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  • Writer's pictureCorrina Crazie Espinosa

A Living Soul

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

This is an Avatar I made in Adobe Character Animator. I will demo this software for you, and also introduce some alternatives.

For this project you will bring to life a living soul using digital tools and set them loose to live a life of their own in the real world using social media! You can use any digital tools you prefer to complete the following tasks: Make your soul an avatar (Adobe Character Animator), use the avatar to animate a video monologue where they can introduce themselves to the world, and make a twitter bot so the soul can spend their life tweeting their thoughts all on their own.

Your soul must have:

  • A personality profile - Questionnaire and Bio

  • A still profile photo, (a headshot)

  • A 2-5 minute video monolog (animation or effects)

  • A twitter profile with a unique handle, profile pic & monolog video posted

  • A twitter bot set up to continue posting on its own for all of eternity or until twitter removes it!

Keep in mind that your soul does not have to be human, can be a parody of an existing being, or someone totally new! Have fun, play, let it evolve, follow your own creative path and do what you want to do.

Artist Inspiration:

For several months, Ulman conducted a scripted online performance via her Instagram and Facebook profiles. As part of this project, titled Excellences & Perfections, Ulman underwent an extreme, semi-fictionalized makeover. Some of the things she posted were true, like her following a strict diet and attending regular pole dancing lessons. But most of what she posted was fiction, for instance she pretended to get breast augmentation surgery and posted pictures of herself in a hospital gown. The images were actually taken during a routine visit to her gynecologist. She also posted food she didn't actually eat, products she didn't actually buy and other personal encounters that never happened but all told the story that she believed is desired from social media influencers. She used memes and intentional misspelling to emphasize her fictional personality. Gallery representatives begged her to stop, she was soiling her reputation as a serious artist. She even feigned a breakdown, a low point for people to spy on where she supposedly checked herself into a rehab, followed by days of silence when she was supposedly not able to access technology, and concluding with a heartfelt apology for her actions and a promise to do better. None of this actually happened.

"I wrote a story in pictures, the cute girl..."

"The sadder the girl, the happier the troll..."

In creating this project she was praised and admired, but also suffered abuse, criticism for seeming to promote unrealistic body standards, she was the target of cheap flattery, dick pics, and obscene propositions. Her close friends were often confused, unable to demarcate the Ulman of social media as a separate fiction, even when she would try to explain the project away from the keyboard. By repeating a lie for three months, she created a truth that she was unable to dismantle. Her friends and family were confused and concerned, even after explaining the project to them in person they had difficulty distinguishing fiction and reality.

"By repeating a lie for three months, she created a truth that she was unable to dismantle."

Adrian Piper

"Piper began The Mythic Being in 1973, merging a male alter ego (the Mythic Being) with episodes from her own personal history. The project, which includes photographs, drawings, and performances, first took shape in a series of seventeen newspaper advertisements in New York's Village Voice. In each advertisement the artist appears in drag accompanied by a "thought bubble" filled with text from a journal entry she wrote as a teenager. These adolescent texts became the artist’s personal mantras: during the month in which an ad appeared, Piper would repeat the text over and over, to "reexperience it, examine, and analyze it," she has said. The combination of public revelation and private contemplation was an exorcism of sorts, the artist has explained. "The experience of the Mythic Being thus becomes part of the public history and is no longer a part of my own."

Excerpt taken from the MOMA website:

What do you think the modern day equivalent to putting these ads in the paper would be?

Nikki S. Lee

Nikki S. Lee was born in Kye-Chang, Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1994. She graduated from the University of Korea, studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and received her master’s degree from New York University.

In her photo series from the 1990's titled Projects, Lee repeatedly transformed herself into a whole new person through dress, makeup, gesture and posture and taking on the characteristics, of often stereotypical groups like "Midwesterners, Yuppies, Hispanics, hip hoppers, swing dancers, senior citizens, lesbians," etc. By spending time with the group, socializing and interacting with them she assimilated herself, until she actually became a part of the group. Then she would have a friend or group member shoot low quality pictures with a cheap, automatic snapshot camera. Not professional, staged photos, but casual and natural shots with her and her new set of friends. Lee uses this process to investigate social behavior and the characteristics of other peoples identities. She literally took a walk in someone else's shoes to see what it was like to live like them, to be them.

Although Lee’s works are held in collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. However, her work is also highly criticized and considered to be extremely controversial. Lee’s work was made during a different time, before people became aware to the sensitivity of cultural property and subtle racism, and exploitation of gender and sexuality. Today, in a political climate dominated by racist apologetics, artwork addressing the identities of marginalized groups of people has become a far more sensitive topic. Cultural appropriation has become a heated topic, and there is a need to protect the voices of marginalized groups. Lee was using appropriation strategically to investigate issues of race, gender and sexuality so that she could understand them better. She infiltrated the groups with honesty about her performative art intentions, so the people she was interacting with knew what she was up to. As a Korean woman, Lee is also a person of color and could be considered a marginalized person as well, so her project is not coming from a place of privilege, but... She was literally wearing black face, and the questions remain-- is her work appropriate? Is her work an affront or a genuine attempt to make a connection? Does her work celebrate the cultures of other individuals or trivialize their plight and reinforce stereotypes? What do you think?

