De-inter-facement: 0100101110101101.org's portraits of second life avatars

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Cooke, G 2010, 'De-inter-facement: 0100101110101101.org's portraits of second life avatars', Convergence: the journal of research into new media technologies, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 395-410.

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Since 2006, the art duo 0100101110101101.org, aka Eva and Franco Mattes, have produced a number of ‘portraits’ of Second Life avatars. Collectively referred to as Portraits on the Mattes’s website, they are grouped into a series of exhibitions which have been shown in New York, Italy and Switzerland, as well as within Second Life itself. Critical reception has been mixed, with some critics appreciating the images as critiques of real-world conventions of beauty, while others have found them bland and banal. The artists, however, have stated that the Portraits series is their most radical work to date. With such wide variance in critical reception and artistic ‘intention’, it is worth asking a few questions: What is the significance of exhibiting portraits of Second Life avatars? What does it mean to re-present what is already a representation — and what is in fact being represented? And, given that the Portraits are predominantly close-ups of faces, and also that they are brought to us via a whole series of digital interfaces, what role do the face and the interface play in the production and understanding of these images?

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