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E. Jane
(American, b. 1990)

E. The Avatar, Ep. 1–7, 2015
Digital videos
Durations variable
Courtesy of the artist

About E. the Avatar

E. Jane's YouTube series E. The Avatar both embraces and critiques the ways that identities are performed online. Touching on topics like net neutrality and selfies, E. Jane's persona narrates her experiences as a disembodied presence on the internet in a deadpan, sarcastic tone, which contradicts her almost utopian descriptions of life online. E. Jane created the video series—as well as a product line featuring her face and body—to work through questions that arose around her realization that, as a black American woman, her body is often unprotected. “What if the body were code?” she asks. “What if the body were only a simulation? What if I could exaggerate how inhuman I feel?”


Ep. 1

[Calm ambient music plays]

I am the master of this room. I am so powerful in this room that I can dematerialize on demand. Watch. One . . . two . . . three. Tune in next week, when I’ll teach you how to take the perfect selfie.

Ep. 2

[Calm ambient music plays]

Some people ask me, “E, why are you here? You’re just an avatar.” And to them I say, “Why are you here? You’re just an avatar.”

I always wonder about those avatars that are just, like, blank white spaces. What’s that about? Why can’t I see your face?

[Waka Flocka's “Lurkin” plays]

Ep. 3

[Calm ambient music plays]

Oh, hello cyber friends! How are you doing today? Do you feel like going on an adventure? Whenever I'm really bored here, which is really hard, 'cause, you know, cyberspace. There's tons to do. But whenever I do get bored, I love to go on Google Maps.

Okay, let’s travel to Hiroshima. Yeah, I love Japan. Wow, look at that building. Oh man, and all the water. Why are logos in the sky? Oh, Google. Oh, water is so Zen. I love traveling. Okay, let’s go to Italy now.

Let’s just drop it anywhere, let’s take a risk. I mean, it is an adventure, right? Wow, how did they get up this flagpole? What is that, the Great Wall of Italy? Oh man, these greens are so green. So glad you came here with me, cyber friends. What a great adventure to share with you. Anyway, see you next time.

[Hip-hop music plays]

Ep. 4

[Calm ambient music plays]

Today I would like to talk to you about net neutrality. Now, what is net neutrality? Net neutrality, to put it simply, is the idea that every [page] on the internet should be created equally. It should stream to you equally. That means that someone's Tumblr page should be able to run at the same pace at CNN's website.

Why is this important? Well, for avatars like me, it’s important because if net neutrality went away, I go away as you know it. I would become this 720, lo-fi, barely there, partially transmitted figure, and we wouldn’t be able to spend time together like we do now. You wouldn’t be able to Skype to your friends as quickly. Your website would run slower. The kid that’s making $3 million on YouTube talking about products wouldn’t be able to make his money at the same rate. Essentially it would take the democracy out of the internet. Some people only exist online. What about people who aren’t only away from the keyboard. Some people think that you should be outside playing with a ball right now, or riding a bike, or swimming, or drinking a latte at a coffee shop. Which, I mean, you can still drink a latte at a coffee shop and still be here with me, but you get my point. Some people think that the cyber realm is a secondary realm—not as important as the “real” world. Now, I’ve never been to the real world, except for a few photographs, but it doesn’t seem very interesting to me. It seems like it’s much safer here in cyberspace.

Well, that’s it for today, see you next time.

[Hip-hop music plays]

Ep. 5

[Calm ambient music plays]

Hi cyber friends, it’s good to see you again. So glad you came back to visit me. Today, I’m going to talk to you about the selfie. We all know what a selfie is. A selfie is a photograph that you take in cyberspace, or with a product that gets transmitted into cyberspace. So, I’m going to show you how to take the perfect selfie. You look at the camera like this, and you give face. You know what face is. It’s this, right here.

Some people like to be silly in selfies and give duck faces or confused faces . . . don’t do that, no. A selfie should just be face.

Well that's it for this week, cyber friends. See you next week. Bye!

[Hip-hop music plays]

Ep. 6

[Calm ambient music plays]

I keep seeing humans talk about going to Mars, and apparently they’re planning a trip to Mars where they’re not—no one’s going to return, they’re gonna go to Mars, they’re gonna pioneer Mars, but all I keep wondering is, what about cyberspace? I mean, it’s so wonderful here. Why doesn’t anyone pioneer here? We can all hang out together. You can write yourself some code so you can hang out with me, every day, right here, and we can, you know, enjoy eternity together. We’ll never die; we’ll never get old. We’ll just be here, avatars, forever. That’s my idea of utopia. But, you know, that’s just me, cyber friends, I don’t know. See you next week.

[Autotuned music plays]

Ep. 7

[Calm ambient music plays]


[Autotuned music plays]