Research Critique: Interview with Second Front

Wherever we go, something would crash!

On the 28th of October 28th at 11pm, we had the chance to finally meet the creators of “Grand Theft Avatar,” the Second Front. The interview was a rather refreshing and interesting one.  The members were all rather laid-back and I could tell that they were passionate in what they were doing as they did their own personal explanations.

It was intriguing to learn that they were not exceptions to backlashes from the public. When asked about this particular topic, Jeremy Turner actually brought up an incident where a guy was  able to “see his IP address” and in turn knows where he lives and threatened that he was going to come and kill him. While this may be sounded scary, I guess its a part and parcel for all artists. As had the virtual space made the Second Front free-er and more daring in what they could do, so did the public. Perhaps it was more easier to make such threats with the internet allowing for one to be anonymous and mysterious. This could be tied in with the abundance of cyber-bullying cases as well in our current times. The internet had not only allowed for artist to push boundaries but also for its audience as well, I found this rather interesting.

Identity was a big topic during the interview and it was interesting to learn about the backstories and inspirations that allowed for them to later form their avatars. Overall, their identities seem to be an alter ego and a blend of their favourite characters. When asked if it was easy for them to differentiate who is the “real me”, whether it was the self in real world or the second life self, almost everyone said they tend to be thrown into confusion all the time. Is this virtual leakage happening? With games like Second Life allowing for easy access to take over someone’s else appearance and identity, one could easily switch their identities around easily. They had the freedom of expression too.

Grand Theft Avatar was a live performance where Second Front attempted a local bank heist, where the Linden Treasury was robbed. The robbers then flew off in helicopters, freeing the loot from the sky in the process. In this performance, members of the Second Front started off with their usual virtual identities, and then changed their avatars to impersonate the members of the panel, before embarking on the bank heist. Aside from the inspiration from trying to replicate an actual event, was changing their avatars part of an attempt to disguise their “real” self? Just like robbers in the real world, they would tend to cover up or disguise themselves before attempting their heist in prevention of being caught or recognised. I think it was interesting as to the self in second life is technically not real yet with more and more time and effort invested into it, this “real self” becomes more “real”, sometimes even more real than the real life one. I felt that their was a blur and leakage  in how actions and behaviour is been carried out in both in the virtual and real. Also with the title of their work to be Grand Theft Avatar, it had a lot of resemblance to the game, Grand Theft Auto where players can just steal other’s cars. With it being Grand Theft Avatar, was the emphasis more on robbing identities instead of a bank heist of Lindens?

1 comment

  1. I agree that the idea of “virtual leakage” relates to the idea of how our sense of reality is transformed by moving back and forth between the real and the virtual. As you point out, that seems to be the foundation of Second Front’s work, an exploration they seem to enjoy immensely. Excellent piece, though I would have like to have seen some visual elements incorporated into your essay.

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