Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Chasm between loneliness and solitude - Nebulosus Severine and her sim prompt self-awareness

Chasm, the dramatic new mostly black & white sim that is available for just one more week, is an unconvential virtual experience for the visitor who is encouraged to go there alone.

Its creator, New England artist Nebulosus Severine (aka CM Pauluh), asks that you download and install two custom Windlight presets to round out a journey that involves music, light and loneliness. Or is it solitude?

Beyond the obvious aspects (terraforming, textures and prims) of the sparce but eminently theatrical installation offered there, Chasm is, for me, the antithesis of the virtual experience that is marketed to us. Indeed, I cannot recall another time or place in Second Life® when solitary exploration has been emphasized, yet most of us spend a good deal of our time alone. I certainly do. I asked Nebulosus about this and more.

What do you want the visitor to take away after visiting Chasm?
Nebulosus Severine: I intended Chasm to be a challenging but (hopefully) rewarding experience. Some of the technical requirements needed to view it (the Windlight preset, for example) might deter some viewers who don't want to bother taking the extra effort, but I don't create art for those kinds of people. I want my art to be provocative - not necessarily in a controversial way, but to have emotional and intellectual impact on the audience.

I built 'Chasm' to underscore the feelings of isolation and desolation I have often experienced; I know I can't possibly be the only person to have felt like this, so I am hoping others will be able to relate to it as well.

How important is the spectator/visitor to you when you create your art?
Nebulosus Severine: A lot of my art is very personal, thus I hope that my art connects with the viewer on an individual, emotional level. I often have trouble relating to people directly, so art is a way for me to reach out to them, and a way for me to deal with my feelings, as well. A lot of my art is meant to be challenging -- not the kind of thing you go and have a look at for 5 minutes, but something to ponder, something that will have an impact.

For most, the Second Life® experience is a social one to be shared in the company of others. It is certainly always promoted as a social experience... What are your thoughts on being alone in Second Life?
Nebulosus Severine: I think the same could be said of First Life; humans, or at least the majority, are largely social creatures. There are those of us who, whether in Second Life or First Life, spend a majority of their free time alone; and while in a broad sense those people can be described as introverted, the experience is different for everyone who falls into that category. Personally, I regard my solitude with some ambivalence.

I am not that great at conveying my thoughts and feelings verbally (visual communication is much, much easier for me), thus I often rely on the words of others to describe how I feel in writing. A quote by Paul Johannes Tillich simply and accurately states what my reclusive nature means to me: "Language has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone, and the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone."

Before you teleport, download Nebulosus' essential and custom preset for this visit here. Follow Nebulosus' installation instructions provided here. Then, teleport directly from here.


Aliasi Stonebender said...

I can think of some other places that stress solitary (or close to such) exploration, although none were as extensive, or as artsy-fartsy, as this.

Mind, I don't use that as a pejorative, or even as a criticism. :)