Monday, December 12, 2011

Why blog?

Why blog? This was the answer I used to give a year ago. I am reformulating a better one, at least a more honest one for this coming year. Or, at least I hope so.

Updated answer: Because SL is an ego trip!

No, but really...
As a researcher looking into the use of technology in education, I found SL to be a very interesting and engaging format, albeit one not free of complications, but one serendipitous and organic in nature. Deliberately or not, in Second Life (SL) I have come to enact those very same stances that define me in real life (RL): I am a learner in both.

I no longer approach SL strictly as a game, or even a simulation, but as an organic, shifting, and evolving forum where people learn to do things in cooperation. Where people, through communities of practice, become friends. Consequently, I find that the people behind the avatars enrich my life by sharing their experiences and knowledge much the same way friends do in other contexts. SL provides a public sphere where life, first or second, can be enacted in multiple ways, through multiple lenses, by all its residents.

So...herein I intend record my thoughts as they pertain to what I know in RL, as they evolve to include what I have come to know about SL.

I write to not forget.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Pope dissess SL? Oh, please...

Oh, this is ever so interesting!
If nothing more, it is of value for starting a conversation about technology, at worst, it could be read as the Pope herding his sheep back to the stone age. In all fairness, one commenter claims that the excerpt should be read in its entirety. When I find it, I will definitely link it up here for reference.

In the meantime, enjoy an awesome mesh picture of the Pope (alas, the irony) as he expounds his views on technology. I must warn you, it is only one quote, and obviously one devoid of any context that could further explain how this quote came to be.


Here is another link:

Haha! You have to go look now, don't you?

Well, here is an interesting comment by one poster to the link above.

MaWeiTao says:
If you guys had linked to a story of the full quote you'd see that the Pope was talking about the media in general and very legitimate concerns. This is not about confusing real life and fantasy as this crappy linked article claims.

It's about how technology has made it easy to mislead people and allow people themselves to be mislead. He also touches on the trivialization of news. How reporting of an event has become a source of entertainment as opposed to conveying the gravity of that event and turning it into something to learn from.

Given the rise of FoxNews, HuffPo and others it seems quite relevant to me. And certainly it goes way beyond major media outlets and extends to the web.

But don't let the facts get in the way of all the Christian bashing.

Though trying not to offend anyone here, I found this other comment somewhat trite, irrelevant to the conversation, but very amusing. Okay, now, stop short of shooting the messenger. :P

Snow leopard says:
Man, it always astounds when the Catholic Church tries to make people feel guilty for having a good time, especially considering JC was such a party animal. Half of his miracles revolved around turning shit show events into the most rocking parties ever.

Oh, snap! There’s no open bar at this wedding? Water to wine!

What do you mean the caterer bailed? Okay, give me a basket with a loaf and some wine. I’ll whip something up.

Man, this fishing trip blows. Throw the net over the other side…Just do it, man!

And did the Holy Christ pick apple juice as his blood? Heck no, he wanted people to remember him by tipping off a glass of smooth red wine.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Yeah, there are artist types in SL, who knew?

I wrote the following entry as response to a blog post by White Lebed titled Virtual Worlds: Sex, Lies and Sundance Film Festival.

In the entry, White refers to a film about SL which addresses issues of addiction, sex, betrayal, and escapist fantasy as the main components of SL as we know it. While the creators of the movie focus on some aspects of life on the grid, albeit ones not experienced by all residents, it does once again cast a negative shadow on SL as a whole.

I would suggest and kindly ask that you read White's entry prior to my own to get a broader scope of what was discussed.

The name of the movie being discussed is 'Life 2.o' and you can see the trailer here.

My two cents worth:

While I find a rather distasteful and negative focus on SL to be the norm when portrayed in the media (and I am sick of it), I recognize that ignorance is often the culprit leading people to erroneous, if not outrageous, conclusions.

I came in to SL for academic reasons, but I remained primarily for the arts. It is the artists and their works that inspire my own thoughts. It is having unlimited access to an infinite repertoire of abilities and tools to create, and in ways not readily possible in a RL context, that has cemented my own beliefs about the worth of virtual environments.

Sure, people will socialize to no end. They will find solace to their own RL social needs in the company of others who share affective parallels with them. But they are not the only ones inhabiting these grids. What movies like the above fail to stress is that these same processes, whether they involve addiction, pornography, or clandestine lovers, will be enacted by people whether the context is virtual or real. I have to disagree with those who claim that a SL facilitates deviant behaviors because the the truth remains that some people will perform such behaviors regardless of medium.

