Estimated reading time: 3 minutes —
I’ve written about this mutant before:
• Eloh Eliot Sells Out
• Artist: Eloh Eliot Starlight
• Artist: Eloh Eliot
And VB/CO has performed a flashmob to protest/celebrate her crimes/work:
• VB Flashmob #3 – Starlight
By “freak,” I mean “not normal,” or “doesn’t do what everybody else does.” The mystery that baffles me is not “why isn’t everyone like Eloh Eliot?” – I get that, but what I don’t get is “why isn’t anyone like Eloh Eliot?”
If your look outside our own world to various alternate/fantasy universes we can see, for example, in the Free Software / Open Source community, a guy like Richard Stallman. To me Stallman is a pretty progressive guy, a real big thinker. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this:
Richard Stallman is the Eloh Eliot of The Internet.
That’s a crazy, big claim I know. But if you look at Stallman’s vision not of a Permissions-based culture, but an Open culture where ideas, creativity, and culture itself are not locked down to maximize someone’s short term profits, but instead are freely shared to move culture forward, I do believe it’s fair to call Stallman the Eloh Eliot of The Internet.
For me, that part’s easy. But here’s where it gets confusing: Stallman may be the philosopher, the architect, the big picture guy, whatever you want to call him, but he’s not alone. Yes: Emacs, but hello: Apache Web Server, hello: Fifty flavors of Linux, hello: Firefox and Iceweasel, hello: Gimp and Inkscape, hello: everything on SourceForge, and on and on and on. The truth is, out in that Internet thingy, there are a lot of peeps (or weirdos or freaks) who share Stallman’s vision.
So, where are the SL residents who share Eloh Eliot’s vision?
Lots of us share Eloh Eliot’s vision by wearing her skins. Lots of us share Eloh Eliot’s vision by taking her PSD/XCF source files and making individual skins or whole new skin lines. SL is filled with skins for sale that are derivatives of her work. It’s Eliot’s special gift of open licensing that you can take her open & free work and produce closed, for sale work.
Eliot offers her source files with the equivalent of Yes/Yes/Yes permissions, and the equivalent of Creative Commons – Attribution licensing. She could have said “Attribution Non-Commercial,” and forced derivative makers to offer the work free or see her for further terms, but in an effort to push culture as far forward as possible, she’s offered her amazingly beautiful source files with the most open licensing possible.
I’m not upset that peeps use her work, make often minor mods, and put it up for sale: that’s her special vision, that’s her special gift to our world. I’m not upset by that, but I am surprised that unlike a guy like Stallman, Eliot does not seem to have zealous followers. Where are the other “Open Source” or “CC – Attribution” projects in SL?
In fact there are a lot of generous souls in our world: I’ve participated in so many free classes and events at Builder’s Brewery, Sensual Stone Works, Virtual Artist’s Alliance, and elsewhere. They not only give us virtual fish, but they teach us how to fish virtually. It’s an amazing gift.
But where are the other Eloh Eliot creators? Hello? Is there an open-source male skin anywhere of the quality of Starlight or Pleiades? Where are the other female skins? Where are all the other elements of our world?
Beautiful as Eloh Eliot’s work is aesthetically and technically, it’s the way she licenses it that is her greatest gift to our world. It’s what defines her art and the future possibilities of our world. To reiterate Stallman’s “Free Beer vs Free Speech” point, we LIKE Free Beer ’cause we love free stuff – but we NEED Free Speech for our very way of life to exist.
The fact that I can walk into Eliot’s Another shop right now and grab, for free, a skin that’s higher quality than a lot of SL L$1,000 skins – that’s nice. But the fact that I can download her source files and make my own skin that has blue lips or a hickey on the neck or a scar on the forehead or blue paint on the body or covered in bee pollen – that doesn’t simply save me money, it makes my creativity possible. It makes future culture possible. Open Source or CC – Attribution or Full Perm makes our future possible.
Every item, regardless of it’s high or low or free price, that’s transfered “No Mod” in SL is a cultural dead end. You can use it, play with it, enjoy it, but you can never create anything new with it. If the African Masks that inspired Picasso came to his eyes “no mod,” then he might never have painted The Demoiselles. If Picasso’d never painted The Demoiselles, he and Braque might never have invented Cubism. If they’d never invented Cubism, we might not have had the cultural trajectory of the 20th Century.
Eloh Eliot is a freak.
And it breaks my heart.