To Perform Reality in the Metaverse
About 100% Legit exhibition by Lux Valladolid
by Myth Bureau
100% Legit is an exhibition by Lux Valladolid in which she presents a virtual instance of her performative work. It focuses on Skin, a filter that inhabits only social networks and is placed in the material world through Lux’s body, transforming both entities into a fusion that can be called an augmented subject. This augmented subject exists within a fiction that belongs both to reality and to the social networks’ spectacle. It makes it clear that the two spheres are very mixed, to the point of being confusing.
Skin is a character of a performative work that has a past — in correlation with Lux’s previous works — and a future. What once circulated as a corporeality Lola (her previous performance identity), today appears modified by the acceptable proxemics of the post-pandemic. As this transition towards a more virtual life also popularized the practice of multiple subjectivities, this becomes precisely one of the most important axes in Skin.
Performance is an artistic practice that at first glance is very physical, in which the body is the main tool, and there is also a very strong appeal to the present gaze of the other. Therefore the mediatization of a practice such as performance is a challenge that presupposes losing certain cornerstones, and the possibility of acquiring others. In Lux’s search, there has always been this concern.
Since her performance became entirely virtual — and the need to go on stage could be covered through activity in networks — a simple but very suggestive exercise was born. It consisted of using a beauty filter in an insistent manner until a frivolous and complacent character was built through the gaze of followers, taking body optimization and snobbery to the extreme just to belong, artificially to the world of social conventions. The moment this digital mask began to displace the real face of the person (Lux) into oblivion, the question moved beyond the performance and settled on the difference between the real and the fake, if there is a clear limit and if it is useful to even think it.
In turn, the performance was inserted into the NFTs circuit, which does not only imply joining the collection of works and cultural products linked to a smart contract (able to signal its authenticity on the blockchain), but a whole circuit of platforms, people and characters that are nucleated around this phenomenon, and in which the construction of an adequate personality to inhabit that circuit becomes very important, whether from an avatar, a PFP or simply the construction of discourse for the media. With the phenomenon of NFTs, the field of action of these ad hoc created personalities (such as influencers) expanded, and this type of social technique became more recurrent.
Since digitality acquired an economic structure, it became less important what is or is not real, and instead, more relevant to distinguish what is legitimate from what is a scam.
These ideas and situations, which affect both the notion of reality and subjectivity — as well as Lux’s specific practice — gave rise to the three productions shown in the exhibition.
Tragic Story is a video performance. In particular, the format emerged as a solution to perform in the metaverse, which is also a problem of how to represent in the metaverse; questions that certainly will continue to develop along with this technology. The work itself confronts us with the lightness of a subjectivity built to inhabit virtuality, the idea of killing a character (Skin), and the fact that it is not an irreversible action. Skin can be immortal and then die. Like the Neuromancer, she doesn’t know she doesn’t exist, but she functions all the time; she executes an unconscious script to perfection, and she plays her own loop, a place from which she will not return. At the same time, she reproduces the romantic tragedy of Alfonsina Storni (which installed her as a symbol) and also accesses a certain network to expand, acquire a cryptographic dimension, and install herself as an object, in a coating operation that will again allow her to visit other atmospheres. Both the performative act of the character’s suicide and the aesthetics adopted inscribe Skin in a kind of narrative that does not belong to her and that is instead a classic of the twentieth century. It is outdated and produces a gap.
The installation, called Reality Spot, also resorts to this lag. Behind the virtual installation, there is a search for an iconic image of reality, with the intention of situating us temporarily in the present and also of having these two dimensions of reality simultaneously in the same space.
Finally, the Happy Nonsense series is an exploration of the prompts of Dall-e 2 in which Lux used this tool to enter an artificial symbolic field, and thus, to imagine the technical drifts of subjectivity and the ways it can take hold (something close to the absurd in an unprejudiced way). As avatars circulating in the cryptographic dimension, these characters emerge outside the enlightened sense, simply executing their social performance in virtual environments in which coherence is not especially required, and instead simulation and adaptation are needed.
Just like the personalities of Happy Nonsense, Skin’s space is always under construction and her search is similar to a virus: it tries to reach a stage that allows her to live.
Skin is an installation and a performance simultaneously, in its floating character it can be almost everything at the same time. By acquiring a cryptographic dimension, it becomes material and object, which forces us to redefine the material, the object, and the real, because it displaces them from their own name. It proposes a set of intensive signs and an idea of reality dispossessed of realism, becoming a concept and specific imagery, whose ultimate limit is defined by hunger.
The centrality of the mask in the show generates the will to guess what lies behind it: a complex web of calculated desires that converge in this face, the face we are supposed to want to see. But its centrality also generates margins. Skin is an augmented subject that, in its industrial character, adapts accurately to a new layer of simulated and represented reality.
100% Legit was curated by Merlina Rañi in Decentraland Museum District. (October-December, 2022)
Visit 100% Legit by Lux Valladolid in Decentraland Museum District (coordinate 13,75)