Today was the first all day trial run for Becoming Dragon. I spent my longest time immersed in Second Life with the Head Mounted Display yet, 10 1/2 hours. The full motion capture is not ready yet, but the head tracking works, so I am able to use the first person view and look around spaces in Second Life by moving my head and turning my body. For a first day long test, it went remarkably well. I spent a fair amount of time in the performance space, the model of the actual room I’m in. When I was eating dinner, Rubaiyat Shatner came to the door and said “knock, knock”, which was funny. I had IM’ed him about chatting about the number of prims we can have in our space, because we’re currently full. Ars Virtua granted us land.
I stopped by the Isle of Wyrm today to tell some of the other dragons about my performance. I went into the Cathedral and there was an elder dragon there. Wanting to tell some of the creators, I asked this gold and black dragon why they were considered elder, and they said it is because they are a co-founder of the Isle of Wyrm, and co-creator of the dragon avatar! I was so happy, and told him about the performance and gave him the press release. I also used group chat, and got lots of really supportive (and snarky) comments. They gave me contacts at Reuters and at Linden Labs to IM in world about the performance. One person said I should be ready for crashes and that I’ll get very intimate with the login screen. We talked a bit about my performance and the dragons started heatedly discussing “lifestyle drug” prices, and then SL crashed.
Unfortunately, they’re right. I had lots and lots of crashes today. Even blue screens. I’m hoping to resolve those before we add even more complexity to the setup.
Still, after 10 hours, my forehead is a bit sore, but that’s all. (which reminds me that I need to check the emf reading…) I expect that once we get stereoscopic mode working, it’ll be much harder, but maybe its a blessing that its not. During bathroom breaks, walking around, I did feel a bit queasy in my stomach and a bit like my vision was weird. But I mostly feel a sense of directness, a kind of immediacy, like my body is on alert and I’m just acting instantly. I’m sure that once I’m done writing this and take the HMD off, I’ll have more to say about how I feel.
This afternoon the calit2 photographer and blog writer came by. She had lots of interesting, deep questions, like why I want to transition, and at that moment I was happy to have this mediation of an HMD in front of my face, which made answering a bit easier.We talked about a lot of issues, but importantly about the poems I’ll be performing, and the way that hormones affect our mental processes and decisions and trouble the notion of a clearly defined subject or author or artist.
Ben Lotan came by to do some video documentation, and I talked a bit with him about how one of my qualms with this piece is that the technology, being only for one person, might be read as reinforcing the notion of the artist as individual, heroic, creative, unique, which I reject and want to avoid. I’ve done so much collective work, this is one of my first individual pieces in my MFA, and I strongly favor the tradition of kaprow and beuys and lygia clark, that of empowering the viewer and everyone to see themselves as an artist. Still, I thought after Ben left that my performance troubles tries to trouble the notion of a subject so much, that if the artist as individual does seem to exist, that artist is also in transition and transmission, multiple, shifting, changing before the eyes of the audience.
There are still so many parts to work on. Anna, who’s working on modeling, came by late and we talked about the status of the modeling. Elle, a friend who’s going to help with photo documentation stopped by also. Ricardo even came by to take a look before he goes to Transfer Actions in LA, and was very encouraging, talking about how the space is transforming into the inside of a dragon, and noticing the mature rating.
I’m starting to get collaborative events lined up, and will be announcing those soon, which I’m excited about. If you have comments and questions and thoughts, leave a comment here please!
At the end of this long day, a few thoughts stay with me. One is the way in which this performance moves me into a liminal space. By using this HMD for an extended period, I am shifting my body and mind outside of everyday experience, like a drug induced state, but caused by the closeness of the display and the duration. I think something really important about performance is the ability to find limts and push on them, and I’m glad that I’ve found this simple gesture, of long term immersion, that can show me something new. Another thought is the way that users of immersive virtual reality technologies, such as the HMD I’m using, report the experience of time loss. When I look outside, I can’t believe its nighttime. The day really did slip by. I thought I’d be much more productive, much more bored, but really, there is a sense of timelessness as you stare at the bright screens hovering before your eyes. I tried to be aware of that and set SL to nighttime once it was night, but I think I need to open the shades more for my next trial run.
At the end of the day, I am tired. I decided to spend some time in “happy land”, and thats what’s in the photo above. I’m not sure the name of the land or of the artist, but I’ll post it here once I do. Comment if you do know… It was a very pleasant way to end the night…