Virtual Norms In Physical Spaces
Virginia Tadini

How have people come to inhabit virtual and physical spaces simultaneously? Do the shifts in spaces create a shift in our perception of reality? What does it mean to be consumers of our own reality and inhabitants of our own lives? 

This project questions the importance of physical space in reality formation by highlighting the normalization of digital devices in everyday life and the blur between the physical and virtual worlds. What is the significance of physical contact and how do individuals mediate their own experiences as more communication becomes virtual? This video calls attention to the norms of identity expression and social interaction in the digital realm. Drawing upon Erving Goffman’s theory of performance and life as a stage, it asks what happens to presentation and communication when technology creates a second front stage in virtual reality. 

The spoken audio stresses the dangers these practices pose to our psyche as well as how these “new spaces” will affect politics and social interactions. The audio footage of “The Tube” at the end serves as a reminder that although we have embedded this medium in every fiber of social life, the Internet is still a regulated entity and can be used, liked the television, for manipulation. The setting of the interactive ToilettePaper installation(1)  mirrors the blur between the virtual and the physical, the constructed and the real, while spotlighting the proliferation of corporate advertising. The voice states “it is we humans who are the only participants” in the virtual worlds we create, yet this does not mean individuals are given equal control of their virtual experiences. The current geopolitical climate raises issues of surveillance and control over digital infrastructure; with technology becoming an embodied part of daily life, it is impossible to separate our normalized digital lives with their underlying socio-political effects. Viewed through the lens of Foucault’s notion of discipline, the combined video and audio footage highlights existing power structures, which are solidified through the creation and dissemination of media, including the Internet and smartphones. This video questions whether these new mediums open new spaces and provide us with freedom or inhibit growth through control and distraction. It aims to underline “the complex relationship between innovation and power” on an “exponential technology curve” (2). This project spotlights entertainment as a means of exploitation, but more importantly, it highlights the shifting sense of identity, meaning, and purpose in an increasingly technological world. 


  2: Greenhall, Jordan. “Situational Assessment 2017: Trump Edition.” Adbusters Magazine.