Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Embedded Screens - Duet for 6

These images are stills from my latest video edit, Duet for 6, published in the last post. There are a number of moments-in-pause here, indicative of my focus in the video on embedding presence - in this case avatar personna, into the fabric of those surfaces or screens which comprise and form all our perceived spaces, in this instance, Second Life space.

Please see the Duet for 6 in the previous post.


































These moments are representative of embodiment flowing onto and through the phantom screens in my Second Life railway station. Interactive inscriptions of the absent First Life body. Abstract (through their removal) representations of avatar activity. The performance here is mediated by connectivity, the video, the screens themselves, duration, the computer screen and removal of the original moment.























Avatars Rollo Kohime, Fionnbhar Kohime and Toddles Lightworker emerge, sink and re-emerge from an active skin or surface film - three descriptive inscriptions; avatar, video, screen - each mediating the other.












Saturday, 14 November 2009

Duet for 6 - In the Company of Strangers

video

This is my latest dance and video work in Wellington Railway Station with Fiona Baker (aka Fionnbhar Kohime in SL) in First Life and Todd Cochrane aka Toddles Lightworker in Second Life, representing a further development in exploring the issue of Avatar Companionship and perhaps an extension of my Departed series; the footage is set, like Departed in the Wellington Railway Station entrance doors - in my Second Life station and with Todd Cochrane`s floating body, an inference of movement that is slightly unsettling - a departing soul? However, the study is an extension of Duet for Four, mainly for its investigation of movement in and out of screens/surfaces in and out of Second Life.













The title 'Duet' suggests a dance form usually identified with two people, yet with the composite layering of Real and Second Life, a movement dialogue exists here for Six; relational engagement between humans and avatars as well as that discrete conversation occurring between human to human and avatar to avatar. I intentionally selected Todd`s 'male' avatar to embed ambiguity in the shape and character of the personna present, rather than have an equal and predictable male/female avatar echo. This shift reflects the potential for exercising the unpredictable nature of gender selection in Second Life. The male avatar could easily belong to my wife, Fiona. Unless you know the person behind the avatar, there is no way of knowing their Real Life identity.













I have attempted to represent both, aspects of companionship in Second Life through intimacy of engagement in movement, while also further exploring the notion of embodying surfaces through avatar interaction - this video primarily seeks to explore the possibilities of our becoming embedded in our life-surfaces.













The work concentrates on avatar presence (itself, an inscription) sliding across and through, emerging and sinking into and being contained by the screens of which the space is comprised. In First Life this occurs constantly - we, as mobile volumes become alternately subsumed and rejected by our backgrounds and the spaces which hold us, yet, although we may be prepared to acknowledge that our spaces may shape our time and the ways in which we function in those spaces, we do not usually perceive our presence as actually co-habiting with the elements within our spaces. Here the dancers are defined by the spatial laws which support their digital existence and can penetrate and become an extension of the fabric of those surfaces which are phantom and ambiguous in nature.





































We are not quite so fluent in this in First Life although there are moments where we can blend unobtrusively into our backgrounds and even embody/become our backgrounds, (football crowds, demonstrations, commuter crowds, where the spatial field is made up predominantly by human bodies). Once again, departure is experienced in both locations. The difference between these locations is that I orchestrated Toddles Lightworker`s process of departure, unlike the leaving in the duet in the First Life station, which was improvised. So avatars represent that potential constant (if so desired) for us in extra-terrestrial or telepresent companionship, which suggests that (allowing for the vagueries of the Internet) empathy, alignment, connection and even discord can be tailored in a mixed-reality environment, where we never have to be 'alone' for long.

























I am indebted to Todd aka Toddles Lightworker, Clare aka Arwenna Stardust and Warren aka Ciderjack Applemore, for their assistance and support with servers and experimental dancing (using an animation devised by Isabel Valverde) in this work.

























Saturday, 7 November 2009

Duet for Five - In the Company of Strangers

Duet for Five

video

These images are taken from my latest dance and video work with Fiona Baker in First Life and Todd Cochrane aka Toddles Lightworker in Second Life, representing a further development in exploring the issue of Avatar Companionship and the embedding of our presence in the surfaces of our lives. The title 'Duet' suggests a dance form usually identified with two people, yet with the composite layering of First and Second Life, a movement dialogue exists here for Five; relational engagement between humans and avatars as well as that discrete conversation occurring between human to human and avatar to avatar. I intentionally selected a 'male' avatar to embed ambiguity in the shape and character of the personna present, rather than have an equal and predictable male/female avatar echo. This shift in gender reflects the potential for exercising the unpredictable nature of gender selection in Second Life. The male avatar could easily belong to my wife, Fiona. Unless you know the person behind the avatar, there is no way of knowing their First Life identity.

Once again, departure is experienced in both locations. The difference between these locations is that I orchestrated Toddles Lightworker`s process of departure, unlike the leaving in the duet in the First Life station, which was improvised. So avatars represent that potential constant (if so desired) for us in extra-terrestrial or telepresent companionship, which suggests that (allowing for the vagueries of the Internet) empathy, alignment, connection and even discord can be tailored in a mixed-reality environment, where we never have to be 'alone' for long.

























Contact Improvisation Dance is by nature, an intimate, shared movement form and method of conversing somatically and I am interested in the ways this may be implied by avatar movements (which lack the capacity, as yet, to carry out shared, improvised movement) overlapping and running through one another, unfolding in ways that are similar to and in verbal communication.













This work also focusses upon juxtaposing the contrasting possibilities within movement which exist, currently, between First Life movement and Second Life animations. The impossible, horizontal floating and the somewhat grotesque movements (which can occur anomalously at any time) of Toddles Lightworker`s limbs are relevant to the description of uniqueness (and serendipity) in behaviour signatures which exists for entities in both of these different locations on our one world surface.













The Station entrance screens are deliberate points of focus in this work. I am particularly interested in the shadowed figures of the avatars moving and 'sinking' in and out of the screens while the video, 'not-hereReprise 2' is playing. Interacting with and becoming perhaps, a part of the dark spaces of interfaces.