Monday, May 21, 2007

Alter Egos

Recently I read about a photo journal called "Alter Ego" that collected portraits of gamers and their in-game avatars. I like photo journals. The ones I currently own are about Japanese Street Fashion, the subject of which is not that far from the subject of the avatar book (How would you dress if you could dress like anything). Flip through this gallery from the BBC to see how men, women, young, old, rich, and well, all sorts of people view themselves in their gaming world.

"The Celestial Steam Locomotive," A rather random novel located in my brother's childhood bedroom had more than a little to say about this subject. The plot is dense: thousands of years in the future, part of mankind has chosen to immerse themselves in a kind of cryongenic virtual reality to survive a holocaust. The publication date of the novel is 1983, before avatars or MUDs became more of a reality than fiction, but the author fortells the virtual people to be almost entirely Marilyns, Jaynes, Gretas or Burts. And because they are all perfectly beautiful, they are all perfectly the same. One Girl is Herself.

Both models beg the question: In a world where everyone could look like anyone, how would you like yourself to look?

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