We Need to Talk About Avatars

Our identites are no longer tied to our physical selves.
But at what cost does that come?

As our lived experience is increasingly taking place in virtual worlds, our identities get untangled from our physical beings. In these worlds, we hold space as user names, icons and avatars, creating alter egos that are fluid and evolving depending on the context they’re placed in.

We Need to Talk About Avatars is a video essay in which we explore the anatomy of avatars; from their origin in 400BCE to their future as fragments of our identity in virtual and physical worlds.

Table of contents

Part 1
What are avatars?
Avatars and freedom
From 400BCE to 1984
Humans as Gods
Metaverse politics

Part 2
Avatar anatomy
Avatars as fragments of our identity
Enclothed cognition
The Proteus Paradox
Holding space

Part 3
I am large, I contain multitudes
Identities shift and change a-rhythmically
New ways of self-expression
The flatness of digital space
A body is all we have


Date: 29 June 2023
Researcher: Theresa Reimann-Dubbers
Presenting partners: Re:publica, Soiree XD

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Last updated: January 21, 2024 ■ 13:34pm