13 Most Beautiful Avatars

13 Most Beautiful Avatars

Posted On: November 13, 2006
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13 Most Beautiful Avatars is the newest installment of Time Shares, a series of online exhibitions co-presented by the New Museum of Contemporary Art and Rhizome.org, in conjunction with Rhizome’s Tenth Anniversary Festival of Art & Technology. The exhibition, in Second Life’s increasingly popular Ars Virtua gallery, a virtual nonprofit arts organization will mirror the art gallery in which the newest work by Italian artists Eva and Franco Mattes (a.k.a. 0100101110101101.ORG) is being exhibited.
The Matteses have been living in the virtual world, Second Life, for over a year, exploring its terrain and interacting with its peculiar inhabitants. The result of their “video-game flanerie” is a series of portraits, entitled “13 Most Beautiful Avatars”. Not unlike Warhol’s entourage of stars, captured in the “13 Most Beautiful Boys” and “13 Most Beautiful Women” portrait series emerging from his famous Screen Tests, the Matteses’ “13 Most Beautiful Avatars” captures the most visually dynamic and celebrated “stars” of Second Life.”

The portraits reflect Second Life aesthetics, featuring the bright colors, “artificial” light, broad flat areas, 3D shapes, and surreal perspectives that are typical of this virtual world. Overall, the series draws on the technological developments which allow the creation of alternate identities within simulated worlds, and questions the impact such technologies have on art and society. Despite the relative newness of using video game-derived source materials, the avatars’ icons recall questions common to earlier eras of portraiture, including the cultural and psychological context of the images, and the relationships between high art and subculture, between contemporary art and “traditional” art forms, and between art and life itself.

The Second Life / Ars Virtua show is open November 15 – December 29, and the Italian Academy show is open November 30 – December 19.

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