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Materializing virtual reality: The performativity of skin, body and costume in Tobias Bernstrup’s artwork

Journal article
Authors Viveka Kjellmer
Published in Studies in Costume and Performance
Volume 1
Issue 2
Pages 151-161
ISSN 2052-4013
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Cultural Sciences
Pages 151-161
Language en
Links https://doi-org.ezproxy.ub.gu.se/10...
Keywords Tobias Bernstrup; body; costume; embodied experience; performance; skin; skin-as-shell
Subject categories Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Art History, Arts

Abstract

Swedish artist Tobias Bernstrup (b. 1970) works with multimedia, music, performance, video and computer games. He creates fictional alter egos in his works and returns to his characters in an ongoing re-mediation, digitally or in real-world artistic performances. In explicit stage costumes made of latex, leather and metal, Bernstrup performs in the interface between digital character, human being and artwork. The costume becomes a bearer of physical experiences, a bridge between the portrayed and the perceived. Through our gaze, bodily experiences are transferred in the form of embodied knowledge or haptic vision. Materiality conveys meaning and communicates with our tactile memory through glossy latex, cold metal or bare skin. The costume is a paradoxical entity: both an inseparable part of the artist’s body in the performance process and something that can be removed, yet remains part of the character. The nude body onstage can be seen as another costume, the bare skin serving as an interface between visual and physical experience. Bernstrup and his virtual alter egos slip between existences where skin, body and costume tie his virtual and physical realities together.

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