The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

The Sundry What-if

Experiments go awry or wayward, changes damage or destroy objects, some
things go off world, some vanish. Here are results/documents of today's
session, a kind of reporting or phenomenology of the what-if:

An almost invisible Julu Twine rides the red disk just about to disappear.
The disk has a script; proximity raises it about 50m. The disk began on
the installation floor, rose to this height when Julu Twine sat on it:
What if Julu Twine sits? It didn't rise indefinitely but it finally left
Second Life, permanently; nothing returned to the Lost and Found in

Red disk from below, Julu riding on the other side. Everything revolves,
but the disk alone is unstable. Eventually Julu will rise and the disk
suddenly flies off, magic disappearance trick. Later I'd return to the
installation to see if it reappeared in its usual position or somewhere
somewhat above it - no such luck. At least not yet.

View of Julu riding the disk, closeup; wobbled diadem wheels revolve at
right angles behind her. The entire scene shakes on the screen, Julu's
movement affecting the camera.

Something entirely different: Julu wears several wobbling diadem wheels
simultaneously. S/he's lost in the midst of them; they're generating male
organs; images of females and males, distorted, abound, are tiled, the
whole forming an incandescent Tiepolo. Once I discovered the viewpoint, I
continued to experiment - from sliver of open sky to architecture and

The smaller figures fill, fulfill the space, sperm within the matrix; you
must imagine all of this wildly circulating - you must also imagine a
certain blindness: It's impossible to see beyond or behind hir in any
viewpoint - s/he's flying blind. The body extensions, which are the body
itself, are enormous; Julu remains at the center of hir universe which is
the universe, there is no other within and without these whirlings of
worlds of fecundity, abjection, birth and death.

But Julu was inconceivable; I moved hir away from things, into the night-
time sky, then withdrew from hir and at a safe distance turned around and
took this image - enormous cosmic Julu, an inflationary universe within an
invisible embedding space, the usual topography of Second Life.

Another closer view; the interlocking diadems are clearly visible but hir
body proper is not. Technically I had to experiment with glows, interior
lights, to get this image - it was easy to saturate, overpower everything
with untoward illumination.

Julu with diadems detached enters the skysphere; here hir body contorts by
virtue of revolving diadems and the sphere itself. S/he's lost in deity,
Yamantaka, in the midst of hir own corporeality. S/he came here immedi-
ately after the diadem experiment - now s/he's working with something

A general view of the current installation with Julu Twine and attached
diadems. This tableau is complex; a cone, which rises and falls to the
ground near the seawall in front of the installation, is linked to a
number of objects - all of them revolve together, around the fulcrum of
the cone. This extends diadems and other sculptured elements into and
above the sea itself - even though the elements are individually now off-
world, they're linked together in a way that grounds them. The revolving
is abject and confused; it intersects with all of the other whirled
elements in the installation, as well as with Julu Twine's elements. One
can't tell - Julu can't tell - where body and diadems begin or end. There
are different epistemologies of the virtual here, different extensions of
body and topography, which together appear inconsistent and contrary.

Another view of the same setup as the previous image - the diadem on the
left is sweeping through Julu, the ocean, and the landscape in general;
unlike detached and independent diadems, this one seems ghostlike, as does
Julu's - they intersect without any sort of mutual interaction.

Another view of Julu within the wheeled diadems which extend hir body. In
this image, s/he is animated by a bvh file from the altered motion capture
equipment - the body distortion distortions the diadems around hir,
although it's difficult to tell from within.

Another interior view showing the complexity of the interlocked diadems.
The textures, tiled images, form a sememe or partially-closed system
completing and generating meaning. Dynamically, the images are for the
most part unreadable; they move at enormous speed. The photograph becomes
a kind of evidence, an analytical tool which doesn't get at essence but
creates it.

Julu Twine's hermaphroditic body intersected by intersecting detached
diadems in the skysphere.

Same as the previous, emphasizing the hands again in an untoward position
due to hir movement from the bvh file. Skulls and eyes from the original
tanka are watching.

These two images are taken at a relatively enormous distance from Julu;
they're odd, reflecting odd behavior within Second Life - almost all
the elements visible are original architectural elements within the
installation building - what's left of the elements, those that remain in
their proper setting. The only other things visible are the teleport
spheres in the gallery - these spheres were generated with Second Life,
i.e. not uploaded, and in a sense are native to the space. It's clear that
something is occurring, but it's not clear what. It's only clear that a
question is raised and somewhat, not entirely, answered -  What if - what
if only the original elements remained in the space?

What if diadems were attached?
What if varied textures seem symbolic within a narrative sememe?
What if one object extends another safely out of world?
What if an object that moves away from avatars is ridden by one?
What if diadems collide as if grasping an avatar body?
What if diadems are attached to objects attached to an avatar body?
(Everything shortly disappears, except for the immediate attachment.)
What if?
What if?
What if?

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