The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

( Some recent images of Julu Twine (Alan Dojoji with Sunflower Aichi and
MinDBlinD Setsuko dancing in SL w/ avadance movements (these are quite
beautiful) - dis png series ). )

The Accidental Artist installation in Second Life

Opensource Obscure suggested I send a description of the SL installation
to the SL blogs; s/he offered send it hirself, if I provided a descrip-
tion. I've been thinking about this - the description is below. I might
add that this is probably one of the few times - if not the only time - an
artwork in Second Life has been tended for such a long period (half a
year); that its constant deconstruction provides a way of thinking about
being-virtual in the first/last place; that it dies into thinking about
the relationship between inscription and culture; that it develops a
poetics of the virtual as well; and that it might be fun. I'd appreciate
it greatly if you would pass this description along. The exhibition will
be up in one form or another until the end of February.


Alan Sondheim has been working on an installation which changes almost
daily at . Called The
Accidental Artist, it's based on a deconstruction of the Odyssey gallery
space and a phenomenology of 'utterly alien' objects which can't be easily
assigned symbolic meanings. The piece is huge and has five layers to it -
an undersea space with high-speed movement beneath the gallery floor; the
exhibition space itself; the outdoors space in front of the exhibition
space (up to the sea-wall); a 'sky-sphere'; and a series of objects above
and below the sky-sphere. Almost everything moves in the installation, but
Sondheim has stilled most of the objects in the exhibition space itself,
so it becomes a kind of archaeology of past movement. Some of the objects
in the sky and beneath the gallery flee from any avatar in the vicinity;
they can be pushed indefinitely high up in the sky.

Sondheim says the work represents a sexualized space, a mind-space, a
space which always has to be negotiated (it's not easy to get around, but
there are any number of objects that teleport you from one place to
another), a space dealing with the phenomenology of the body, and a space
which can only be realized in Second Life - none of the movements and
objects could exist outside a virtual world. Sondheim also makes it
difficult to say what is an object, and what's not - almost everything
emits peculiar particles that rise lazily like smoke in long trails. The
sound itself mirrors this, with eerie songs about avatars by Azure Carter
competing with local sound emitters presenting bits of Sondheim's music.

At times, Sandy Baldwin and Sondheim (or Sondheim solo) perform in the
space; the avatars are also complex with their own sets of movements.
Sondheim has worked extensively with motion-capture equipment at West
Virginia University - this included Gary Manes' rewriting of the mocap
software itself and remapping the sensors. The result is that his avatars
(Julu Twine and Alan Dojoji) perform movements and choreographies drawn
from real life, but impossible in real life - arms and legs fly through
themselves, for example. The resulting 'dances' have been used by
performers in real life as either backdrop or choreographies themselves.

Do check this out - there's nothing else like it in Second Life, and
because of the constant changes, it's hard to know what to expect next.


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