Stranger Comes to Town: Identity and the Avatar

Programmed by Clint Enns. Presented by Vector Festival at VideoFag in Toronto, Ontario on February 20, 2013.

Stranger Comes To Town: Identity and the Avatar explored the politics of the avatar in relationship to identity by examining massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG), technologies of biometrics, and the border that separates our real and digital identities.

In Peggy Ahwesh’s She Puppet, Lara Croft becomes the vehicle of Ahwesh’s thoughts on what she sees as the triad of Croft’s personae: the alien, the orphan, and the clone. In Toronto artist Sandra Danilovic’s documentary, Second Bodies, the spectator is invited to reflect upon ideas about self-image and self-worth by examining the border that separates real identity and digital identity in Second Life, while Valerie Brewer’s Untitled #2 provides a glitch-ridden virtual tour of Second Life.

By using animated sequences and scenes from World of Warcraft, Jacqueline Goss’ Stranger Comes to Town examines the intrusive processes used by the Department of Homeland Security on visitors traveling to the United States. It is easy to imagine facial recognition technology being used for racial profiling, however, just as easily these technologies could be used to recognize ‘fag face’. To this end, Zach Blas’ Facial Weaponization Communiqué: Fag Face explores one potential combative technology – a mask that is generated from the biometric facial data of many gay men’s faces, resulting in a mutated, alien facial mask that cannot be read or parsed by biometric facial recognition technologies.


She Puppet | Peggy Ahwesh | 2001 | 15 min.
Facial Weaponization Communiqué: Fag Face | Zach Blas | 2012 | 8 min.
Untitled #2 | Valerie Brewer | 2007 | 12 min.
Stranger Comes to Town | Jacqueline Goss | 2007 | 28 min.
Second Bodies – Sandra Danilovic | 2009 | 44 min.