The Reality of Virtual

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes —

The mission of Alice in Cornelland @ LEA11 is to think about the Immersive and Real qualities of Virtual Worlds. We have 6 weeks to go. Here’s what’s happened so far:

The Reality of Virtual: Poster for Agnes Sharple's "The Tree of Missing Avatars" workshop

Virtual Reality

W O R K S H O P S
1. Memory Box Workshop
2. Interactive Hat Workshop
3. The Tree of Missing Avatars Workshop

I N S T A L L A T I O N S
4. SMO10B
5. DynaFleur
6. Berry’s Monday Meme Gallery
7. Mobile Animal Park & Sleepover

A C T I V I T I E S
8. Free Photo Outpost
9. Haiku Speedbuild
10. Avatar Blogger Month

Each in their own way, these works help to define what it means to live in this world.

The Reality of Virtual: Parody poster for the film "Inception" featuring avatars in a virtual world as characters from the film narrative

The Reality of Virtual

M E M O R I E S
Works like Memory Boxes and Agnes Sharple’s The Tree of Missing Avatars help define the memories of our lives. From works like Blade Runner to Memento, the larger culture has always considered memory and essential aspect of identity, of being alive. In her Free Photo Outpost, Monerda Skute offers both the power of photography to create memories and manufacture identity, and also also pays homage to the years of Fross Maruti’s remarkable gift to our community, The Free Photo Studio.

V I S C E R A L I T Y
Even without force-feedback gloves and bodysuits, we experience visceral immersion when the location, orientation, and motion of our bodies has consequences. Through works like Mikati Slade’s tiny interactive hats, to Douglas Story & Desdemona Enfield’s gigantic DynaFleur, we experience our virtual bodies alive in a world of kinesthetic consequences.

C R E A T I V I T Y
By the end of July, Xue Faith will have hosted 5 Haiku Speedbuild events at LEA11. By pairing sculpture activities with source poems, these events explore creativity and muse, as counterpart events in the physical world have done since the dawn of humankind. From ancient shamans crawling through the caves of Lascaux, to the experience of The Bible as the luminous windows and stone sculptures of Chartres Cathedral, to Kandinsky confronting his own fear of Monet’s Wheatstacks and emerging in a new century (the 20th) with a new form of art (the nonobjective) we have always used the inspiration at hand to discover what it means to be human.

Q U E S T I O N S
Everyone’s favorite enfante terrible, SaveMe Oh’s relentless echolalic cries “You suck; I’m great; You suck; I’m great; You suck; I’m great…” are a delight for some and tedium for others. But if we’re willing to set aside the imperfection of the messenger long enough to truly consider the message, it is a significant critique of the easy, the banal, the repetitive, that offers us, that demands of us if we let it, to find truly new forms of expression, existence, and immersion in these new worlds we inhabit.

C O M M U N I T Y
You can’t be creative without asking questions, and to be “real” we need visceral experience and the persistence of existence afforded by memory. But none of that would mean much if you lived alone on a one-person sim-on-a-memory-stick plugged into your laptop. No matter how much we complain about griefers, trolls, drama kings, and all the rest, it is the community we build that makes this, or any world real. It is the community we build that makes the world worth living in.

Through the Monday Meme Challenge on her blog, and it’s gallery here at LEA11, Strawberry Singh has created a community of avatar bloggers who live, express, and share. With Avatar Blogger Month we have united 30 Avatars who Blog, in activity, interactivity, sharing, and ultimately community building.

M O M E N T S . S H A R E D
My sister Fiona’s Mobile Animal Park & Sleepover is a remarkably simple work of installation. She’s pulled her mid-century Airstream travel trailer (designed by Hawley Bowlus who also designed Charles Lindbergh’s aircraft, the Spirit of St. Louis) up to a patch of LEA11 swamp grass, tossed out a bushel of bananas for her gorillas, and put a couple of folding chairs and an ice chest on her porch. Fiona’s life has never really been easy. IDK if I’m supposed to share all the gory details with you, suffice to say her resilient optimism is humbling and inspiring. Maybe in a way my life has been easier or more flamboyant. For the past 25 years since I studied with Allan Kaprow at UCSD for one year, I have slowly come to understand the depth of his simplicity. Meanwhile Fiona has tried to build a simple, functional, sustainable life. Finally at twilight we meet on her porch to share a beer. Her tiny porch in front of her precious little Airstream, a the foot of the mountains of 130 hectares of LEA spectacle and creativity. We’ve each journeyed so long, to at last be able to deeply experience such a small moment.

The Reality of Virtual: Poster of installed works at Alice in Cornelland at LEA11 with the text "an investigation at LEA11, March - July 2013"

A dream you dream alone is only a dream.
A dream you dream together is reality.

— Yoko Ono

Linden Endowment for the Arts blog
Linden Endowment for the Arts website
Linden Endowment for the Arts wiki

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3 Responses to “The Reality of Virtual”

  1. Bumblebee
    2013/06/13 at 20:27 #

    Okay, I experienced Viscerality the moment I stepped on the landing pad at Dynafleur and I mean, volume turned to the max on surround sound stereo all over my living room, Viscerality 😉

    • Vanessa Blaylock
      2013/06/13 at 22:31 #

      Totally Bumblebee! DynaFleur is an all-time favorite of mine. I could hang out in that long tube forever. I love the way the “pieces of the cell wall” bounce and chirp in response to your movement.

      VISCERALITY BABY!

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