In her debut title, ‘Subversion, Sexuality and the Virtual Self’ Dr Jude Elund explores the issues of sex, sexuality and identity in the digitised world of Second Life. Dr Elund investigates the often exaggerated and desired personalities that ‘residents’ transfer onto their imagined avatars and how they construct new identities in this three-dimensional domain.
‘Subversion, Sexuality and the Virtual Self’ discusses how virtual environments allow users to engage and interact in real time and escape to new realities through the screen. It examines issues of bodily perfection, pornography, sexual behaviour online, virtual tourism, gender and sexual subversion in a place where users can escape and exist as anyone or anything they choose to be.
With the freedom to explore one’s self in a safe, anonymous platform, these virtual representations are often extreme in nature; users are able to ‘try on’ different identities and embody fantastical, sexualised characters. Dr Elund identifies the existence of new, nonnormative spaces, where people with desires that push the boundaries of social norms can express themselves. Dr Elunds explains, “The last 10 years has seen a real progression in terms of visibility, tolerance and acceptance of the queer community. However, this has meant that gay rights has often aligned itself with notions of conservatism. While my work recognises these developments, it ultimately celebrates diversity as well as the more transgressive identities present in both real and online worlds.”
Second Life, which launched in 2003, has the appearance of other Multiplayer Online Role Play Games such as World of Warcraft, however, with no conflict or objective for its users to base their experiences on it is categorically not a game, rather a platform where users can simply explore and interact in an alternative reality. Dr Elund adds that, “Communities around the world who don’t have the sexual freedoms we are privileged to in Western Culture, now have this new capacity to craft an identity from scratch and relate with others who are figuring themselves through online interactions.”
Dr Elund, who has worked at ECU for over a decade, has a great interest in new media technologies and specialises in social uses of technology as well as its political, philosophical and cultural implications. She is the coordinator of Public Relations for the School of Communications and Arts and is the Associate Editor for Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies.
‘Subversion, Sexuality and the Virtual Self’ will be formally launched at the ECU Co-op Shop on the Mount Lawley Campus on July 24th 2015. All are welcome to join in the celebrations which will include a talk by Associate Professor Panizza Allmark and a presentation by Dr Jude Elund. Light refreshments will be provided.
Date: Friday, 24 July 2015
Time: 4.00pm - 6.00pm
Place: The Co-op, Building 8, Edith Cowan University, Mount Lawley Campus
RSVP: Please register your attendance online via the Eventbrite web page.