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Eva & Franco Mattes - - "I Know it's all a State of Mind" - curated by Marina Abramovic - part of "The Pigs of Today are the Hams of Tomorrow" - Second Life and Plymouth Arts centre - 23 January 2010 - (21 - 24 January)

"Free exchanges, microprocesses finely tuned, polymorphous transfers without regard for borders and boundaries." [1]

For one thing, you are represented by an avatar, which is interesting, as you participate rather than just watch. "I Know That It's All a State of Mind" precisely explores that aspect of awareness and perception where various conceptual layers, to do with art and technology, come into play, including appropriation and proprioception.'s 'synthetic performances', link with art history by reenacting performances from the past in Second Life. As part of Marina Abramovic's "The Pigs of Today are the Hams of Tomorrow", these performances, which lasted several hours, are part of a current revival of interest in performance art history, as well as an exploration of the peculiar qualities of machine performance, "we are performing together with the machine". [2]

This reenactment of performance art pieces began because, "we're too young to have seen these works". [3] By appropriating performances by Vito Acconci, Gilbert and George and other artists, they are able to explore the very reality, and at the same time simulacrum, of virtual performance space. The reality is especially profound in terms of communicating with a participating audience, engaging them in a performance which uses animation and symbolism, as well as actual user responses.

A cloud of pink computer animated particles announced the 'arrival' of Eva and Franco Mattes in their purpose built Second Life environment, a virtual gallery space which was simple in its functionality, and they were accompanied by the sound of a squealing pig.

The state of mind is partially realising that there are "real people on the other side of the avatar" [4] They also like the idea of programming the machine to 'be them' during a performance. Through interaction, the animated avatars added to and were part of this performance experience, and instead of watching the Mattes', they programmed and guided events.

This appropriation of performance art language, essentially designed to make the viewer aware of their own mortality, and the special experience of the moment, worked. We followed the Mattes' avatars, as they led us into a room in the virtual gallery space, which had a large double bed in its centre. There were balls at the entrance to the room, which if selected with a mouse click, gave you the opportunity to participate in an orgy on the bed with the other avatars.

Pictures, 'bitmaps', of bacon and sausages floated through the space, while the orgy was underway. Later, 3-D renderings of rows of human legs and breast-like abstracted forms appeared floating above the bed.

The Mattes "priviledge the online community" [5]which they clearly see as their primary audience.

"...the keystrokes of users on the Net connect them to a vast distributed plane composed not merely of computers, users and telephonic lines, but all the zeros and ones of machine code, the switches of electronic circuitry, fluctuating waves of neurochemical activity, hormonal energy, thoughts, desires..." [6]

The performance was a realisation of Second Life desires, participatory in an absurd sense, and erotic, inevitably changing the 'state of mind' to a type of perception peculiar to being logged on to Second Life, where appearance and performance are very important to realising a consensual fantasy.

Sarah Thompson 27.01.10

[1]Sadie Plant, Zeros + Ones, 1998, p3

[2]Eva & Franco Mattes,




[6] Sadie Plant, Zeros + Ones, 1998, p143