Virtual lovershttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/virtual-lovers/

Virtual lovers

Eva and Franco Mattes call themselves twins since they could literally stand in for each other. Not that they look alike,but this artist-couple do not define their separate spaces.

Italian artists Eva and Franco mind-bomb with provoking Second Life avatars

Eva and Franco Mattes call themselves twins since they could literally stand in for each other. Not that they look alike,but this artist-couple do not define their separate spaces. Both are born in 1976,both in love with art,music and online sub-cultures. They began working together since the age of 18 and have no intention of stopping now that they have hit big time.

Traveling by Telephone is their latest work that has made it from the Big Apple to Mumbai,for a showing at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke,Sunny House,Colaba,this January.

Lately,these New York-based Italians have been trawling the internet and following the proceedings of Secondlife.com,a site of online avatars. They have been lurking between the worlds of real and virtual for decades now and have come up with interesting findings. “People who make their avatars on Second Life are not,as commonly believed,unattractive. They are personable but want to have an alternate life on the internet,” says Eva,who along with Franco,has her virtual self posted on Second Life to perform interesting interventions.

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This show is divided into three smaller suites. The first sequence features Annoying Japanese Child Dinosaur,an avatar portraiture series which has been photographed from a large PC monitor. It stars online avatars,which can also be found moseying around in the Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG),Second Life.

“We have interfaced with the people we have made portraits of and if we found them interesting we would go to meet them in real-life,” says Eva.

Franco a hacktivist and prankster believes,“The internet is the next Renaissance in art. An exciting space for artists to experiment and interact has opened up,we must explore it,” says the techno geek.

The second half is videos depicting three synthetic (read,online) performances by their avatars. “Reenactment of Imponderabilia is a piece we were inspired to do by performance artists Marina Abramovic and Ulay. In 1977,Marina and her boyfriend stood nude at Galleria d’Arte Civica di entrance in Bologna. People had to brush past them to get in. We have done this virtually with our avatars,” says Mattes. “The point being that doing it online changes the whole physicality of the original experience,” she adds.

The couple have also done a Reenactment of the Singing Sculpture by performance artists Gilbert & George and Reenactment of Chris Burden’s Shoot where the online avatars of Eva shoots Franco in the arm. “We had people interacting with these works online and in Singing Sculpture one can even see them come online,” says Eva excitedly.

Interestingly,her online avatar is more bodacious than the artist whose waif-like image would probably be the more ‘in’ thing in today’s size-zero world.

The final leg of the show has captured landscapes and interiors taken from action video-games. “We have captured the protagonists of the games in a quiet moment,just before the aliens attack him to suck out his brain,” says Mattes humorously.

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The point of these landscapes is to present the melancholy of these seemingly mindless games-quoting the empty spaces of American painter Edward Hopper. “Is TV more violent than video games? We do not provide answers in this show,and only provoke houghts.”