The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

June 27, 2008

European opening and performance, Odyssey

(the actual performance isn't imaged, but the discussion and interventions

Arco Rosca's images from the second day performance at Odyssey

Images of the layout and opening after the performance: sldoc jpgs

(the sldocs includge images of potentially locking elements)

Video forthcoming --

Nikuko, others, performing

High compression... this is from the workstation viewpoint... it's hard to
see around the avatar which is enormous and glowing. Lucian Iwish came on
later with a structure that enveloped the whole building... but with the
show, the avatar I use is perhaps twenty-five feet high... Sandy's is both
larger and smaller, variable, ghost-like... We had a few people the first
night, a crowd the second (afternoon) who spoke mainly Italian. This sec=
tion is from the first night. Live instruments included flute, chromatic
harmonica, sampling keyboard. Sandy's texts flew amazingly, were from our
theory writing on avatar and the like. My texts were paste-ins from the
Jennifer, Nikuko, Doctor Leopold Konninger, Julu plays. Sound is from a
number of simultaneous sources under the control of the viewer. You can
talk or make live music in Second Life. Time of the recording was set to
midnight. Second Life beyond the traditional physics (which can be
countermanded to some extent by creating objects without physics) is
incredibly malleable; a building roof can exist without support, marked-
off territories may have no concrete barrier markers beyond the luminous
floating signs; bodies can be modified at will; flying and teleportation
are comment; one exists without breathing on land or sea; set carefully,
one penetrates rocks; you might or might not see through your avatar's
body; for that matter, objects may glow or be transparent; touch at a
distance is possible and common; you may construct on land, in sea, within
air; you normally disappear when your character logs out; environment and
time may follow Second Life time or be set artificially; one might talk
with one's voice, through internal instant messaging, or through chat;
your avatar body may be distorted by others; everything depends on Linden
corporation; Linden may well be able to hear any and all private conversa-
tions; beyond Linden there's the horizon of bandwidth; particle emissions
are quick and contain just about anything; buildings arise and fall in a
twinkling of an eye... The time is midnight, the objects glow, intersect;
I believe, without proof, that they are sliding in a fourth spatial dimen-
sion through some flaw in the software; there are some bodies and some
objects I may fly through; there are some I am held by; there are some who
hold me; there are griefers and hackers; there are some who hold me... Who
am I but avatar-Nikuko, Nikuko-avatar; she speaks through me; asserts her-
self; possesses a literally uncanny insistence; turns towards withdrawn
sexuality; is always waiting and awaiting, as I am always waiting and
awaiting here. Flying through configurations, she settles on a certain
appearance or style or look; I am back beyond the screen; she controls
objects greater than any I have controlled; she is adroit. I am back
beyond the screen; I'm blinded by the objects; for the most part I can't
see ahead, only slight glimpses to the left and right, slight glimpses of
the floorboards beneath her feet. There, beneath her feet, are the vector
guides that somewhat make a mapping. I have three choices: stay within her
body, breathe her breathless air, or fly her everywhere which gives me the
slightest vision above the objects, or use mouselook, which allows me to
see through Nikuko's eyes, gives me her sight, or scent, her touch, her
perfume. But mouselook takes over the screen; the configuration menus and
controls disappear; you're only there with her, in her, as she is in you;
everyone else is present, easy to see and touch; you might run or swoop
with delight; you might stay absolutely still; but your bound within her
as your bound within Second Life as a Life, that is, as a being-in-the-
world which gives you no escape, no meta-processes to fine-tune the
process. You can't build that way; you are sunk in Nikuko's body, part of
her avatar-flesh, sheave-flesh, sheave-mind, Linden-mind; your swallowing
is her swallowing, your food her own. So in these performances, the more
Nikuko gathers, the more I am flying blind, even building blind, speaking
blind, dancing and yes choreographing blind, blind in this airless world
with the trivial fact that it is I who see, dispersed-eye, not Nikuko who
can only whisper through appearance, affect me through her slightest move-
ment, walk and talk, sit and stand, nowhere at all. Yet there is something
of a future here, not in Linden or the Corporation, neither in bandwidth
nor in prim-counts, but in a peripheral and, again that uncanny insist-
ence, that feeling that Nikuko is living, not as prosthetic or other
device, not as prim, but perhaps as a not-so-prim woman or girl or neutral
or male at the last or gender-ending moment of the real. For Nikuko has
taken me, just like others have taken you into the unaccountable true
world, with its lines of flight and inscriptions intensifications and
dispersed gatherings of selves and bodies, the true world of scatterings,
spews, emissions, radiations. And among all of this, Nikuko flies, swoops,
cavorts, in nowhere, among an underground mathesis gone wild, presented
for your pleasure or operating pleasure, for your frisson or sport- or
spoor-world, for the spook or glow, fed by nothing, a picture for your
pretty sight, a longing, for something, somewhere, languor ...

( stills still at sldoc jpgs )

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