Go Deeper

New Faces, New Fates

Posted May 20th, 2009

I never found much appeal in taking on a new persona. Sure, Halloween’s great; so are movies about Superman, Spiderman, Batman, and any other man that goes unnoticed by day and hunts villains by night. Sasha Fierce helps Beyonce double her ticket sales and publicity.

But even with all of these doppelgangers infiltrating our everyday lives, I never imagined I would want to invent my own alter ego. That is, before the launch party last Friday for New Paradise Laboratories’s FATEBOOK.

“People are so excited about creating fictional personas. . . . It’s like a masquerade ball,” says Whit MacLaughlin of his creation. “The whole FATEBOOK endeavor is a Petri dish.”

New Paradise Laboratories threw the party to introduce audiences to the idea of participating in FATEBOOK by creating online alter egos. FATEBOOK begins with character interaction and plot formation on Facebook and eventually culminates in a performance during the Live Arts Festival. The audience follows the performers’ stories as they develop online, and become a part of the show themselves.

In a hint of things to come, the night’s main attraction was the three large video projection screens surrounding the room. Some of the videos illuminating the room were of New Paradise Laboratories’s past performances. Others projections created the surreal effect of guests being illuminated by live streaming videos of themselves.

“The entire show is a catastrophic amount of stimulation,” Whit promises.

Watching myself and other guests interact in this way gave me new insight into how the FATEBOOK experiment mashes up the digital and real worlds. At the Live Arts performances of FATEBOOK, footage from the parties and live video from the show itself will be used to create a final, but indefinite product.

“Is it a show or a social experiment or a four dimensional movie?” asks Whit.

So I’m a convert: I’ve created my own alter ego. In fact, I think I’m hooked. I’m intrigued by a whole new persona to take part in a larger endeavor. And it might be the only time I’ll ever be invited to be a “performer” in a Live Arts show, so I—or, my online doppelganger—will be taking full advantage.

Look out for more FATEBOOK events in the near future. A workshop will be held at the beginning of July at which audiences and performers will shape the evolution of the story from the Internet to the stage. Two other parties will be held soon to bring the virtual and physical FATEBOOK communities together again.

–Jennifer Burrini

Photos by Matt Saunders