The Practice of Everyday (Virtual) Life
A participatory and performative artistic research enquiry
Rebecca Gamble, School of Art and Design, Nottingham Trent University

"Lets Dance Sugar Lips"This doctoral research proposes that our everyday is now lived between physical and virtual space, in a ‘hybrid space’, augmented with technologies and where we increasingly perform as digital versions of ourselves: avatars.

The thesis title refers to Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life (1984), in which he examines the everyday practices of ‘ordinary people’, and the individual and tactical ‘ways of operating’ in the everyday. For the theorists of the everyday, there is an insisted necessity to create strategies (Lefebvre 1947), construct situations (Debord 1957) or design tactics (de Certeau 1984) to critically reflect on what might otherwise go unnoticed. This research argues that with the increasing familiarity of the practice of everyday virtual life, new tactics to critically question the everyday become necessary to challenge how we live online and how hybrid space effects human behaviour.

This practice-led enquiry investigates hybrid space through the interaction between virtual and physical space and the action-reflection of participatory performance in a new body of work by artist Rebecca Gamble. This work develops new tactics, including telepresent performances connecting physical–virtual space, choreographing physical movement using digital rules and instructions, re-performing the everyday virtual practices observed in Second Life, and attempts to embody a digital avatar.

The methodology for this enquiry is grounded in Action Research, specifically in the cyclical process of action-reflection, adapting David Kolb’s experiential learning cycle (1984). This reflects the iterative stages in the on­going cycle of observations (of virtual space), actions (participatory performance in physical space), the reflection and analysis. Through this process, hospitality is revealed as appropriate methodology to illustrate the activation and facilitation of participatory performance. This is present throughout the research in the roles of host (artist) and guest (participant) and in the methods of invitation, instruction and duration.