Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Reverse Avatars: Changing the Inside Instead of the Outside

When discussing Cathie LaBlanc’s Second Life article in class I began to think of real life avatars, humans that are created to represent other humans.  Joss Whedon’s television show Dollhouse came to mind. The show focuses on an underground corporation called the RossumCorporation that creates these facilities called Dollhouses that span the globe. Within these Dollhouses there are people referred to as Actives, or
Dolls, which can possess temporary personalities or skills. Dolls or Actives can be purchased and hired to play a role, whether it be romantic role, or a spy, or an athlete. However, the Doll is not just playing a role, it becomes the role. All Dolls have their original memories wiped clean, and they function in childlike ways until they are commissioned for a job. When a Doll is chosen or hired new memories or personalities are inserted.  The show follows one specific Doll named Echo who has the ability to remember small details from each insertion even after they have been wiped from her memory. Echo is able to develop self awareness and a personality of her own.

This concept is really intriguing to me. The company that created this program is able to make a human being
 into anything it wants. So instead of creating an avatar that has the ideal outside, the inside becomes the creation.  What I find extremely interesting is that after each insertion or simulation Echo can keep a piece of it. She is able to take the simulation and make it her reality. Echo becomes her own avatar. For Echo she begins to see the different personalities that she must take on “as an object separate from herself” even though after she embodies each personality they become a part of her. In this sense Echo must learn how to apply the medical gaze to her memories, and her personalities. She must decide which pieces and parts she wants to take from each assignment she is put on. As a Doll she could have super strength one day, and the next be extremely intelligent. Echo’s ability allows her to absorb some of these abilities across each wipe.


The idea that these Dolls can be the reverse of the avatars we have been looking at really intrigues me. Is this something that could potentially be possible in the future? Erasing old memories and placing in new and better ones. We have been changing our outside to match our insides for awhile now, what would the difference be in changing our inside to match our outside?

1 comment:

  1. Definitely need to check out this show! "Echo" as a name resonates on a Baudrillardian level, of course, since it conjures ideas of doubling and simulation, but also I think it's probably a pun on Umberto Eco, who is quoted quite a bit in the Amaris reading from this week (check out Eco's TRAVELS IN HYPERREALITY here: http://public.callutheran.edu/~brint/American/Eco.pdf). Love the way you tied in the reading with the Baudrillardian ideas, and kicked in a little deconstruction at the end to boot.

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