[-empyre-] the holy trinity..Bad, Ugly and Good..

Talking with many people both on and offline about this months topic has
been incredibly informative.. I really want to thank our guests for the
enormous generosity in sharing thier knowledge and relating their lived
experience from SL, and the ensuing community discussion they have sparked.

In these encounters  I often hear that  discussing second life in cultural
contexts proves to be much more fulfilling than  the experience as a newbie
avatar stumbling into walls and falling off cliffs in lonely cityscapes.
Grappling with the irrationalities of SL spatial and architectural norms,
and societal rules, which strangely we criticize precisely because they
resemble existing norms, which most of us would otherwise defend ( ie no sex
with furrie animals).
The second thing that struck me is the intensity of the is the high art/low
art dichotomy.. Is SL the virtual version of suburban consumer mall culture
where the masses may look upon the techno glitterati ?  Does SL's
accessibility and lack of pretension  which open it up a public sphere to a
wide audience, its down fall in terms of  uptake within segments of the art
community..?   Why would artists avoid working is SL? Surely this is just
the sort of mass audience that most creatives crave?

Thirdly-  Looking at the precedents..the muds and moos where many of us
first were introduced to online role playing and community dynamics..  How
much has really changed ?- something that particularly resonated  with me
was  the materiality  of Kath O'Donnell's notebook scrawls - the simplicity
of the  few lines of code (text on paper)  the evoke the whole online mud
and moo experience.

 Although other less proprietary multiuser models and even completely open
source environments are available -  SL is still the biggest attractor. For
whatever reasons SL has flourished, and some say it has already peaked and
is on its  way down and that a crumbling empire makes for  even more
interesting creative possibilities in terms of artistic, architectural,
aesthetic and activist interventions. ( shall we compare it to the giardini
of  the venice beinnale)

Maybe most people who inhabit SL don't want to be early adoptors  ( although
in terms of global population uptake they clearly are ) or be different or
stand out in a crowd in an uncomfortable way .The artists position in the
community then  is to be audatious,  make obvious what most people don't
perhaps at first perceive, or to present different perspectives and
intensities or entertainment?

Merely playing in the  "garden of errors" as Christian McCrae poetically
tags SL, is in itself a oddly and subtly identity shifting experience for
those un used to living life in multiple parallel universes..  Whether you
like it or hate it, we are on the cusp of transitioning into the age of

Smash your computer now and turn the electricity off if you don't want to


PS i've just come across my old essays and realized it was actually "There"
( www.there.com ) that I was dissing 5 years ago.. And I was right..it
wasn't the next big thing... !!

Looking fwd to the "my little pony" rides on Monday night..
Dr Melinda Rackham
Executive Director
Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT)
PO Box 8029
Station Arcade
South Australia 5000
ph: 61 8 8231 9037; fax 61 8 8231 9766

Australian Network for Art and  Technology (ANAT) is supported by the Visual
Arts and Craft Strategy, an  initiative of the Australian, State and
Territory Governments;  the Australian Government through the Australia
Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and the South Australian
Government through Arts SA.

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