The Second Life code performer

0gaziraa.jpgSecond Life has been recently overwhelmed by a flood of “self-replicating” objects, dubbedgrey goo“, after the concept of out-of-control self-replicating nanotechnology.

It all started with gold rings that popped up in several areas of the virtual world. As users touched these rings, they starting replicating wildly and, eventually, the servers began creaking under the strain of the additional activity, forcing SL’s owners to block all logins but their own for 25 minutes. The event caused quite a stir in the blogosphere and at the Linden Lab HQ. Now, Grey Goo is also the name of a “code performance” by artist Gazira.

Gazira Babeli was born Second Life in March 2006. “Unlike other avatars,” explains curator and art critic Domenico Quaranta, “Gazira doesn’t pretend to be in a world made of objects and atoms, she’s aware to be in a world made of codes and to be part of the code herself.” Therefore it’s the essence of the 3-D virtual universe that she challenges with her “code performanceâ€?. She manipulates codes and shares them with the public on her website, under a Creative Commons licence.

Back in April, she invaded Ars Virtua, a gallery located in the synthetic world of Second Life, with pizzas flying and dancing on the sound of O’ sole mio. The performance was called –who would have guessed?– Singing Pizza.


In November, Gazira was back at Ars Virtua, attending the opening of 13 Most Beautiful Avatars, a series of portraits of Second Life “stars” made by Eva and Franco Mattes. At some point, bananas were raining over the gallery space. Not any kind of bananas though. These ones were exact copies of the bright yellow fruit that graced the Velvet Underground cover in 1967. Was Gazira challenging the Mattes in a kind of “who’s the pop-est” war? Does it mean that she loves pop art? Not so sure. Last May, she paid another homage to Warhol with a Second Soup performance that saw her fighting a formidable giant Campbell soup can. Her sole comment: “You Love Pop Art – Pop Art Hates You”.

Over the past couple of years, i’ve been observing the way artists were embracing, manipulating and subverting virtual worlds. I still have a lot to learn and read and see before regarding myself as an expert worth listening to so i’ll just speak with my guts: watch out for that Gazira, she has only started to rock your virtual boat.

Gazira’s work will be presented at the Pescara Electronic Artist Meeting (pretty good programme this year!), Pescara (It), 6-10 December, 2006.

Big big thanks to Domenico Quaranta. I owe you one!