As always, the uninformed will be the first to cast the proverbial stones.

Regards, and many thanks for expounding on this matter.

Theo After


Not much reflection is needed to add that while I personally believe the arts rule in SL (this is my own and biased conclusion), education is making strides in the use of virtual environments such as SL for long distance learning.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Blowing off the dust

Many things have happened since I last wrote here.
On of the most consequential for me was a virtual build done for a competition at the University of Western Australia (UWA). For a year they have been sponsoring SL creators, artists, photographers, and creative types to submit their work to be judged on its merits, what ever these may be.

I was fortunate to have been invited to participate by my friend Jeri Rahja, and finally after two months passed by, I decided to enter the competition. I created a very simple build composed of red open boxes surrounding a central prim equipped with a dance pose. I titled it 'The Panopticon,' and as such, it was meant to serve as a spying gadget on the dancer located at the center of the surrounding boxes. Likewise, the dancer, could look out and see what lay beyond this centrally located pedestal, to cast his/her gaze at others.

To my great surprise, that entry was selected for the philosophical prize. What an honor to be a participant and to have my build be considered worthy of viewing.

This month marks the last of such competitions at UWA. For this last month, I submitted another build titled 'The ties that bind.' And once again, the effort put forth was worth my time as many people came out to see my work and walk away with their own conclusions about the multiple entries on display at UWA. While I recognize my submission was rather small and uncontroversial, I still received encouraging feedback leading me to believe that my work was worthwhile. Obviously, art is subjective and open to interpretation. What was profound, however, was the outpour of reflections received by those who went to see my entry.

Many thanks to those who went and supported me, and in particular to Mr. Jayjay Zinfawe, who never stopped believing in my efforts and scaffolded me to no end. What a pleasure is working with people like Jayjay and for his institution (UWA).

Friday, July 9, 2010

I am NOT a fashionista

Wow, it has been three months since my last post. Such is second life and it's peripherals when one is busy in the real one.

I was laughing at the though of having picked up a fashion blog. The truth is, if I had not read it in my blog, I would not have remembered that I had written about fashion in any sense. I retraced my steps looking to see if I still liked, or what I had liked at one point about Wicca's blog, and no longer found it compelling. Sure, it is nice for those of us who have leisure time to kill in SL and have found the human look in SL to be to their liking. I would be a hypocrite to say that I am not passing off as human these days, but it is not the only look I favor. Actually, if I am to post at all about fashion, I should revert to the skins and accouterments put out by the fabulous and extravagant fashionistas of Alpha Tribe. Now we're talking. But of course, not everyone is comfortable in skins other than human skin, and well, it is their loss, really, to miss out on the likes of the fantastic and uncanny offerings by Alpha Tribe and Grim Bros.

I am not fashionista enough. Wicca's blog is still pretty cool in her views and takes on the latest and hottest fashions in SL. Check it out if you are into dresses and such. As for me, I will remain perfectly happy in my Miasnow denim jeans, now super discounted, and still the best rendered ones in the whole of SL.

I once saw a greeting card aimed at friends on their birthday which read something like this: If you can't get rid of it, hide it. And it depicted a couple of ladies of mature body type and countenance wearing an overabundant amount of jewels and baubles and probably even the kitchen sink over their overgrown bellies. I loved it, in retrospect I wish I had bought it, for it seems to have become my mantra. I love jewelry in RL, particularly as it has little or no Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC) and does not add any more lag to my cadence as I walk down the street.

So much for my fashionista days...come and gone in the proverbial blink of an eye.

Now, for those of you who know me, you may be laughing at my expense, for you know I like to change my outfits/avatars as often as I change in RL. Hey, I am a photographer, right? Gotta go with the flow here....


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The fashionista...ooooh!

I picked up a new blog today, I believe the first one where fashion reigns. It happened that Wicca Merlin has a very cool, over the top, aesthetic sensibility that appeals to me. To tell the truth, I was rather impressed with a skirt made of enormous prim flowers that I decided to dedicate this bit of my world to findings like hers.

Is that to say that I have abandoned the beautiful strangeness of Alpha Tribe or even the ubiquitousness of all the Bare Rose affiliates/franchises? Never! But I will say that I recently bought a hair, and what a hair, from Mirror, and was struck by the fashion bug (albeit odd and wacky) of SL.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Is it real in whose eyes?

This post is in reply to my friend's post. And yes, I do deviate from the questions she poses to pose my own. Ajjj....

