Show your wound!

•July 30, 2009 • 4 Comments

That’s what I’m calling this week’s radio show. I think you can hear it if you click below…

Arthole show for this week

•July 29, 2009 • 1 Comment

Here’s the official announcement for this week’s show. I’m scared because I’m going to be broadcasting LIVE! (yikes!) and talking about why I voted the way I did in the BiW competition. I’ll also be playing music that I originally intended to play at the Warhol party a few weeks ago when my internet completely gave up the ghost. So, yay!

Arthole Radio airs this Wednesday 29th July with shows from Arahan Claveau, Amy Freelunch and the welcome return of Nebulosus Severine after a two month absence.

We start broadcasting as usual from 1pm Second Life time.
(1pm US/PDT / 9pm UK/BST / 4pm US/EDT).

Listen live at the Arthole gallery in Second Life or open this link in your media player.

Show archives here.

Thanks for listening!

Exit Interview: Thoughts on judging in the Brooklyn is Watching competition

•July 26, 2009 • 2 Comments

I was one of the judges in the Brooklyn is Watching Top Five. I am really, really hesitant to write about my experiences participating in that process, because to be honest, I’m just glad the whole thing is over with. I know, for instance, that there are some hurt feelings about who got in and who didn’t, and I don’t want to extend that kind of unpleasantness.

However, one of the most positive parts of the entire BiW project has been its transparency – that anyone could drop off a work on the sim, have it looked at and listen in to the critique panel as they thought and reasoned aloud about the work. Being able to view this process was key – learning how one of the panelists came to like or dislike a work was much more helpful to the artist (and those interested in SL art) than simply being told a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” Or so I felt.

So the entire idea of a secret judging panel that steps in and confers in private, emerging only to announce a list of the Top Five artists seemed… weird, and very much against the spirit of the entire project. But this is how the process operated. In the end, I think that was a huge mistake.

I want this article to be a critique on the administration of the competition as it took place in this particular set of circumstances. The larger question of “how does one judge a work of art in SL” is good, but not something I want to take on right now.

I have been on several other panels like this one in RL, and inevitably what happens is this: The judges create a list of artworks/artists they would like to see win whatever prize is at stake, then they get together and meet and discuss their lists. First all the votes are tallied up and then all the judges are told, “Ok, if we go to press now, this is how the list will read. Are you ok with that?” Each judge then weighs in, in front of the group, if they are or if they aren’t, and no one leaves the room until everyone is satisfied with how the list reads.

That’s not how things happened with this competition. Not only was the process shielded from the public, but it was mostly shielded from the judges as well. The directions we were given was that we were free to talk to one another if we liked, but we didn’t have to if we didn’t want to. Maybe in theory that makes sense, but in practice getting five busy adults in different time zones who don’t know each other at all (two of the judges asked me what my SL name was – that’s how much we didn’t know each other) to come together over a potentially sticky situation… well, it doesn’t work. Any attempts I tried to talk informally with the other judges failed miserably. (To be fair, I totally understand why that is. This whole contest is a political minefield and suddenly, here comes this woman you’ve never heard of and she wants to discuss your votes with you. I can see how, if you don’t have to talk about it, you might not want to.)

When we were emailed who the Top Four were (there was a tie for 5th place, and so another mostly-secret vote ensued), I was completely speechless and crushed. Except for one of the participants, it bore absolutely no resemblance to the list I had compiled. In particular the style of art I am most interested in being supportive of in SL (work with strong emotional or political overtones) was pretty underrepresented. Again, this is something that, had we been told we had to come up with a list together, we could have talked it out and made sure everyone was happy with how the final list read.

But my biggest surprise was who hadn’t made the Top Five; I was really shocked that Ichibot Nishi wasn’t somewhere on the list. So I inquired a bit and found out something that really horrified me.

