Friday, 6 May 2011

Sponsorship and Exploitation.

A great post by Honour McMillan yesterday left me feeling like I had, in my glib way, been a little unclear about my thoughts on my last post about SaveMe and Dan.

so....that’s easy to clear up, and, though Honour says she doesn’t have the patience for this discussion, I certainly do....and that discussion is...?? ...

When does ‘sponsorship’ of the Arts become exploitation?

This is certainly a subject which, after years of making art in RL, has come often to the fore. I have personally lost track of how many freebies I’ve done on thin promises and “great opportunities”.. and I am not bemoaning that, I continue to do freebies.

I fully understand that sponsorship by companies is often a two-way street, I wasn’t born yesterday.

What I do object to, personally, is when companies, and rich individuals, use Artists, (well me, specifically) without any payment. Unlike painting the Sistine Chapel, many artists are expected/offered work where they even buy their own paints and other materials.... like in SL.

So I feel that Dan’s outburst at the LEA opening is justified. LL has done nothing for artists for 6 or 7 years except charge them tier and now wants free machinima to use for PR.

Good... but I think the artists should be paid, when you consider how many millions of dollars the Lab makes each month.... what would a PR company charge them? What do their PR employees earn per month? .......No cash prize?

I know that it is often just a token payment, a prize, but it is a public recognition that the Art has a commercial value too.It's like bringing flowers to a dinner party hostess...sorta good manners.


There are some people who seems to think that rules are OK. That’s fine. Many of what we now consider to be great artists, however, broke all the rules. Breaking rules is what changes the status quo, it’s what artists do ... well, those that aren’t merely going through the motions.

If we don’t put what little pressure we can on the established perception of art in SL and continually question the narrow-minded censorship of what is and isn’t permissible ... no one else will.. I don't really think there are many rules I would not question, push against and criticise, especially when it comes to Content in The Internet Age.

.. and the Linden’s aren’t gonna suddenly say......Megas are OK really, unless we continue to nag them.

Some recent blogging about SL suggests nothing has happened, and everything is fine. To read them you would think nothing has changed. I am not sure whether they are just in denial or so uninformed about the general decline of SL that they cannot see it.

72 sims lost this month equals another $250,000 per annum. Elf Clan’s move to InWorldz is a major event which Rodvik found out about through Twittering...too late...

The negativity which some of us have been tarred with is a natural reaction. Standing by while a leading tech company pisses it’s credibility down the drain could be fine, if I hadn’t invested time and energy through my artistic endeavours and financial support.

Well, I have, I did, and They pissed it away...

... So...yes, I’m annoyed.... v annoyed.

.... not negative.



  1. I think you describe very well the frustration many of us feel. This is exactly what LL need to hear.

  2. I have a few notes regarding Soror Nishi’s post regarding the opening of the Linden Endowment for the Arts opening, the expulsion of SaveMe Oh, and the protest by Dancoyote Antonelli regarding Rhett Linden’s statement that art is such great free advertising. As one of the leading members of one of the world’s foremost virtual performance art groups, Second Front, I would like to say that in regards to Linden Labs’ form of support for the arts through the LEA, etc. I don’t really care.
    That’s not true. I think that a more accurate statement is that I really don’t think it matters. Why?
    First, I’m not performing the usual trumped-up promotion of one’s own group one finds in Second Life. There are plenty of other very respected “Real Life” artists, such as Scott Kildall, Joseph DeLappe, Micha Cardenas, Stephanie Rothenberg, and Cao Fei who use SL as a medium who will probably never bee promoted by Linden Labs, with the probable exception of Cao Fei. Why?
    Because the paradigm of Second Life is a solipsism, pure and simple. The problem with SL Art is that it focuses on SL as a paradigm that rotates around Linden Labs, and not as a medium. It focuses on the residents that are trying from within SL to get respect for it by the exterior world, rather than working with respected artists period who merely use SL as a medium.
    The issue is that artists who wish that Linden Labs would act as an advocate for them are looking in the wrong direction, not only because of LL’s mindset that the Residents are assets for free marketing, but that Linden Labs itself has lost a great deal of its ability to leverage credible PR for its content in the past years.
    Second Life has lost much of its lustre, but the reasons why are not important. What is important is that at the LEA kickoff, we had artists actually engaging with LL’s policies and culture as if they were relevant, which it is not. Why?
    Because most of the more greatly recognized artists mentioned above, showing in venues such as the Performa Performance Art Bienniale in NYC, the Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art, the Donaufestival Krems, the Sundance New Horizons Festival, the Australian national Portrait Gallery, the Yokohama Trienniale, Ars Electronica, and so on simply aren’t on the radar in SL because of this cognitive dissonance. Period.
    The paradigm of trying to promote SL Art through LL as a revolutionary new form that the world has to come into to see simply _does_not_work_. Many of the leading artists using SL are not the most visible names in the community, and that’s another disconnect, and many of them have moved on by now.
    It’s a problem. SL has had its prime and now it is a mature platform with artists who use it without relying on its “sex” factor, and the Linden Endowment for the Arts providing servers is a good start, but will not really leverage the artists without proper PR and contextual framing.

  3. Patrick Lichty7 May 2011 at 18:12

    As for the rest of us who do our SL work for RL and don’t really engage much with the LL culture, we’re doing fine. It’s not that we’re against Linden Labs; far from it. It’s that we understand that they don’t understand the art and festival world because they’re a software company, and high artists are a) not amateur assets, and b) don’t really care if they’re famous in Second Life. Don’t gvet me wrong, no one’s looking down on the SL community, again – far from it, they’re a great bunch of people, but SL’s myopia serves the needs of Linden labs and its promotion of SL, and That’s just not relevant to an artist’s practice. It’s like voluntarily promoting a type of oil paint because you use it, and only associate with the artists who use that oil paint. It’s just not relevant.
    So going back to the Linden Endowment for the Arts opening, Dancoyote’s protest of Linden’s leveraging its artist for PR, and the expulsion of the avatar SaveMe Oh for creating her signature visual noise – in art world terms, it was nonexistent. Why that is important is as long as Second Life seeks normal credibility, it has to think in terms of partnerships with the contemporary art world, and not just trying to create new promotional plans for its community. And, until LL understands its role as a platform rather than paradigm again, it will continue on its road of solipsistic cheerleading into an uncertain future.
    As for the rest of us, we will be diligently doing our work, appreciatively working in SL, but all the while knowing that it is the larger frame of reference that serves our work, not the frame of Linden Labs.

  4. While I personally aren't the creative type {whatever that is}, I do pay tier and provide a community experience for some of those that do create art, music, and content.

    And I just bought a region in another world....just in case.
    And, just sayin'