The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

August 25, 2007

This is my part of a talk (Sandy Baldwin is also speaking) for the DRESS-
CODEAVATAR show/performance tomorrow at 2 p.m. NYC time - please attend
if you're interested. You can find info online; it's in Second Life and
real life for that matter. Thanks, Alan

I think if you go to
and click on
3 weeks of fine art.xxXtenxion
- a bit confusing but there -

Avatar Dress Codes (talk for DRESSCODEAVATAR.)

Of course the dress-code is code and what protocol structures;
I have no idea what Linden knows;
If it's anything like MOO-Wizardry, Linden knows or has the potential
for knowing - everything.
So there's that limit.

I think of build as masquerade, participating in dubious economy.
Dubious, because I can't afford it! And would want, as with any land-grab,
some sort of assurance of ownership beyond the corporation.

I've spent something like $2.40 on Second Life.

To the more serious issue - I identify with Gaz' work because of the dis/
comfort it causes; it's this dis/comfort and the attendant psychoanalytics
that fascinates me, that I think is important in virtual space.

Because virtual space is cleansed, purified, and one can always sign out
when things get too hot. But investigating, producing, corrupting,
exalting, the abject body, that's something else, this body which is both
prim and flesh, which doesn't quite let go when you hit delete or quit.

It's this body that reminds you of flesh in the midst of non-flesh, that
speaks for that _matter_ of the number tattooed on a survivor's arm - and
the relation of that number to the system of integers.

Every arm, leg, big rez, hot car, agro, hack, swollen outfitting, is sex,
most often phallus, writ large. Every phallus is a masquerade, null point,
whose transcendent meaning disappears in the vagaries of real and quite
weak flesh.

Avalanches kill people, they're just snow.

I'm quite possibly in the wrong place, but I miss issues of governance in
Second Life, issues implicit in the software, not riding the World Wide
Web. We're allowed to talk endlessly.

Just a word here about MOOs - anyone could and can set one up, look at the
code, thank you Pavil Curtis. Now the SL engine is far more complex; it's
unary, there, as far as I know; we're in an obdurate space in a manner not
unlike the earth itself.

On an email list, someone complained that there's no Guernica in Second
Life. But there is; Gaz dressed/de/codings, my body, these are Guernicas.
But response Guernicas, not masterpieces, which, with all their delicacy,
are left behind.

Back to the dress-code. My avatar appears to bleed. My avatar is a woman,
sourcing speech, behavior, chora, abjection, Timaeus, Kristeva. Her body
distorts, her body always returns from distortions. She came out of my
work with another avatar, Nikuko, who appeared in print and video for a
number of years. Nikuko was a demiurge; this avatar is demiurgency.

It uses the name Alan and writes me within her. The very interactivity,
dialectic, of Second Life, ensures she's only in partial control, just as
one might wander, Situationist-like, through any city.

She's dressed nude or blood-covered or organ-covered; she's tantra-fierce,
I'm her consort, not the other way around. Inhabiting her, I face myself
in an _uncanny manner,_ it's not comfortable; when she leaves the space
through extreme behavior, I can't find her or find myself any more than
you can.

Her motions are behaviors or behavior collisions - combinations of
behaviors that result in contradictions. The behaviors themselves are, for
the most part, constructed from motion capture equipment using life human
performers. But the motion capture sensors are re-arranged to create
virtual bodies in real physical space, and it's these virtual bodies and
their motions that are mapped onto the Second Life avatar.

There's relationship to dance as well. I work with Azure, Foofwa
d'Imobilite, worked with Maud Liardon. A fair amount of this work is nude
- not to create a pure body, but to give the cultured, acculturated, body,
room to breathe. If you've seen our videos, you'll find real-world
imitations of avatar imitations of real-world behaviors; the spaces
shimmer and meld, both in virtual and live performance.

Sexuality is always in the eye of the beholder; it's not in the prims. I
enter the sheaved interior of my avatar; there's no clothing, only triply
articulated space: 1. Articulated by the exigencies of the avatar-
construct itself; 2. Articulated by motion-capture; 3. Articulated by the
Linden contextuality and all that's implied there.

The avatar behaves, one way or another, variously in various spaces. I
want to work at the edge of the game-space, where physics is different,
and where I'm mostly alone (or working with my colleague on-line, Sandy

...but then I imagine furiously dancing across the landscape, inscape,
outscape, roiling, creating havoc everywhere I go, just churning like a
star half-way burnt to a cinder, burned-out, dead before 1914, 1939,

thank you

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