Robots & Avatars is a programme delivered by body>data>space in partnerships with NESTA which “explores how young people will work and play with new representational forms of themselves and others in virtual and physical life in the next 10-15 years.”
Our work with social media and young people on projects like L8R and MyView made relevant my invitation to speak at their “Forum” event on November 25th and bring some of our young people along to participate in the discussion. It was quite a prestigious guest list including influential practitioners, entrepeneurs and academics. To be honest, though, I found some of the themes slightly esoteric with much talk revolving around the not so popular “Second Life” 3D virtual world platform and envisioning a world where we represent ourselves with actual robots.
I began my presentation by introducing images of some African ritual masks. Their use in ancient ceremonies demonstrates how old the idea is of using alternate personas, creatively realised, for social interaction in a cultural context. Once away from high end esoteric technology, it was time to present the L8R project. The discussion then revolved around young people’s natural propensity (perhaps as part of their personal development) for playing with and exploring identity through the creation alternate personas. Now realised through their engagement with social media.
The highlight of the event for me was witnessing 18 year old Danielle Vitalis (the character Queen B and editorial team member from L8R) delivering the most popular of the break out workshop sessions. She had the audience completely enthralled and captivated by her as she introduced clips from the L8R episodes and explained the project to the distinguished guests. Both sessions over ran with audience members wanting to continue posing questions and talking to her.
Danielle has this ability of staying true to who she is and where she comes from while delivering with charm and confidence an intelligent thesis on the work. She really is our best spokesperson and it’s always great to watch her work an audience.