February 10, 2009

Reflections from a Revenant

I've been inactive in Second Life for about eight months, and in SL, that is almost an eternity! However, there are good reasons for the absence, albeit perhaps not for quite such a prolonged period. After having spent about a year learning the ins-and-outs of the virtual world, and then having developed an event that bridged the RL and SL (a museum exhibit in the real world that used a SL counterpart), my time and energy were caught up into an extraordinary RL initiative that has come to dominate my personal and professional landscape.

It may sound odd, but I think after learning to function in a "reactive landscape", I got busy building super-reactive environments in RL... specifically for disabled children, for whom real life is even less reactive than for most of us. I am now engaged in several projects that are building artistically-inspired reactive and interactive installations that, in many ways, emulate the kinetic sculptures the VAA group has developed and promoted in SL. For example, working with engineers who are specialists, on the one hand, in robotics, on another in physiological sensing devices, and in a third area, in so-called "smart textiles" (fabric that changes shape, color and texture on command), and with installation and media artists, we are constructing a large wall mural that will react to disabled children who roll up to it on their wheelchairs (or walk up to it, depends on the child) - changing shape, color, and thematic configuration. We will be able to measure their heartbeat, level of excitement (e.g. via skin perspiration and blood pressure), and modify the mural also in relation to these characteristics. In another initiative, we are creating a miniature "telegame" that allows children with disability to interact with each other through robotic devices that act as RL avatars. These projects are extraordinarily stimulating but also rather challenging to build (and fund!), and have taken most of my time over the past eight months to develop.

Interestingly, I used my experiences, especially those with the VAA, to "sell" these projects to the two hospitals who are now partners in their development. Using the video clips on VAA artists and the Reactive Sculptures clip, I was able to highlight the power that changes in the environment may have on changing our understanding of the self. One could say that SL got so far under my skin that it has ended up revolutionizing my relationship with RL!

Actually, this hasn't stopped with the creation of reactive environments, either. After developing a line of clothing in SL, and then being involved in the creation of SL versions of real life traditional ethnic garments in support of the museum exhibit we did last year, I decided that, perhaps, I could do the same with RL garments. So I taught myself to sew and am in the process of developing a line of RL garments. I discovered that sewing is an extraordinarily grounding activity for me and it has become an integral and daily presence in my life. I learned the power of fashion within SL, and have not stopped trying to use this power back in RL to do equally interesting things.

I share these observations and reflections, because I believe all involved with SL art are aware of the links between SL and RL and are interested in how the activities in the one sphere may affect or inform activities in the other.

I shall be around SL again on an off-and-on basis, but my engagements with the RL projects that flowed from my SL activities are likely to keep my presence low key. See you around!

Press Release: "The Collector"

Galerie de la Vie, Artemisia
February 12th through March 26
Opening Night Reception: February 12 from 4:30-6:00 pm SL time
DJ Eth Tedeschi spinning tunes
Exhibition: The Collector
Submitted by: RobertSteven Smythe, Curator

The Collector: The World of Second Life Sculpture

Starax, Pitney, Fairymeadow, Saarinen, elros, and Tripsa are just a few of the artists whose sculptures will be on display at Galerie de la Vie in Artemisia February 12th through March 26th. This exhibition named “The Collector” is focused around the art collection of Sichel Seifert an art enthusiast who has been collecting and commissioning some of the finest artists in Second Life since early 2005. You will see as never before from the eyes of a collector and connoisseur of Second Life art. Selections from his vast collection will be shown in two consecutive three-week exhibitions. The artists’ works have never before been shown together as one exhibition. This amazing collection represents a historical time line of sculptural work in Second Life. You will not want to miss this once in a lifetime exhibition.

When asked by RobertSteven Smythe, curator at Galerie de la Vie, why he has been such a prolific collector Sichel responded, "Ask yourself: What surrounds you in SL? Just the two: personal relationships, personal creations, and really nothing else (even if someone says SL has is own 'spirit' as well). Since I was rezzed there, I searched for the best of both. Got good friends, got beautiful creations. And I keep searching."

Collecting is a very personal endeavor and collectors must educate themselves on the subject of their passion. The best collectors contend that collecting should not begin as an investment, but that a collector should enjoy and purchase only items that appeal to them. Sculptures in Second Life have an appeal to Sichel that has continued from his first day in SL.

Don’t miss this rare exhibition to be shown in two parts. The show opens February 12, the second on March 6. Please join the residents of Artemisia and the Galerie de la Vie as we present this spectacular gathering of sculptures from Second Life’s greatest artists. Artemisia – Living with Art.

Complete List of artists:
Alizarin Goldflake, Meleni Fairymeadow, Kicca Igaly, Rezago Kokorin, Feathers Boa, Wolf Hartnell, Queen Edman, Steve Kilby, Stella Costello, Sabine Stonebender, Zulqadi Saarinen, elros Tuominen, Cheen Pitney, Colt Parx, Charlot Dickins, Pumpkin Tripsa, Starax Statosky, Light Waves, Eme10 Wind, Masterful Escape, PleaseWakeMeUp Idler and Glyph Graves.