The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

July 30, 2008

To access the Odyssey exhibition The Accidental Artist:

Yamantaka yamantaka series - yam jpgs, yamantak.mp4

Compression's terrible. Emptiness lasts thirty seconds, up from twenty;
I'm not sure how many meters define the zone of influence. The stills
indicate the layout. This is a plateau of sorts. There's nothing beyond
this, only another direction. In the full video, Julu touches the sphere,
heads beneath the water. There she searches, finds another sphere, rises
once again to the surface or ground floor of the exhibition. What's in the
basement is debris from movement, i.e. debris tracking Julu's movement on
the surface or beneath the surface. What's above is the absence of debris
tracking Julu's movement on the surface or beneath the surface. There's no
way to adequately compress the enormous detail involved in the exhibition.
You can move or fly through the exhibition, experience emptiness, clarity,
in untoward terms. You can forget the terms. You can do all sorts of
things but you can do better than this.

Weather, whether

From above you might or might not have weather,  you might or might not
stay with the local environment as the Linden gods hand it down - always
benign, never too much wind, no rain or snow or sleet or hail, nothing
to set your mind anywhere but at ease. No air, textured clouds, mostly
cumulus I think, and I think two banks of them. Fog, yes, and a day
might cycle through 7-8 hours, I never counted. But you can set eternal
time, you can set it at midnight, at dawn or dusk, at midday. You might
move the sun around, you might set fog heights or intensities, all in
eternal space where avatars live forever, but disappear, and who is to
know whether any disappearance is sad and final and prims forever lost.
There's no fear but from the servers, as invisible as the furies, and
there are no shadows but from the sun and thin light from a moon that
seems full always, but who is to know this as well, or any thing within
a space that seems controlled and dire; you might float or fly, but
your world is bounded, inescapable, even with small holes of video,
live or otherwise, small holes of sound,  live or otherwise. Nothing is
going to come out and touch you, not now, and soon in the future, when
the hand reaches from the screen, who knows what force or thing or
organism is driving it, who knows what intention lies behind it, what
danger lurks. We live in ignorance within and without, and that only
for that short time beyond which an utter inconceivable blankness
reigns. You can control lights, but local lights rarely make shadows,
and even that, everything, depends on bandwidth and bandwidth settings,
on frames and frame-rates, on complexity of prims and texture sizes, on
the number of participants online at any moment - all sorts of things
you might well study and examine, viewing the stats bars, coming on
later and later at night as others disappear elsewhere, without a
murmur and only the slightest increase of speed. You know you're riding
on the dead, on silent computers, on all those lives logged off now and
then or permanently, and who is to know, who is to know, who is to know.

ii. If this transmission is not dev/nul and void, it will reach you. If
it does not reach you, I write under a differend configured by the Net
and its political economy. If I protest on the occasion of fog, you
will not hear me. If you are my enemy and have passed on, you may have
died, you may be elsewhere, you may be off the grid, you may be on
another. If you are my enemy, your silence unnerves me; if you are my
friend, your presence is an unknown sign, just as absence can be of any
thing or any one, and zero may carry 0*X, insofar as X is finite, and
regular, normative, and then who knows?

In the fog of Second Life, preferences also govern distance - what can
or cannot be seen out there - what constitutes the Pale. Enter the
Pale and familiarity twists and perhaps disappears; go far enough, and
you may be grieving for another home, griefing among aliens. Within
your space, however, you are comforted, surrounded by familiar objects,
you may have constructed these objects, they are history for you, they
refuse decay, they may escape out of world, but are always there as if
gleaming and presenced, and shininess is something else again that may
or may not be turned out, permitted, just as in the real world where
sun and shininess are everywhere presencing. But here it is not the
local light, at least not in my version; in my version my home is on
an island and there are hills and clouds, and what's beyond, Heere
bee Dragonnes, is unknown, as I have been saying, and perhaps even
unaccountable and unaccounted-for. I inhabit a great and jagged sphere
and move comfortably, and in the distance there is that smoothness,
that fog that is always present, always there, day or night, that fog
against which all things comfortable and local are measured, my home
in the midst of the fog, my neighbors, my friends ... fog series, 8 small jpgs

To access the Odyssey exhibition The Accidental Artist:

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