Created for an online exhibition in conjunction with a Chicago-based event titled [inter]PERSONAL, “AVATARi” was the first extended CONTROL project of the Harvey Loves Harvey :: Year One website.

Inspired by Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, and particularly the idea of an ‘avatar’ that serves as one’s virtual representation in cyberspace, Harvey undertook the project of serving as avatars for each other in their respective cities.

Live online for five days, Harvey Loves Harvey (Matt and Jason) could only act if instructed, and could only go to places, eat foods, watch television or communicate with the world if the other member told them to. The rules were established at the beginning of the project, and both Harvey’s agreed on a grocery list to ensure that food instructions could be given and obeyed with total accuracy. Actions were monitored via webcam, actions were tracked similar to our TRACKING project, and all communications were recorded.

After five days, we closed the project and posed these questions: Can a person experience the world through the eyes of an avatar? Or is a mediated experience not experience at all, but merely entertainment?

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