Monday, May 30, 2011

The Not So Secret Life of Gracie Kendal Part Two and 1000 Avatars

Gracie Kendal at the site of 1000 Avatars

This would be my first visit to her new location, the site of Gracie Kendal’s 1000 Avatar project. She’d just moved there recently and I had thought it a good place for us to meet. I’d been to the two prior project sites, first at Artropolis where she’d started the project when I’d volunteered to be one of her early photographic subjects. At that time it was only 100 Avatars. Later as the project grew she’d moved it to a site at one of the New Media Consortium SIM’s (NMC) where I’d popped in few times to view the photographs and get a sense of how the project had progressed. The scope and scale of the site had been large then and the project an ambitious one. How does one explain something as vague as virtual identity? 1000 Avatars is Ms Kendal’s attempt to do so, via the imagery of avatar photographs, and in her words; “specifically the construction of Avatars, our online representations”.
I’d met Gracie nearly two years ago when I’d interviewed her for a piece I’d written for Second Arts. We’d talked about her art and where she might be taking it in the near term. She had told me, “I am working on my MA in studio art right now … going to be finishing in May and my thesis project is going to involve the Life of Gracie Kendal as an artist and a woman.” Well that idea blossomed to become the predecessor project to 1000 Avatars and was called, “My Life as an Avatar: The Gracie Kendal Project.” I’d been to a few of her presentations as she’d held a series of talks at multiple venues in Second Life and also where she’d presented at a collaborative exhibit held at Caerleon called the “Ambiguity of Identity”.
We’d had arranged to meet on the 26th of May. I’d arrived in world earlier then the appointed time and while I waited for her to do so, I read through a release announcement about the book. She had begun the promotional process and it is to be released shortly. As I read through her note, the one aspect I could very much relate to as I’d also attempted to do so through my fiction was, “the relationship between appearance and identity, illusion, belief, and reality”. She logged in shortly after I’d read through the note and sent me a TP request. Second Life had been acting up of late with teleports, but I arrived uneventfully at the site. It took a few minutes for it to rezz fully, and as it did I cam’ed around and uttered an audible “wow”. It had grown substantially from where it had begun at Artropolis. The space is huge and we stood very near to the center of the site, surrounded on four sides by a vast array of avatar photographs. There is a an arranged a seating area with sofas, rugs and other décor. There were several notecard givers nearby along with the globe that she’d used to take the photographs for the project. As I spun my camera around, I noted that Gracie was attired much like she had been when I’d first met her, wearing a black t-shirt and paint splattered jeans, an artist at home in her studio.
“Hey Nazz, it’s good to see you again.” She said as I arrived and then added; “Oh, Nazz I invited Nikki, I hope you don’t mind, she’s the books editor. Nikki this is Nazz.” She said.
“Hello Nazz, nice to meet you.” Nickola Martynov said in chat.
“Hey Gracie, it’s great to see you as well.” I replied with a smile and then added; “It’s nice to meet you as well Nikki”. We three then exchanged pleasantries in open chat, before Gracie asked if I’d like to sit and then suggested the chairs arrayed around a nearby table. I waited until the ladies sat before I took my seat on an open one. Gracie moved the chairs around slightly so our virtual selves faced each other and we began.
“When did the 1000 Avatars project begin?” I asked after we were all comfortably seated.
“In October it started and stemmed from the exhibit of ‘My Life as an Avatar’ I did at Caerleon, the ‘Ambiguity of Identity’ ... not sure what or how it got started, but I began to taking pictures.” She explained.
“I recall we’d chatted briefly there and then again after you’d begun to mail out notices asking for volunteers. It started out as ‘100 Avatars’ and it became ‘1000 Avatars’, how many avatar photos have you taken?” I asked.
“So far I have 1580 portraits and I’m going for 2000. This book will be of the first 1000. I think you’re in it Nazz.” She said and then added; “You were among the first people I shot ... It’s going stop at 2000, but don't know for sure … I’ve been on a little hiatus and it’s been a few a months since I last shot any with my computer issues.”
I was about to ask my next question when a couple of visitors arrived, Maxwell Graf and Lauren Weyland. We all chatted for a bit and then when Gracie mentioned the meeting, Lauren ported out and Maxwell wandered off to view the portraits. While they were there, I’d zoomed around with my camera control and looked for my picture, which given the number there, it would be like finding the proverbial needle. While I did scan around, I was amazed at the diversity of the avatars she’d captured in the photographs. Male, female … furry’s and all taken from behind, I noted. As I thought about that, it made sense as this is how we generally see ourselves in Second Life, from behind and at a slightly elevated view. I asked her about it.
“The portraits from the back side … it is symbolic of their real life ... you don't know who they are on the other side of the screen. Some people have reacted to that, the pictures from behind ... they want to see what the avatar looks like.” She said.
“Beside the Caerleon exhibit and I recall at one of the Pirats shows, you’d appeared in several different venues to talk about your work. How have those talks been received?” I asked her.
“My life as Gracie has had a good reception by people ... I’d received a lot of IM’s and e-mails afterward, telling me how much it’s been an inspiration for them and how much they could relate to it. I think there are a lot of people who’ve come into Second Life and have created an ideal versions of themselves ... they think I’m really brave because I put all of myself out there and they can relate to that.” She said in reply and then added; “You know when I first came into Second Life … when I first started my life as an avatar, I thought I should have all the answers ... friends told me to forget about the answers, just do the art.”
“What sort of questions did you have?” I asked.
“Well the same as when I started with the project, when I was taking pictures of Gracie and Kris. That I should know what it all means … how the two, Gracie and Kris come together. I'm still working on ‘My life as Gracie’ … I’ve paused it though and have been focusing on the 1000 Avatars.” She replied.
After the book release and promotional tours around Second Life, what’s next for Gracie?” I asked.
“Well, first is the book release party on the 31st, it starts at 5 pm (PDT/SLT). Then I have several ideas in the pipeline. There’s ‘The Body Project’, it’s about body image. Then a mixed reality performance called ‘Open House’. I’m working with Nikki … I'll live in the gallery for 2 - 3 days, and it'll be open for people to drop in … in either real life or in Second Life and spend the night or just hang out. We'll stream into Second Life and vice versa. I’ll also be doing performances in real life at galleries where I’ll be interacting with Gracie.” She replied.
As we concluded our meeting, we chatted briefly about our second lives. I thanked her for taking time form her busy schedule to meet with me and congratulated her on the book. I also made a note to make sure I ordered a copy and then ported back to my home before I logged my virtual self out for the evening. The real me then leaned back in his chair, took a sip from a now warm glass of iced tea and then searched in my notes for the information on how to order a copy of the book. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A List of Places to Enjoy Art During the Holiday Weekend in Second Life