To contextualize my response, please see Zola's blog post here. Attempting to capture Zola's message as conveyed by her, in a stream of consciousness fashion, I mistakenly grabbed her text and clumped it here where it became painfully unreadable. By reading it in her blog, as it was intended, you will get other visual aspects and textual pauses that make her message perfectly clear to the reader. Therefore I removed it from my blog for you, the reader, to be able to grasp it as it was intended. :)

Theoretical Afterthought said:

Is it real in whose eyes?

I do believe we have revisited this concept before, haven’t we? You ask if what we view in our monitors is real art as mediated through the eyes of Vaneeesa Blaylock, Gracie Kendal, and co-constructed by the rest of us actors in her performance pieces. Whatever response I give will not be received satisfactorily because I do not have a blanket answer that can encompass the meaning of something as seen through many people. Now for some out there, that may appear at a glance to be ridding myself of any responsibility for any response I may give will be relative. But my truth, as far as I can tell, is that nothing exists in a vacuum. Whether the context is arbitrary or misaligned or purposeful, it remains a useful backdrop for producing and enacting multiple ways of being and performing. Now, is what we do real, with regard to VB? I say yes. We dedicate at minimum two hours of our lives to the performance to merely see if anyone decides to show up and partake in our “visual” discussion. Understanding that we cannot talk openly to the audience, for we are performing, we still listen to their goings-on, to the chatter that is in turn the background music to our more intimate in-group IMs. Now, many other things are happening in concurrence with our private chat, including the public/audience chat, and then the occasional private IM from friends. It is here where I would like to pause and focus my attention in attempting to answer the question “is it real?” This last performance, given that we were asked to use Gracie Kendal’s premade avatars, disabled our capacity to be inworld and maintain our own identities and hence our own inventories and our ability to use our contact lists as usual. I would go as far as characterizing my feelings akin to withdrawal symptoms for the ability to see who was online and speak to them was suddenly taken away in our use of Gracie’s avatars. I don’t need to emphasize the feeling of helplessness that overcame me for I believe it to be obvious. Forget the art! I want my interpersonal connections. Give me my identity back! So in answering the question, “is it real?,” my response is a resounding “yes.” Is it real because someone else deemed it an art production? Is the whole spectacle real because we are there standing at attention in neat little rows? Is it real because some pretentious art critic says it is so? Well, I will be honest with you in defining what is real to me. I say it was real because I felt it. Something in me changed, whether it was the intention or not of the artist, I felt something. Whether it was the stated or intended purpose of the piece itself, I don’t care.

The piece dealt with multiple identities and the flexibility we posses to enact a variety of them. To me it spoke about my desire to keep the identity I have for so long constructed as an avatar in SL within arm’s reach in SL. Is this identity an extension of my reality? I would say it depends, but not entirely in a way not further problematized. There are no quick responses I can give. It is not a matter of SL being a clear cut appendage to my RL, because I don’t see it that way. But if I feel it, and here I am aggrandizing myself to be judge and jury of my own definitions, then I will say it is real. Whether the reality comes as an extension of something we readily call RL, or if it is a new way of approaching ourselves, which is more akin to my beliefs with regard to SL, remains the question you and everyone else could now pose and attempt to answer. I don’t believe SL to be an extension of my reality at all, it may have stemmed from it, for that is all I knew when I started, but that did not remain intact in SL. In SL, we have the ability to create in ways not available to us in RL. If it were merely an extension, I would be constrained by those laws of gravity that stop me from flying in RL (but I am not), I would not be able to befriend the people I now call friends for the sociocultural constraints that guide my existence in RL, I would not be able to visit and revisit the conditions of my existence and change them as I wish. I would not be able to proclaim “this is my SL” and live it as I see it needs to be lived. So, while I see SL as an alternate virtual reality, albeit one which must depend on the RL to exist at all, it nevertheless remains one that can function without much intervention from the rules and laws that govern our RL. Save for the physical sustenance required for our avatar handlers/animators, applicable only in our reality-based life, in SL we are free to fly. Let’s not confuse an echo, a reverberation, with a clone for SL is but an echo of our RL existence but never a replica. It is real for I feel it, but for me, SL is not an extension as much as a new articulation of identity which once firmly established and rooted, allows me a new formulation of my previous, and very limited, view of existence.

