Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Look Out Virtual World, Hair They Come

What are Maya Paris, KinoEye Galaxy, and Misprint Thursday doing and, to pose a more pressing question, what is their HAIR DOING?  Stay tuned.

L1 in the Chilbo Road Press!

L1 made the news!  See the Chilbo Road Press here.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Video of the NMC Keynote!!

Here is the video of the Keynote Nettrice and I did at the NMC Symposium--and here you can find the entire program with links to video.  What a fantastic event!  Also check out 2009 Virtual World Best Practice in Education Conference

Wednesday, March 25, 2009



Lori Landay/L1Aura Loire

NMC Keynote, March 25 2009


Subjectivity is the experience of the “I”.  Subjectivity can be defined, in Raymond Williams’ phrase, as “structures of feeling.”  It encompasses a person’s feelings, thoughts, and perceptions; it emphasizes their individual encodings and decodings of their environment, social interactions, and experiences.  The term comes from the French verb asujettir, which has a double meaning of both to produce subjectivity and also to make subject--it is both creative and restrictive.

If subjectivity is the first-person experience of the “I,” shaped by both individual psychological experiences and wider cultural forces, and it is intersubjective—created socially—then the people behind the avatars certainly bring their actual world subjectivities in here.  However, once inworld, instead of having a body through which to experience the world, we have an avatar and visual and sound input that are not necessarily connected to that avatar’s position.  There are "mirror neurons" in the brain that respond to what the avatar does, but it is different than direct sensory input.  Therefore, the already blurry line between the self and the world is completely smudged in virtual subjectivity.


In the rich visual world of Second Life, there is intense visual stimulus. Throughout the rise of visual culture, physical point of view and subjectivity have been connected; to some extent, all visual representation explores this, and as each new visual medium arises, that relationship is recreated and extended.  In a virtual world, the viewer position is both immersive and detached, both connected intimately to our experience of the avatar—but also strangely outside of him, her, or it.  

So, instead of an "I," now we have an "I/Eye" of virtual subjectivity, which is a mode of first-person experience in a virtual world that is founded on a fusion of visual and metaphoric point of view, shaped through "self-design" of the avatar and environment, reinforced and extended through social interaction, and enacted through virtual agency.   Part of virtual subjectivity is the extent to which the mind/body connection translates inworld experiences into embodied sensations that feel "real."  To sum up, there are four major factors that contribute to virtual subjectivity:

1) virtual point of view

2) virtual self-design

3) virtual social relationships 

4) virtual agency

From the conclusion:

I also have a glimpse of something in here—a kind of virtual subjectivity that I would associate with the trickster—a shapeshifter who uses the avatar as a mask, a crosser of boundaries, culture hero or heroine who embodies and enacts central cultural conflicts.  I glimpse a virtual subjectivity that would reveal all of the virtual world as installation space and oneself as a performance artist within it, calling our attention to the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds by finding new ways of crossing them, looping between them, shifting the borders, again and again.

Selected Sources

Battaglia, D., ed. (1995). Rhetorics of Self-Making. University of California Press. 

Blakeslee, S. (2006). "Cells That Read Minds."  New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-23, from  http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/10/science/10mirr.html

Boellstorff, T. (2008). Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Princeton University Press.

Cooper, S.  (2002). Technoculture and Critical Theory: In the Service of the Machine? Routledge. 

Curtis , A.  "THE CLAUSTRUM: Sequestration of Cyberspace." (2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(1), 99-139.

Landay, L. (2008). "Having But Not Holding: Consumerism & Commodification in Second Life." Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, 1(2). Retrieved 2009-03-23, from https://journals.tdl.org/jvwr/article/view/355/265

Ortner, S. (2005). "Subjectivity and

Cultural Critique." Anthropological Theory Vol 5(1): 31–52

Steinberg, M.  (2004). Listening to Reason: Culture, Subjectivity, and Nineteenth-century Music, Princeton University Press.

Vertov, D. (1985). Kino-Eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov. University of California Press.

Walther, J. B. (1996). Computer-mediated communication: Impersonal, interpersonal, and hyperpersonal interaction. Communication Research, 23(1):3-43.

