The Death of Susa Bubble, by Rose Borchovski in Second Life, photo by Tizzy Canucci

Second Life and Me

There’s been a few of musings about what Second Life means to residents recently in response to Xiola Linden’s video share request, and Huckleberry Hax has done a particularly good video about his feelings. Also featuring in the video is Canary Beck, who has just announced her 400th blog post (congratulations!). As it happened, I saw Huckleberry in the cafe at Crestwick Islands while he was filming, not that I knew that was what he was doing at the time. I had been trying to get a shot of him as he posed, but he moved off. Small world, huh?

I hadn’t intended to do anything on the theme of what Second Life and me, but I did feel I need to update my About me page, which I hadn’t done since moving from being hosted on wordpress.com to my own hosting webspace. I was also aware that that I’m coming up to 100 blog posts myself, as well as having over 600 photos on Flickr, and having sending over 300 tweets.

So, I’ve inadvertently been doing my own mini-retrospective. Looking back at my Flickr stream I see the very first shot was Goodbye Susa Bubble, when I wrote:

Two Fish by Rose Borchovski is probably where I stepped into art in secondlife. Stepping into the immersivity that is a virtual world. Music and art are two of the big draws to sl for me, and there was a particularly saturating atmosphere at the farewell party for Susa Bubble – Rose Borchovski marking the end of this secondlife installation… choice of music which combined so well with the visuals… the constant shifting saturated colours in a constantly changing and unrepeatable art form. The quiet stillness of a photo doesn’t capture it, but then neither would a video. This is experiential not simply sensory.

I’d forgotten that’s where it started. At that time in real life, I was writing about cultural and social processes around food, and photographing landscapes and food as a consequence. I was doing at Masters in culture and the arts, with a sociological perspective. Years on, my work is in film and the arts, and what I am doing in virtual worlds has become very, very close to my real life. Indeed, I regard myself as an advocate for the digital arts in a environment where using computers and photoshop is dismissed and disparaged far too often.

So-called ‘analogue’ photography is now ‘in’, analogue being a retrospective term that wrongly implies a binary opposition with digital. Film and digital photography are no more in binary opposition than watercolour and oils. It glosses over the differences within the categories, of monochrome or colour, of film stock, of paper or ink, and gives the medium a paramount position about the ability of the photographer. In terms of artistic intent, the difference in reproducablity between film and digital is irrelevant. But in the commercial art world, that which is singular is more valuable than that which is multiple. And that is a function of capitalism, not art.

There has also been a cultural shift in an attitude from ‘anyone can take a photograph’ to ‘anyone can successfully manipulate an image on a computer’. The fact that Photoshop at its core mimics traditional darkroom and pre-press techniques is ignored or, I suspect, wilfully not understood out of ignorance and snobbery. Photoshop requires as much skill to be successful by today’s standards as darkroom and pre-press did in its day.

But to return to what I wrote on my first Flickr shot. I’ve broadened from photography to blogging and taken a first step in video. And in retrospect, to ‘capture’ was the wrong way of looking at it – it’s about finding an interpretation, a personal view. It is about learning and allowing the challenges to develop yourself into new areas, of stretching yourself.

The art world in Second Life continues to be fascinating, and I feel that as this virtual world becomes a mature and serious cultural form it deserves critical analysis to develop and to garner increased credibility in other places.

Second Life and me? It’s all more fascinating than ever.

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