Text by HYPATIA PICKENS and JEDDIN LAVAL
Photos by VERDE OTAARED
Lance Winn, an award-winning professor of fine arts and MFA coordinator at the University of Delaware, entered Second Life Friday October 23 from 11:30a-1:30p as “Lawrence Winmore” to give a lecture on “Outsider Art” at the in-World UD site. The event kicked off an exhibition, organized by Firery Broome, of works of art by notable second life artists. Winn’s topic attracted about 30 avatars to the sim, was viewed live by about forty students and colleagues at his university, and for those who could not be available for the virtual experience or found the technical problems insurmountable, it has been recorded and available for viewing --crashes included.
An amiable, eloquent speaker with a contagious sense of humor, Winn began by stating that he was no expert on either “virtuality” or Outsider art. But the topic is a timely one that examines the evaporating boundaries between “real” and “Second Life” artwork; it promises to redefine our concept of artwork in the (perceived) “underworld” of this rapidly growing global virtual reality and its relationship to what has been called “insider art”: that which is established within culturally acceptable, trained methods, and has an impact on lived experience.
The sense of our own “outsider” status inside Second Life was ironically reinforced by the fact that discussion occurred in voice and typed chat simultaneously, while the simulation crashed repeatedly—thus creating that distraction and dispersal of attention so well-known to residents of Second Life and so confusing to non-residents. During the Q&A, Winn protested good-naturedly that the typed questions were leaving him far behind, driving home how differently we filter our commentary in Second Life. Winn stood at the UD speaker’s stadium wherein the viewer saw on the main screen the faces of Winn’s students and technicians watching Winn’s avatar. On a side screen, Winn projected examples of “Outsider Art,” which included, for instance, etchings by William Blake: a famous nineteenth-century “outsider.” For those who found the resolution slow and the lag unbearable, the event is covered by the ustream posted above, where the media still reflects the instability that residents wish to see resolved: Winn’s voice comes across excellently, but the visuals are spotty, the chat, of course, unreadable, and the stream affected by the repeated crashes. As such, however, it offers a splendid example of the mechanical reproducibility and fragility of digital experience and expression that became the focus of the discussion.
“Outsider Art” is “a term coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for art brut, a label created by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture” (Thinkerer Melville’s blog). Art brut, “savage art,” described that which was produced by the institutionalized—the criminal, the mentally ill and interesting only to psychological study. Although the term eventually shed its pathological connotations and came to refer to naïve or untrained art, Winn noted that it is “a contentious term for many.” So he brought this question to the residents of Second Life: “is there an insider art world in Second Life?” [nicely skirting the issue of whether we are all “outsiders” in here and as pathological as much Real Life opinion believes us to be.]
How Fast We Fly by AM Radio
Traditionally, Outsider Art has “rarely been linked to technology,” Winn stated. Practiced by the “untrained” retired laborers who “had to keep their hands moving,” it was driven by “necessity,” not “craft” or marketability. New Media, however, is changing that, and the question Winn posed to his audience was whether Second Life (and other digital media) removed the cost that makes “insider art” so difficult to the outsider, by offering “a cheaper way to fulfill ideas; a way to visualize things that may not otherwise be able to be made.” This statement was followed by a discussion about Walter Benjamin’s term “aura” made famous in his 1935 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”
Vessel's Dream by Bryn Oh
All works of art, writes Benjamin, are reproducible, but the “mechanical” reproduction (particularly that recorded on film and vinyl) loses the aura of an original object: the “presence in time and space” of an “authentic work of art” that confers upon it specialness, uniqueness. In mechanical reproduction, “the powerful experience of art becomes available far more broadly, though at the expense of the uniqueness.” The largely unmonitored space of the Internet allows for easy visibility. While a YouTube may receive two million hits, Winn remarked, sheer number may mislead an audience into thinking that quantity is quality. Winn saw Benjamin’s concerns—that notions of success were moving “from a model of notions of quality to ideas of success based on quantity—to be present today as we make another major technical shift. What happens to the aura in virtual space? “Is there a way one could be bodily and sensorily in a work of art?” he asked. “There exists the idea of the body,” but the artwork is still primarily visual. There is no way for it to be tactile or olfactory he noted, although one could introduce motion and flight into it, and reward the careful viewer with hidden secrets. Were there any Second Life artists who challenged the “fetishization of control” that mechanical reproductive art enables, he asked, a question which we found fairly opaque (how does one do that in a medium so driven by controlling technology?), further ironized when the entire sim went down. When it was up and running, one resident remarked wryly that “it’s hard to define outsider art when we’re being tossed outside the sim all the time,” to Wynn’s delighted laughter. “Yes! Absolutely! A lot of media artists,” he replied, “are often testing the boundaries where representation fails to deliver.” Waiting for things to rez for instance, accustoms us to “the blur.” Referring to the lack of olfactory sensation, another resident quipped: “if there was smell and if the sim crashed, would it smell like farts?” The repartee, even though it was at lagging distance with Winn’s talk, was witty and delightful.
