Monday, October 26, 2009

Burning Life


The blog has suffered with my return to teaching, and some of my attention has been focused over at my Technology, Self, & Society course blog. I have also been pretty busy, with the Burning Life festival. Here is the slurl to the theme camp joyously and wackily built by Maya Paris and myself, Fembot EggBounce & Pangirl Fries.

My part of it is called "From the Frying Pan into the Fire," which sums up my SL experience! Actually, it is about a character I created called Pangirl, who is kind of a golem maybe created by Lucille Ball or Lucy Ricardo.

That is the Pangirl avatar, which my friend Uzzu made for me out of my Pangirl sculpture, so people can wear it and BE Pangirl.

Here is the story:

A moonlit night on the playa in 1959: a tall-red-headed woman with bright blue eyes raced through the desert in her big shiny car. Suddenly, a frying pan glinting in the moonlight on an abandoned campsite caught her eye, even through her tears of fury, and she screeched to a stop, dust obscuring the car's tail fins.

She flicked her cigarette into the ashes, flames jumped. She picked up the pan, and dropped if fast--somehow it was hot! What she didn't see was the little piece of the pan that chipped off, nestled into the flame and the ash, started to change as she walked away.

Thus was Pangirl created, glinting in the playa moonlight. She staggered out of the embers, made her way to a town, then a city. She tried so hard to fit in, to play nicely in the domestic constraints of American culture in which she found herself, but her fire nature, or maybe her iron nature came out, and she could not. She tried to have it all, to bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, ever, let him forget he's a man, but instead she grabbed her rolling pin and purse, burned the house down, and lit out for the playa again, back to whence she came. There she stayed alone for a long time, growing ever bigger and harder, until one day a space ship hovered, and the Fembots joined her. She had a lot to tell them.


*****

Inspired in part by finishing my book on media history and I Love Lucy, and in part by my desire for Maya Paris's Fembots to have a friend when they landed on the playa, I created Pangirl. In the late fifties, Lucille Ball and her real-life husband were portraying a happy couple in their hit television show while all hell broke loose behind the scenes. I imagine the gap between reality and illusion, always an intriguing theme, must have been hard to bear. Maybe she even wanted to burn some stuff down.

It made me wonder what kind of golem, a magical Yiddish folklore creature made of clay, might have arisen out of women's experiences of the gaps between how the media portrays their lives and how they experience them, whether they are involved in the kind of large-scale public charade Ball was, or just their own. On the one hand, I think a lot has changed in fifty years, but then I look around at the images of women in Second Life and then I wonder. Maya created her Fembots because she didn't see images of female robots that she could relate to, and perhaps together our installation calls attention to how we choose to image ourselves and others in here. Oh, and out there, too.

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There is machinima that plays on the television screens at the installation, which is not meant as a standalone piece, but to be seen at the installation. Nevertheless, I will post it here.

The way I made this one is kind of interesting, because I improvised with the Freud chatbot at The Theorists Project (slurl) as well as having some scripted lines that I shot there. I shot some of Poid Mahovlich's fires at two of my favorite beach sims, Monkey Cove and Knowhere, and intercut those with the "session" with Dr. Freud.
video