Angels, Avatars, and Virtual Ashes

Creative Work
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Description (in English): 

An audio piece about online memorials.  The voice on the recording is somewhat high-pitched and sped-up, like the exaggerated whine of a self-indulgent preteen girl. As we listen to the voice reading, we realize that it is reciting a list of comments attached to a YouTube video tribute to a young girl who has been murdered. The recording is simultaneously hilarious and disturbing, filled with talk of Angels and “virtual ashes spread across the Web.” Comments like “I miss her. She’s so beautiful in the pics. Who was she?” highlight the absurd and largely shallow nature of death as filtered by the Web, at the same time as the piece somewhat uncomfortably reminds us, even as we laugh at it, that we are part of the same circus too. Caught up in our everyday use of internet-­‐based communication technologies, we may tend to be blind to political and social ramifications that our uses of technology entail. A kind of flattening takes place when discourse transpires on the Web. Activities that we might under normal circumstances consider personal or private, such as mourning, become just another form of information. Relationships likewise become abstracted from everyday reality. Just as “facebook friends” are another class of relation than “real-­‐world friends,” so too mourning becomes another, public class of activity, such that it is possible both to sincerely grieve the passing of a girl you don’t know and to parody the fact that grief loses its power when it becomes just another class of information. 

(Source: Scott Rettberg "Words to light up a dark room: Electronic Literature")  

Technical notes: 

Sound work
duration: 6min 12sec 
Requirements: Latest Quicktime plug-in, headphones or speakers
Browsers: Firefox, Opera, Safari and Explorer



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Record posted by: 
Scott Rettberg