Swimming in the virtual aquarium with an abnormal body
Upon encountering an emerging technology, I envision boundless ‘possibility.’ The anticipation of an uncharted technology latent with the capability of which the unconventional realm allows the transcendence of mere bodily experiences within a limited environment. How humane is it to endow every possibility in self-redemption with a foreign technology? The images created by the artist TZUSOO are infused with possibilities that provoke the imagination. I had intended to unfold the story on the improbable imagery utopia pertaining to a virtual space. The narrative is about a body liberated from confinement and the world uncommitted to superficial normalcy and rules. Nevertheless, the nature of man-made technology inevitably reflects human limitations. Although I have not yet fathomed the origin of TZUSOO’s ideology on a virtual world devoid of the existence of a planet in the real world,
this critique pursues the understanding of the artist’s approach by aligning the perspective in parallel with the artist’s idea.
File - Open: queer
We continue to reproduce conventional normalcy derived from a far-fetched utopian ideal. Humanity abides by the traditional idea of gender binary determined by a person’s genitals and the state of abnormality defined based upon a prescribed condition of normal. Albeit as a self-acclaimed queer or enlightened by a novel movement of feminism, we are profoundly acclimated to a long tradition. It is not because I am skeptical about a change for the better, but in fact, we cannot abruptly dismiss the accustomed experience and doctrine of humanity. Unfortunately, the long-awaited time hasn’t yet come. Since at birth, where there is a gaping hole in the record of our lives, we are given a distinct zodiac sign. Each cell from the body ingrained with every moment from memory cannot be redesigned by a change of name or gender transition; thus, we haven’t won liberty. The term ‘queer’ is reminiscent of the practice by which I withhold the inheritance of the traditions onto the next generation. Therefore, I don’t associate ‘queer’ with liberty, rather, the term precisely indicates an infringement on freedom. It is similar to weight training that requires a stubborn resistance against deprivation; as common amongst a myriad of training, such exercise often feels like an evanescent pursuit.
Background — locked
The facade of the virtual world ostensibly manifests a space of liberty where we can choose to design a body. In a world where the notion of gender is in vain, we form a new body as we are introduced to the realm of the dysfunctional body system. We can customize the skin color, gender, shape of the eye, lips, and height. The custom design of the body interprets ‘possibility’ that is undoubtedly perceived as an absurd idea in the real world. It may seem to be as queer according to the aforementioned practice. However, as we are oblivious of different forms of the body besides ours, again, we confront impossibility. Despite in the world of infinite possibility, we are only permitted to make decisions with options of gender, race, and skin color from the spectrum of the color palette from pale yellow to dark brown. Although different virtual worlds respectively incorporate limited or extensive possibility, a graphical representation, avatar, depicts humans subjugated to the tradition. Therefore, a male character is not allowed to dress in clothes designed for female characters — despite someone can claim on a technical error — an excessively sexualized fictional avatar is commonly found in media.
In this regard, our virtual reality may have disclaimed boundless possibilities. The fictional characters often employ features far from what exists in the real world. An avatar gets wounded several times over and resurrects with an intact body, and its agile movement fosters upon the removal of clothes. The body portrays aesthetically developed muscle or exaggerated breasts. When creating an avatar, we primarily consider elements never experienced in reality to render the aesthetically refined character. The character captivating idealized appearance embodies the symbol that interacts within the virtual reality. Virtual reality emerges as the moon in the shadow of the earth. The impossibility of virtual space masquerade as utopia eventually discloses as secular desires of humanity.
Layer 1: <My Aquarium>
<My Aquarium> by TZUSOO encompasses the defiance towards the renunciation and impossibility. The work rejects the limited human body and the humanly desire to return to the body. Human interprets as an unidentifiable form of the body whereby its function is unknown. It becomes an object and structure in virtual reality. The question of whether it is breathing or not doesn’t matter anymore. TZUSOO’s interpreted portrait defies prerequisite conditions for the finiteness of humans amidst the world of infinite possibility. The portrait renders amorphous forms unlike any living things to our knowledge; it seems to express an ethereal creature.
