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Self Portrait (Interior) rolls out the welcome tongue

Actually, I take that first paragraph back - I'm betting Alice 50p that one of the first three comments will be someone demanding a staring eyes tag

This afternoon I have spent a while crawling around in a virtual colon. While some of you rush to the comment section to make jokes about online comment sections, I’ll just clarify that this was because I was investigating Self Portrait (Interior) by Theo Triantafyllidis [itch.io page].

“Self Portrait (Interior) was commissioned by DiMoDa, a preeminent virtual institution and a virtual reality exhibition platform dedicated to the distribution and promotion of New Media Art. It was part of the VR group show Morphe Presence, showcasing artists Brenna Murphy, Rosa Menkman, Miyö Van Stenis and Theo Triantafyllidis. It has been exhibited in multiple locations, including Superchief Gallery in NY, the Satellite Art Show in Miami and the RISD Museum in Rhode Island.”

There’s an in-depth interview piece over on the Creators bit of Vice which gets into what Triantafyllidis wanted to explore with the work, but coming to it without reading that segment first I found it to be a really enjoyable absurd/grotesque/daft/organic bit of… I guess, body tourism?

Having read the accompanying piece, I don’t think the more serious themes come off effectively but then without being privy to the unedited interview it’s hard to know how much any serious aspects are the artist’s emphasis and how much comes from the author, particularly given those bits aren’t in direct quotes. Self Portrait is far better at playing with the humour in the creepy but ultimately ridiculous intimacy of being an intruder in this body space. I was sad that the transition between inner and outer wasn’t more fluid, though. I’d like to have been able to go from gob to gullet myself because traversing that boundary is always interesting and I’d like to give it a go in VR.

That’s not to say you can’t use inner space to explore interesting political and social ideas – for a couple of different examples off the top of my head, Mona Hatoum famously did exactly that with the video installation, Corps Étranger (1994), as did Carolee Schneemann with Interior Scroll (1975) [the link for this is going to be NSFW as all hell]. But Self Portrait’s strength for me was in the absurd rather than the political so I’m glad I wasn’t also trying to wrangle it with the contents of the interview in mind. I feel like the game is supposed to have a sense of its own humour, by the way, as one of the itch.io tags is “Sports” :)

And now to belatedly pick through more of DiMoDa’s online repository once it downloads…

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Philippa Warr

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