I make video art which uses, but which is not exclusively about, Second Life. As these are made within a games world, they are often referred to as machinima. I produced my first one early in 2015, by the end of the year, I’d completed 12, and as of now (June 2020), it is 56.
I find it an interesting area for experimentation, especially for trying to capture the dynamic nature of Second Life, and mixing it with other material that is on the internet and intended for reuse. I use a lot of creative commons and public domain material, bringing together many creative ideas. Some of the material is archive film, and experimenting with the dynamic of visuals and history I find really fascinating.
My background is that I’d spent most of my life working with the still image, mainly photography. I felt I should really try video making, and never having made one, I offered to produce a video for work. They thought I knew what I was doing. I didn’t, but I believed I could learn like I had with creative things before, and this provided the perfect incentive to do it!
After I completed that video, I looked around for other material. I live in a beautiful area, but making movies of trees and hills and woods just didn’t interest me. Apart from having been done so many times already by so many others, it was too literal and I wanted to do something more artistic, ambiguous, and unusual. And here I was in the three-dimensional world of Second Life, and there was interesting material to work with. I had no idea that machinima was a ‘thing’ at that time. I have always done a lot of experimentation, rather than deliberately following what has already been done.
I’ve always seen myself as primarily an editor, whether paper or virtually based, and that involves the combination of ideas, words and images in a flow. There was always something a little unsatisfactory about the ‘gallery image’ for me, so this is a really interesting thought about photography:
There is the question of photography’s basic unit of account, which historians and commentators have commonly understood to be the individual photograph – as though the history of photography was the history of painting writ small. Yet not all photographers thought of their work in this way. They took pictures to go alongside texts or to be set in sequences and groups where the arranging was done be a picture-editor. Thus ‘the photographic work’ can as easily be a book or photo-essay as an individual picture.Jeffrey, Ian. Photography: A Concise History. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1981. Print. Thames & Hudson World of Art. p.7.
Is the building of still images into a video sequence a more effective way of displaying photographs and especially those taken in virtual worlds? Should anything in a virtual world be shown as being still? Surely the characteristic of these spaces is dynamism and change? To work with this, I would say that video art and the moving image is the most significant way of working with virtual worlds.