The US Memorial Holiday weekend has just begun, marking the start of the summer months. If you are not at a real life picnic or away for the holiday weekend and you happen to be in Second Life, here's a short list of places to go and check out some art.


A collection of landscapes, real life paintings brought into Second Life .

"Painting the landscape is about sharing. When I paint the environment around me it's because I am so moved by what I am seeing that I want to capture it and give it to you as a gift. " ~ Littleone Aries

The exhibit featuring the work of Robin Moore and La Baroque opened the other day and I'd enjoyed viewing both the photography of Ms Baroque and the extra-ordinary dioramas created by Mr. Moore.

The current exhibit opened this week as well, with works by; Giovanna Cerise, Jas, JasmineCeara Ellenberg in SL. JudiLynn,  JudiLynn India in SL. La Baroque and Vasco Lago Pinto, Jazz62 Masala in SL.

The Pirats exhibits are always enjoyable with the diversity of work and artists who participate.

The exhibit doesn't open until later today, but I had a preview of the exhibit yesterday evening. I'd first seen her work at a Pirats exhibit several weeks ago and had greatly enjoyed seeing her digital drawings, her textures are quite remarkable for depth and color. At Praka she has a created 27 new pieces for the exhibit. The opening is at 6 pm PDT/SLT today.

The exhibit opened on the 7th of May and features the work of Simotron Aquila, claudia222 Jewell, Paola Tauber and of course Shellina Winkler of whom I wrote about earlier this week. I did stop in to see the rest of the exhibit and met Flora Nordenskiold, who told me that her gallery would soon be marking its one year anniversary in July with something very special, a commemorative book of all the artists who'd been featured during the inaugural year.