The way the voting was tallied (again, this was all done away from the judges, so I don’t know exactly how it happened) was that each vote for an individual artist equaled a vote for that artist, but each vote for a collaborative team equaled a vote for that team (not for the artists in the team). Which means, in effect, that artists that entered collaborative works along with individual works were essentially running against themselves. By having one solo work by Ichibot, one solo work by Arahan, and a collaborative work by both of them, their votes got split. I voted for “Beyond Human,” and – not understanding this nuance in the rules – decided that to be fair, I shouldn’t spend another vote on either Ichibot or Arahan again and instead should include someone else.

This doesn’t really make any sense. Assume for a moment that DanCoyote had two pieces in the final. No single judge would vote for both of them when you only get five votes and there’s so many other people to choose from. But if DC and Neb collaborate, the rules get really fuzzy. Do you really want to vote for a collaborative piece and then also vote for both collaborators separately? That means have spent three votes on two artists, and you only have two votes left and 28 pieces to choose from… which doesn’t seem really fair.

The next issue was that concerning Gazira’s place. I’m very unclear as to how all that came together (I know that she is on vacation but, given that her work was entered into the Top 30, did she not realize the Top 5 was on its way? Is it really so impossible to contact someone on vacation in Italy?). I don’t know anything about the conversation that was had between the organizers and her going into the Top 30 or since then. Was her not responding to requests to get back in touch with the competition her way of intentionally snubbing it? Was she out of the loop in a very temporary sort of way and will be back in a day or two? I honestly have no idea. I understand and support Jay’s desire to get this all sorted out as quickly as possible so as to give the replacing artist as much time as possible… but I’m also missing an awful lot of information. I might feel differently if I knew more (maybe; maybe not? That’s the problem with missing information – you don’t know). Another vote was held without any real conversation between the judges; there was a tie among four of us, and then without any discussion in the group, the fifth judge cast their vote and we had a winner. The whole situation left me feeling very unhappy.

Here’s the bottom line problem with the competition and possibly, Brooklyn is Watching as a project: It simply isn’t anyone’s full-time job. Jay is a very busy guy who runs his own company; he lacks the experience working in arts administration to know how things like this normally function. His heart is absolutely in the right place and I truly believe he operates with the best intentions in mind. But ultimately, there’s no one running the ship who has the necessary experience needed and time set aside to see that things go smoothly and that everyone is treated fairly. The process instead got rushed and when things get rushed, they often go wrong.

To be blunt: I regret having agreed to be a judge. I think the Top Five as it stands will be a very strong primer to the potential of SL art for an audience unfamiliar with it, but I wish it was handled better and in a way that I felt more comfortable with. Chances are, the audience viewing the work will know nothing about this controversy and instead will simply see five great works of art by five great artists. But that doesn’t diminish the problems I personally have with the way the competition was handled and it doesn’t make me feel any better about the process.

I’m going to close with my personal Top Five. I can explain why I chose them and so forth in a future article, if anyone cares to know.

2. SELAVY OH, Attractive Art

New show this week!

•April 28, 2009 • 1 Comment

From the Arthole Blog:

Arthole Radio returns this month with an exciting line-up of music, chat and very special guests.

Tune in from 1pm Second Life time
(1pm US-PDT / 9pm UK-BST / 4pm US-EDT)

Arahan Claveau has asked a number of Second Life artists to select a favourite piece of music, the artists themselves will introduce each track and talk about what inspired their choices. Guests include AM Radio, Adam Ramona, AngryBeth Shortbread, DanCoyote Antonelli, Dekka Raymaker, Dizzy Banjo, Douglas Story, Gore Suntzu, Klink Epsilon, Misprint Thursday, Nebulosus Severine, Oberon Onmura, Penumbra Carter, Sabine Stonebender, Selavy Oh, Tanith Catteneo, Tuna Oddfellow and Juria Yoshikawa.

Nebulosus Severine will discuss some of her recent art findings both on the web and in Second Life, interspersed with a selection of her current favourite tunes.

Amy Freelunch‘s show will feature a conversation with Jeff Edwards discussing his graduate thesis for the Masters in Art Criticism & Writing program at the School of Visual Arts. There will also be a short lecture given on German artist Gerhard Richter‘s Baader-Meinhof series of paintings, delivered by a robot.

