Parallel is a public performance aiming to address the current debate on whether virtual domains, such as virtual worlds and cryptocurrencies, can assist in the realisation of libertarian ideas.
By introducing the idea of a parallel system where there’s a chance for anyone or everyone to prosper, Parallel creates a narrative that stands between reality and conceptuality, to which hypothesis, random participants in a public space are invited to respond; Parallel speculates on the existence of a virtual platform as a “reset button”, a playground to regulate and rearrange real-life property in any way participants consider as efficient for a functional and just cohabitation. Participants share their thoughts on authority and a hypothetical redistribution of wealth. The hypothetical platform becomes a mediator to discuss the social psychology of possessions and to investigate whether the already existing capitalist context is eventually transferred to virtual domains, disrupting the perception of our most idealistic self. For this performance, we collaborated with a professional who had specialised in door-to-door sales.
The performance is inspired by the famous debate on the controversial “Original Position” between the liberal John Rawls, Michael Sandel and the right-libertarian Robert Nozick. The debate refers to the potential to assume an “initial status quo which insures that the fundamental agreements reached in it are fair”. To this idea, Sandel responds that there’s no such thing as the unencumbered self, liberated from history that would enable this, even hypothetically. Nozick on the other hand, defends property, even if the outcome of a reset leads again to inequalities.
The documentation records the inconsistency in views, between reality and a virtual domain; interestingly enough, most of the participants seem to be happy with ideas of shared ownership and fair redistribution in a parallel reality, but when it comes to the virtual version of their own real word assets, they become less solidary “because they are theirs”. Virtual domains, as Second Life has already proved, are not unencumbered by the existing structures of capitalism and are prone to right, rather than left-libertarianism.