I did have a chance to stop in briefly here to find a decent collection of photographs from several of AM's builds by photographers Raven Haalan, PJ Trenton, and Stephen Venkman.

Monday, May 23, 2011

ALS / Lou Gehrig's Disease Presented by Em Ellsmere

ALS / Lou Gehrig's Disease Presented by Em Ellsmere
On Wednesday, May 25, 6 pm SLT or Thursday, May 26, 12:30 pm SLT

Healthinfo Island

ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) is a devastating progressive neurological condition. It can strike anyone, most often between the ages of 40-70. Veterans, particularly from the Gulf War, are twice as likely to develop ALS as the average citizen. This presentation will give an overview of ALS, and discuss the work of The ALS Association (

Presenter Bio:
Em Ellsmere has worked for The ALS Association for 10 years as their Director of Digital Media.  She came to work with the organization after being a grassroots volunteer and advocate in honor of a family member who was living with the disease.  She brought The ALS Association into Second Life in January 2010 to help spread the Association's message to a new group and attempt to reach people living with the disease who may not be getting support in RL.

Shellina Winkler at the Nordan Art Gallery in Second Life

“Ciao Shelli.” I said as I’d arrived at the site of her latest work which is adjacent to the Nordan Art Gallery where she is one of four featured artists at an exhibition that opened on May 7th.  Shellina Winkler had sent me the TP request and soon appeared right next to me.
“Hey Nazz ciao. How are you?” She asked.
“I'm doing well thank you. I hope all is good for you.” I responded, as she and the build rezzed into view I scanned around to see that we were standing near the middle of a very large chess board. I noticed that the board was not totally parallel as many of the squares, black and white were skewed at different angles to each other creating a chaotic feel to what one normally would experience in seeing a chess board and its pieces arrayed in their appropriate places. On either side of the board, both the black and white pieces were in their standard configuration, with pawns protecting rooks, knights, bishops and their royal majesties, the king and queen. Also to add to the chaotic feel, on my right there is a pile of black chess pieces and slightly to my left a pile of white ones. Lastly, and directly in front of me is a vertical chess board. As I watched, several of the pieces moved in a familiar and rhythmic pattern.
“What's the name of the build?” I asked
“That’s an interesting title, what inspired it?” I asked.
“There was not a true inspiration, it came little by little. I made the vertical chessboard and the chessmen … but too simple, not in my style. The vertical chess board was surely uncommon and the path to climb to the top came soon … like an impossible path by Escher.” She replied.
“Escher?” I asked, not being familiar with the name.
“Yes you know, Escher’s drawings and the impossible figures he created, but also de-constructivist architecture gave me some input in the creation of the structure … as they build, changing some typical rules of building.” She said and then added, “Chess is characterized by rules but I made the chessmen rebel. There are only four moving on the vertical board, which move respecting the original rules of the game. Chess is very rich of metaphor.”
“It is a rich metaphor.” I commented in agreement.
“So I haven't written a notecard to explain what I saw in it … I’m expecting interesting points of view from observers.” She said.
“So, what kind of thoughts have you gotten from observers so far?” I asked her
“Many see it as metaphor of contemporary events. Some others saw it as second life with its rules and the chessmen as avatars.” She replied.
“I would have thought of contemporary events in a broader context, as in the middle east with the recent turmoil in both Egypt and Libya, rather than events in the metaverse.” I commented and then added, “Chess is a feudal game, with its structure, defined roles and the limitations of each. The board has shifted and the players are in a different environment … and to an extent those seeking change find themselves on a vertical board … as it is more challenging to make the change happen then they thought.”
“Yes challenge is one of the keywords of this work … when you try to rebel against the rules of course challenging is the engine which lead the rebellion.” She said and after a slight pause added, “the rebellion might be interior too of course and the representation only its image.”
“Interior as in within ourselves?” I asked
“Yes, but I noticed that anyone reads it according his or her feelings of the moment … as it happens when you are in front something you are looking at.” She said.
“We do tend to put our own views into what we see … our perceptions I mean.”
“Yes exactly, a sort of projection.” She said and then added. “I mean it's interesting, people ready to tell the story they see … it's important for me, because they have been involved in first person and it's important for them because they feel like they are living in the work. For us who build … I think it's a satisfaction, as what we have thought has been only ours, suddenly belongs to others.”
“Your work but its managed to become theirs as they see this in themselves … a recognition of what it is they've encountered or have succumbed to in their own lives.” I commented.
“The images I create are mine till the last second I keep it in inventory, with all the meaning and feelings and sensations I put in it and lived in it ... since the moment I exhibit them ... it's as I detach the object from me ...” She said.
“It becomes a release for you.” I said and finished off the sentence for her. “This is a marvelous build Shelli … congrats!”
The exhibit opened on the 7th of May and features the work of Simotron Aquila, claudia222 Jewell, Paola Tauber and of course Shellina Winkler. The exhibit runs until July 2nd.

