Archive for the 'anthropology' Category

Identity: agent.indvidual.territory

2006.07.25 (Tuesday, July 25)


A) At Paris’ Musée du Quai Branly, a current exposition asks, “What is a body?” The response comes from the world of comparative anthropology, and presumes that :

  1. the body, while perhaps an individual entity, is not, in terms of a society, a private one;
  2. the body is not a finished object, but rather a public fabrication;
  3. one is not alone in his or her body. We are constantly elaborating a relationship with something that is not a part of us and that varies from culture to culture. It is an important differentiating element between cultures and societies, whose differences can be traced to this significant other. [More detail after split]


B) In Second Life (SL), “I” am composed of three distinct mechanisms [taken from the LSLWiki]:

  1. an agent, the “client’s presence within a simulator“;
  2. an avatar, the “visual representation of an agent”; and,
  3. a camera, through which “an agent sees” the world.

These 3 elements permit me to perceive, interact and communicate in the SL spatial, natural and social environments. But taken together, these otherwise local, simple and omni-functioning elements have one essential, global ambition: to represent Me, and to make tangible my POV. It is thanks to the fundemental engagement between agent (individual) and simulator (context), that I exist.


C) In SL, I am not alone inside of my avatar. I share it, like in the anthropological body, with something that is not a part of me. The contemporary body is defined by the tension between its individual limits and its shared, common evolutionary and biological structures (as represented by a strand of DNA). This conflict is played out by man thought the creation of symbolic imagery, projected by his technologies of cultural and communication.
The body in SL is the result of the tension between the individual agent and the world’s simulator; where, if we substitute the term simulator (or sim) with territory, then “I” am defined by the tension between the sensory limits of my SL agent and the territories that I occupy at any given moment. My agent becomes both my reactive and receptive nervous system to capture external stimuli, and my connection to the consensual, communal spaces of this virtual territory. It is this territory (via the simulator) that lets me possess the essential cultural capacities of memory (of ideas and things, shared and individual), media (think, make and do; ideas, material, action) and space (personnel and public). Read the rest of this entry »