Hosoi Ichiba Gone

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I’ve used all my favorite adjectives when describing the beautiful Japanese Edo period regions of Hosoi Ichiba. Earlier this year I selected Hosoi as the first of my Gimme Six picks.

Shortly after I published that article, Hosoi found itself in financial crisis and was forced to trim down from four regions to only two. Even though the two region solution helped, it didn’t solve the financial crisis. Today the struggle to save Hosoi Ichiba ended and it closed its doors.

Hosoi Ichiba's is gone from Second Life by Yordie Sands 2011

This bridge was lost when Hosoi sims were reduced.
I experienced many of my fondest moments at this beautiful spot.

Hosoi Ichiba was a living museum of Japanese history. Educators came to experience a taste of Japan’s Edo era and were treated to the work of art of , creator and owner. Often they could observe authentic role play in the town, geisha houses, castle, tournament areas, kabuki theater and other themed areas.

The future of this work of art seems to be headed the way of other lost treasures of Second Life. The high costs of renting servers ($295 a month each) is really outside the range of disposable income for the average person. Linden Lab’s charges for regions have been at the center of other region closings.

I’ve known the owner for many years and believe the financial hardship she’s facing. I’ve read about the rescue plans and understand Ami’s objection to plans that have been submitted, plans which include partial terraforming of the regions. In the past, she’s endured these hardships and never closed the estate. Perhaps a white knight will race in at the last moment and rescue this beautiful region but I fear that this is truly the end.

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10 Responses to “Hosoi Ichiba Gone”

  1. Dahlia Jayaram
    2012/12/20 at 01:30 #

    Hosoi Ichiba was one of the exquisite lands in Second Life. I’d been there countless of times and never tired of wandering wherever my feet or the pathways led me. Although I didn’t go regularly, it was always high on my list of favourite places for the sheer authenticity of landscaping and architecture there. The attention to detail and the depiction of what an entire community’s way of life must have been like was masterfully recreated.

    • Yordie Sands
      2012/12/20 at 15:41 #

      Hi Dahlia… I feel the same way as you about the artistry and beauty of Hosoi. It’s clear that Ami has an eye for design and proportion. It will be missed, she did tell me she’ll rebuild some day.

    • Xue Faith
      2012/12/23 at 22:17 #

      Yordie’s response to Dahlia – we’re trackin down how it got lost:

      —-

      Hi Dahlia… I feel the same way as you about the artistry and beauty of
      Hosoi. It’s clear that Ami has an eye for design and proportion. It will
      be missed, she did tell me she’ll rebuild some day.

  2. Vaneeesa Blaylock
    2012/12/20 at 09:49 #

    Thanks for keeping us posted on this unfortunate news Yordie. We’ve commented on Digital Preservation in the past, and it’s a strange irony that this work that should be so easily preserved somehow isn’t.

    At the greatest conservation institutes across the globe so much time and so much money is spent to preserve paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and other artifacts against the ravages of time. Whether it is the Ara Pacis Museum sheltering that centuries old structure from the ravages of an acid rain world or conservators meticulously reweaving individual, faded threads in an enormous tapestry, the lengths to which human culture has gone, and does go, to preserve itself can be extraordinary.

    For the 2D Internet we have the raw archive of The Internet Archive, the curated archive of a site like Wikipedia, and the synthesized archive of a site like Wolfram Alpha.

    3D digital work is far more tenuous. If you took all the user hours and stacked them end to end, we have now played World of Warcraft for over 6 million years! That WoW might one day not exist or be not viewable is as unthinkable as Facebook ever being as gone as Friendster and MySpace are today. Yet the reality is that a cultural behemoth like WoW will only exist as long as running that platform is profitable to Blizzard Entertainment.

    Whose responsibility is it that a work like Hosoi Ichiba is preserved? And what does “preserved” even mean in this context?

    Legend has it that when an interviewer asked Jasper Johns about his early encaustic on newsprint works, “you know they’re all disintegrating?” that he somewhat gleefully replied, “I know, and it’s not my problem!”

    Jasper Johns has ascended to, and far beyond, the level that his work is a cultural treasure that the cultural institutions of the world lucky enough to posess his disintegrating works will spend almost any sum imaginable to preserve these powerful visions of a moment in art and culture.

    Many have commented that the problems for Hosoi Ichiba and many other “art” sims is the high price of monthly sim rental from Linden Lab, the provider of the Second Life platform. The reality might be that cutting this cost in 1/4 would make a dramatic difference in the archival of these works, still, might it be the case that just like Jasper Johns and his non-archival masterpieces, that Hosoi Ichiba et al really aren’t Linden Lab’s problem?

