The right question

I need your help.

I am putting together a real life performance using Second Life and I would love to run it  by all of you and get  your feedback. Vaneeesa and I have been talking about it in email and I have gotten some great advice, but I decided to open this up for a  public (SL or  irez) discussion  and get your input as well.

I have a room which is about 17 ft by 19 ft in which I will be projecting Second Life on a  wall as big as I can. I am hoping to fill the whole  wall to  make it a  more immersive experience. (Due to budget and time constraints I am only able to use 1 projector)

I have decided to recreate my work area from home in the gallery. I will  transport my desk (table), computer chair and all of my personal items on my desk. My idea is to sit at  the computer and be in SL as Gracie (in human form as my ideal self).

Gracie will go shopping, dancing, art gallery hopping, hang with friends and anything else I can think of.

My hope is  that people who come into the gallery will consider the idea of living a second life. What it means? Why my avatar looks as she does. etc.

I have also thought of having a table with post-it notes in which people would  answer a question  and stick the post it on the wall.

What would you do if you have a second life? Who would you be? etc.

Are these the right questions?

Should I interact with the public? I have  had so many ideas, they are all  pretty jumbled  in my head right now and I would  love  to work  it all out.
Of course working on an important project brought up a lot  of self doubt. I started asking how this is performance and  why? and why is this important? Will people get it?

I would love your input and confidence 🙂

Thank you all so much!!

Kristine Schomaker is a new media and performance artist, painter and art historian living and working at the Brewery artist complex in Los Angeles. For over 14 years she has been working with various interdisciplinary art forms including online virtual worlds to explore identity and the hybridization of digital media with the physical world. Whether virtual or physical, the object-based work Kristine creates combines elements of color-based gestural abstraction, animation, pattern and design, neo-Baroque and Populence. Using installation, text, photography, mixed media, video and performance for her ongoing conceptual project My Life as an Avatar, she visualizes a narrative/dialogue with her virtual persona, Gracie Kendal. Kristine then documents her experiences on her blog. In 2012, exploring ideas of community, Kristine turned a local gallery into a modern day creation of Gertrude Stein’s salon of the 1920’s with a live mixed-reality dinner party merging the physical world with the online virtual world. Over the summer she also performed The Bald and the Beautiful in which she had her head shaved as a statement to challenge society’s standards of beauty. Currently, Kristine is working as an Artist-in-Residence through the Linden Endowment for the Arts creating an immersive virtual environment which she is planning to bring into the physical world via sculpture/public art work.

6 thoughts on “The right question

  1. By setting yourself up in the gallery and letting visitors watch you work, you’re “exhibiting process”

    So the painting analogy would either be that you work on paintings in the gallery and the visitors watch, or that you show a video of you working on a painting.

    Both are great… neither is “interactive”… no reason it has to be interactive… but it seems like perhaps you’d like that…

    To go with the painting analogy… if you want it to be interactive… you could let them paint… you could just put a bunch of paint there and say have fun… and they could have a painting experience… or if you wanted them more specifically in your formal or conceptual space, you could give them a more structured opportunity to interact…

    I haven’t seen a lot of Mixed Reality work, but of what I have seen, it’s often peeps IRL “looking at” SL or WoW or whatever platform it may be… or maybe VR peeps looking back at the IRL gallery peeps…

    So an installation that lets RL visitors INTERACT with your VR space might be interesting.

    If you have a couple of local friends who do SL, maybe they could come be facilitators on laptops… and you could have a “body image” questionnaire…. and peeps could talk about hopes, fears, desires…

    Maybe it’s about weight and the facilitator could help them explore bodies, see themselves larger or smaller… or maybe it’s about some other body image issue… “I’ve always dreamt of getting a full-body tattoo, but my mom always freaks out whenever she sees a girl with tats, so except for a couple of small, hidden ones, I’ve never done it”… so the facilitator could help them get a full body tat for their avatar… etc etc…

    And if you have a few avatars in the virtual gallery, perhaps they too could play with body mods… or read relevant poems… or just dance and have fun…

    Sometimes friends will sit in front of a computer and tweak a shape together… and sometimes one avatar will watch or help another make mods… but I bet that most of the time this is done alone… and maybe others comment on the results or the steps… so simply to share, to make visible, the act of creating shape, of creating and contemplating body, is something we think about a lot but don’t so often “make” together.

    Yordie and Becky have both written about VR Romance recently. I haven’t looked, so IDK how much blogging there is on this, I’m sure it does exist, but I’ll guess that the simple, honest, power that Yordie and Becky both put forth, isn’t all that common – even though so many peeps probably think about this – so they got a strong response, from, so to speak “lurkers” — peeps curious, perhaps even desperately curious, but either afraid to ask, or not even knowing what to ask or how to ask…

    Similarly, we know that lots of us care about body image: whether I want to be perfecter, or I’m afraid that I’m somehow unloveable, etc etc… “Women’s Magazines” talk about some aspects of this, but they’re also mired in the commodification of the beauty industry – to watch a real person think about their own body image, even virtually, might be a rather compelling experience.

  2. Thank you so much for your comment Vaneeesa. I am off to work soon so will re-read it at work. But it definitely helps. I do like the idea of process and have thought of that also. Since Gracie is my art and my work is about our relationship, it is almost natural to show how she lives. As another friend put it, I am pulling back the curtain in the wizard of oz. I am showing the puppet master behind the doll. A lot to think about for sure. Thank you!!!

    1. What an interesting project, Kris!!! I’m already excited for you! Beyond the obvious references/implications of RL and alternate identity, certain (possible) issues relating to virtual space/time continuum in your proposed performance fascinates me. The way I see it is that as the audience will be seeing you as Kris working by your actual desk, etc., they will also be seeing Gracie (your alter ego, for lack of a better word) performing diverse activities in a different realm than you, yet in the same space/time. Obviously, I’m not telling you how your audience should perceive your work or how you should perform it, but I think that this dichotomy will prove interesting. The concept of the artistic process has dominated post-modernism, and combined with the virtual aspect, could shed light on how we, as SL residents, live in a multiplicity of realities simultaneously. Such a state of consciousness of course raises questions on identity, point of views, being, etc. Regardless of whether or not you choose to involve the audience in your performance (for selfish reasons, I do wish that you would involve them somehow, even if it’s just to write a few words down on a post-it – I want the data LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL), you will get their attention. PLEASE let me know how it goes… I can’t wait to hear more.

      1. Thank you for your great comments and insite Kat!! I definitely hope the audience perceives this piece in the way you described.I am going to have post-its handy and ask people to write something but still coming up with the right question. I want it to be clear and concise and short. Should it be… What would your alter ego be like? What would you do in a second life? Hmmmmmm

  3. I like your idea very much, Kristine. I wonder, if you offered people access to one or more avatars so they could interact with you, that might extend the experience even further. I know there’s a learning curve but anyone with gaming experiece could do basic things like walk and text. In essence, your demonstration could show them how. Then they could try it. This is just an idea that popped in my head. Good Luck

    1. I have definitely thought of that Yordie, but I only have one computer. When I get enough funds I am going to get another laptop for just this reason and also a better projector.

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