Identity and the avatar…

Yep, can you believe it??  A new post after only a couple days..well I am going to work on keeping it up… this blog is part of the new project.

I have been talking with my good friend Chrome Underwood about my new project. We had a great discussion yesterday about identity and the avatar. I have some great ideas I am really excited about, but still new, so don’t want to spill all the beans right away.

However, I have been thinking of identity and the avatar. So many people in the real world, don’t understand what it means to have an avatar, much less how it feels. They laugh at us, and think we are just playing a silly game. If you are in Second Life, than you know that is not true. (Well for most of us anyway!) Of course, I can only speak for myself in this regard. My avatar Gracie Kendal, is an extenstion of me. Her personality, the way she dresses, her art, her relationships,  her house, her dogs… I don’t hide anything. Now sometimes that can get me into trouble…LOL (won’t go there!!) But for the most part… Gracie is true.

This leads me to a quote that I found… first while reading some Baudrillard (which I have to reread to fully understand) but then I found it on the Ars Virtua Gallery website… “The simulacrum is never what hides the truth- it is the truth that hides the fact that there is none. The simulacrum is true.”  ~Ecclesiastes   (Jean Baudrillard The Precession of the Simulacra)  I absolutely believe this is key to my art!! For myself, as I don’t want to speak for you, I believe this wholeheartedly. I have often believed that my second life is more true than my real life. Although, this is changing a bit, as I have learnt to balance the two, and they both bring me truth in their own way, I don’t feel like I am hiding in Second Life, like I sometimes do in real life.

So I am going to start thinking more about the idea of a simulacrum as it relates to our identity. When you look at it on the outside, it looks like we do hide in Second Life. We seem to escape into the other reality where we can shape it to however we want. We can right wrongs we have made in the past, undo regrets, live out our fantasies, our hopes and dreams. It can be said its about instant gratification, which is what our society is all about now adays. A hope and dream is in the future. Why wait when you can have it tonight?!?!?! (Sounds like a 50’s TV commercial) You can be anything you want, do anything you want. (well mostly) And you can change. No one is there to tell you you are an idiot for changing jobs, homes, genders… you are free. What does it mean to be free? How does this shape our identity? How does the avatar, the idea we can be whoever or whatever we want, help us find truth?

My so called second Life…

The title of this post is taken from a Times article from Dec of 2006, and also a panel discussion that was held at the College Art Association conference in Feb of this year. I think its a great way to start my new art endeavor.

As most of you know, I am a Grad student at California State University in Northridge. I was originally an Art History Grad student finishing all of my course work and working on my thesis, when I made the huge decision to change objectives to Studio Art. I am an artist. I realized, I am not a scholar. I love Art, all aspects of it, the past, present and future, the culture, the community, the controversy and the comraderie. I feel my life would be incomplete without it.

Being a part of the Art Community in Second Life(SL) has been an amazing experience. Growing up in SL the last 2 and a half years has also been an experience I will never forget.

As most of you also know, I am a painter in real life(RL). I upload digital photos of my work into Second Life to exhibit. This last year, I have been trying to reconcile my art and SL. What do I do here? I don’t create specifically SL based art using the tools that are available here but I know we are all immersed in a new and exciting moment for art. We are at the beginning of something that is already being written about in Art History books. (See “Digital Art” By Christiane Paul) It is an amazing time.

My last couple weeks in school, have really got me thinking about who I am as an artist and a person. Although frankly, I’ve been questioning who I am as a person for the last few years. Luckily, this last year, I have really started to find myself..yay!!! Being an artist within SL and the art community there, has really helped shape who I am. It has really got me thinking about where I want to go with my art. I have decided to take my art solely within Second Life. I am not going to create art within SL, but actually use SL as my art. I am going to use Gracie Kendal as my art. Her life and times, her so called life. Gracie as an artist in this community, the freinds she’s made, the relationships she’s had…even the wild penis in the window story (Ummm more later). I realize this is going to get very personal for me. Something I haven’t really dealt with in my art. My abstract art, has been personal on a very different tip of the iceberg level. But dealing with the life of Gracie, Is totally different.

I had talked with my mentor about this. I asked her, what is the media/medium going to be? She said it really doesn’t. Don’t worry about that. Think more abstractly. Funny, I can paint abstractly just fine, but thinking it…is sooo much harder. I am a very analytical, logical person. Object based as she put it. She said I have to stop thinking of the artist as a maker of objects (I LOVE Duchamp!!)

Just some basic ideas I have for this new project… Thinking about my career/life within SL as the art.. maybe ways to document my travels within SL… and other ideas:  machinima, SL photography, this blog…  During RL crits in School, I will not have my RL art, but rather show SL projected on a screen for the class to critique… (not sure what I’ll show them yet)… I will still create RL art, but it won’t be shown in RL…It will only be accessible within SL.

Other concepts for this project… Thinking about Sl and ideal beauty. The Avatar as mask. I could address my avatar, change her- play her up/Glam… etc. Reinvent myself within SL (Don’t think I can do this..but its an idea)- Avatar as content- series of self portraits as avatar… think about escape/fantasy (as it relates to my life and in general)- Can look at the idea of a beautiful woman being an artist, is that possible? Will it help or hinder her? How does that change within SL vs RL? Thinking about artist as persona, spectacle, performance- the cult of personality. Think about writing my own narrative, almost a journal or diary, etc.

This is all more a brainstorming session…But I’d love your feedback..I am really excited about this project and am really looking forward to working on it over the summer.

Thank you so so much :)))