The Girlfriend Experience

2007 - present

I presented four human avatars to play with. in a project in collaboration with Mediamatic.
You could log in at home with your character of choice, by just clicking on the picture on the website.
You could direct the avatar, explore the space and challenge him or her.
Each user was given a limited time to explore and play with their avatar.

Real or First Life?

The rampant growth of online avatar communities such as Second Life and World of Warcraft has enabled the creation of a personal online social and economic existence. Simultaneously this triggers inherent questions about this existence, as it questions what the consequences will be for first life, or reality.

When you use virtual avatars you can do as you please. In The Girlfriend Experience you had to get to know each other first. Player and avatar explored what they can do for each other and how far the avatar wanted to go to execute specific desires. It was ambiguous who was really controlling the situation. You had ten minutes to figure out what you can do with your avatar. After that, your time was up and another player could take your place.

The title of the project, The Girlfriend Experience, denoted the paradoxical character that online social interaction has. On one hand, the safe anonymity by using the avatar, on the other the intimate releases and projections that can spread easily. For me it was this merging of two apparent extremes, anonymity and intimacy, which characterized an important part of contemporary social traffic. The best paid prostitutes are the ones with whom the client feels as though he is with his girlfriend, or with whom he has a Girlfriend Experience

Martin Butler