Free Internet

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Caerleon Museum on Identity - Part 1

This is a limited time showing on the subject of identity in virtual worlds as based on Georg Janick's dissertation on virtual art, which states: " There are six aesthetic-technological dimensions that collectively distinguish the art of virtual worlds from earlier forms of art. They are immersion, interaction, ambiguity of identity, environmental fluidity, artificial agency, and networked collaboration."

The 18 artiste's who collaborated on this project chose to reflect on the ambiguity, which is the fifth exhibit on Identity that has been built on this site.

The landing spot has a hallway with pictures of different Second Life avatars and opens into a open space with a stairwell leading to the ground level which displays occupations that can be found in Second Life such as: Teaching, musicians, singers, artiste's, shoppers, Master or Mistress/slave to name a few!

Flying up to view the avatars on the upper level that represent the different types of avatars that you can find in Second Life such as: devils, pharaohs, mermaids, angels and demons, humans, Star War characters, Romans, furries, earth goddesses, mini-avies, to name a few... no Sky Elves, though, but I won't take offense!

Ages range from young to the old in human years to the immortals all begging the question, "Who are you?" "Who am I?" The artiste's who worked on this project divided up the main theatre into several distinct sections with exits to different parts of the sim. There is a hot air balloon ride that you can take before taking time for intimate exploration. Additionally, you can orbit around the sim and take a magic pillow ride!

I started my exploration that the "I am only a mesh" and it's the celebration on what makes us 3-D and rezzed in Second life! Who are you? Male or female? Human? Other? What is your occupation?

Are you Somebody or Nobody? Now there is a good question! Let's reflect for a moment. In humans our DNA dictates what we are going to look like, but as an Avatar what predicts what our mesh looks like? Are we a mirror or a reflection?

We are now digital, rezzed, but who are we? Gracie Kendall's "My Life as an Avatar" exhibit brings forth the question by a quote from Kurt Vonnegut, "We are what we pretend to be so be careful of we pretend to be."

Transworld Identity. Now that is quite the mouthful! What does it mean? I think it means to provoke thought, do we bring into Second Life our own selves or a portrayal of who we wish we could be given a perfect situation or do we pretend to be better in Second Life then who we are in Real Life?

"Now you see me!" Do I? Maybe I do, but maybe I don't. There is more to this exhibit then meets the eye. Like an onion, it has layers, an obvious one, but then one that with patience another is revealed! Perhaps it's like our Identity in Second Life! Or are we as lonely in Second Life as we are in First Life?

FreeWee Ling takes a gander into this question, one, I asked before I saw her exhibit! Perhaps we are as happy or lonely in our real or second lives as we allow or give ourselves permission to be. Hamlet said, "To be or not to be!" and Yoda said, "Don't try, Do!" I think we forget it in both lives to a great extent!

FreeWee Ling says: "I found the idea of wearing a mask in SL to be a hilarious satire. A curious redundancy, since our avatars themselves might be thought of as a kind of mask. Our freedom to express ourselves in this world comes in part from our ability to be anonymous, yet public by wearing an artificial persona. Curiously, very few artists in the show seemed to have grasped the brilliance of the idea."

The Identification Office brings to mind who polices us? We all know it's Linden Labs, but how to identify those who are wrong or right we all know it's the whim of the Terms of Service, but how much do we police ourselves? After all the original idea is that Second Life has no rules, but our own! Do we leave a virtual fingerprint?

The liquidity of our Avatar selves depends totally on who our "player" is, is it an extension of our imagination? Or are we as vague and ambiguous in our Second Life as we are in our First? Or are we the same in here as we are out "there?"

This gem of a show will be on exhibit until October 31st, never to be seen again! This is a must see! Join me for the final conversation on Identity in Part 2 of this interesting topic of Virtual Identity!

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