Tuesday, June 23, 2009


My build, "The Future of Virtual Subjectivity," which could also be called, "Greetings from the Gloom Meteor," is seen from afar in the above snapshot; it is the one with the spheres in the air and the marvelous dome on the ground (built by the talented and ever-patient Cinco Pizzicato). I took this snapshot at 2:50 am my time, just as the group notice went out that said: pencils down, and will get some better ones today when the exhibition reopens. The build time was over, and what is there will be my first virtual installation. Yes, there is EduGolf, but that has a practical purpose different from this piece, which really is my attempt to participate fully in the inworld virtual art making I have been around and experimenting with in various ways.

I learned a lot in making this piece. I banged my head against the limitations of my knowledge and skill constantly as I tried to figure out how to make the things that were in my head. I asked a lot of people for help, and they were really generous with me. That is one of the best aspects of SL, of course, and my friends are talented and patient. When the fourth skilled builder/artist I know came to my land, took a look around at what I was doing, and told me to simplify, that I was making things needlessly complicated, I really heard it, and so that became the thing I worked for this project when I got stuck, stepping back, remembering the focus, going for simplicity, and then of course ramping up the ideas and complexity again, because that is my nature. It was an interesting process, and maybe a dialectic I can play with inworld, with particles, textures, and other kinds of scripting and movement.

So, here is the short version of the narrative of my piece:

Here on the meteor, it is 2499 and we hurtle through space, bereft of sun, with barely enough water to keep us being civil to each other. Sometimes I think if I bang my head on the edge of the dome one more time when I'm cleaning up, I'll really scream. The gloom persists. But not too long ago, we found some fragments from a non-quite forgotten past, and they ignited our imaginations. Images, a poem, some sounds, a fragment of video, pieces of text, pulled off an ancient disc that somehow survived in space and floated to us.

What an archeological find! The motifs invigorated our design, infiltrated our dreams, shaped our virtual environments. The sun, the flower, the ripple, the snow. A poem that speaks to our experience here on the gloom meteor, my own desert place that I call home. But then of course I toggle into the virtual, and my eyes drink in the water, my skin sears with the heat of the sun, I am enveloped by the petals of the flower, and I turn my face and part my lips to taste the falling snow.

Part of what we found has made us think about the long ago past, how quaint it must have been when the virtual was so split from the actual, when it was not so effortless to shift between, when not everyone was moving between realities. On that disc, maybe corrupted because it doesn't all make sense, were some ideas about virtual subjectivity written by someone named Lori Landay in the year 2009, a primitive time of computer screens, something very bad called lag in an early virtual world named Second Life, and also I think a time of great hope and invention.

LINK TO SECOND LIFE LOCATION http://slurl.com/secondlife/Dimension/215/182/22

The installation has two parts, really: the part on the land, which is mostly Cinco's dome and Alexith Destiny's fantastic glowy thyme and meteor flowers. The domehouse is decorated on the inside with the images and video "found" on the disc, which I imagined as a back up CD or DVD I might make when working on a project, that somehow ends up floating through space. Yeah. The images include photographs from my garden, a photo of the sun from NASA, a picture of a peony from an online bulb catalog. These are the designs on the chairs, on the walls, the floor, in the dome.

A teleport object (with a super clever script by Cinco) takes you to an approximation of some of the experiences the meteor people have when they toggle into the virtual, immersive sensory experiences that provide them what they sorely lack on the gloom meteor. The images you saw in the dome as design motifs are the virtual environments themselves.

I wanted to have a ride take the avatars from one sculpture to the next, but I could not get that damned thing to work right. Misprint used it for the suck train at Brooklyn Is Watching, and I was over there with her when she was installing it, and it gave her problems too, I remember. She of course, fixed hers, but I ran out of time and patience, and so simplified, and people will have to fly around my build.

I am having an event, a short talk and then a discussion, at 5PM Pacific Time on Thursday, June 25. http://slurl.com/secondlife/Dimension/215/182/22

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