Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Body Parts by Alpha Auer

In response to the last post - can cyberspace offer a place for the soul – I visited Alpha Auer’s “Body Parts”, an installation that confronts the idea of loneliness in cyberspace and the avatar as a sole soul. She writes, “once all the beautiful words have been uttered and all the chips are down, in the end love is a physical thing - and like Kafka in relationship to Milena, we are not. The sum total of our physicality is a bunch of cleverly strung together pose animations purchased from Vista. At best.... No corporeality = no love. There is no manifestation of love in the metaverse. Lots of other things - yes. Absolutely. But love - no…”

Visitors to “Body Parts” are invited to don cold monochromatic skins to blend in with the silvery sculpted figures clutching at and towards one another. The figures travel across the landscape like a Rubens composition (I thought of Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus), across and up. Jump on one of the pose balls and complete a circuit with a fellow avatar – aka human being – and notice how the figures struggle between refusal and gratification, between wanting the connection and revolting against it. I don’t know if I agree with Alpha’s claim that love cannot exist in the metaverse without physical connection...there are enough descriptions by others about the rl sensations felt when first dancing a waltz with a partner, or the shiver of the typist when crossing a snowy sim, not to mention the hundreds of seemingly fruitful partnerships. But because so much of our experience in-world relies on imagination which we use to fill in the blanks, (and there are blanks) are we ultimately only loving ourselves? Commune we will, our fellow avatars are our hand-held mirrors, but ultimately, we must self-gratify. Love can be blind and the brain compensates in the actual world as well as the virtual one. Writes Edward Castronova, “for the first time, humanity has not one but many worlds in which to live.” One could argue that there are more choices for love as well. /me jumps back on Alpha’s pose ball and continues to wrestle the thought....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Siri heavy lidded, half asleep

A while back I was recruited as an illlustrator for Lycos. I met with the company head and showed him my portfolio. “These are great” he told me “But why continue using pens? I haven’t picked up a pencil in five years.” He brandished his art tablet and stylus at me and I knew then I couldn’t work for him. I like to see the hand in the work. I like the erasures and the depth on paper that graphite makes.

MIT professor and cybernetic pioneer Marvin Minksy believes that cyberspace will liberate us from “the bloody mess of organic matter”. In 1991 Michael Benedikt described cyberspace as a New Jerusalem... “If only we could, we would wander the earth and never leave home; we could enjoy triumphs without risks, and eat of the Tree of heaven and not be punished, consort daily with angels, enter heaven now and die.” Can cyberspace offer a place for the soul?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

You are heroes!

Thank you to everyone who lent their ears for War Child yesterday. Thank you for sharing your stories and for offering support for the organization. This means a lot to me personally, but, more importantly, to those children who benefit from War Child's actions. The organization works closely with the music industry to raise money to provide services for children affected by war. We listened to the compilation Heroes, which you can read about here. The most obvious way that children are affected by war is through death and injury (in the past decade, more than 2 million children have been killed and more than 10 million injured or disabled in armed conflicts). Children may also lose their homes and families, making the trauma of war even harder to cope with. Many creative projects are being done by War Child to help children recover from war. For example, "Creative therapy children's buses" travel around Kosovo to provide creative workshops for children in different areas. Check out War Child's website at to learn more or contact project managers Chriistopher Carter and Sara Caproni in-world.

Please consider purchasing the album - it's aces - or joining the group in-world. Stay tuned for the opening of War Child's sim next week which will offer live music events and other activities. Thanks again, friends <3.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mending Walls

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun; And makes gaps even two can pass abreast."

- Robert Frost

Here's a build by AM Radio, the Quiet at Welsh Lakes, well suited for a New England wanderer.
Radio acknowledges the loss of landscapes in America, first in his most famous build The Far Away, and now here. I was reminded of James Howard Kunstler's description of the ubiquitous and "tragic crapscape" that is plowing over the stone walls and wheat fields of America. Driving through New England, in the winter especially, when leaves have been whipped from their branches, you can see miles of these stone walls, some of the earliest surviving evidence of man trying to manipulate and control his environment. There's an excellent story about this phenomena in The Golden Spruce - a book describing a logger's extreme ascent (or descent, depending on who you're talking to) into environmentalism, when he cuts down an ancient and revered Sitka spruce tree in British Columbia. As always, the spareness of Radio's builds, and the clues he leaves about, encourage a visitor to pause and...consider.