I am back. Not that I went anywhere physically. My work schedule has changed to my lazy days of summer and I seem to have inadvertently taken a couple of weeks off from the blog. Once I knew I was off schedule I thought I would wait until something related to Second Life or the Metaverse in general moved me enough to talk about here. I started to post about the SL 8 birthday bash, etc… I did enjoy some of the installations there… but then:
This week I saw/experienced two things that were juxtaposed such that I had to write about them. I’ll start with the last… Some may have seen the post by Hamlet Au over at New World Notes called “ High-Profile Performance Art in Second Life Subverted by EmergentCommunity, Force Field Drama, Robert Redford”. You should read the post and view the (12 minute) video. Fair warning, the video had a high squeamishness factor for me. The comments to the post capture the gist of why I felt squeamish.
The short version of my reaction to this is twofold: First, Second Life just isn’t something that can be walked up to, viewed for 10 minutes and understood. The (mostly visual) superficial elements are what folks are first taken with. Second, even a hipster “ironic” and initially condescending artist (Jeff Crouse) came to actually value and sort of “get” second life. In the end he admits to his ‘audience’ in the rl gallery that the actual ‘audience’ who became most engaged in and subverted the intention of his work were the members of community (that emerged over the 10 days of the project) of SL residents he attempted to exploit and lampoon. The sociologist in me found this video to be a microcosm of the very ‘real world’ dynamic that often happens when someone attempts to ‘explain’ Second Life even in a condescending/exploitative manner. The arch of discovery (about the unavoidable blend of RL/SL values ) that Mr. Crouse unintentionally goes thru is something many of us are familiar with. I thought it was particularly telling how he had to ‘blow his cover’ in sl to gain the cooperation of his workers, so the piece would be ‘ready’ (the meaning of which he wasn’t able to control). I’d love to hear other reactions to this.
The other experience I had this week was a conversation with Jo Ellsmere (a member of the Odyssey arts collective in SL). To me she seems to always be doing interesting work, exploring the “Not Possible In Real Life” creative digital possibilities (some may know her chairs - if not see bottom video). Jo’s recent explorations remind me how the Metaverse as a medium can be quite moving and thought provoking. Her piece (working with stacked or overlaid avatars) is still a work in progress, even so I was mesmerized. She had asked me to be a temporary test avatar as we explored some of the scripting road blocks she is tackling. Let’s just say I love that ‘layer upon layer’ of meaning we can experience when fully engaged with thought provoking art. I wonder what Jeff Crouse and that rl audience would think of an exploration of Mulitple Avatar Symbiosis (to use Pyewacke’s terms)?
Jo Ellsmere's work in progress. The multiple avatar. from Pyewacket on Vimeo.
Documentation of the first of many experiments
in multiple avatar symbiosis.
Presented by Jo Ellsmere
recorded by Pye
Odyssey Sim, SL
9 Chairs & a Table from Robward Antwerp on Vimeo.
A wonderful example of some npril (not possible in real life) chair building. By Jo Ellsmere... this dinning room set are both immediately recognizable and impossible...