Monday, July 27, 2009

Masquerades of Endings

Clever botgirlq tweeted, "Avatars are like costumes we wear to the perpetual masked balls we call Virtual Worlds." I like this. There is hardly anything I like more than a masquerade ball, the way people behave in slightly different ways as they don the mask, even, or especially, when you already know each other. I had a masquerade ball for my 40th birthday, or rather for my 40.5 birthday, because when I turned 40, the heavens opened and there was a record snow storm, canceling the party. It took 6 months for us to get it together to reschedule, and it was no longer a birthday party, just a masked ball, but a good time was had by all, and there was waltzing.

I ponder the differences between the actual and virtual masked balls as I perform some triage on the mountain of machinima footage I have amassed during the past year of my sabbatical. (See pic of Kino and L1 reviewing footage.) I can see how L1 has changed physically, how my interests have shifted, how the people and places I have filmed have shifted and persisted. And what to do with it all?

One piece, the screwball comedy, has been particularly elusive to me, starting out as one idea, becoming ever more complicated, and suffering from a serious lack of denouement. I never shot an ending!! Tons of footage and no ending! I did make a trailer for it back in the Spring:

Somehow, as I worked on it, I got lost in the details, lost the narrative. Suddenly there was a crowd scene to shoot, a first for me who had pretty much only worked with my own alts before, but what did that scene have to do with the story, and what was the story at this point? I am into going with the flow of things, tend to have the experimental approach of: I wonder what this will be like, but I am not sure this is the way to get a movie done. Maybe what I wanted to say shifted around, more than once. Whose story is it anyway? Kino's? The leopard's? The leopard has the voice over, but I found the purring damnably difficult, and only let a few people hear it, who said I sounded sleepy. Not the tone I was going for.

Now I am faced with trying to make something out of what I have, or shooting some more, writing a new voice over . . . starting again really in order to end. It makes me think about the making of Bringing Up Baby, of course the inspiration for my screwball comedy, way over budget and schedule, with Howard Hawks' improvisational style, screenwriters on the set rewriting constantly, much confusion and hilarity, frustration, but also great creativity and sparks. Someplace there is an intersection of my interest in the conventions of the screwball genre and in SL, but I am still not sure where that is. I can only hope it will emerge in the edit.

Botgirl showed me her comedy about SL romance, which you can see (warning, R-rated) here.

It is cynical and funny, with a really good ending, and is slick, savvy machinima, with outstanding use of sound. And knowing that she has commented with characteristic insight and wit on this pattern, I will turn my attention in a different direction, maybe back to computer-mediated communication. Now there's a topic for comedy!!

One piece I know I want to nail down is the footage of my SL6B build that I took at the SL6B gloom sim, on the very last night before they took the sim away, a dramatic ending, really, complete with a mysterious visitor who didn't want to leave, just to stay there in one of my sculptures as the sim vanished. Whatever! I'll use that footage for a tour of the installation and as an explanation of some of my ideas about virtual subjectivity. I can film an intro at the installation at Fiteiro Cultural, and use that machinima for a presentation on my sabbatical work.

So my endings are really masquerades of endings, because the footage lingers, needing to be cut, maybe reshot, simulacra of closure, with a window left open off on the side of my screen, in case.

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