Wednesday, August 14, 2013

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Artist Turns SL Inventory Into Performance Art, Deleting Every Virtual Item She's Owned Over the Last 7 Years

SL Art Installation

Second Life users have inventories full of virtual stuff, stuff of unimaginable (and unmanageable) variety, folders of stuff stuffed into other folders of stuff, so much stuff it's sometimes impossible to even see the stuff, and this state of things is such that it's inspired an LA artist to turn the madness into a work of performance art:

Behold "Binge and Purge", a new installation by Kristine Schomaker (Gracie Kendal in SL), in which the artist will methodically take out and delete every single virtual item she's come to own in Second Life over nearly 7 years of being in-world:

I will rez 15000 prims worth of ‘stuff’ from my inventory every 2-3 weeks. (Sunday morning 9am SLT/PST). After the 2-3 weeks, I will delete all 15000 prims. (This will include all my art, presents, furniture, houses, clothes, pictures, notecards, landmarks, calling cards, collected art, etc) EVERYTHING. I will take pictures of my inventory window/the interface after each purging Each Binge and Purge will be documented through filming and photography.

More here on her site. To me the project seemed like a perfect metaphor for consumerism and the way Second Life's cumbersome inventory interface implicitly encourages excess consumerism (since it's so difficult to delete things, once you acquire them), but Kristine Schomaker relates it to broader trends in social media, and also, to her own real world challenges with an eating disorder:

"I definitely thought about my eating disorder after the initial thought of 'OMG I have to do a performance/installation where I delete my inventory,' she tells me. "Then I asked the question, why. My initial notes, sketches were about the idea of spectacle, curiosity, voyeurism. exhibitionism, temptation, public vs private, memory and nostalgia. I thought about the selfies people take in Second Life and post on Flickr, the idea of narcissism in social media and the stuff that people accumulate and collect and forget about.

""I thought about my eating disorder and recovery and letting go. It is about change and rediscovery. The title 'Binge and Purge' came about when I decided I had to spend the last L$20,000 I had on stuff, then purge it from my inventory as part of the performance. Of course, It also comes from my disordered eating that I am currently working on with a therapist and an eating disorder support group."

Pretty interesting -- and as thousands of her items get rezzed on the sim she's using for the installation, probably a pretty wild spectacle. Click here to directly teleport to "Binge and Purge".

Hat tip: Mr. Dizzy Banjo.

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Jen

Fantastic...my heart is in it too :)

CronoCloud Creeggan

Right now I'm having a "Scanners head exploding" moment. I sometimes use the following joke:

"To the CC, delete is a dirty word and does not exist in her vocabulary. How can one catch up to Willow, or win SL if one doesn't Own It All."

I have over 85000 items. But for my part I will bear no reduction to this thing: of all the creations of SL, the only fair. they are "precious" to me, and I buy them with many L$. My Precious.

Yes I know, perhaps they shouldn't be so precious to me, but I am attached to my stuff. My stuff defines Avatar Me.

Tracy RedAngel

If she deletes everything she owns...what the hell is she gonna wear? O.o

Connie Arida

Goes to show, 'Art" is in the eye of the beholder.

Flo2

It's not a perfect metaphor of consumerism, it's a perfect metaphor of one's untidiness. I always select and delete anything unnecessary, and if I buy a new hair, I delete another older one, so the number of my stuff and clothes are constant. Besides, inventory let us create sub-folders for anything, so my weapons are in my Weapons folder, hairs are in my Hair folder, etc. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

Adeon Writer

I do not believe I am untidy; I am very organized elsewhere.

It is only in SL I let my inventory get so out of hand. I blame the way it is presented. One long tree list directory has always been my least favorite file browsing method. Being organized in that display method is always slow and just makes for more scrolling later so I don't bother.

Would be wonderful to have an icon view like windows. I'd be super organized.

Iggy

Would that Americans, in particular, could do even a "lite" version of this IRL. We are our stuff.

In remarks quoted in the boxed edition of the film Two-Lane Blacktop (borrowed from my library!) Tom Waits says what we Yanks wistfully call "the road" became a "shopping aisle," and wandering lost its allure.

SL was once a wild frontier too full of imagined possibilities. Now it seems more and more like a shopping aisle.

Ajax Manatiso

Monday is garbage day in RL for me. On that day I will be performing the installation "Taking Out the Trash". Tickets are available for $10 each.

Rose Mackie

It's not a perfect metaphor of consumerism. It's a perfect example of waste, selfishness, ego-centrism, and narcissism.

And what's with "it's so difficult to delete things, once you acquire them" ~ you press the Delete key. How difficult is that?

It's not art. It's "Hey! Look at me! Watch me press the Delete key!"

Pussycat Catnap

That's bold.

I have trouble deleting stuff. You look at a long list of objects and wonder "maybe there's something in there I need" even though rationally you know you haven't rezzed any of it since Jimmy Carter was in office...

What I've been trying recently is to rebox things, and then put the boxes into 'furniture boxes' rezzed in my home... That way I can pretend I'm still getting use out of it... and then someday hopefully forget and delete that 'wardrobe' object when I get a new one or redecorate. :)

Kristine Schomaker

Thank you guys for your comments. I am actually very organized, I do have folders for everything and then subfolders. I also value everything I have ever bought or was given in SL. Does it define me? No. I am not defined by material things. Even my art.
Performance art connects with viewers in a way painting, drawing, photography can't. Your emotional response also becomes the art. I have received many comments asking how I can really do this. Delete everything I own in SL. (Except for what Gracie is wearing) I am not tied down to material things. Maybe part of this is spiritual too.

Iggy

Kristine, remember SL's hobos? They made almost everything they had, then gave it away.

I miss those days. What you are doing in indeed spiritual and I applaud your choice!

Miki Gymnast

i always feared the time when just such "artists" are left in sl...

Dizzy Banjo

As always, I think Kristine's work is asking some very interesting questions.

In particular for me it makes me think about one difference between virtual objects and real ones - virtual objects don't age, they kinda exist or don't exist.

Following learning about this project I went to Sandbox Cordova and started rezzing very old items.. lots of random things came out..
Telescopes by AM Radio.. private installations by ColeMarie.. a Starax sculpture.. all kinds of personal things.

In a wave of nostalgia they took me back to their initial incarnations and my memories of them. Being rezzed again - the experience of them was very similar to my first experience, of course I was very different, and many of the people involved are long gone and onto different things..

Real memories are impossible to re-inhabit. They are already deleted - perhaps only captured in photographs or home movies..

I wonder if this will make Kristine's memories of SL somehow more similar to memories of the physical world.

Kristine Schomaker

Thank you Dizzy. I am not the best with putting into words, my ideas of certain projects. I can write and write and write, but I always feel like I am missing something. I believe this project is laden with questions of theory and philosophy in comparing the real and the virtual. As you asked, what is the difference between virtual objects and real objects? Of course everyone is going to have a different answer but it is in the thinking and discussion that brings meaning to my art.

Tracy RedAngel

I visited the installation, it's pretty impressive. But you're gonna delete a perfectly good Greedy table? :O
My friend and I played a few games on it :D

Elyen Zlatkes

Yes, people will question if something is art, be it virtual, performance, and so on. The real question being, is it relevant? Yes, I think so.

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