Legal Lawbreaking

To understand Grand Theft Avatar, we must first understand its medium, the online 3D virtual world, Second Life. While it has a virtual currency, it is technically not a game in that there “is no manufactured conflict, no set objective” (Catherine Smith). It is, however, similar to what we know as sandbox games, and massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). As one of the oldest online multi-user virtual worlds, it became popular as a non-traditional medium for arts exploration.

An example of Second Life as a medium. Chouchou, a Japanese music group, builds custom maps where they perform their music live. This allows them to imagine and create their own stage, than having to pay a substantial amount to find a real place which may not suit them entirely. Additionally, it lets their music reach a wider audience.

Grand Theft Avatar, as presented by Second Front, hence shows a (now) common scene among any sort of multiplayer virtual world with enough freedom to mess around: that of freely doing what they wish, simply because there are no limitations in a virtual world. In this specific case, the performance group performs identity theft, “liberates” currency (through what is essentially a robbery), and escapes by flying on h-bombs.

The artwork in question. A classic case of people collaborating online to enact the random, for no reason other than that they can. This, in a sense, shows the innate desire within humans to live freely, where we are obligated to abide by society’s rules in reality, but not so in a virtual world.

This would be absolutely illogical and illegal in physical reality, but shows the simultaneous virtual reality of what is coined as the third space: a “fluid matrix of potentiality and realisable connections to the most far-reaching remoteness” (Randall Packer, 2014). Anything can happen, simply because the virtual world does not have the limitations of the real world, such as physics or law enforcement. Anything can happen, even the eponymous theft, or even creation, of a completely different avatar. Anything can happen, even across nations, as implied by Second Front’s team, which comprises of members from Scotland to Canada: it is not impossible to perform together even while apart.

Some other fun videos in the same vein:

Roblox: The Dark Truth about a Pizza Place

Roblox is a game creation platform, where assets are freely provided to users who can opt to find user-made games to play, or try their hand at making their own game. This clip shows… A rather quirky roleplay between strangers.

Garry’s Mod is similar to Roblox: however, it has a “base area” which is purely a sandbox, where people can interact freely without any sort of objective. Like Grand Theft Avatar, they can even come up with their own “stories” if so desired… Or just screw everything up.

Grand Theft Auto, a classic game to mess around with, exacerbated by that you ARE supposed to be playing as a criminal. GTAuto and GTAvatar certainly have similar names for reasons: the lawless freedom of doing whatever you want, and absolute insanity of it all at the very end.

(Featured image from here.)

    • Packer, R. (2014). “The Third Space.” Reportage from the Aesthetic Edge. (link)
    • Watson, J. (2008). “Media Communication: An Introduction to Theory and Process.” pp281-5. (link)
    • “About Second Front.” Second Front. (link)
    • 6ruy7n. (2017). “Duntoria.” Second Front Performance Arts. (link)


W1 Research: Unique Styles, and a gatecrashing Constructivism

Preceded by | Succeeded by

EDIT: Please note that there’s too much process and research for me to properly consolidate in one post, and thus I’ve included a Precede and Succeed system: click on the link to go to the post which comes before or after this one, respectively. The final full list will be put in the Gallery post too.

Here are some of the styles I’ve looked at which seem rather unique to me! It involves both 2D (typography and otherwise) and 3D.

My process is constantly updating and becoming convoluted, so I’ll leave it in a separate post.

(Here’s also a little snippet of some research I did on Russian Constructivism, which didn’t quite fit anywhere, but it seemed like such a pity to just delete it.)

Russian Constructivism (1913-1940)

  • Using art for social purposes, e.g. communication (posters), architecture
  • Mostly, but not entirely, apathetic (unless said emotion is beneficial to the purpose of the work)
  • Initially only applied to 3-dimensional objects, but later expanded to 2-dimensional
  • A suspicious amount of Constructivist work is “scientific” in nature, likely due to the rise of modernism and science/technology (post-Industrial Revolution), as well as the Russians attempting to express/present their society as a progressive society
  • A suspicious amount of Constructivist work is propagandic in nature, likely due to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution leading to a need to endorse the new government, where Constructivism was a convenient means of spreading propaganda

Keywords to describe visual qualities of Constructivism:

  1. Geometrical/Orderly
  2. Experimental/Abstract
  3. Apathetic/Objective
  4. Modern


W1 Summary & Artwork Spam Research

The term “open-source” is used to describe software, of which its source code is available for perusal and modification. This is in direct opposition of proprietary software, which restricts access to its source code. Predictably enough, however, the concept of proprietary software became pervasive once the profitability of software as a commodity was established.

A timeline of the history of copyright. It is not unusual for something profitable to be commodified, where closed source is a byproduct of that.

Essentially, the harshness of the closed source model resulted in

  1. The awareness that the “copyright” is not a singular, rigid right
  2. The rise of the hacker culture, and
  3. The rise of the open source model

As a software and creative model, it can be more beneficial to the creator to not completely control their work, especially if they have non-profit motivations, such as that of the desire for “a phenomenal effect on education and entertainment” (Paik, 1973). This encourages interaction between peers to improve upon each other’s contributions.

It also leads to a form of “living art”, where said art is dependent on real-time social interaction than prepared beforehand like traditional art. This places emphasis on the process than the result, where the meaning of the artwork is emphasised through how it is made than how it looks in the end. Artists can also further define “their autonomy against the dominance of mainstream culture” through this modern style (Garrett, 2014). By extension, it also has a profound effect on various forms of art, like performance art, social practice art and internet art.

For reference, attached are links to various artworks which rely on the unpredictable nature of social interaction, albeit with varying restrictions. A closely linked idea is that of social practice, incidentally, where social interaction is often an important way to express those messages.

The Second Woman (performance art) by Nat Randall, 2017 (1) (2)

Project Row Houses (social sculpture) by Rick Lowe (1) (2)

Permanent Redirect (internet art) by Donald Hanson, 2018 (1) (2)


(Featured image: Sunflower Seeds by Ai Weiwei, 2010.)

  • Garrett, M. (2014). “DIWO (Do-It-With-Others): Artistic Co-Creation as a Decentralized Method of Peer Empowerment in Today’s Multitude.” Marc Garrett. (link)
  • Packer, R. “Open Source Studio.” IEEE Potentials 34, no. 6 (2015): 31-38. doi:10.1109/mpot.2015.2443899. (link)
  • Vaidhyanathan, S. (2012). “Open Source as Culture/Culture as Open Source “ in Mandiberg, M. (Ed.). The Social Media Reader. NY: New York University Press. (link)
  • (2005). “Proprietary Software Definition.” The Linux Information Project. (link)
  • P., Natalie. (2006). “Who Are the Key Figures in Socially Engaged Art Today?.” Widewalls. (link)
  • Davis, B. (2013). “A critique of social practice art.” International Socialist Review 90. (link)
  • Meyer, H. (2009). “Audience as participant in Performance Art.” Inter Act Actuel. (link)
  • “Socially engaged practice.” Tate. (link)