• Benoit Palop

✌︎('ω'✌︎ ) Vanguard CG-girl Ruby bends the rules of the virtual influencers industry

All the pictures © Ruby 9100M

They're everywhere - or almost. Virtual influencers have seeped into every network and sphere to the delight of all those who fully embrace post-digital culture. From fashion to art to media, they've opened the door to new marketing and creative possibilities. Ultra-flexible storytelling, design and experience, they adapt to the mood and expectations of their audiences and followers. Not always well accepted, the last few months have been quite beneficial to them.

Internet and beyond.

It took a pandemic for things to step up. Tough enough to boost the digital transition that had been underway for ages, the confinement + way-too-much internet combo had a radical impact. More than an optional holistic approach, the IRL|URL, Online|AFK balance is more than ever the new norm to jump into. Post-covid hybrid world, here we are.

Breaking down the different realities is not, however, a brand new thing. With the Internet embedded in our day to day lives, in some creative and artistic niches, exploring the point of convergence of virtual and real spaces has been offering up new fields of exploration and new aesthetics for a while. With these new realms we rethought our way of comprehending the world and culture in the digital age. And all of this, with or without the help of a health crisis.

Virtual influencer despite herself...

While some people may have trouble understanding the virtual influencer frenzy or are not very appreciative of the CG-girl aesthetics, others still can find the overall concept a bit blazé and not artsy enough, some will dig deeper and find in Ruby a rather well crafted exploration of internet era self-reflection.

The Tumblr her creator kept in the 2010s shows that the creative process behind her avatar is above all the continuation of her research on meta-identities and self-representations that have emerged from web and digital (counter) culture. Indeed, for the Hong Kong-based artist, understanding herself virtually is to understand herself in the real world. A URL psychoanalysis that she underwent through this 90s net aesthetics-fuelled moodboard and that helped her to build the 3D rendering that defines her digital presence for a few years now.

Of course, her Transhuman-Chrometypish features, half Ghost in the Shell, half Gunnm, has its little effect, the commercial collabs - which shouldn’t be dismissed as selling out - that Ruby brought to NIKE, Ambush, Bvlgari, Vivienne Westwood and DAZED are a bit of a window. In addition to increasing her profile and bringing her into the public eye, these opportunities provide her a way to make her art viable and monetizable.

... but above all, human.

However, unlike most of the teams that manage these 2.0 muses, first and foremost cool marketing tools, malleable at will, and fresh and available 24/7, the one-woman team (IRL Ruby) does not hide her intervention on her CGI alter ego. This transparency is definitely one of the catching aspects of her practice, and considerably expands the scope of her work from an artistic as well as a sociological point of view.

The genuineness she shares, even across the spectrum of the screen, presents a very personal vision of the merging point of the real and the virtual, a universal everyday life at the crossroads of dimensions that are no longer up for discussion in 2021. Contrary to other influencers who, in the end, are nothing more or less than an amalgam of current trends established by a whole studio, Ruby reflects her IRL character and pertinently questions the game of online presence and the digital dystopia.

Without a doubt the most human and authentic of the CGI influencers, she keeps a minimum distance from the competition and despite her involvement in many commercial projects, always favours a critical and creative approach. It's a slippery slope she's managed quite well so far.

Ruby has a website and also an instagram. She is represented by Shanghai-based creative agency Club Media.

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