Research critique on Grand Thief Avarta By Second Front

Second Front is a performance art group based in a online virtual world called Second life. The social construct of Second life is very similar to reality, you create goods and sell them. This performance art is the embodiment of the third space itself. The third space is a virtual space which integrates two different physical spaces.

“The third space is a fluid matrix of potentiality and realizable connections to the most far-reaching remoteness” – Randall Packer

The characteristic to create anything and everything is especially evident in the above performance. Second Front was able to leverage on the games unique ability to alter the characters appearance and gender to create a totally different persona. In addition to this, Second Font parodied the Hibernia Bank Robbery, by altering the mastermind appearance to look uncannily similar to Patrica Hearst. (refer to figure 1.)  I believe that this is a commentary on how Hearst was not acting with her own conscious but as a puppet to the mastermind of the terrorist group, SLA. This is supported bay reports showing that the SLA threatened Hearst with guns prior to the robbery. The throwing and distribution of the money to the mass may be referencing SLA demands for the Hearst family to donate 400 million worth of food to the needy. I refer back to Packer’s quote, Second Front fully utilized the third space ability to create anything. Staging the above performance, while retaining the different references  would be impossible in real life. In Second life, Second Front were unconstrained by the laws, money, time, common sense and of course the ability to cast, Patricia Hearst (or a look-a-like) to partake in their work.

Figure1: the uncanny similarity of the disguise with Patricia Hearst

However as a social commentary of Patricia Hearst involvement in the SLA, may not come across as effective if it was performed in reality. As it is created in a virtual game, the value of life will never be the equivalent to reality. We have been desensitized to character deaths after all they are immortal. The severity of the issue isn’t as greatly conveyed.

Overall I really enjoyed this piece and think that it was greatly able to unique characteristic of the third space by working directly in the third space itself.


2 thoughts on “Research critique on Grand Thief Avarta By Second Front”

  1. Interesting comment about how in the third space, anything is possible. The creation characters, actions, and the transformation of reality are indeed all important elements of the third space. One additional thing to know: in the third space you can bring the local and remote together. In Second Life, the characters and the audience are all joined together in real-time in the third space. Also, please be careful about spelling, it’s Second Front, not Font…. Very good work.

  2. Hi Rei! I think you made a really good point about how reenacting parodies in real life can never hold a candle to parodies online. I read about how game design literature is specially intended to make players feel “immersed” in the whole experience in ‘Internet and Emotions’ by Tova Benski, and that people crave this feeling. By having this sort of sandbox game where everything can be customised, people feel like they are able to take some form of ownership of their own personas. With modifications also available in other games like different skins (in Left 4 Dead 2, Minecraft etc.), people can come up with a different personalised setting aside from the default story plot’s. The game functions are also so versatile, especially with the point you made about us being more insensitive about death when we play online games because we know that there are no consequences in real life if you shoot someone in-game. If someone made a parody and actually did it in real life, the consequences would undoubtedly be dire…

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