Saturday, 27 November 2010

Musings about Art Production in Virtual Worlds.

Now it’s natural, because of the ease of trawling the internet for amusing or interesting stuff that we would like virtual worlds to supply us with a constant stream of sims and builds that we can flit to and from, in the same way that we twitter. 140 characters, 140 me something new, me something amazing,....entertain me.

The joy of sitting down with a good book and letting the story unfold or the joy of sitting in front of a landscape and letting the light change slowly as time passes... these may be experiences that belong to a past era.

The problem that this causes for the artist is the Rate of Consumption of Art. As increasingly huge quantities of visual data are being consumed it is too easy for the artist to feel that they have to produce an ever larger, faster, quantity of work. Content.

If we work on the supposition that most art work is not finished, it’s just that the artist stops when the flaws are too time consuming to fix, then the tendency will be to leave larger and larger flaws manifest in the work in the rush to meet the deadline.

As the ability to pull inspiration out of thin air is more or less a hit-and-miss affair, it may well follow that in this hunger for content we develop a tendency to use derivative and recycled work rather than wait for new inspirational pieces. This can be seen already, for example, in how many times and on how many items, Andy Warhol’s work has been reused.

...and virtual world's art is such a temporary installation anyway, with the cost of maintaining it so high (in SL at least) this tendency is further enhanced. Artists beware.... you are not a factory production unit.

Another ‘hazard’ lies in that we often have the idea that we need to find The Next Big Thing. Often the development of an artists work is a gentle progression, a general improvement towards a clearer or simpler way of expressing an idea.

While the constant repetition of a technique, say pickling a variety of fish and animals, may not necessarily be seen as a progression, Style is very much a product of Technique.

We may not all have the genius or sponsorship of, say, Du Champs, who never seemed to repeat himself, and while copying others is OK for beginners it becomes negative when someone else’s vision is used to replace your, seemingly, poor ideas. You lose out in the long run. I think it is important to remember, however, that you are fully entitled to copy yourself. Remaking a piece can have very positive results .... work on those flaws... develop your idea one stage further.

...and lastly, but not necessarily leastly, we all need to remember that staring into space, ‘doing nothing’ is a vital part of the creative process. As Maeve says “don’t just do something, stand there”.

Slow cooking is often preferable to the micro-wave.

It’s all about play, and day dreaming....

Enjoy, gently...



  1. Slow pickled glow fish... ;)

    go play...

    I do - is how I make my "pretties"

    art is play, if it is a job, it is design, cos you are answering a problem with a solution

  2. I most heartily agree with Qpop.

    Much of my time in SL is spent being still. I learned long ago, with 5 IM clients jabbering, several IRC channels open, three web browsers and the rest of the panopoly of blinky that this can be a shot of pure adrenaline-speed to you, pushing you into a limbic stimulus-response cycle, where you are engaging mostly the surface/reflex actions of your brain.

    I built my Garden specifically for people to come to and slow down; to breathe the world they are in. In RL we all take those moments of "idleness," which is not really idle at all; it is recharging, organizing sense impressions into memory and storage, assimilation and refresh-ment. All of those things are critical to the human life and very critical to an artist's view. Otherwise, you are engaging only surface, mental gymnastics without emotional or psychic resonance.

    One thing I love about what LL did in SL is water. Whomever did it, they did it exactly right; it is lovely to sit through an entire day/night cycle watching the Linden Ocean ripple, reflect and move. I have done so many times, and many of my best creations came from sitting still in SL, letting the world breathe and move through me and whisper while I "idly" "messed about" with prims... because I was listening.

  3. ps - i agree with you too Soror! *giggle*

    "More coffee! More coffee!" - famous words attributed to Miso Susanowa and legions of others

  4. Great post!

    I've really noticed how blogging and social networking, Twitter especially, make me feel like I continuously have an audience waiting for me to produce something interesting or clever. When that's combined with the never-ending flow of new information that can be surfed/read and shared from an always net-connected existence, it can create a pervasive attention sucking vortex.

    One way I escape is through reading books. And another is through creative work. I'm less of an artist than a visual thinker, so my goal is usually less creating a "perfect work" than discovering an interesting idea though my process and then communicating something thought provoking, warts and all.

    It's interesting that you mentioned Warhol, because I've played around recently with some work in his style. In my own case, I experience it as as a way to understand his work and gain fluency in his visual vocabulary. Then I pushed it a bit through the virtual world perspective, for instance adding an image in a quad that shows a deteriorating image (which does not happen in the digital realm.)

    Finally, I find that my somewhat obsessive creative output makes inspiration less hit and miss, because it puts me in front of a blank page (or screen) with a contemplative mindset, at least a couple of times a day. I call it "The Church of the Blank Page."

  5. I wouldn't call myself an artist when it comes to prim-slinging (I'll be happy to rise to the level of craftsman), but I've seen that tendency in myself, the push to keep building, to put something new on the sales floor and then post an ad in the forum to keep the business in front of the readers and generate more sales...

    I ought to, as it were, take a page from my blog -- that is, my attitude toward it. There, where I do unabashedly aspire to the verbal art, I wait until the words come to me.

  6. i used to love to sit up above the clouds and watch the Linden sun come up and then go down and the Linden moon move across the sky, although it never changes from a full one. Meanwhile, tinkering about with prims. the boys changed the physics of the sun so it's not as fun anymore, and my temple doesn't line up with the sunrise anymore. time flies by so quickly in our little corner of the Omniverse.

  7. Such great comments.... turn an ordinary post into a good one...:))

  8. Yes, wonderful comments--real eye candy :) This business of 'do i borrow/re-use/extend another's work' is a tricky one. On the one hand, no matter the discipline, we need to be educated and thought-provoked about those who preceded us. For me, art (any form) is a chained phenomenon; we are the creating links in that chain, a true macro-evolution. On the other hand, "innerness" is where it all starts: the stage inside my head, the memories amassed that score a song or wireframe a novel. So, yes, don't just do something, stand there! Let it happen. Have the courage to be like the good shopkeeper--show up, sit still and wait, even on days when no one comes :) ... or when (heads down, Twittering) they pass you by.

  9. Yes, there is no doubt that simply through our experience of others work that it gets incorporated into our own, and that is right and natural. Where our own ideas are sacrificed, or devalued, for an easy option of 'borrowing', then we maybe do ourselves a misservice.

  10. Rate of Consumption of Art - i like that term and it is rather apropos for today

    very good point on art being temporary in Second Life and perhaps OpenSim can change that paradigm as far as cost goes

    here is a neat thought - if you have your own server-access sim then you could do sim-wide installations and save them as OAR files. as you create new installations you'd simply save the previous one

    but that in itself does nothing about the transient nature of your work. here is the where maybe OpenSim can shine. the guy that set up our grid, James Stallings II, has a menu driven tool that can let you load OARs from in-world!

    so rather than having wings of a gallery housing different installations, an in-world user could go to this "kiosk" and load any of your works! it may seem chaotic but it could be seen as organic as well =)

  11. you know, reading these comments has triggered an observation I have had before:

    Am I am artist, or am I a content producer? It's a tangled issue... but for me, it comes down to a factory-mentality; to "putting stuff on the market"; that is, to be selling stuff; either in Lindens or in reputation or in public relations or...

    It's a tangled mess, but the questioning of it when I start to feel the pressure to produce, produce, produce keeps me examining my own process, motives and thoughts closely for falseness, laziness or inertia.

    PS - Botgirl, I read books also! Lots! It's very relaxing and allows me to exercise my visualization skills without directing the production.

  12. What a wonderful post, and thoughtful comments as well. Much to think on.

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