Context Specific Meaning

As a side note related to the earlier post on site specific art, I have been thinking about the difference between site specificity and context specificity. One of the ideas behind the ‘in situ’ movement is that outside of the site, the art looses its meaning – or at least meaning weakens (this, of course, is my interpretation of the readings and lecture from my class). When I think about my avatar in terms of site specificity and meaning, it makes alot of sense. Velixious (as an avatar) has meaning within the game of EverQuest. Her stature, armor and actions speak to a set of meanings within the contextual space of the game. If I remove her from this space, her meaning becomes lost. Case in point – Velix is also my Facebook image. The other day, a friend – who has never played EQ, messages me and says “oh, she is cute – can you make me one!”. My first response was – “make you what?”. Then I realized, she was talking about Velix. In a Facebook context, Velix has lost her meaning. Same goes for her use in any other non-game related context.

So now that I agree with myself on this, what do I do with it? Is thinking this way useful for my work on identity? Does this idea of context specificity bring us back to a form of digitally fragmented self? Something I have been working so hard to move away from. Or is the idea of fragmentation simply an external one, while the ‘harmonized identity’ (re: my thesis/ Burke) remains within the player?

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