Jon Rafman

Jon Rafman made an Avatar for himself to explore an online virtual world called Second Life. Second Life is a free 3D virtual world where users can create, connect, and chat with others from around the world. It's like role playing, sims, social media and virtual reality all rolled into one. There is certainly some adult---and very strange content, so be forewarned. This is where fine art and crude humor collide!

"The video monitor shows the Kool-Aid Man wandering through 3-D digital worlds. The smiling red pitcher ambles through desolate urban landscapes, slides down a waterslide in a pristine Alpine landscape, swims under the sea, frowns next to a bloody corpse, interrupts two people screwing, dances to "Come on Eileen" at a bordello filled with triple-E-breasted hookers in fetish wear, and break-dances next to a furry man-wolf in a cock ring. Kool-Aid Man is Canadian artist Jon Rafman, and his video Kool-Aid Man in Second Life: Tour Promo Video, is on view at FotoFest in "Poke!: Artists and Social Media.""

KELLY KLAASMEYER| SEPTEMBER 23, 2009 - The Houston Press

This artist is super out their weird and pushes the boundaries on what is appropriate, but I thought it was a great example of giving life to an Avatar and setting them lose in the virtual world.

Here is another video, part of a series where he captures the most surreal instances in a these video dream journals. They are absolutely bizarre, and yet relatable and satisfying.

Molly Soda explains herself.

I don't even know what to say. Is she being real, is this parody?

Dancing with digital avatars....

Using social media, YouTube as both art medium and platform for presentation.

Shea Hembrey,

Hembrey literally becomes 100 different artists, 100 different souls that he knows inside and out, and he completes their work for them! Amazing. You guys just have to become 1 soul :)

Amazing Twitter Bots:

Politics and Parody on Twitter:

Devin Nunes learned a hard lesson: Don't try to sue parodies. Three reasons, 1. Parody is protected under copyright laws, and 2. If you let them know they have gotten under your skin, they win! 3. You will only encourage the explosion of new parodies! After attempting to sue the Devin Nunes' Cow account, dozens of additional parody accounts popped up continuing to humiliate the Congressman. Here is a peek at just how many there are.

To Do Exercises

Generators: In class, we will take about 15 minutes to play with these random generators. Use this as a brainstorming tool to get you thinking about who your soul will be.

  1. Here is a random thing generator, use this to determine parts of your character's body, props, weapons, tools, etc.

  2. Here is a character generator that will give your character a pretty full profile.

  3. Here is a character generator that gives you a little bit more control with some serendipity.

  4. Here is a personality generator.

  5. Here is a character creator to create a random avatar.

  6. Here is a trait generator.

  7. Here is a whole list of role playing random generators.

Questionnaire: For your homework, complete the following exercise. Answer the questions for your soul, draw a sketch of what they will look like. You should have a good idea about who they are, what they are like, their history, etc. Write up a short story, their biography 250 word minimum.

How does your soul manifest its physical form?

  1. Species?

  2. Gender?

  3. Hair, fur, scales or skin color?

  4. Tattoos, piercings, scars, horns? tail? wings? other anomalies?

  5. Eyes? How many, what color?

  6. Head shape?

  7. Ear shape?

  8. Teeth? What kind?

  9. General size?

  10. Style?

  11. Opacity?

  12. Skeletal structure?

Make a loose sketch depicting your soul's physical likeness.

Who is your soul, really? Answer these questions (short answers ok) to find out.

  1. Full name?

  2. Age?

  3. Zodiac Sign?

  4. 3 fears?

  5. 3 things they love?

  6. 4 turn ons?

  7. 4 turn offs?

  8. Best friend?

  9. Sexual orientation?

  10. Favorite color?

  11. Current obsession?

  12. Favorite quote?

  13. Favorite place?

  14. Favorite music?

  15. Daily routine?

  16. Favorite Food?

  17. Someone they love?

  18. Someone they hate?

  19. Current relationship status?

  20. Relationship with their parents?

  21. Children?

  22. Favorite season?

  23. Good or Evil?

  24. What they did during quarantine?

  25. Their main addiction?

  26. Their profession?

  27. Their education?

  28. Where they grew up?

  29. Best 2 personality traits?

  30. 2 worst personality traits?

  31. Religion?

  32. Their pet(s)?

  33. Their weapon of choice?

  34. Their mission or purpose for existing?

  35. Their kryptonite?

Use the answers to these questions to help guide writing your soul's short bio. 250 words. Post the Questionnaire, bio, and sketch to your blog. Due 1 week from today.



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