsh and painful solutions.
Every day the offline population spends trillions of dollars on depleting material resources, watercolor kitsch, so-called “reality TV” and foreign wars.
This slows their aesthetic growth, it lowers the value of the dollar overseas, and it aggravates restlessness and technophobia when they are at home.
Now we know what we must do—increase creativity and connectivity. We must cut down our dimensional dependence on the material world. And we must use more of those pixels which are plentiful and more permeable.
We must be fair to people, and we must not disrupt an artists’ creativity and budget.
Now, that sounds simple, perhaps even Utopian. But I recognize the difficulties involved. My main task in Cyberspace this year, providing all involved still has a computer and modem connection available to consistently journey to this world, is Iran’s future connectivity.
We must continue the connectivity and further cut modem crashes and bandwidth deflation.
Now, I didn't have any simple answers for all these problems. But I am promoting a contingency plan that is working, because it's available, discrete, and new.
We will keep contributing our virtual welcome mats to maintain the momentum of the current cultural tensions and to keep open the lines of communication among the leaders of Iran’s Intelligensia.
We Iranians, Canadians and World Citizens (even Americans) have a great deal of work to do together as Avatars. In the end, how well we express our calling will depend on the spirit in which we approach it.
I am now available for the remainder of this evening for questions and answers you may have about becoming part of this growing Cyberspace community and for how one such as yourself can transcend your biological body and genetic identity and become a tele-dimensional avatar.
You and me and the Azad Gallery....We are an artistic community, a beloved community, all of us. Our individual fates are linked, our futures intertwined. And if we act in that knowledge and in that spirit, together, we can move megabytes.
Thank you very much. I am now officially available for any questions or casual correspondence."
My speech lasted about 20 minutes and then I was available for questions and answers from the Azad Gallery audience for the remaining 3 hours. The questions were great and very challenging. The topics of the questions ranged from the Baudrillardian concept of Hyperreality to the controversial topic of government survellience and community Utopianism and the ethics of escaping the pressures of the "real world".