The funny thing is that it has taken me so long to understand this because I insisted on prescribed and very dichotomized forms of being: extension or not extension, real or not real….remember my stance on that prescribed fence? Thinking I could only go one way or the other? My present state refuses to dichotomize the situation any more for I believe that multiple possibilities, which I can’t even fathom at the moment, do exist.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hands, March 7, 2010

I love personal agency as rendered before a vast sea of social constructs and adopted protocols. Personal agency allows for the continuous formation and re-formation of the self and its expression as individual as our own ways of processing the world.

Many would argue the point of habitus, of social reproduction, of our inability to see past (forget traversing beyond...ooof!) our own local mores and cultural constraints. While I do attribute a great amount of credit to the context in which we enact our multiple selves, to our environment, I would be remiss in not stating the power of the self. Now, the argument continues, personal agency is but a reflection of the social fabric with which we sew our lives, a construction adhering to arbitrarily enacted norms. Sure, but leave it to the unsatisfied, to the creative mind, to the critical thinker to step outside the established rules of play, and make the rest of us "sheeple" (as Dusan Writer quips) look around and concoct our own possibilities by merely seeing the dreams of others realized. Hey, at least allow me to fantasize herein, right?

And so it is personal agency that grants me a glimpse of the self, of myself, usually obscured by the daily progressions of quotidian crap. It is that very agency which allows me to find expression in the creation of interpersonal exchanges, in the conveyance of ideas (whether original or recycled), in the sharing of minds within whatever context I may be lucky enough to find a connection. So I extend my hands out to you in an attempt to connect, whoever you are, for it is all that I have to offer.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

What a day...

Some days should not have to happen.
But they do.
Thanks for everything.
I will miss everything.
I already do.

When is spring again?
A little light accompany poor misery. :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Everything seems to revolve around my newly found social networking site, Flickr!

For those not familiar with the workings of Flickr, with the protocols and etiquette, with networking smorgasbord that if offers for the taking, it would appear to be a space devoid of attention, perhaps the kind of site where families post their graduation pictures for extended families across both time and space. That was my perception until I saw what fellow SL avatars were creating with their photostreams.

Once upon a time...

Late in 2009, perhaps in October, I found out about a photo contest in SL where the best pictures would be awarded Linden cash as prizes. There were a number of categories in which I could compete, and with my RL photographic experience (for there was none thus far inworld), I decided to enter. Now my friend Damn Teardrop, avatar and freebie hunter extraordinaire, recognizing how some competitions are merely popularity contests, repeatedly tried to dissuade me. I understood his behavior as somewhat protective, almost paternalistic, but most certainly well-intentioned. However being as tenacious, or stubborn, as I am, and recognizing that I never approach things for their ease of operation or execution, I treaded on. As I submitted the first of the eventual seven images that I would enter for the competition, I realized that I should also have a place to display them for others to see. They were not great in any sense of the word. They couldn't have been for realistically I still cannot attach that label to any of my images to this day. But perseverance played a key role in my decision to compete that by the time the competition was over, I was becoming well-versed in the ways of the networking community of SL photographers. I was vested now, I had become a participant, albeit a marginal one, in this new community of praxis.


Getting a "Pro" Account in Flickr

What are the benefits of a "Pro" account in Flickr?
Well, there aren't that many, to be honest.
Given that I have not yet exhausted my limits on my free alloted space, it makes little difference if I have a free account or the aforementioned "Pro." Allowing myself more space would certainly be an incentive for paying up the fee, but since I still have some distance to cover with regard to space, I could have waited a bit longer. But had I waited, I would have had nothing to blog about. Right?


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tagged in Flickr

The odd things that happen when people meet, like each other, and become friends.
Don't laugh, I was tagged by a person named (no snickering), Pirate Braveheart. Arrrg...

Yes, well, my own name is not that far off from the community of practice of oddly named avatars.

This was my entry.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Undergoing experience

This is a reply I made to my friend's blog....

"You cannot acquire experience by making experiments. You cannot create experience. You must undergo it."

This is the same principle required of all ethnographers. Basically, it refers to the fact that for many years, researchers would make their own data to fit their own philosophical theories. What resulted was a skewing of facts, if not a complete recreation of data which was not factual but "made up." People like me, who belonged to exoticized or historically oppressed groups, were "made" or "created" in light of the creator's perspective without regard to our true capabilities. Hence you have eugenics and the Tuskegee syphilis study and a host of other immoral and unethical behaviors on the part of researchers. One solution that came about from all this was the immersion of the researcher in the environment being studied, the mutual collaboration between subject/participant and researcher, and the ethnographic models we now follow. It basically meant digging deeper into the reality of someone else, rather than just skimming through to obtain exemplars to fit your theories (we still do it, but there are elements in place that make us more accountable for our behaviors within academia...there are always loopholes and such). It meant undergoing a process of change through introspection, of acceptance rather than tolerance, all in an attempt to capture the reality of the ones we dare call our participants.

