As a performer and recording artist, I was drawn to and awakened by Baudrillard's discussions on Simulations and Simulacra. That recorded media can be altered and manipulated in so many ways was not news to me, but Baudrillard's statements had me question and even worry about how necessary a gullible society who already holds such low standards will value my role in the future of art and entertainment.
As a community, performers have generally suffered from technological advancements. Live musicians received much fewer paid jobs once it became easier for someone to play a record in the comfort of their home. Theatres (and in turn, actors) suffered a serious decline in business when television became popular. While many great careers for certain individuals have been made possible by technological advances, it can safely be said that the majority of performing artists get hurt when their services are easily replaced and reproduced by technology.
Rubber Masks is a fiction, written to explore and include my creative input on themes and topics covered in EL65 (The Cyborg Self) such as the ones I just mentioned. The work also marks my first time creating a piece in hypertext, which allows for many possibilities not present in the other mediums I've worked in, as well as many welcome challenges.
The frenzied world of Rubber Masks is not lightly inspired by other dystopias, from the class and outside. Video narcotics from Max Headroom's Wackettes, media moguls with too much power, illusions and aliases: it was very fun to work with this material.
The piece was not inspired by fictional sources exclusively: With mass public data storages becoming a reality (such as YouTube and SoundClick) as well as the popularity of recorded material (TiVo) the viewing habits of our culture are changing. That, coupled with the ease that the digital age brings to media manipulation creates this climate where anybody can be an 'artist'. My brother has taken nine years of dedicated study to become a professional musician. With the help of some great free software, I've made music in just one.
I hope you enjoy Rubber Masks. Read the news and explore your way around (as it was intended to be read), or view the articles through an Index, if you'd like to get to the nugget.