My Botgirl vs. Dummy comic was selected yesterday as one of three winners in Koinup's funny and playful art and avatars contest. It will appear in an upcoming issue of Metaverse Creativity, a scientific journal about virtual worlds.
The work is an extension of an idea I started playing around with last year, using the ventriloquist/dummy relationship as a metaphor for human/avatar identity:
In the pseudonymous culture of Second Life an avatar's undisclosed human identity is often referred to as "Typist" or "Puppeteer". Since neither of those labels ever felt right to me, I was recently intrigued by the notion of using "Ventriloquist" as an alternative metaphor. Here's how I see the differences:
The Typist metaphor places agency within the virtual identity. The human is viewed as a third-party transcribing dictation with neither emotional involvement nor creative participation.
The Puppeteer metaphor casts the avatar as a doll on a string, manipulated by a human sitting outside and above the stage of the virtual world.
The Ventriloquist metaphor places the avatar intimately upon the human's lap. Human and Dummy are both active participants who are perceived as unique and vital individuals.