Does that make sense? What I am saying is don't create me, but rather re-create yourself in a way that allows you to see me, as much as possible, the way I am, not the way you want me to be. I recognize it is easier said than done. But that is what we are being trained for, hence the usefulness in taking a glimpse at other people's philosophies; finding nuances amidst what seemingly is only a regurgitation of what has been said before, but doing it by keeping an eye out for those slight differences in experience.

embodied and emminded

Ahhhh, James Paul Gee!

So he writes how in video games

stories are embodied in the player’s own choices and actions in a way they cannot be in books and movies. Let’s just call them, for short, “embodied stories.” When I use the term “embodied,” I mean to include the mind as a part of the body. So “embodied” means for me, “in the body” and/or “in the mind.” It is too bad there is no word “emminded” to go alongside “embodied.” When I talk about a person’s embodied experiences in the world (virtual or real), I mean to cover all the perceptions, actions, choices, and mental stimulations of action or dialogue (Gee, 2003, p. 82).

As the mind becomes engaged, as we become “emminded,” so do other aspects of ourselves. With familiarity comes a lowering of the affective filter and we begin to do more than embody or emmind, we become engaged participants. I was talking to a group of Ph.D. students last week about gaming and simulators. Being that most of them were neither actively involved with either formats, they could not readily comprehend the phenomenon of embodiment. What do you mean? How can you do that? Isn’t that just playing/pretending? Most had never heard of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and they could certainly not understand the role of embodiment as becomes necessary to inhabit a virtual environment such as SL. But to my surprise, amidst the occasional laughs, they learned something new and intriguing. I would not be surprised to run into some inworld.

To be continued…..

Monday, February 15, 2010 Flickr so eloquently puts it. Okay, mine is only interesting to me....

I have been amazed at the events of the last month.
Yes, there are other words to convey my status, perhaps less over-used, more meaning-infused, but amazing will do at this juncture.

Several developments have taken place.
1. Never having sold anything in my SL, I recently found out that two of the four images created for Avatrait Gallery were sold. This is incredible to me, for multiple reasons, but I am very happy about it. In discussing this point with a friend, I said I am "grateful" for the sales, and he inquired wherefore my gratitude. When you are a freebie avatar, and work for a SL living, you learn to not take anything for granted, not a friend, not a gallery owner, not mentor, not an art patron. SL is making me humble.

2. I finally had the opportunity to attend my first wedding in SL ever! What an interesting concept, marriage a la SL style. I consider myself lucky to have befriended Lifer Bloobury (I still wonder about the spelling of her last name, is is blueberry?) who in turn invited me to her nuptials last Saturday. What a party! And what beautiful avatars to behold. I still find myself on the fence with regard to the surreality of the whole of SL, but will say this, I danced to my heart's content, even when I had to be AFK for a few times (shhh..., it happens). And to Lifer and Zolar, here's wishing you the best SL has to offer.... ¡salud!

3. I did it! I was part of a Vaneeesa Blaylock performace art exhibition (?)...not quite certain what her shows are called. Needless to say, it was a group of nude avatars who in their variety formed a checkerboard of different colored skins. Now, the purpose of this is to show the individuality of each avatar, but my question remains this: if we are to truly demonstrate individuality, uniqueness, etc. why are we not allowed to wear our own skins? Better yet, why not allow us our own hair, which highly defines the identity we choose to perform in given contexts. Immediately, the response from my friend who attended, was "you look so homey" or something to that effect in response to my wet, flat lifeless hair.

4. The highlight of the VB show for me was meeting Gracie Kendal, whose own work in SL follows the trajectory of a woman in conversation with her avatar. While there are many ways to perform, hers is an amusing if not innovative approach to art as an everyday occurrence. I love it, I really do. As a mere plebeian amidst the art deities of SL, I dare state my definition of art as a creation which induces a state of reflection, is greater that its individual parts, and that engages my curiosity and ultimately pulls me into its vortex, forging remembrance. Herein I defer to my friend's definition of art, "if someone says it is art, it is art." So much for highbrow elitist definitions of art, huh? And a big YAY for personal agency, my own tackiness not withstanding. Gracie, feel better soon....:D

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I wish I wasn't so busy these days, I hardly come inworld and it is back to work.