    Hosoi Ichiba exists because of a specific platform, Second Life, but ultimately, we don’t care what the platform was, we want the vision to persevere We don’t care what brand of encaustics Jasper Johns used, we want his cultural moment to be available for future generations to appreciate and study.

    Perhaps there should be a 3D Internet Archive that preserves works like this in, who knows, DXF or some appropriate format. How would the works be viewable in the future? Again, who knows!

    In Michael Crichton books turned films like Jurassic Park and Timeline, we see how difficult it is to experience another cultural moment. In Jurassic Park the past comes to the present, and in Timeline archaeologists of the present have the opportunity to visit the past. In Jurassic Park our scientists are hunted by the repopulated velociraptors, and in Timeline an archaeologist is cavalierly murdered within minutes of arriving in 1357. It’s clear: looking at artifacts is one thing, actually immersing in another culture or another time is a massive and spiralingly complex undertaking.

    Where is the art and what is it that we want preserved in a site like Hosoi Ichiba? Is it the architectural or cultural history? Is it, a little bit like a Crichton novel, the providing of that history as a context for contemporary “players” to consider and experience something of that time and culture?

    If Hosoi Ichiba is preserved and experienced on a platform like Maya or 3D Studio Max or OS Grid or Blue Mars, is it the “complete” Hosoi Ichiba experience? Or part of the experience? Or very little of it? How much of this work is the architecture and landscape architecture itself? And how much is the “community” or “role played experience” of an amorphous and shifting cast of autonomous participants? And whatever it is, how do we preserve that?

    • Yordie Sands
      2012/12/20 at 15:48 #

      Hi Van… you say, “Whose responsibility is it that a work like Hosoi Ichiba is preserved?” And you know how complex this question is. At the prices being charged by Linden Lab for a single sim, this makes any attempt to preserve a treasure like Hosoi a major financial commitment, and for how long? Eternity? Geez can you imagine how long eternity is? heh. Seriously, it’s that kind of thing though.

      A 3D Internet Archive seems to me to be the only answer, perhaps where people could go to visit for a fee and the regions could be re-rezzed. This seems in the realm of possibility.

      As you point out, “If Hosoi Ichiba is preserved and experienced on a platform like Maya or 3D Studio Max or OS Grid or Blue Mars, is it the “complete” Hosoi Ichiba experience?” In the case of Hosoi, the answer has to be no. The reason Hosoi is so important is, it provided a platform for Edo era role play and, though imperfect, that bought life to the region. Nonetheless, as a work of art, being able to walk through an Edo era town or geisha house or the great Matsumoto Castle is worth preserving.

      Such a complicated topic… jus sayin.

      • Vaneeesa Blaylock
        2012/12/23 at 21:56 #

        Amazing Yordie! “…sim rental for eternity…” — you know, the interesting thing here is that in days of yore, a work was “sort of” self-contained. Yes Jasper Johns non-archival encaustics might be a nightmare for a later conservator, but if you “owned” one of those works, you had the whole thing. On a conceptual level, his work is enmeshed in the culture of his time and his analysis / critique of it. The work IS more resonant if you know a bit of cultural history, if you’re from Mars, the work still has its formal qualities (maybe) but all the cultural resonance is lost. Ok, so perhaps all art is dependent on the “platform” or the “context” of its time. But again, at least I can look at the paintings I own, or the paintings the Mauritshuis owns (well, I could if they weren’t in Japan ATM 😛

        But today, a lot of creativity is platform dependent. Cary Pepermint did an powerful MySpace piece; Psycho Girlfriend did a nice Ebay “hack,” and we can document those works (much like so many Land & Earth and Performance artworks that were actually experienced by very few have achieved much wider exposure via mediated documentation) but we need MySpace or Ebay etc, to fully experience those works. I suppose the difference between a Facebook based artwork and a Second Life based artwork is that Facebook is no-monthly-fee and SL has the aforementioned high fees. Then again, your Facebook-based Artwork very likely violates the FB TOS in some way, so your artwork could easily be taken down anyway at any future time, just like Google took down Christophe Bruno’s remarkable piece “Google Adwords Happening.”

