I wrote awhile ago about the wonderful work of a woman named Whiskey Monday, who creates visually arresting images in Second Life and credits her work by that excellent avatar name, and naturally, I had to know more. (Click here to teleport to her in-world gallery.) She first explored SL, she tells me, as an educational platform, and when several real life crises interceded, she came to explore it as a platform for her art:
"I discovered SL in late ’06 when I attended an in-world seminar for teachers," she tells me. "The experience, as a non-gamer type, was overwhelming and I had no intention of ever logging back in. Then I got the flu soon after and spent 2 weeks in bed with a laptop. I logged back in to SL on a whim. I’ve been here off and on since then."
But as I said, her becoming an SL-based artist seems to stem from a painful state of things at home:
"I’m a writer. Words always come before images for me. I used to write long, detailed blog posts about anything and everything. Then my sister was diagnosed with cancer and my mother suffered a head injury, they both moved in with my family and I became the primary caregiver and adult-in-residence to three full households. I didn’t have time to blog. But I still wanted and needed to express myself. Twitter was my outlet, a place where I could post bite-sized creations.
"I had some interesting conversations on Twitter with Botgirl Questi about creativity. It was her work that inspired me to try my hand at turning some of my tweets into pictures. That series was so fun to do that I started creating other stories with photos. Botgirl and I even started a weekly image prompt, the Single Frame Stories challenge.
"These photos are created in much the same way my best writing is created -- from a place in me that feels rather than sees. While I've always turned those feelings into words quite easily, creating a visual just takes the process a step further. I like to think that the image enriches the story I'm telling, and offers a dimension that words don't always reach. And for me personally, there are times when the feelings I want to express are too difficult to share with words. Words are too stark sometimes. A visual can help me express those feelings without the need to explain more than I'm willing or able."
Take this image, for example:
"Voluntary Commitment", copyright Whiskey Monday -- click for larger sizes
"Writing, paper, and books all play a huge part in my life, so they are frequent themes in my photos," she explains. "Insanity is a frequent theme too, it seems. I wanted the walls/pages in this shot to look organic, not flat and unreal. I spent a lot of time creating the walls of my cell, and uploaded several typed sheets of paper textures so that there would be little repetition. I placed each page one at a time. Once I had the room built, I had to really work the angles to get light inside like I wanted it. Deleting that set after I got the shot was tough. All of my sets are impermanent. It’s the shot and the story that it tells that is important." Read more about how she creates her images here.
"My real life right now is limited by a difficult family situation. Second Life, my photos and my blog help keep me somewhat sane. They’re an outlet and a megaphone and a retreat. My mom’s the artist in the family; I’ve never been a visual artist. To me, my photos are words made three dimensional. The stories in the pics are a natural extension of the words that inspired them. The writing always comes first."
Speaking of family, the equally striking real life photo of Whiskey Monday that you see on her site is by someone else in her household:
"My daughter is a talented photographer," Ms. Monday tells me, smiling. "I think talent skips a generation."Tweet