To listen to the live broadcast copy and paste this link into your media player:
(e.g. in Windows Media Player press CTRL+U or in iTunes CMD+U)


Download PDF here

*after the live broadcast recordings of the shows will be available in the archives.

What’s more: my show features a contest this month! Yes! It’s your opportunity to win a very special prize, even if I’m not sure what that prize is. Tune in to hear my frazzled, hurried voice describe the details during my show.

Also, I am bringing my computer to the shop next week to get fixed. Between that and the semester ending, I ought to be out of my Second Life exile and a little back to what I’d like to be doing… talking about SL art. May should be a fun month.

Selavy Oh interview!

•February 24, 2009 • 1 Comment

This month’s Arthole broadcast of the Amy Freelunch Hour contains a lengthy conversation between me and Selavy Oh. The interview started in November and sort of trailed over to just last weekend! In it, Selavy talks a lot about this idea of embodiment of one’s avatar, the relationship of SL art to the history of art, and (am I too corny in saying this?) much, much more!

But don’t just tune in to my show… check out Arahan and Nebulousus’s shows as well. Here is the schedule for Wednesday, Feb 25:
Arahan Claveau: 9pm UK/GMT (4pm EST/1pm PST)
Amy Freelunch: 10.30pm UK/GMT (5.30pm EST/2.30pm PST)


Nebulosus Severine: 9pm US/EST (6pm PST/2am UK/GMT)
Amy Freelunch: 10.30pm US/EST (7.30pm PST/3.30 am UK/GMT)

Copy and paste this link into your streaming media player:
(e.g. in Windows Media Player press CTRL+U, and then paste the URL of the live stream in the ‘Open’ box).

Show archives here.

Camp and SL

•January 9, 2009 • 4 Comments

My very many apologies for dragging my feet on this – never meant it to take so long. But without further ado, here is Camp and SL, part three of the “Kitsch and SL” series.

If pinning down a definition of kitsch seems difficult, try camp – it’s made even tougher by so little being written about the subject that tries to lay out a definition. Kitsch fans have the Kulka book to refer to for what is probably as close of a definition as we will get and he does a great job at naming a few qualities which together add up to kitsch. But those wondering what camp is have to contend with Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay Notes on Camp, which lays out no less than fifty-eight criteria (“jottings,” the author calls them) for what she is discussing. Bringing in references from art, design, popular culture, literature, and architecture, it’s completely possible the reader may wind up with a slightly more confused picture of what camp is at the conclusion of the essay than when she first started.

But before we go any further, it might be helpful to consider what sort of relationship do kitsch and camp have, and what we can say about camp having (maybe) gotten a grasp on kitsch. I’m going out on a limb here, but from my reading of Sontag and others, I would suggest that an artist knowingly appropriating kitsch from the larger culture is inevitably participating in camp; and that camp has a sense of self-consciousness to it, which is to say that the artist knows exactly what he or she is doing by incorporating this kind of taste (Sontag quotes Wilde several times, my favorite being: “To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up” from An Ideal Husband).

The creator of true kitsch and the true audience of (true) kitsch (in this case I’m talking about something like Thomas Kincade) must be joined by the desire to have a universal experience – to “be moved, together with all mankind” as Kulka quotes. The creator of a work of camp is pitching to a much smaller audience. It is to an audience that understands that the drag queen might look like an ugly man stuffed into a woman’s dress, but understands also that there is beauty in that. The drag queen fools no one – no one looking at her believes for a moment that she is a woman. But a sympathetic audience’s eyes are trained to see simultaneously the ugly man as well as the glitter and the falsies, to see the drag queen’s humanity and individuality as well as her artifice.

But here are a few of those jottings that I’ll relate to the piece we’re discussing, which is Ichibot and Arahan’s Beyond Human, which was recently installed at BiW, as well as the experience of being in SL as a whole.