Second International Missing Children's Day in Second Life

For immediate release

Initiative Vermisste Kinder -  PRESS RELEASE
by Morgue McMillan

We are glad to announce the second International Missing Children's Day in SL, coming up on May 25, 2011.

International Missing Children’s Day is a worldwide annual event on May 25 to raise awareness and inform about the issues as well as to provide links for further information and help.

We will celebrate this day in the virtual world of Second Life® at Garden for Change

Event Schedule

Day Schedule
Time: 9 am to 3 pm slt

Hosts: Anneli Ulrik (German), Morgue McMillan (English)

9:00 am : Welcome and “Anna is Lost”, a true telephone-case presented by Initiative Vermisste Kinder
10:10 am : poetry readings by Serene Bechir, Morgue McMillan, Klannex Northmead, DonJuan Writer, Ixmal Supermarine, Ingeborg Apfelbaum, Mathoni Zuhrah visual presentation: Aneli Abeyante background music: James Corachea
11:10 am : Kinder(v)erziehung a play by Kulturschaukel/MuenchenSL
12:00 pm : Dance in Light by junivers Stockholm and Medora Chevalier
1:00 pm : Dance show by Angelina Kitaj
2:00 pm : Brendan Shoreland

Daytime Event will also be broadcast on the web by ITS Media (German SL TV), URL TBA.

Night Schedule
Time: 5 pm to 9 pm slt

Host: Serene Bechir (English)

5:00 pm : Ballet Pixelle
5:45 pm : (welcome and introductory comments recorded from morning show or live by Serene Bechir)
6:00 pm : recorded presentation
6:30 pm : poetry
7:30 pm : pictures and music
7:45 pm : information from Ronnie Rhode/Garden for the Missing
8:00 pm : Cypress Rosewood


For more information please contact Anneli Ulrik/Initiative Vermisste Kinder, Serene Bechir or Morgue McMillan. We also have a blog prepared to collect all information around the event in one place:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Network on eHealth (ONeHealth) Presentation Tonight in Second Life

One Network on eHealth (ONeHealth) - Projects of the University of the Philippines Manila National Telehealth Center

Presented by: Isidor Cardenas  (SL- SidCarden Resident)
TUESDAY, May 17, 2011- 6 pm SLT
Healthinfo Island

The University of the Philippines Manila National Telehealth Center (UPM NTHC) was established in June 1998 through a resolution of the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines. The UPM NThC was given the mandate to enhance access to health care through information and communications technology.

The NTHC manages three interrelated programs under the ONeHEALTH banner:

    * The electronic health records program (eRecords)
    * The eLearning program (eLearning)
    * The telemedicine program (eMedicine)

Presenter Bio:
Mr. Cardenas is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Santo Tomas (UST). He is currently working at the University of the Philippines Manila National Telehealth Center (UPM NTHC) as an eHealth Nurse focusing on eLearning. He recently finished a short course on Game Development at the University of the Philippines Information Technology Training Center (UP ITTC) and is currently taking up an online course on eLearning Strategies under the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). "Sid" is also participating in the 2010 Social Impact Game of the Year - Evoke ( and is an active member of Gameful ( He is an advocate of free and open source software, game based learning, and social innovation. He plans on incorporating health education in various video game consoles and genres.

Presented in text.