This
is
Real
Virtuality

This is Real Virtuality is a photographic and text-based networked performance that occurred over exactly one year starting on the 25th of August 2013. The performance consists of a first-person narrative that recounts the experiences of an unnamed protagonist noticing colliding virtu/re-alities, that is the merging of 'virtual' and 'real' spaces, in their daily life. It is documented through the creation of a narrative-based weblog.

The performance employs several definitions of 'virtual' and 'real'. These include a general definition of what is and isn’t physical as well as a more specific definition that considers the digital context within which the performance occurred. Digital photographs were taken in 'real' spaces, including public, commercial and urban spaces, of anything that made reference to 'virtual', online or digital contexts. Texts were composed as if written by the protagonist to accompany the photographs. Combined as posts within the weblog, photographs and texts provide examples of a wide variety of 'real' forms that have been influenced by virtual contexts.

In addition, they develop the protagonists subjective and increasingly paranoid interpretation of experiences as a narrative that expresses a fear of the merging of 'virtual' and 'real' spaces. This merging is attributed to an unknown Other, termed as them by the protagonist, who originate from 'virtual' space to invade the 'real' space of the protagonist.

The invasion can be considered as procedurally similar to the “process of pushing” described in Robin Sloan's neologism the flip-flop. While the latter is a concept that emphasises the transformation of physical items by 'virtual' contexts, and this is what is documented in each photograph within the work, the former is a part of the performances narrative arc that emphasises the creation of a networked space juxtaposing, connecting and transforming the spaces of 'virtual' and 'real'.

My story began one day in late summer when I was food shopping. A small observation, I had seen it hundreds or thousands of times before. A sign encouraging me to shop online while I was currently shopping in store. Nothing unusual about that however the arrow, not on the surface of the sign but floating above it, as if poised and ready to interact with the sign. Why does the arrow feel like an extension of my hand? Why do I want to click the sign? These questions made me feel uneasy.
Home, my first day and already at breakfast I’m seeing printed GUI buttons and checkboxes. The ‘virtual’ image breaking out from the screen and trying to be a 'real’ three dimensional item is now appearing here.
‘Virtual’ iconography as a 'real’ thing - is the functionality of the 'real’ thing dependent on it’s use in a 'virtual’ space? What is the significance of 9:40 (pm or am?), May 8th and Interstate 495? Is this a message?
An internet or interactive dad? Just what does this mean? Perhaps it’s the first of ‘them’ in human form.