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<nettime> Reality Shifting – Part 1: Rezzing {AT} _Augmentology 1[L]0[L]1_
micha cardenas / azdel slade on Mon, 16 Nov 2009 22:10:41 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Reality Shifting – Part 1: Rezzing {AT} _Augmentology 1[L]0[L]1_

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Reality Shifting – Part 1: Rezzing

“There are many worlds and many realities in our universe. When one
reality, or one world-view is superimposed on another, it is
inevitable that social, economic and cultural problems arise.
Hierarchies of worlds are constructs of a bygone era. Ecologies of
worlds should guide us in considering our future… We can begin by
designing environments that can respond to physical, environmental, or
social needs. Not only the needs of human beings, but also of the
organisms and elements with whom we share the Biosphere.” – fo.am

Rezzing occurs in the space in-between worlds. Rezzing happens in the
moment we switch from one reality to another: where the structure of
synthetic worlds is unveiled. We see these spaces appear gradually –
textures, alpha channels and audio appear in layers. Forms start as
simple grey patterns that morph and evolve via emergent detail. These
patterns resolve as final forms that adhere to in-game physics and
flop into “place”.

When I begin rezzing – and am between avatars – my body disappears.
Then, the simple basic shape beneath is exposed with pitch black skin
and bizarre proportions. Finally, my body parts materialise.

I stand naked: staring ahead as my clothes begin to appear, one piece
at a time. As the textures of my skin are downloaded, my blurry body
is redrawn in photorealistic detail. In Second Life, Linden Labs has
added a feature where rezzing avatars are surrounded by a cloud whilst
forming. This cloud presumably covers the moments of nakedness while
an avatar’s clothes are appearing and bare pixel genitalia are

There is no geophysical equivalent to the act of rezzing. The closest
phenomenon is the act of awakening from – or falling into – dreams.
When an object or avatar is rezzed in a synthetic environment, its
data representation is downloaded from the database into the local
client. On screen, a visual “something” is created from synthetic
“nothing” – an ontological novelty out of the pure void. This act
reveals a flaw in the materiality and persistence of these worlds; a
type of virtual ontology similar to Deleuze’s spinozan plenty without

After encountering the whooshing sound that indicates teleporting, I
am dropped into an incomplete world. Often during this phase, my
avatar manifests in a falling animation. First, all is sky and water
which faithfully glistens with the sun (according to environment
settings). Then, distant objects appear. In complex areas this can
take minutes as particle scripts initialise and begin to swirl and
glow before the details of architecture appear.

During the rezzing process, as a user’s body begins to form they step
into a swirl of affect. This affect may induce feelings of
identification with the avatar or a revulsion from it. This emotional
polarisation may produce a sense of pleasure in seeing or a sense of
disjunctive discomfort. The activity of the database creates its own
unreproducable order dependant on the speed of the bytes transferred.
Hair or pants/skirt may take minutes to download, with the avatar
blinking into space with a bald head or exposed thong in the meantime.
At this juncture, the avatar hover-stands in an unfolding environment
and waits for the expected transactions of the “normal” synthetic
world to begin.

How do we come to understand the resonances, affects and effects of
rezzing into synthetic environments? With augmented reality making
headline news, can we think of other ways of entering other realities
which are not limited to visual modes? What about pain? Sound? Smell?
Can Mixed Reality Performances be used to develop and explore these
methods of realityshifting? If we can think of ways of finding spaces
between realities, then can we think of the space between realities as
similar to the space between genders and sexualities? Could entering a
space between realities free us of certain rules, be a strategy of
liberation and transformation? Part 2 will explore these questions.

micha cárdenas / azdel slade

Artist/Researcher, Experimental Game Lab, http://experimentalgamelab.net
Calit2 Researcher, http://bang.calit2.net

blog: http://transreal.org

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