10. Camp sees everything in quotation marks. It’s not a lamp, but a “lamp”; not a woman, but a “woman.” To perceive Camp in objects and persons is to understand Being-as-Playing-a-Role. It is the farthest extension, in sensibility, of the metaphor of life as theater.
>This can be said of all of Second Life. But what artists like I/A do by knowingly incorporating kitschy objects and references into their work is turn the mirror back on the world it’s in.

Take for example the entire snow-globe environment that is used as a framing device for this piece:

We all know that the snow that falls in SL is “fake” – it isn’t actual snow but rather pixels on a screen. But what we have here is an exaggeration of that – it’s not even realistic-looking (even by SL standards) snow that sticks to the ground; it refers to a toy that encases inside itself a fake environment that you can hold in your hand. Placing a snowglobe in SL is like placing a pink flamingo on your lawn – you’re not fooling anyone into thinking it’s somehow a real thing. So the piece begins by being entirely in quotation marks, from the moment you enter it.

23. In naïve, or pure, Camp, the essential element is seriousness, a seriousness that fails. Of course, not all seriousness that fails can be redeemed as Camp. Only that which has the proper mixture of the exaggerated, the fantastic, the passionate, and the naïve.

Quotes are scattered throughout the piece, which seem to refer to some sort of religious text. The use of these passages points to the piece having a beating heart – there is an actual message the artists are getting at, even if it’s obscure. The language of religious dogma which tends to be “exaggerated… fantastic… passionate… naïve” fits perfectly into an overall vocabulary of camp – and the artist’s appropriation of it is their bid for seriousness. You can’t help but be struck by the how genuine the quotes sound, even if you know deep down that they refer to something the artists find insidious.


26. Camp is art that proposes itself seriously, but cannot be taken altogether seriously because it is “too much.”

How else to approach a subject like religion other than to do so in a way that is “too much”? A piece created to be against organized religion that has been placed in a Chelsea gallery speaks to an audience that probably already is anti-organized-religion – honestly, what would the point be? But here, but putting this work that is “too much” into SL, we are also reminded of how pretty much everything in SL is “too much.”

34. Camp taste turns its back on the good-bad axis of ordinary aesthetic judgment. Camp doesn’t reverse things. It doesn’t argue that the good is bad, or the bad is good. What it does is to offer for art (and life) a different — a supplementary — set of standards.

I suggest that placing in this snowglobe such a variety of objects – happy flowers, melting bodies, a rainbow, the back of a naked man – the artists have leveled the meaning attributed to the individual items and makes us reconsider them in light of one another.

35. Ordinarily we value a work of art because of the seriousness and dignity of what it achieves. We value it because it succeeds – in being what it is and, presumably, in fulfilling the intention that lies behind it. We assume a proper, that is to say, straightforward relation between intention and performance. By such standards, we appraise The Iliad, Aristophanes’ plays, The Art of the Fugue, Middlemarch, the paintings of Rembrandt, Chartres, the poetry of Donne, The Divine Comedy, Beethoven’s quartets, and – among people – Socrates, Jesus, St. Francis, Napoleon, Savonarola. In short, the pantheon of high culture: truth, beauty, and seriousness.

This work points to truth, beauty, and seriousness, while flaunting all those things – it’s aware of all those things, but in the end tells them to fuck off. By placing them in this environment so filled with artifice, the artists are taunting you to take them seriously… when they know you really can’t.

36. But there are other creative sensibilities besides the seriousness (both tragic and comic) of high culture and of the high style of evaluating people. And one cheats oneself, as a human being, if one has respect only for the style of high culture, whatever else one may do or feel on the sly.

For instance, there is the kind of seriousness whose trademark is anguish, cruelty, derangement. Here we do accept a disparity between intention and result. I am speaking, obviously, of a style of personal existence as well as of a style in art; but the examples had best come from art. Think of Bosch, Sade, Rimbaud, Jarry, Kafka, Artaud, think of most of the important works of art of the 20th century, that is, art whose goal is not that of creating harmonies but of overstraining the medium and introducing more and more violent, and unresolvable, subject-matter. This sensibility also insists on the principle that an oeuvre in the old sense (again, in art, but also in life) is not possible. Only “fragments” are possible. . . . Clearly, different standards apply here than to traditional high culture. Something is good not because it is achieved, but because another kind of truth about the human situation, another experience of what it is to be human – in short, another valid sensibility — is being revealed.

