[-empyre-] discussion on Second Life in another list

I participated in an interesting discussion about Second Life in
Trebor Scholtz's list IDC. Here was a good intervention from Guiselle

ps: This is my friend he Swedish architect and teacher Tor Lindstrand,
who teaches about Second Life and virtual architecture in the Royal
School of Architecture in Stockholm.

His place on Second Life is http://www.theport.tv/wp/wordpress/, The Port.

<<But not for a second do I buy the argument that synchronous virtual
worlds like Second Life are the future of the net.>>

I agree. Nevertheless is a very interesting art space. SL has a
curious cybrid format. I mean a space between on and off line networks
that can be used as new layer of our territorial experience. I'm
working now on a new project conceived for SL, exploring its potential
as a cinematic space and the resources its inhabitants can use in
order to get different points of view (flying, zooming etc).
It seems to me that the cinematic experience you have there announces
in some ways what can be the the migration from machines of motion to
machines of vision, or the new cinema. Peter Weibel wrote some years
ago a long essay on digital images that could be a point of departure
for that discussion:

"The nineteenth century was obsessed with motion - with illusions of
motion, and with machines of motion. There were two kinds of machines
of motion: the first tried to analyze motion, the second to synthesize
motion. The analysis of motion was the task of the camera; the
synthesis of motion was the task of the projector. The evolution of
cinema in the nineteenth century can be attributed to two major
trends: firstly, to the progress in experimental physiology and
psychology leading to the Gestalt psychology, and secondly, to the
advances in machines attempting to adapt and transfer the
physiological mechanism of perception into machines capable of the
visual simulation of motion and - herein lies the problem - not into
machines of per­ception.

Therefore, what we know as cinema today is in fact already a reduction
of the nineteenth-century principle that began to investigate machines
of vision, but finally reduced them to machines of motion. There is
the moving-image industry with its motion pictures, that is to say:
the Hollywood system. Its code is a legacy of the nineteenth century,
and reduces the ­initial exploration of machines of vision to machines
of motion. Only the avant-garde cinema of the 1920s, 1950s and 1960s
maintained the original intention of creating machines of vision.
Classical cinema, therefore, already diminished the initial
enterprise, which was about perception. Perception was reduced to the
perception of motion, ­and remained on the retinal level because there
was no pursuit of the question of how our brain perceives the world.
People constructed machines with a kind of graphic notation - "la
methode graphique" (Etienne-Jules Marey) - of motion. This method can
be said to be still valid, tragically enough, today.

What Marey did was to analyze, and deconstruct, motion with his
­famous graphical method. It made no difference whether a drawing
machine was used or, as in the case of Eadweard Muybridge, a
photographic machine. Both Muybridge and Marey soon realized that ­it
is not enough to analyze motion, but many other machines had to be
used in order to project, to synthesize, motion. We may conclude this
interpretation with the fact that cinema was invented in the
nineteenth century. The twentieth century merely turned the
nineteenth-century inventions into standardized mass media - including
television, which ­became a consumer apparatus. As a side-effect, we
simultaneously turned this machinery not only into mass media, but
also into art, an individual ­approach.

Cinema is a writing of motion (cinematography); it is just a machine
that simulates motion for the eye. The avant-garde, from Dziga Vertov
to Steina and Woody Vasulka , kept to the initial idea: machine
­vision - not machine motion. Vertov gave us the term Kinoglaz , the
camera eye. With the advent of video (Latin: I see), it was clear that
we had to make a paradigmatic shift from imitating and simulating
motion to imitating and simulating vision with the help of ­machines.
We had to change from cinematography (the writing of motion) to what I
would call the writing of seeing: opsigraphy, from the Greek word
opsis (as in "optics"). Or even to opsiscopy, the seeing of seeing -
in other words, the observing of observing mechanisms. In cyberspace,
for example, when you see yourself and your actions as an image, you
are already in opsiscopic space. You are observing yourself in a
­picture that you observe; it is an observation of the second order.
In fact, cyberspace is the beginning of opsiscopy: of machines that
see how we see."

In short, I think SL can be considered an opsiscopic space that allows
to transcend sometimes the basic descriptive movements we do in our FL
(First Life) and because of this points to new directions in the
digital arts field in general and digital images in particular.



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