Ghostly, ethereal, limbic. From dead artistes "resurrected" onstage a la Tupac at Coachella to holographic protests on the streets of Madrid and Seoul to a young Queen Elizabeth II waving from the Gold State Coach at her Platinum Jubilee celebrating the then 96-year-old monarch's 70-year reign. To "ABBA Voyage", the Swedish pop group ABBA's long-awaited concert reunion not of the group as they are today, aging well into their seventies, but appearing as they had looked 40 years ago during their 1970s super stardom. Projections, avatars, animations, holograms -- we are surrounded today by virtual beings of the dead and of the past, even as we look towards the virtualization of ourselves in the metaverse soon to come. How, then, to understand this new reality of being? How might this reality relate to our contemporary politics as code, as language, as consciousness? In short, how should we live -- and die -- as virtual humans? Reflecting on her latest co-authored work, "The New Virtuality" (http://www.thenewvirtuality.com), a creative multimedia portfolio online piece of essays, fiction, image galleries, video and interactive work, Jenna Ng discussed this digital future of virtual being, heralding new confrontations, histories and literacies.
Jenna Ng is Senior Lecturer in Film and Interactive Media at the University of York. She has published widely on digital media and visual culture, with research interests as well in the philosophy of technology, the posthuman and computational culture. She is the editor of Understanding Machinima: Essays on Films in Virtual Worlds (Bloomsbury, 2013) and the author of The Post-Screen Through Virtual Reality, Holograms and Light Projections: Where Screen Boundaries Lie (Amsterdam University Press, 2021).
To prepare for the salon, an event format which brings together students at all levels and staff, participants were invited to explore Jenna’s co-authored multimedia portfolio (http://www.thenewvirtuality.com) and especially to watch the video essay (https://thenewvirtuality.com/video-essay/).