Klaus_eBooks: Selfhood and Telepresence in “Template Jams” by Deanna Havas

September 16, 2013 | Kyle Chayka

In the newest addition to the Klaus_eBooks artist series edited by Brian Droitcour for Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, we are presented with Template Jams, an exciting collection of digital collages and poetry featuring ideal template designs as determined by artist Deanna Havas. For a sneak peak inside Havas’ new ebook, check out our screenshots above.

Brian Droitcour on live-action role-playing, social media and self-presentation as themes of the work:

template jam is an improvisation with settings—a way of playing with the defaults and designs that populate networked environments, the vessels that we pour ourselves into when we use social media. Deanna Havas’ volume of jams represents a cast of characters; her digital drawings and collages are the optimal settings for these imagined people’s self-expression. By coming up with characters and proceeding from them to the templates, Havas approaches problems of selfhood and telepresence from the opposite direction that most of us are used to. Her backwards path produces a vibrant visual analysis of self-presentation and tools that online social services provide for it.

In the preface to her collection of jams, Havas compares the management of social media presence to LARPing, or live-action role-playing—a form of play familiar to many as fantasy battles staged in parks or forests. Havas transposes LARP to the quotidian realm social media in order to convey the idea that in a world saturated with technology everyday life is role-play; every utterance (whether verbal or visual) is a manipulation of a given set of rules. Havas’ essay is a deft synthesis of critical-theory jargon and Twitter slang, obliquely suggesting that language itself as an array of registers to be worn and changed like outfits. Her writing is a template jam, too.

Further expanding upon this idea, it’s important to note just how integral many of these variations of digital templates have greatly determined much of our communication through social media as well as countless other outlets for expression. The book goes on sale today on iTunes.