I am thinking of doing a dialogue between my RL self and my SL avatar. She does get whiny and needy and well, wants to take up all my time seeing that she has a life of her own. Ah, the problems associated with multiple lives. My friend Frigg Ragu is of the opinion that SL should merely be an extension of the RL. Sure, I say, tell that to the people who surround me in RL. They think all I do in SL is waste my time and that of others. But is it really?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Facebook fiasco for popular fake avatars: What?

Regarding the Facebook avacides/murders...

What the hell is going on?

I can't help but laugh it out, and be happy I have been oblivious to all the drama involved in partaking of social networking sites as my avatar (who is real, btw).

This is all so fascinating, I wonder where I have been without a Facebook for my avatar! Oh dear me...As aptly put by Prokofy Neva here, SL should be fun and freeing. Once that changes based on self-imposed constraints for the sake of linking with others, it becomes work. For me at least, having a blog and a Flickr account is more than enough, particularly when multiplied by two, for my real avi, and coupled with all her other time consuming online/techie pastimes.

I just need a little respite, therefore my life as an avatar, but no drama nor complications resembling those encountered in a real life existence.


Being that this blog approximates a stream-of-consciousness regurgitation more so than a anything else, it will also serve as a ground for me to vent complaints from time to time. One such complaint comes now as I am unable to manage my widgets correctly in designing this little blog. Maybe I should have gone with WordPress instead. Ahhhh! Let me go figure it out, when I do, I will stop complaining. Maybe not.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Yes, we got together and for a brief interlude, we chatted

However seriously other people may take their blogging, I cannot conceive how my own words would have anything new to say to anyone. I go about my SL exploring and meeting new people, but for the most part, a great deal of my time in SL is spent alone working. I suppose it is a bad habit which I should be able to shake off for SL, at least, but I cannot. However, from being in SL for over a year now, I have come to understand that to fully immerse myself in this environment, I should have a paid account to spare me the trouble of working to make ends meet. But I don't have said account. I am one on the last holdouts from the group of people I started off with on October of 2008. Obviously, not everyone followed my lead (or lack of it).

Last night I had the opportunity to sit down with two fellow colleagues, two academics in training equally hooked on SL as I am, perhaps more. One of them is Zola Zsun, the other Cepheus Ceriano. As we sat to contemplate the darkness of a pixelated sky outside a new art gallery that Ceph is putting together, we began to discuss our lives mediated through a monitor by way of SL. So, what was the purpose of entering this VE? What did we gain from it? What have we contributed. Oddly enough, the magnate there has to be Cepheus. A year after entering the grid, he owns a small empire of pixels that has brought him great joy, if not easy money. Doing business is hard here as it is everywhere else. Zola had a brief interlude as a shop keeper, and I remember her little pueblo store fondly, for the architecture and all the shops in the vicinity were so well realized, that one felt like giddy simply looking about. I, on the other hand, cultivated and destroyed avatars. Being of sound mind but a sometimes irrational need to explore the mind of others, I set out to explore myself via many different characters. I currently hold four, I believe, but oddly enough, they all are me. My little social experiment lacked focus and methodology. All I managed was to create a multitude of 'me' without any particular razón de ser. It was fun as a novella of sorts, but I did little in the way of becoming a creator or an established doer or builder of something as my colleagues did. The main difference being that I had no paid account, hence no capital to commence. I am not surprised whatsoever that my experiment did not pay off dividends. But it does exemplify the cyclical pattern of poverty within a SL that closely resembles those found in RL. The poorer you are, the more you have to rely on others. The more you do, the more control you give up. The more control you must yield, the less engaged you become. This could explain why both Ceph and Zola spent a considerably longer lengths of time in SL than I did over the last year. Ajjjj....nasty little cycles that creep up on you.

So? How does one gain control? Or money for that matter. I did work as a university builder, but I was only paid in RL, and never got to see a Linden of it in SL. However nonsensical this may seem, being without an account prevented me from bringing money into SL. Being destitute in SL led to all sorts of problems with my building skills. If I had no place to leave my stuff overnight, it was simply too tedious to pick up and start all over again the next day. I gave up on building just as I was about to hone my skills. I am hopeful in the bicycle-riding theory which states that if you learned to ride a bike once, with a little practice you will be able to pick up a bike, know how it functions, and how you fit into the context of person-on-a-bike as if you had not allowed time to lapse. Well, I am keeping my fingers crossed, particularly as I have now taken up photography and intend to create my own poses and other particulars involved in picture taking.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Post Exhibition Reflection:)

As this new week begins, I would like to take a brief respite from my RL responsibilities and simply state my gratitude toward all the people who have made my SL a better place. Especially to those who made this last weekend's photo exhibition a memorable one.