And third among the great creative sensibilities is Camp: the sensibility of failed seriousness, of the theatricalization of experience. Camp refuses both the harmonies of traditional seriousness, and the risks of fully identifying with extreme states of feeling.


Again, I refer to the snowglobe as the ultimate fake environment, and would like to add to that the rainbow that is projected off of the large, white (serious!) cross. The experience of walking through it is at the same time both lowered and raised to the experience of the theatrical. Walking around it, you are acutely aware that you are in the middle of a set – as if it were a set for a play or movie, and yet there is something so off about it, that it makes you veer between being moved by it and being totally removed.

43. The traditional means for going beyond straight seriousness – irony, satire – seem feeble today, inadequate to the culturally oversaturated medium in which contemporary sensibility is schooled. Camp introduces a new standard: artifice as an ideal, theatricality.

44. Camp proposes a comic vision of the world. But not a bitter or polemical comedy. If tragedy is an experience of hyperinvolvement, comedy is an experience of underinvolvement, of detachment.

What got me most about the critiques of this piece is that its sense of humor was ignored – I mean, my god, you have fetal bugs, naked men, rainbows, crosses, dollar signs falling from the sky, religious quotes, and possibly the fakest sun I have ever seen beaming down on you as you walk through it all. And what I most like about this work (and I think this brings us right back to camp) is how it refers to the futility of its being – it dares to ask the question, So what if two guys make a piece attacking organized religion in SL? and to hear the answer, which is Absolutely nothing at all.


Ok, that’s what I’ve got – ultimately, I feel as though I rushed this last part of the articles, but so it goes. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Just then, my life exploded.

•January 6, 2009 • 7 Comments

What happens when installing a museum show and the deadline for a paid writing gig collide?

You lose all sight of your SL art blog. Radio show too.

Sorry guys… lemme get through the next couple of days dealing with RL shit and I will be back to talking camp and SL and other related things. But for now, all I can do is tread water with all the things that are ripping me in ten million different directions.

Stay tuned.

Benefit auction

•December 30, 2008 • Leave a Comment
Heya – this is from Gary Kohime, who asked me to pass on this info to you about a benefit he is involved with…


As announced in last weeks post on “This Week’s Great Events In SL” for the American Cancer Society special benefit called Raina’s Gift. I have started a 2nd Auction due to the number of great contributions from many of the top creators in SL. Such as, Aloah Oh, Elros Tuominen, Glyph Graves, Sasun Steinbeck, AM Radio, Damanios Thetan and many more.

The auction will be different this time in that its an auction by proxy, so everyone can bid, and need not be present to win at the awards ceremony and dance event.
Furthermore, you can “Preview” and “Bid” at the beautiful, and thought provoking sim of AM Radio’s Welsh Lakes, here>>> Welsh Lakes sim

Bid Awards/Dance Event Date: January 3, 2009
Time: 1-3 PM SLT
Location: SS Galaxy, Zodiac Ballroom here>> Zodiac Ballroom

Dress: Formal

All Auction Details can be obtained at the Preview area at Welsh Lakes, or from posters that are being distributed across the grid.

Kitsch and SL, part two

•December 29, 2008 • 3 Comments

In part one of all this, I sought to make the point that SL is inherently a kitsch environment, on the order of Disneyland or the like, and that this is something that the SL artist must work either against or toward, depending on their preference and ideology.

So, just to start somewhere, how does the SL artist, immersed in a world saturated with kitsch, create a work of art that is not kitsch?