Nashaba by Filthy Fluno
Winn was firm, but without condescension, in the stance he took with regard to seeking quality and cultural impact at the same time that he recognized and applauded this “unique time in the creative realm” where “many boundaries are being challenged”—as long, he said “as the artist did not exploit outsider status out of “some kind of ...position of “safety.” “Terms like ‘Outsider,’” he reminded us, “are often used to forego criticality and questions of quality, as has the Internet in general. So at times it’s easier to say the work’s not having impact because it’s outside rather than deciding how to make the work have impact.” Such an event like this one takes us one step closer to bringing the inside art world of Second Life to the outsider majority.
The exhibit will be up at the University of Delaware sim until November 13, and features the work of talented and acclaimed Second Life artists in traditional ways (the simulacrum of a gallery with scanned images) and ways that are becoming unique to in-world three dimensional creation.
The three dimensional SL 'sculptures' are scattered around the grounds of the sim. Eighteen Second Life creators have taken part in the exhibit including AM Radio, Bryn Oh, Cheen Pitney, Cutea Benelli, DC Spensley, Filthy Fluno, Glyph Graves, Kilara Balnarring, Misprint Thursday, Raskolnikow Roffo, Sabrinaa Nightfire, soror Nishi, and Ub Yifu. A few are shown in this article but in order to truly experience this art, one must visit it in person.
Bellows Falls by Misprint Thursday
Winn’s own exquisite art of many media (including the digital) focuses, as he writes in his artist’s statement, “on reproductive processes to investigate the types of distortion that may occur as information is translated and multiplied.” It can be seen on-line at his university home page, and at a YouTube presentation taken of “Trace,” an exhibit of his at the Freedman Gallery of Albright.
Outside Art exhibit at University of Delaware
Wikipedia article on Outsider Art
IM Firery Broome in-world for more information
About the Authors
Hypatia Pickens is a poet, fiction-writer, artist, researcher, language-inventor, college-professor and treasure-hunter. Jeddin Laval is a writer, artist, inventor, mathematician, patent-maker, scriptor and ragpicker of ideas.
Last Updated on Sunday, 01 November 2009 14:57
Photos and Review by TIA MACBAIN
Every Thursday, I wait. I usually discard all incoming notices for groups, barely even looking at them before I click them away into non-existence. But on Thursday, I wait. I am waiting for that one announcement, that invitation, sent out over the virtual airwaves by ordinary means but which calls me to a rather extraordinary and other worldly event. And then it comes. At 530pmSLT, sent through the Art and Artist Network, I get the message, "Haiku SpeedBuild 6pm SLT on Afar." My heart leaps for joy as I let out an audible "Yay!" It is time for the event that engages all my senses, puts all my skills to use, and makes my creative soul happy. It is time for the Haiku SpeedBuild.