Not being one to attend events where large congregations of people gather for lag problems that inevitably lead to my crashing out of SL, I felt compelled to attend my one and only exhibition in AVATRAIT. [Okay, to Life
r Bloobury's credit, who has been most generous with her time and advise, she also posted one of my winning entries for a competition held in Flickr at the SMART Gallery inworld.] And here is a list of what transpired with a bit of history, for contextualization:

1. I began playing with PS circa November 15th, 2009, posted that work on the 17th. My gallery invitation came on the 7th of January, 2010.

Hello Theoretical,
My name is Looker Lumet, and I am manager of the Avatrait Gallery inworld.
We have been following your work and would like to ask you if there is any interest to show new original work in our gallery.
The Avatrait Gallery is known for the high quality pictures shown during the exhibitions of talented artists. If you don’t know the gallery, you can have a look at the Avatrait website ( or take a look at the current show of Nessy Shepherd inworld (
For the next show in February we were looking for new talented artists, who would make three new images by the end of this month, never shown or posted anywhere, in relative high resolution. This should be a show with five or six artists, all showing three of their art pieces.

We would be proud to have you in our gallery for this show. Should you be interested, please send me a mail at [ ] .com, and all details will
be provided.
Thank you for your time to respond.

Kind regards,

Looker Lumet

Thank you for the honor, Mr. Looker Lumet.

2. I accepted, naturally, created my images, and forwarded them to Looker week prior to the deadline. He then informed me of additional space available, and I rushed to submit a fourth piece titled Alecto, Resting.

3. I settled back into RL, continued experimenting with PS.

4. The date of the exhibition arrived. I invited over several people from my RL to come and view my images. They both agreed, but as I predicted, being unfamiliar with SL led to them being increasingly frustrated with movements and such. And to me being unable to respond to increasing IMs. Well, we all tried our best, my work was seen in situ, and I was very happy to have had them over. We also had a good laugh at our avatars' expense...and at a few others who were there dancing and dressed a little off the beaten path. Of course, I was one of the freaks! I was
so pleased with with their presence and their attempts to enter a world I so enjoy that I had to stand back and allow things to flow as they would. I just took one thing at a time. They were very gracious, said their goodbyes and thank yous, and left...permanently back to RL.

5. AVATRAIT was packed, as expected from the comments heard throughout in Flickr postings. The lag level was high, the movements of my avatar significantly compromised. Eventually, the sim would crash, the gallery owner informed me of this a bit later that night, and send us all into oblivion. Alas, the parties
in SL.

6. Ah, but seeing all the people that have commented in my Flickr photostream was absolutely wonderful. It was finally placing a person, a moving avatar, to the names and pictures I have frequently seen in Flickr. Very cool, extremely highlight at mid-party.

7. The incoming IMs from well-wishers, familiar and unfamiliar were so nice. This is a completely new experience for me in SL, and I need to ponder as to the repercussions or implications these comments have on my identity development in SL as well as in RL. How seriously should I take it all? Who knew I had fans (eee!) who would come to me rather than I being the one starting the conversation? I just wish I could have responded to all, answered all questions, been more gracious. Thank you to my friends Damn, Zola, Nepherses, Ed and others for making the effort to be there.

8. Major highlight: My dear, dear friend Marcel, whom I have known the longest in SL made the effort to come inworld specifically to see me and my work. To me that speaks of the strength of bonds that form within SL. I know how much he hates large congregations of people, and how weary he's grown of SL, and that makes me appreciate his presence even more.

9. No, I didn't sell anything. I was the only one of
the four 'artists' who didn't (I much prefer the term digital manipulator, but that is too long a term). But I stand by my images regardless of their lack of commercial viability. Thinking back to the time I posted my first manipulated image to my Flickr account, I believe I have grown as a creator and that pleases me tremendously. I am not where I need to be with regard to Photoshop skills, but a couple of months' practice is hardly anything to brag about. But hey, it got me into a fancy gallery inworld, which was a first of its kind experience for me. The fact that people no longer see me as a noobish image creator is quite a feat for this wandering avatar.