There are many different strategies. One that I would point out is the use of the personal, or as Kulka states in the afore quoted passage, “Kitsch does not work on individual idiosyncrasies. It breeds on universal images, the emotional charge of which appeals to everyone” – meaning, when a work of art refers to a specific experience (often times, one that has happened to the artist), it cannot be kitsch; and that kitsch traffics in the (assumed) universal rather than the individualistic.

Compare for example the difference between two non-art builds: The UC Davis Schizophrenia Simulator and Virtual Darfur. In the widely lauded UC Davis project, your avatar is lead through a variety of scenarios where you get to “experience” what it’s like to be schizophrenic – by viewing the project through mouselook, you see in a “first person” kind of view what it’s like to have words rearrange themselves on posters or books, and you “hear” through the speakers of your computer the voices of strangers conspiring against you. This build personalizes the experience – it makes it happen to you – as much as a medium like SL can.

On the other hand is Virtual Darfur, in which visitors can wander through a camp made to resemble one that houses refuges in that area. Wordy signage explains the situation and tents and other images attempt to capture it, but this is an exact situation where the third person default camera angle of SL falls completely flat – somehow, seeing a fake representation of myself meandering around an utterly fake representation of the horrors of war (with all the malnutrition, rape, horror, terror, fear, life, and death removed from it) only heightens the artificiality of the environment I’m in. It doesn’t do what it sets out to do, which is somehow to make the experience of the refugee camp survivors more real. As a result, Virtual Darfur, while attempting to teach a valuable lesson, succumbs to the overwhelming environment of kitsch that pervades SL.

The difference between these two pieces is that the UC Davis work presents you with a situation that is relatively neutral – it doesn’t set out to say, “Schizophrenia is bad,” rather it shows you what the disease is like and allows you to draw your own conclusions. Virtual Darfur, meanwhile, is much more lazy – as you participate in it, you are lead to one conclusion and one conclusion only (“The situation in Darfur is bad”), with any other questions or ideas generated by the work silenced or cast as being heartless.

To return the argument to SL art in particular, I’d like to discuss two artists whose work incorporates sentiment, representation, and strong emotions. These traits put them dangerously close to the category of kitsch, but both artists avoid falling into that trap.

First piece:
Nebulosus Severine: Sorry Dad, 2008, previously installed at BiW (photo courtesy Klink Epsilon)

Second piece:
AM Radio: The Quiet, 2007; Princeton sim


Few photos seem to exist of Nebulosus’s work, but to describe it briefly: Your avatar is transported to a tunnel-like container in the sky; within the claustrophobic space, you encounter a variety of objects – text discussing the artist’s relationship with her father, family photographs, recreations of old toys, etc. In AM’s work, a small cottage is situated in the middle of a snowy field; the cottage is filled with a collection of strange personal objects (an old-fashioned pump-operated sink, a strange Rube Goldberg-like contraption attached to the wall, and recreations of several of the artist’s real-life paintings). Nebulosus’s work presents her objects in a straightforward manner, in a way in which you might actually encounter them in an airless old attic or crawlspace. AM’s work is lusher and more sepia toned; it feels dredged in linseed oil, and the palette emphasizes the “natural” light seeping in through windows in the house.

Taken as still images, these works might be confused as kitsch. But the experience of moving around them alerts the viewer that something else is definitely going on. There is the overwhelming sense that there is a gap between the images you see and the story they are conspiring to tell, and this is our first clue to spend more time with the work in order to take it apart.

But to examine what might be misconstrued as kitsch, I’ll return to Kulka. Further in his book, he gets even more specific about his definition, stating:

Condition 1: Kitsch depicts objects or themes that are highly charged with stock emotions […]
Condition 2: The objects or themes depicted in kitsch are instantly and effortlessly identifiable. […]
Condition 3: Kitsch does not substantially enrich our associations relating to the depicted objects or themes.