"What's the Haiku SpeedBuild?" you ask. According to the note card supplied by the Virtual Artist Alliance of SL the event is described as this:
Every week, a haiku is chosen for the theme of the speedbuild, and the haiku will be revealed right before a contest begins. Each contestant will have 50 minutes to create a sculpture that best exemplifies the haiku within a 50 prim limit. Only ten building pads are available on a first come, first serve basis, so be sure to get there early! Every building level from novice to expert is welcome. Voting is done by all those who are present with cash prizes for first, second and third place.
But once you attend a Speedbuild it becomes so much more than this pat and dry description. As the hostess of the event, Special Jewel describes it best. "Haiku paints a picture in the mind. The quick 50 minute build puts forth the raw impact of the subject for the artist builder. There is no time to ponder. Emotion fuels the Haiku SpeedBuild."
Special Jewel took over the running of this event for the Virtual Artist Alliance after it went dormant for about six months. The original founders of the event were Cyanide Seelowe and Resago Kokorin. Special took over the hosting as any true artist and visionary may do once noticing the potential in such a thing as this. She has been running the builds every Thursday for the past 12 weeks and they have been widely successful. They are held in the Afar region of SL. The owner of the sim, Peri Afarensis, is a very generous supporter of the Arts in SL and according to Special, "It has been a marvelous fit."
The Haiku is a Japanese style of poetry that’s form oozes simplicity. It works out to be three lines, with a five seven five syllabic structure. Special chooses an original Haiku each week that inspires one to envision and create. But, the simplicity of the Haiku in no way inspires simplicity in the builds of those who participate. Some of the most complex structures arise from the synergy of these two art forms. It is a glorious thing to participate in and even a more glorious thing to behold. So on Thursdays, if you are in the Afar Region, stop by and watch or even participate in what I think to be one of SLs hidden gems...The Haiku Speedbuild.
Slurl to Haiku Speedbuild at Afar: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Afar/226/122/609
by BLUEANGEL LUNGU
Photos by MARGA FERRER and WINTER WARDHANI
Academia Portucalis is a school where one can learn about everything in SL from socializing to how to make sculpties or build objects. Last month there was a mini-course of Photography with windlight. The teacher, Winter Wardhani, liked the student’s works so much that she organized an exhibition at the end of the course to display the photos.
Keeping special moments or special landscapes forever is one of the most enjoyable things one can do in SL. The snapshot button seems so easy to press that we can take pictures all the time. But taking photographs in SL has some special techniques that most of us don’t know. That’s why Academia Portucalis offered some classes on how to take the right picture using the right features. The teacher was Winter Wardhani (a photographer for Rezlibris) and the two classes she taught were very participative and productive. The first class taught techniques of using the menus for changing settings. The class that followed was the one where the students showed their homework. The works were so good that the teacher invited them all to an exhibition at her island: Owls Bay. So in cooperation with the Academia it was all arranged, and the opening was a big success. The pictures seemed to have been taken by photographers with lots of experience and, most important, some of them don’t even have any treatment because only the features of SL were used.
The Portucalis Academia
Since the day it opened (July 17th 2007) Academia Portucalis has given about 70 lessons with an average attendance of 20 students per class. “Devoted to teaching, the Academia offers weekly lessons and courses about SL subjects and other competencies related to real life,” said Cleo Beckers, one of the teachers. The 15 teachers that give classes there are specialists in subjects such as sculpties, building, streaming, SL jobs, land, clothes, photography, gestures and animations among other areas that are interesting to explore in the metaverse. When comparing with real life, teachers in SL tend to be more receptive and focused on each student whether to explain something or to answer the doubts they may have. Usually the classes are prepared in note cards that are given to students at the end of each one and sometimes visual materials are also supplied to help make subjects more perceptive. The Academia has a blog where all the activities are announced each month. The Academia also has some partnerships with real life schools such as the Santarém Superior School of Education and the University of Aveiro (both in Portugal).
Academia Portucalis (classes)
Slurl Owls Bay (exhibition): (after landing just hit Art Gallery on the teleporter)
By CLARK ABISMO and BLUEANGEL LUNGU
Photos by WINTER WARDHANI
Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) was one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language. Harold Bloom has considered him one of the most representative poets of the 20th century. He lived his adolescence period in South Africa where he learned English. Many of his writings include poems and texts in this idiom. He worked as a journalist, as an English translator, in publicity, commerce, and in the public service, but it was his writings that showed us his greatest genius.
