Avatars: The history, culture and future of a creature on the brink of a population boom

Theresa Reimann-Dubbers

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With web3 we enter the next avatar dimension. Questions of identity, safeguarding and representation in our digital bodies are critical. To better understand the issues, this lecture performance walks through the origins of the term, early life in games and sci-fi, traces the move into platforms and takes a critical dip into our future with avatars

We use avatars to digitally go where our physical bodies cannot. Often we use a different avatar for each game or forum or platform that we step into – because when we step out of that game or forum or platform, our avatar stays behind, confined to its Web 2.0 silo. That will change. Web3 aspires to be interoperable which means that we’ll be able to take our selves (avatars) and our belongings (tokens) from one place to another seamlessly in the digital landscape.

But what does it mean to have a continuous digital identity? How do we choose our digital body? What kind of relationship do we have with our second self? And who builds the structures that these bodies will be subject to?

To open up the conversation around these issues, we have to get to know the creature in question. This lecture performance is a guided tour through the world of avatars: Beginning at the term’s religious origins, we meander through their varying roles in games and platforms, together we take in the complex and evolving relationship between humans and avatars and finally, we turn our gaze to the purple metaverse horizon to discuss what the human-avatar future might hold.

Portrait photo Theresa Reimann-Dubbers
Artist and Researcher