KNNC_CB was a transmodable party format curated alongside Pure Ever (Rifqi Amirul Rosli, Zhiyi Cao, Raigo Law, Elsa Wong, and myself) during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. Using IMVU as a format for creating individualised avatars, those in lockdown were able to explore how bodies and selves get transmuted onto a digital realm, and how these elements translate to connecting with friends, partying, or simply having fun.
In thinking about transferring our interactions unto the digital realm, we are limited in that sociality is difficult to re-model. We miss hugs, and we miss conversations, but in the context or within the space of a con call, a phone call, or even a social metaverse/game like IMVU, a hug is devoid of various nuances readable in physical interactions – eye contact, touch, breath etc. A simple thing like setting up a hug within digital context feels incredibly contrived and ephemeral; there’s almost a looming pressure to assume a natural humanity around and behind these interactions (although, to hug in a vacuum is also to divorce a hug from its meaning altogether). This notion of a “naturalised” humanity gets further distilled when one takes into consideration the many oppressive implications in our society, and how that gets transmuted onto these interactions – patriarchy, racism, and other systems that serve to individualise people. They too become amplified to assume its “natural” state online, whereas a digital space is inherently a produced reality, or a reconstructed or auxiliary world. To be “intimate” in a space like the digital realm is perhaps to gaze back at the structures that define intimacy, and replacing it with a re-naturalisation of social practices that destabilise our self-governance, perpetuation, and reassertion of what a “natural world” even is. And to establish a goal of replacing it with a reproduction of an intimate reality that makes more sense to us in this time, and as marginalised individuals.