Both AM and Nebulosus flirt with kitsch by recreating objects in world that are “instantly and effortlessly identifiable” and that are “highly charged” – a New England home, a snowy landscape (in the case of AM), a toy airplane and a picture of a teenager (in the case of Nebulosus). And yet they avoid the trap of kitsch by imbuing in their work a sense of personal importance and meaningfulness. The images they recreate are actually not as universal as they first seem – they respond, in fact, to specific moments and emotions within the artist’s experience, and it is clear upon looking at them that you aren’t being presented with the whole narrative, neatly tied up, but rather that the work needs investigating. In order to decode them, you must suspend what you know about these objects and see them as the artist proposes – you must internalize the story that the artist is telling in order to read the work (in AM’s work, your avatar is manipulated to become part of the piece – so in his work, this functions literally).

So that’s one strategy of the SL artist to avoid the taint of kitsch – to bring in references from the real world experiences of the artist. By switching around the point of view – either literally or figuratively – the artist involves the viewer in their work, bringing them into this confidence, and showing them something so personal and idiosyncratic that it defies the kind of universality that kitsch depends upon.

Another would be to bring in references from the RL art world. As in the example of a work by Dekka Raymaker:
No one would accuse this work of being kitsch because of its association with RL “high culture” – clearly the artist is nodding and laughing along with his audience, employing irony and a historical reference that shows that he knows better than to be caught up in the silly sentiment that defines kitsch.

Another more troublesome artist to consider in this context would be DanCoyote Antonelli.

His use of abstraction seems to remove him from the dialog. And yet, is this true? Is his work really not “identifiable” simply because it’s abstract?

No – DanCoyote’s work remains “instantly and effortlessly identifiable” because while it can’t be identified as a rockinghorse or a paper airplane (or whatever), it can be identified as a piece of abstract art – by now its own category of thingness.  The viewer has a connection and a history to abstraction just as they would any object laying around their home.

But DanCoyote’s work fails on the other two conditions Kulka puts forth, and is therefore not kitsch: By creating a body of work in the context of a critical dialog the artist has provided, the work does substantially enrich our associations. And by creating work in a way that is methodical, measured, and very thought out, the artist steers clear of stock emotions, investigating his terrain of light, color, movement, and sound, much more like a cerebral and careful scientist than a lovesick teenager trying to explain how they feel. (I’ve felt for a while that DanCoyote is a Conceptual artist in Formalist clothes, but this is a topic for another day.)

But the use of imagery that is “instantly and effortlessly identifiable” becomes most problematic in the case of the work of an artist like Ichibot Nishi and his collaboration with Arahan Claveau for “Beyond Human.” In this piece, the artists incorporates elements in other situations would be easily characterized as kitsch:


…and then juxtaposes them with objects that are more curious and troubling:
arahanichibot_0041In a white cube gallery situation, this work would be easier to interpret – of course he is using irony in quoting kitsch, because it is assumed that anything in the white cube environment is not kitsch, so any mention of the subject must be ironic.

But positioned in an environment where kitsch – and not “good taste” – reigns, how do we distinguish this installation from any of a number of other weird, wacky “artworks” that litter SL?

That’ll lead us to part three, which is all about camp…

“The Quiet” to disappear?

•December 26, 2008 • 13 Comments

My favorite piece of SL art ever is set to disappear in about a week if it doesn’t get a new home.  AM Radio’s magnificent The Quiet – the artist’s most personal and, in my mind, important piece to date – is losing its home due to the impending price increase. Of course, the weird irony here is that AM’s work was recently featured as the start page for SL – a terrific move on the part of Linden Labs to endorse and support a work of SL art that I was thrilled to see… except that it would be even more terrific if they could help the guy out by giving him a sim to host this really major work.

LL most likely won’t, so are there any kind benefactors out there who would be willing to contribute some land to the cause? It kills me to think that we’re losing this piece. It’s one of those perfect examples of SL art that can’t be reproduced in photographs or machinima or the like – it must be experienced in world, as it makes use of so many of the features of SL that are specific to the medium.

If SL has anything resembling a cultural history (and I believe it does, and the need to preserve its history will become more and more important as we try and get this field to receive the credit and attention it deserves), then this piece is definitely right up there in the canon. Losing it would be devastating.