Re: [-empyre-] Lambda Moo vs graphical spaces
a lot of my current performance work is situated in the 2D
cyberformance environment UpStage, which is not a virtual world, it's
an online "stage"; frequently when i'm explaining it to people, they
start talking about SL and ask why i don't perform there (usually
they haven't experienced SL themselves, only read about it). one
friend recently suggested that i should put UpStage "into" SL. when i
explain the differences (which are many) the next question often is
do i think UpStage is "better" than SL ... obviously it's not better
or worse, just very different.
UpStage is based a lot on concepts from The Palace, in combination
with video conferencing & text chat; i find the simplicity of such
environments liberating & so far my recent (limited) experiences in
SL have confirmed my initial feelings when checking it out a couple
of years ago that it didn't have great appeal for me as a creative
environment. however, i'm finding it really interesting to see what
artists are doing in SL now, & having this discussion. it's great to
see the breadth of digital/virtual mediums that are evolving - & also
to acknowledge the forebears such as MOOs & Palace (& other earlier
networked environments). yay for desktop theater : )
i only managed to join a very short bit of the field recordings
performance in SL yesterday & found it interesting; but i was
expecting there to be some sort of visual component as well (i
suppose because it was taking place in an audiovisual environment ...
). it was a bit like being at a mass meditation, with everyone
sitting around silently. things greatly improved after i learned how
to turn the audio on ; ) yes i am still a newbie! i also discovered
the out-of-body experience, moving my perspective further away from
my avatar, & even looking at my avatar's face - which connects back
to someone else's post about why have avatars at all. why indeed ...
i found myself multitasking while listening to the soundscape, &
wondering what was the advantage of presenting something like this in
SL rather than an audio webcast which would be more accessible ...
i'm curious as to where the sounds were gathered from - with SL or
outside? and how much of the mixing was done live, how much
btw - re not being able to walk thru walls, has anyone else ever
walked thru/into the ground - sinking into a subterranean virtual
solidity? this happened to me several times last year, haven't
noticed it recently so maybe it was a bug that's been fixed.
h : )
I think arguments about which virtual worlds are 'better' or 'worse'
is a bit of a waste of energy and misses the point. It is clear that
different virtual spaces have very different affordances and
constraints and I think that is a more productive discussion and way
of analysing different virtual spaces. What can we do in these
different spaces? What are their unique affordances? And constraints?
In many ways the text-based space of LambdaMoo provided a greater
level of freedom than virtual worlds like Second Life-in LambdaMoo
your visual identity and your actions were only limited by your
imagination (and your powers of textual description!) In SL, avatars
and their actions are now represented visually, a powerful new
affordance but one which also has its own constraints as we are now
limited by what it is possible for us to visually represent within
the technical constraints of the SL environment.
The distinctive characteristics and aesthetics of different virtual
spaces are defined as much by their constraints as their affordances
and for me the most interesting artists are those that are exploring
these space-specific aesthetics.
One of my favourite online performances was Desktop Theater's
(Adriene Jenik and Lisa Brenneis) virtual version of Samuel
Beckett's Waiting for Godot in The Palace (www.thepalace.com) way
back in 1997. The performance exploited the aesthetic and technical
constraints of The Palace environment. The main characters were
played by 2D smiley faces (the default avatars for guests in The
Palace) and the simplistic smiley face avatars with their limited
range of colours and expressions underlined the emotional emptiness
and inarticulateness of the characters they represented. The lag
between responses as performers typed in their lines of dialogue
also echoed the play's theme of waiting and created moments of
poetic pathos and quirky humour. A wonderful work - documentaion as
availaber at: www.adrienejenik.net/desktoptheater
helen varley jamieson: creative catalyst
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