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VR commodity


part of the MÆ- Motion Aftereffect series    

Found video / adapted text:
Freya Björg Olafson
Audio: Emma Hendrix

HD video | 3m45s


Installation or screening

Originally I perform with the video as part of

MÆ - Motion Aftereffect


Above: an excerpt of the video work, including sound from a live audience.

Please email to access the complete work.


This video features my rewritten version of ‘Lettuce Manifesto’, created by Fluxus affiliated artist Al Hansen in 1970. It is projected onstage at the beginning of my performance work 'MÆ - Motion Aftereffect'. In 2005 I witnessed Fluxus affiliated artist Geoffrey Hendricks perform ‘Lettuce Manifesto’ at the University of Manitoba Art Barn, this influential experience shifted my understanding of performance. In my iteration, the manifesto is spoken by a computer text-to-speech tool alongside a sound score by Emma Hendrix. The video features found screen captures of in-game footage by VR / 360 video and AR users. In the manifesto, I convert Hansen’s ‘Lettuce’ (LET US) to ‘V R’ (WE ARE) in order to shift meaning from a fight for permission, ‘Let us’, to the clear agency to enact, ‘We are’. Below is an excerpt of Hansen’s original text:

‘Lettuce Manifesto” - excerpt from Al Hansen

Lettuce bring art back into life
Lettuce forget theaters and perform in the world
Lettuce go over and around the real-estate men
Lettuce move out into streets, subways and luncheonettes
Lettuce perform in life with no warnings
Lettuce create repertory companies on shoestrings
Lettuce perform on roofs, in airplanes, on ferryboats and in trees
Lettuce combine life and art, overlap and interpenetrate them
Lettuce think theater as a painting or collage in time and space
Lettuce think architectural works as dances…

In the latter half of his text, Hansen’s 1970s manifesto makes a political statement about the US involvement with the Vietnam War. Conversely, in my iteration the political is embedded in the title, ‘V R Commodity’. My intention is to center the medium of communication (VR). When I read ‘V R Commodity’ I hear the developer and user voices chant “We are” which underscores the embedded or embodied enthusiasm of those working with VR/AR/360 video. These technologies shift how time, space, and viewer communication is both engaged and understood. Presently, VR developers proceed with minimal legislation or guidelines controlling the production of content for VR, a medium through its immersive qualities has the potential to be a manipulative and deceptive tool. These concerns led the European Union to fund the development of a ‘Code of Ethics’ for VR production.

Freya acknowledges the generous support of the Manitoba Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts, the AR/VR Artist Research Residency Pilot organized by Oregon Story Board, Eyebeam and Upfor Gallery in Portland as well as the 13th Annual Montréal Choreographic Workshop. In 2017 this work was developed through the CounterPulse (San Francisco) ‘Artist Residency Commissioning Program’ with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, and the Ken Hempel Fund for the Arts.

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Screening History Olafson performed alongside the video work in development in the following contexts:

2019   Prairie Theatre Exchange Oct 30 - Nov 3rd

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