Thursday, May 15, 2008

Walk the Walk

So I've spent the last few weeks trying to get my feet underneath myself in terms of what's really going on in the SL art world and how I fit into that world. It's pretty complicated, and I admit I'm a long way from completely comprehending it. But what seems to be emerging is the idea that Second Life really has two very distinct artistic functions. One is as a stage, a venue, for work that could only be developed in and shown in Second Life. I think the "Kiss the Sky" show, which opens May 17 at the New Media Consortium, is going to be a solid example of this. The show includes 35 pieces by 14 different artists, and judging from early reviews, will be an interesting exploration of art theory unique to SL. I'm looking forward to seeing it; I'm very interested in this kind of artwork that is so much more than a regurgitation of RL artwork in digital form.

I have no idea if it's the kind of work I'd like to do here; although I'm extremely interested in building (I have a nerd RL background), it feels a little intimidating. But, that being said, I'd like to give it a try, so I'm sure at some point I'll get around to it. Whether the results will be "art" or not ... well, that remains unclear.

The second artistic function is closer to my own practice, and more what I was thinking about when I initially set off on my SL quest. That is the use of Second Life as an adjunct to--or a way to expand or blur the boundaries between--Second Life and Real Life. This happens in a couple of different ways. Some artists use Second Life as a tool, a way to distribute information or show work that is connected to or sometimes wholly contained within RL. Videographers and filmmakers are "showing" their work on SL screens in addition to RL screens. It goes both ways; some SL videographers are making work entirely within SL and importing it to YouTube. (Look up China Tracy there if you want to see some highly compelling work.)

My own interests right now are in blurring the boundaries as much as possible between SL and RL art. My project "Stroll" is accepting submissions from both RL and SL participants, and the rules are the same for each. I'd like to expand "Une Femme d'un Certain Age" koffe klatches into SL as well, to maybe reach a broader audience. But I'm still not sure what this does to the theoretical underpinnings of one's work, especially in the realm of social practice, and how to characterize the collaboration between RL and SL participants. I'll have to give that some more thought.

And in the meantime, I hope I'll see you at the "Kiss the Sky" opening. Should be a good chance to meet and talk to some very interesting folk. Make sure to say "hi" if you see me there!


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