        I suppose there’s also a separate question about Disneylandification. Is Hosoi Ichiba a “faithful recreation”? An “inspired improvisation”? A “simulacra”? Is it “Museum Quality” scholarship? Does it need / want to be? Is what we wish to preserve the ability to role play and romanticize a world we don’t really know? That can have all sorts of good qualities and be just plain fun, I suppose it’s parallel to the way cinema romanticizes so much history. Cinema is very often romanticized riffs of history, and at the same time we want to preserve that cinematic culture.

    • Xue Faith
      2012/12/23 at 22:15 #

      Yordie’s response to Van – we’re tracking down how it got lost:

      —-

      Hi Van… you say, “Whose responsibility is it that a work like Hosoi
      Ichiba is preserved?” And you know how complex this question is. At the
      prices being charged by Linden Lab for a single sim, this makes any
      attempt to preserve a treasure like Hosoi a major financial commitment,
      and for how long? Eternity? Geez can you imagine how long eternity is?
      heh. Seriously, it’s that kind of thing though.

      A 3D Internet Archive seems to me to be the only answer, perhaps
      where people could go to visit for a fee and the regions could be
      re-rezzed. This seems in the realm of possibility.

      As you point out, “If Hosoi Ichiba is preserved and experienced on a
      platform like Maya or 3D Studio Max or OS Grid or Blue Mars, is it the
      “complete” Hosoi Ichiba experience?” In the case of Hosoi, the answer
      has to be no. The reason Hosoi is so important is, it provided a
      platform for Edo era role play and, though imperfect, that bought life
      to the region. Nonetheless, as a work of art, being able to walk through
      an Edo era town or geisha house or the great Matsumoto Castle is worth
      preserving.

      Such a complicated topic… jus sayin.

      • Xue Faith
        2012/12/23 at 22:16 #

        Van’s response to Yordie – we’re trackin down how it got lost:

        —-

        Amazing Yordie! “…sim rental for eternity…” — you know, the
        interesting thing here is that in days of yore, a work was “sort of”
        self-contained. Yes Jasper Johns non-archival encaustics might be a
        nightmare for a later conservator, but if you “owned” one of those
        works, you had the whole thing. On a conceptual level, his work is
        enmeshed in the culture of his time and his analysis / critique of it.
        The work IS more resonant if you know a bit of cultural history, if
        you’re from Mars, the work still has its formal qualities (maybe) but
        all the cultural resonance is lost. Ok, so perhaps all art is dependent
        on the “platform” or the “context” of its time. But again, at least I
        can look at the paintings I own, or the paintings the Mauritshuis owns
        (well, I could if they weren’t in Japan ATM

        But today, a lot of creativity is platform dependent. Cary Pepermint
        did an powerful MySpace piece; Psycho Girlfriend did a nice Ebay “hack,”
        and we can document those works (much like so many Land & Earth and
        Performance artworks that were actually experienced by very few have
        achieved much wider exposure via mediated documentation) but we need
        MySpace or Ebay etc, to fully experience those works. I suppose the
        difference between a Facebook based artwork and a Second Life based
        artwork is that Facebook is no-monthly-fee and SL has the aforementioned
        high fees. Then again, your Facebook-based Artwork very likely violates
        the FB TOS in some way, so your artwork could easily be taken down
        anyway at any future time, just like Google took down Christophe Bruno’s
        remarkable piece “Google Adwords Happening.”

        I suppose there’s also a separate question about Disneylandification.
        Is Hosoi Ichiba a “faithful recreation”? An “inspired improvisation”? A
        “simulacra”? Is it “Museum Quality” scholarship? Does it need / want to
        be? Is what we wish to preserve the ability to role play and
        romanticize a world we don’t really know? That can have all sorts of
        good qualities and be just plain fun, I suppose it’s parallel to the way
        cinema romanticizes so much history. Cinema is very often romanticized
        riffs of history, and at the same time we want to preserve that
        cinematic culture.

        • Yordie Sands
          2012/12/28 at 23:49 #

          Hi Xue… I would characterized Hosoi Ichiba as a faithful, but stylized representation of an Edo era hanamachi. The great Matsumoto Castle on the second sim is a closer replica but the region is again a stylized representation of the real region. I suppose it could be a kind of Disneylandification but at its best it was a place where educators could come and enjoy a virtual experience.
          The women of the geisha houses were often very exacting in creating realistic experiences. Unfortunately, visitors often chose not to role play or even dress appropriately for these entertainments, so it was never perfect.
          I don’t know if I’d say Hosoi was romanticized because the Edo period was in itself a time when Japanese life was filled with hope for peace and appreciation of beauty. But the term “Disneylandification” may apply from many points of view. I’d choose a different category, I just can’t think of one at the moment. hehe

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