One of his characteristics is the systematic use of heteronyms, each one with fully developed and distinct characters. Pessoa has given us true compendiums of poems in which you can clearly identify each one of those personalities, mainly Alberto Caeiro, Álvaro de Campos, Ricardo Reis, and Bernardo Soares. In his work, “Autopsichobiography,” he synthesizes his job as a poet with the verses, “The poet is a faker / Who’s so good at his act / He even fakes the pain / Of pain he feels in fact (tr. By Richard Zenith)”.
He died in Lisbon at 47 of Cirrhosis, and his last phrase was written in English. With the mirage of his own death he said: “I know not what tomorrow will bring…” Being a mystic person himself, and though we can not be sure about his affiliation with Masonry, there’s no mistake in saying that his writings were full of references to the occult, astrology, and impregnated with symbolism of the Portuguese soul and history.
The steady and pulsing Portuguese community in Second Life realized that culture should also be presented in this medium. There have been some efforts on this. Portuguese universities and the Ministry of Justice are already active. Now Portuguese people seem to be embracing cultural activities, and they count on the increasing Portuguese speaker’s population, both from Portugal and Brazil, two people that share a common history and cultural identity.
Celebrating the European Year of Innovation and Creativity, 2009 edition, and by the hand of the Cascais Municipality (a village near Lisbon) in partnership with the Virtual Cultural Community (Comunidade Cultural Virtual) and the Public Library of São Domingos de Rana, Fernando Pessoa has arrived in Second Life. During a full month, it was held by this library a bilingual exposition (in Portuguese and English) called “Olhar/One Look,” which portrayed the paintings of Joaquim Carvalho who was inspired by the words of Fernando Pessoa in his famous work “Message”.
To promote this event, Halden Beaumont (aka Hugo Almeida in real life), a well known machinima maker, has produced a video for this event.
During the past month – both in the real and virtual world – several conferences about Second Life took place which included a live transmission from Second Life of the speech of Manuela Nogueira, the niece of Fernando Pessoa. She answered several questions both in real world at the library and from people live from Second Life.
To celebrate the occasion, there were also concerts by some Portuguese musicians like TB Andel (aka João Frazão) and Peltzer Hirano (aka Rui Gaio) and the production of the musical piece “O Marinheiro” [The Sailor], from the Portuguese composer Clotilde Rosa.
The Municipality also took this opportunity to promote its tourism through interactive panels where they presented the natural beauties of this village and its cultural events, including the prestigious international Jazz Festival.
This first approach between the two worlds went very well, according to the organizers, and this initiative has given the opportunity to talk about Second Life to people who had never heard about virtual worlds before. They say that events like this enhance the experience and knowledge of promoting artistic and literature events in this medium, something that has drawn some attention from the Portuguese media in real life.
Fernando Pessoa’s niece, when asked about what Fernando Pessoa would think about joining Second Life, said: “Let’s imagine him in our time! How fun he would have to be the puppeteer of these little intellectual dolls, in an environment that himself certainly would create! The use of the computer, the internet, or having a blog would definitely help him in his multiple tasks” (…) “There would be several figures in Second Life saying his verses: Caeiro, blond, with fragile looks, living and looking at nature, and trying to understand its secrets and plots; Álvaro de Campos, dressed like an Englishmen with Glasgow habits, like drinking 5 o’clock tea in one coffee at Rossio, while waiting for Ophelia, (…); Ricardo Reis, with his odes, waiting for Lídia and speaking with an Oporto pronunciation (…)
[ translation from the Portuguese from the CCV blog ]
Tpglourenco Forcella, one of the promoters and a member of the Virtual Cultural Community who brought to life this event, said in conclusion that “When you have an immersive world such as Second Life, that achieves to have five times more visitors than in real life, it’s clearly demonstrated where future cultural communications will take place.”
Fernando Pessoa's wikipedia article... | More about heteronomy...