[-empyre-] > 1. Re: the Times and SL (G.H.Hovagimyan)

On Sun, 19 Aug 2007, empyre-request@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au wrote:

1. Re: the Times and SL (G.H.Hovagimyan)


Whew, I've been quiet so far in this discussion. I exhibit and perform in RL and SL; my SL work is often used in live performance by others as well. I've spent a total of $4 in two years of activity. I'm working on the psycho-analytics of projection/introjection in relation to avatars, prims, the 'edges' of inconceivable spaces, etc. I also live in NY as GH does. I live in Brooklyn, maybe that's a difference. "I don't need an artifically constructed media space" either, but if I want to see Geneva, I leave NY. Having 'new experiences' isn't the issue; the issue for most of us is what we want, how we perceive the world, what we're doing. Geneva 'does it' for me as does SL in radically different ways. More below:

G.H. comments:

I live in New York City. One of the most incredible social spaces in
the world. If I want to meet people or have new experiences I walk out
on the street.  I don't need an artificially constructed media space to
do this. My experience with SL is that the amount of effort it takes to
get oriented, understand how to move about and communicate in the SL
world is not worth what you obtain.

The effort for me was literally about 20 minutes. There were some things still to learn, how to edit gestures, eliminate the menu screen when making a video, etc. But a lot of people I know find the interface simple.

The truth of the matter is that all
media replaces or deadens a part of the human physiology and psyche.

All media? How do you know this? I don't see either my physiology or psyche damaged; I can say that as well for any number of people in SL and RL. I bird-watch and hike. I also log in.

McCluhan had posited that in the 1960's. It is an extension of the
notion of the original alienation of a worker from their labor in
Marx's Das Kapital and was further iterated in the 1960's by Guy Debord
in his Society of the Spectacle.

Without wanting an argument here, I don't think it's an extension of alienated labor - if anything, one's responsible for one's own body in new and interesting ways in SL. But this brings up alterity, Levinas, and a whole host of other issues - not McCluhan Marx Debord I think.

If you trace the development of SL
you will see that it is very close to the notion of The Matrix movies.

?? There's someone that will save us all?

I find that truly frightening. I also find it amusing that people in SL
think the Postmaster's gallery show of the 14 most beautiful Avatars
was somehow important and verified the importance of SL.

Most SL people I know paid no attention to it. SL people don't need the verification any more than you need the verification of RL. (I'm cutting corners here, not trying to make an SL/RL split which could of course be easily deconned.)

Indeed, that
particular show was a very wry comment on the private obsessions of
people involved in virtual worlds. It was the closest thing I've seen
to a serious critique.

There are others that are better I think, you could use Wark, Dibbell even Turkle.

Losing touch with reality or creating another
reality is not something I aspire to. Or let me put it another way, I
am an artist, I disagree with the engineers notion of art and
creativity. When you allow an engineer to dictate how  you are creative
and what form that takes than you have given up your artistic freedom.
This is the case in SL.

Then you shouldn't work with computers at all which are engineer-designed, software and hardware built, etc. etc. I'll use available technology of any sort intelligently. No one is "dictating" people in SL any more than you're "dictated to" when you're asked to cross the street on red. And of course you can break through that and so can SL people.

I also find it insulting - a bandying about of "artistic freedom" in this manner. I haven't lost anything. Most people I know who work in SL will do things in all sorts of media spaces (and non-media spaces as well, however they might be defined).

You, GH, might feel you give up your artistic freedom, but I'd be careful about blanket statesments.

In SL there is the question of the cartoon and mask as a stand in for the archetypes of the human subconscious. On a certain level that is interesting but the playing out of archetypes in an artificially constructed space defeats the power of the symbol.

Oh heavens, it also elevates it. And there are a lot of other questions in SL beyond "cartoon and mask" ...

This is because
raising an archetype is one of the most powerful modes of expression
and communication. There is a schizophrenia between the total dominance
of the public sphere by corporate interests and the split of the public
social and archetypal space into a virtual world. This is very bad.

Why is it bad? Why is it schizophrenic? You're living within superstructure everywhere and everywhen, god knows especially in NY. And as you know, everything depends on what you do with it, what kind of critique or intelligence you bring to it, all sorts of things. It's just that the SL "corporate" is a lot clearer, it's economy is more evident, etc., and that makes it easier I think to deal with than what goes on around us. In our neighborhood we've been fighting Ratner and company for maybe 3-4 years now and we're most likely not going to win. The roots of power in this fight go deep and twisted, but real people are losing their homes as a result of entirely inappropriate eminent domain seizure. This - for me - is the real "total dominance of the public sphere by corporate interests." I mean my god if you don't like SL and feel it's contaminating and ruining symbols and whatnot, there are a lot of other areas to work in, online and offline!

is an expression of powerlessness and a concurrent move to balance the
split.  That may be the core emotion that I find most distateful and
depressing in SL. It is a sense of powerlessness. Or perhaps it is the
illusion that you are somehow controlling your
persona/archetype/body/space in SL.

In this last sentence, there's a slight contradiction; if you feel that sense of powerlessnes than you're not under the "illusion that you are somehow controlling." There's a third way of course which is that a lot of people are just using the space, working within or against the corporate structure, are smart and excited by what they're doing - and maybe, just maybe, even not particularly caring about "power" per se there. You'll probably find it naive, but I don't find it a lot less naive than most people in Brooklyn's response to Ratner.

My own feeling about a lot of this is that the left (I'm not saying you're left or right, I'm speaking for myself) shoots itself far too often in the foot by desiring a non-corporate purity which just isn't there. You're then forced into the position, for example, in relation to SL, of saying that everyone else in SL is naive or powerless or whatever - without even understanding the space in other dimensions and with other demographics. Some of the best and most 'questioning' artwork I've seen has been in SL, and it's been as exciting and far more interesting (to me) than what I've seen in Chelsea (whatever) galleries (which are far more insidious in terms of corporate power, disinvestment, etc. - but that's another argu- ment).

I was on a MOO quota board (PMC), we ran KyotoMoo out of the New School for a while, I've done a lot of work w/ ytalk blah blah blah I love this stuff...

Apologies for coming out of the lurk mode; for what I think are very good (personal) reasons, I'm paranoid and quiet on empyre, but I did want to contribute here.

- Alan


empyre mailing list

End of empyre Digest, Vol 33, Issue 17

Work on YouTube, blog at http://nikuko.blogspot.com . Tel 718-813-3285.
Webpage directory http://www.asondheim.org . Email: sondheim@panix.com.
http://clc.as.wvu.edu:8080/clc/Members/sondheim for theory; also check
WVU Zwiki, Google for recent. Write for info on books, cds, performance,
dvds, etc. =============================================================

This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.