An Emergent Second Life, Video. [28 min] Paper Tiger TV.  Co- Producer and Director, Bianca Ahmadi; Associate Producer, Juan Rubio; Editor, Juan David Gonzalez; Content Director, Jason Pine.Watch inworld at Brooklyn Is Watching 􀀂 or http://papertigertv.blogspot.com/2008_12_01_archive.html

Not Possible in Real Life Blog http://npirl.blogspot.com/


L1's Eye/I built by Cube Republic (Cube Republic store, Crimson Night (155, 90, 22)

KinoEyePlane built by Alexith Destiny (Destiny Blue Designs, Destiny Blue (173, 15, 1369)

& scripted by Simon Kline  http://www.klinelabs.com/

Interested in learning how to script?  Find out  about Simon's classes! http://www.klinelabs.com/


Verbal Television


Caerleon Art Collective (128, 74, 26)

Misprint  Thursday

with collaborating scripts contributed by Oberon Onmura and Cinco Pizzicato

V-TV examines the beauty in both the visual translation of text and the limitations of text communications in these forms.

Digital text communication like chat, email and texting have increased our ability to share ideas with one another. The concept for V-TV, or Verbal Television, is to translate text communication to a visual form of communication. V-TV responds to text input by creating a digital art display which becomes a sort of visual poetry.  The piece, is, however limited in its scope and function to respond which perhaps mirrors the idea of the limitations of non face to face communication.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Misprint's V-TV

L1, Maya, and Misprint dwell in the data stream at Misprint's installation.  This picture and video are part of my keynote presentation at the opening session of the NMC conference.

Misprint Thursday with collaborating scripts contributed by Oberon Onmura and Cinco Pizzicato

This installation translates text communication into a visual form of communication.  I e-mailed my idea--that "We create our senses of self in a virtual world through our interactions with each other.  It is social and cultural, but it is done through computer-mediated communication."  

I read around in cyberpsychology this past week and about CMC and it really threatened to ruin my second life for a little while.  Made me worry that I was  only talking to myself, or projections of myself, or idealized fantasies of others I projected onto the other avatars.  But these gals are pretty real and despite my excellent imagination, I could not come up with them.  Also I think that the critique of CMC that I was reading was based on asynchronous text, andin SL, the synchronous communication, strong visuals, immersive experience, my voice communications with some inworld friends, and extra-world communication like e-mail and non-SL IMs and chat go beyond the limitations described in some of the critiques I read, like this.  Anyway, I think I don't care!  Bring on the consensual hallucination.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Reading around in anthropology

My excellent colleague, the anthropologist/historian/ethnomusicologist/multimedia artist DJ Hatfield, sent me in some intriguing directions for reading around.  In particular, the essays in the book Rhetorics of Self-Making, edited by Debbora Battaglia, have prompted a lot of thought.  In my house, we have a running joke that it is imperative that I start stories I am telling about what I did that day with a prefatory "In Second Life," or otherwise I say things like, "My friend Maya and I were both robots today," or "I spent the day falling again," etc.  Even little Sammy loves to say, "I'm waiting for you to say 'in Second Life!'"  Well, as I read the essays in the Battaglia book, I want to add, "in Second Life," because as I think through the various contributions to what she terms a critical anthropology of selfhood (2), they seem so fully applicable to how subjectivity and selfhood are created, circulated, and constantly recreated in a virtual world.  

One of the  most striking experiences I have had is when I have given my "shape"--the object that holds the dimensions of my body avatar's body--to my friend Shirah, who has put it on herself, adjusted the measurements, and then given it back to me to wear.  It takes the idea of the girlfriend makeover to a new level!  And shows how what anthropologist Jason Pine, in a fantastic television show available inworld at the Brooklyn Is Watching sim (slurl) calls "self design" can be so very social in SL.  

Of course, as I read around, I return to my old standbys, the things that form the very backbone how I make sense out of my experiences in SL: Bartky, Goffman, Pelton, Hall, Benjamin, de Certeau, Foucault to some extent.  Heidegger.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Falling Woman Story

Finally . . . a finished machinima!  I think I found my "voice" making this one, and interestingly, it was not one of the pieces in my grand plan of inter-related interviews and think-piece commentaries.  

I think of this piece as an anchor piece, an introduction to some of the issues I see as pertinent to an exploration of virtual subjectivity, and also of an introduction to L1.  You're dropped in the middle of an intimate conversation with her, and suddenly she is telling you this incredible story, showing you how she imagines it, how she has played it out in Second Life, experiencing it for herself, shaping it into a performance, remaking it into machinima.