Virta-Flaneurazine is an artists collective and pharmaceutical start-up, working on the development of a potent programmable mood-changing drug for online virtual worlds and other social networks.
Identified as part of the Wanderment family of psychotropic drugs, it causes the user to aimlessly roam the distant lands the Internet. Virta-Flaneurazine was developed to treat Wanderlust Deficit Disorder (WDD), or Internet Addiction, an increasingly common disorder characterized by rote repetitive Internet use and the inability of individuals to depart from their daily routines in their physical and virtual lives. As the prograchemistry takes effect, users find themselves erratically navigating to random Internet locations, behaving strangely, seeing digephemera and walking or flying in circuitous paths. The *doctors/artists JC Freeman and WD Pappenheimer have developed a clinical trial program in order to test if Virta-Flaneurazine is effective in treating WDD and to determine if it is safe for human consumption. The clinical trials include an installation and participatory performance in a clinic setting that dispensed and evaluated the drug’s effects on volunteer subjects.
Visit the Virta-Flaneurazine Blog for news and updates.
During scheduled clinical hours, the public is invited to participate by appointment or on a first-come-first-serve, walk-in basis. In addition to people volunteering to participate in person, avatars can participate through the project’s online virtual clinic from anywhere in the world. During the times that the *doctors/artists are not able to be present physically at the clinic, trials are conducted remotely using telecommunication and remote monitoring technologies.
As audience members enter the Virta-Flaneurazine clinic, they are greeted by one of the *artists/doctors who screen them at the reception desk to determine if they qualify to participate as test subjects. While the exam room is prepared for the trial, volunteers who meet the criteria are asked to wait in the waiting room where they can enjoy video documentation of past trial results on a flat screen television.
After some basic information is gathered, individual test subjects are invited back to the exam area and asked to take a seat in the reclining exam chair. The chair is situated in front of a large projection of the virtual clinic. There they are introduced to the Vita-Flanuerazine avatar, which they will embody for the duration of the trial. The test subject is able to control the avatars movement with a simple knob interface mounted on the arm rest of the reclining exam chair.
The test subject is then asked to relax and breath deep as a measured dose of Virta-Flaneurazine is administered by plugging a Virta-Flaneurazine USB thumb drive into the clinic’s operations computer and launching the Virta-Flaneurazine application. Dosages very from from 157kb to 3mb. The experience can take up to thirty minutes per test subject to complete and must run its course.
As the Virta-Flaneurazine takes effect the test subject begins to lose control of, and sentience over, the avatar, randomly teleporting, hallucinating and behaving erratically. During this experience the *doctors/artists ask the test subject a series of questions about their Internet use, walking habits, fears, adventures and memories. Eventually the effect begins to wear off and, in most cases, the avatar is returned safely to the clinic.
Will Pappenheimer is an artist and professor at Pace University, New York. He has exhibited nationally and internationally at Fringe Exhibitions in Los Angeles, the ICA and Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Exit Art, Florence Lynch, Postmasters, Vertexlist and Pocket Utopia galleries in New York, San Jose Museum of Art in ISEA 06/ZeroOne, Kunstraum Walcheturm in Zurich, the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Ireland for ISEA 09, FILE 2005 at the SESI Art Gallery, Sao Paulo and Xi’an Academy of Art Gallery in China in conjunction with the Digital Art Weeks 2010. His grants include an NEA Artist Fellowship, Turbulence.org and Rhizome,org at the New Museum commissions, and a large scale public network sculpture for the City of Tampa. His work has been reviewed in the New York Times for Art Basel Miami 2003, Art in America, NY Arts International, Art US, the Boston Globe, EL PAIS, Madrid, Liberation, Paris, Magazine Électronique du CIAC, Montreal, MSNBC.com and ZedTV, Canadian Broadcasting. The artist’s works are discussed in a chapter of Gregory Ulmerʼs theoretical book “Electronic Monuments,” and in Christiane Paulʼs recent historical edition of “Digital Art.” He has presented his work recently at the New Museum, New York, the ITP Graduate Program, New York University, the College Art Association, New York, and ETH Computer Systems Institute, Zurich, Switzerland.
John Craig Freeman‘s work has been exhibited internationally including at the Xi’an Academy of Art in China in conjunction with the Digital Art Weeks 2010, at the Golden Tread Gallery as part of the International Symposium of Electronic (ISEA) in 2009, at Fringe Exhibitions in Los Angeles in 2008, The Broadway Gallery in NYC, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Beijing, the Kunstraum Walcheturm in Zurich, Eyebeam in New York, City, the Zacheta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki Warsaw, Kaliningrad Branch of the National Center for Contemporary Arts in Russia, Art Basel Miami, Ciberart Bilbao and the Girona Video and Digital Arts Festival in Spain, La Biblioteca National in Havana, the Contemporary Art Center in Atlanta, the Nickle Arts Museum in Calgary, the Center for Experimental and Perceptual Art (CEPA) in Buffalo, Art interactive, Mobius and Studio Soto in Boston, the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City, Ambrosino Gallery in Miami, the Photographers Gallery in London, and the Friends of Photography’s Ansel Adams Center in San Francisco. His work has been commissioned by Turbulence.org and Rhizome.org. In 1992 he was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His writing has been published in Leonardo, the Journal of Visual Culture, and Exposure, as well as a chapter in the book Electronic Collaboration in the Humanities. Freeman received a BA degree from the University of California, San Diego and an M FA from the University of Colorado. He is currently an Associate Professor of New Media at Emerson College in Boston.