The expressive nuance embraces the challenge against the idea of the normalcy of the body; TZUSOO’s portrait captures queer weight training. As <My Aquarium> displays queer body in everyday life, the self-defining of queer adopts integrated depiction. A queer body stemmed from ‘abnormality’ is situated in the body that practices queer activity in the real world of ‘normal.’ An ordinary space where the queer body belongs to merely suggests the space of normalcy for which the ‘double’ portraits vicariously supplement each other. The queer body, in reality, is perceived as a virtual body with which the possibility of utopian liberty is elevated. As the virtual body is connected to the queer body, in reality, it further envisions a corporeal presence. The complementary double portraits disapprove of identifying virtual reality as an alternative possibility or shadow of reality. ‘Double’ images from the interpreted portraits blur the boundary and closely adhere to one another.
Layer 2: <Ultra-Hygienic Exhibition>
When an image reveals its intrinsic nature in the digital image, the digital alludes to newly implemented order. <Ultra-Hygienic Exhibition> offers as the exhibition space for <My Aquarium>, audiences are invited to immerse themselves in the new orders to navigate through the exhibition. Audiences join the exhibition space configured in an unconventional platform with their avatars christened with a name. Nevertheless, they fail to render a whole body and struggle to move. Audiences also don't recognize each other on the platform where they reside in an idiosyncratic timeframe and space. The artist repeatedly asks the audiences for their names.
Every part of the human body is elaborately designed for a distinct function, that is, all parts of the body 'function' in their own way. The stomach functions as a digestive system, blood cells carry the oxygen, human skin is for the protection and muscle functions to produce force and motion, and sex enables reproduction. Even if human utilizes body parts as a means of expression and pleasure in the world we live in, the original purpose of the body entails the functionality. Hence, an avatar has the 'body of impossibility' in virtual reality, and it is a silhouette outline consists of color data. The impalpable avatar is incapable of fulfilling a biological reproduction even with gender. Its muscle is dissociated from the bodily response, but the user's direction key manipulates its movement instead of the avatar's bone or muscle. Avatars mimic human cognition by which the programmed reflection is understood as a plausible 'possibility.' However, avatars with the virtual body from TZUSOO 's work explicitly abandons a veneer of 'possibility.'
We don't understand each other as much as we don't know about ourselves, and the whereabouts is unknown. Being daunted by the prevalence of pandemics, the 'impossibility' of visual reality mirrors its lethargy, though the body in virtual space is not powerless. The audiences at <Ultra-Hygienic Exhibition> exhibition experience recurring failures. The failure of avatars that resist bodily function represents the resistance for normalcy. In the same context, the queer is immersed in the space in vain. The object and images of <My Aquarium> hover above failing avatars. TZUSOO 's aquarium expands into my screen and further into my body that controls the virtual body in the program.
The living organism from <My Aquarium> performs a constant motion through its existence as the term ‘queer’ implies the promise for freedom that simultaneously translates as self-liberation through presence.
The ‘impossibility of virtual space’ against <My Aquarium> extends through <Ultra-Hygienic Exhibition>. TZUSOO’s aquarium conveys the impossibility of virtual space that is assumed with many possibilities. The impossibility conjures up that our belief for utopian liberty is not drawn from technology, but the core of the belief is rooted in the human potential to realize freedom. Therefore, the possibility of visual reality is our potential that embraces upon rejecting the tradition, opposing to function according to ‘normal’ standards, and beginning the metamorphosis and therefore redefining us queer.
The repetitive question throughout the work that the artist had reproduced beyond count invites audiences to this possibility. It is the first question of our world that reveals oneself from the conversation of two individuals. Although we follow the tradition of normalcy, the question asking about your identity will interfere with accepting this tradition. We all become queer in searching for the answer to the question.
-la, Hyunjin La