10. Consequences of our actions: In the middle of the commotion, I received an IM from a contact not at the exhibition. She hired me as a photographer. Yes! Rent money, thank you...and who steps up to help? Mr. Damn Teardrop. For over an hour, after the party had concluded, and while listening to my complaints of headaches and exhaustion, and hunger, and my sheer ignorance and inability to grasp what he was telling me, he taught me how to make a photoalbum for the lady who had just hired me. And never once complained nor gave up on me, even when I left SL in need of a brake. He even went to the location of the shoot to help me scout out good angles. Finally, when he saw to it that I had all I needed for work, he faded off to sleep. It must have been past 2 AM for him in Europe, a full six hours ahead of my time zone.

11. What I got from this experience: It is still too soon to tell, but I know one thing. I want to continue my Photoshopping, it is amusing for me, but it has also become a source of power or control, where I can decide what I create. It is wonderful to be in control of something that can be displayed for others to see and hopefully even enjoy. Another thing I learned about was the magnitude and strength of the bonds I have established with people in SL. Thinking about that still floors me. I was so skeptical a year ago, so arrogant, and well so ignorant about the possibilities of 'life' and 'living' on the grid. Now I consider myself a resident, and quite frankly, I don't care if RL people see me as nuts for 'playing' this virtual game. In SL, I have served as mentor to RL university students, I have been a builder and terraformer, I have learned about interpersonal relationships and identity within virtual environments, I have participated with performance artists, and I am now a creator of fantastical images. Not too shabby for a lowly avatar like me who still doesn't have a paid account to save her laggy ass. I may not be a noob, but I am still free!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Identity flux

So there are many things that I am not, however a researcher I am.
And I study identity development as mediated by technology, primarily through the internet.
I found a pretentious first name to latch on to as an avatar.
The last name, however, was chosen to remove the airs of one who claims to know what a theory is or how it is developed. I am working on that as I write this.

Gracie Kendal

Quick recommendation:
The Gracie Kendal project.
This is a rather interesting project/conversation between handler/animator/human being and avatar.
I don't know if I will post more about this, but I know I will follow it.

Interesting posts for Valentine's day

Well, the interesting part is not here, but in the comments received by the pictures that I created for Valentine's day. It all started with a competition in mind. Otherwise, I don't think I would have gone to the extreme of finding suitable poses and locations. Of course, credit is due to my buddy Damn Teardrop for his participation in the making of these pics. He showed me that you can simply search for the animation of your liking with the SL search function and you will get an assortment of places that are using it publicly in SL. The trouble following that was locating a backdrop that was nice, well as least reasonably decent, to serve as background to the pictures.

Fast forward a few steps and arrive at the flickr photostream where people view my work and comment on it. This time, based on the content, I received IMs requesting to know if I was getting married/partnered in SL. Really? Based on a picture, it's captions, and some cute comments? Anyway, I thought it interesting enough to mention. I did get my quick giggle from it.

The response to "Will you...?" is simply "I won't." It was a picture. However lovely partnerships may be in SL, or elsewhere for that matter, this avatar remains unhitched. Any takers? Noooooooo, I am just kidding!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Taking the gallery route

Why? Because I never have considered my work 'art' nor have I pretended to know much about photoshopping. I like to play with it, yes, but proficient to the point to calling myself an illustrator...hmmm...
But very cool.
Indeed, because I was asked to display some original images in a very nice gallery inworld. If that does not fall under the category of 'cool' then I don't know what does.
What will happen now?
I will trip and fall flat on my face when the opening day arrives. As I shared with a friend of mine, why am I getting antsy at the thought of posting my images in a place for visual consumption? This is not a competition, after all. But it is an exposition of my work, of my taste, of my abilities to articulate my thoughts through digital manipulation. I don't care if I am in virtual form, the mere thought of exposing myself in this manner reminds me of having to go to conferences in RL and presenting my research. It is scary stuff...not the contents, mind you, but the process of making everything cohesive, sensical, accurate. And then then waiting for the questions, the type of reception my work will receive, trying to gauge if people accept my work on its own merits. Then, add to that the element of commerce. Avatrait Gallery sells their wares for a pretty hefty price, comparatively speaking. Will anyone like my stuff enough to pay for it? As one friend put it, do it for exposure. Another said, do it for the pleasure derived from being accepted into the network of digital manipulators. Yet another said, heck I like it.

Thanks to all the well-wishers on my photostream in Flickr.
All I can do now that the images have been submitted and are in transit to the gallery is wait and see.