Monday, August 4, 2008

The Salt Satyagraha by Joseph Delappe

Over the course of 26 days, using a treadmill customized for cyberspace, Joseph Delappe reenacted Mahatma Gandhi's famous 1930 Salt March. The original 240-mile walk was made in protest of the British salt tax; the update of this seminal protest march took place at Eyebeam and in Second Life, the Internet-based virtual world. For this performance, Joseph Delappe walked the entire 240 miles of the original march on a converted treadmill at Eyebeam in New York City and online in Second Life. My steps on the treadmill controlled the forward movement of my avatar, MGandhi Chakrabarti, enabling the live and virtual reenactment of the march.

Realized in several stages, DeLappe's virtual re-creation of The Salt Satyagraha, Mahatma Ghandi's Salt March to Dandi, a journey 240 mileslong, is part installation and part performance art. His historical re-enactment reveals more about how virtual space is navigated from real
space than it explains the politics of Mahatma Ghandi's protest against British salt tax in 1930, utilizing travel in real space, a blog, and images from the journey housed on Flickr.
More of the article:

On joining a “real” march in NYC…
May 6, 2008 by delappe
Long delayed in writing about my experience on April 6th, 2008, walking in a march in “real life” sponsored by the NYC based “Satya Graha Forum”. The march was the inaugural event of a month of activities surrounding the production of “The Satyagraha”, the Phillip Glass opera from 1977 that was being revived by The Metropolitan Opera here in New York. The march involved starting at any one of four gathering points, walking a few miles and circling Union Square Park with all four groups converging on the Gandhi statue at the Soutwest corner of the park for a rally and speeches.
Keep in mind this was the day after completing the 240 miles of the reenactment in Second Life and on the treadmill - I was tired! All the same, it was quite an amazing experience to break out of my daily regimen of walking at Eyebeam (indoors), sleeping, getting up the next day and walking again. I made my way to Houston and 2nd avenue to gather with my fellow marchers. I immediately found myself feeling very self-conscious and shy in only the way that gathering with a group of complete strangers can do to me. Oddly, this was the complete opposite of my behavior and demeanor within Second Life during the course of the reenactment where I was completely at ease in approaching others in the online space to chat and invite them to be my “friends” and perhaps join me in walking.

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