Thursday, October 30, 2008

The beautiful rich world we choose not to connect to: Strawberry Holiday

There are times when I long for those Wednesday mornings when Second Life® would go down for maintenance and I'd be forced to step away from it all and plug back into Real Life. I sometimes wish there was an enforced day-off for all virtual worlds, so that my will power wouldn't have to be exercised.

Strawberry Holiday took a close look at the relationship between our Real Life and our propensity to plug into everything technological when she created Disconnected, which she unveiled today. I asked her about that and also learned a bit more about what's been keeping her unplugged from our pixelated world.

It's great to have a new Strawberry installation, especially when we know you've been so busy in your Real Life. What's going on there?

I've been working as the director of a preschool and toddler center. As part of that, I teach a preschool classroom and art lessons to preschool and kindergarten age children. While love this part of my life, I'm really starting to feel that I'm not contributing as much as I could be and I'm itching for a change. With all the changes in the country and so many states working to make early childhood education, namely preschool, part of the public education system, I've decided to go to law school and help influence the laws and decisions that actually impact children instead of just being a cog in the works.

Were you an artist before you joined Second Life®? If so, what were you doing and are you still doing it?

I have a bachelor's degree with a focus in visual art. I explored the art of light in college with enough credits for a minor in Neon. I've also done small metal and jewelry work as well as 2D drawing and painting. Now most of my art is done in-world, except for some limited drawing and painting and the lessons I do with the children.

Has your increased distance from your own Second Life helped you to gain some perspective or insight that led to the concept behind this work?

Besides the decision to go to law school, there's another aspect of my life that has been taking up some of my time. I've been spending more time with the love of my life as we prepare to move in together after nearly two years of dating. We met in a club in Seattle but after dating for only about six months I moved away up to the beautiful island of San Juan near Vancouver BC for my current job. So the majority of our relationship has involved a sundry of vehicles, cars, ferries and seaplanes to taxi us back and forth to each other! As I'm considering Law Schools, we're also preparing to move in together in Seattle. All these changes, both happy and stressful, really have caused me to realize how lucky I am to be at this stage in my life.

The last few weeks, between when I took the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and before I received my scores, I really wanted to focus on building. I did want to make sure that I was keeping time for my Real Life and not getting overwhelmed by Second Life so I could keep enjoying my love and the anticipation of the LSAT close to me. (Strawberry has since learned that she not only passed but also scored very high). Working on this balance kept bringing to mind a picture I drew back in 2005 of a woman surrounded by technology but a close-up into her brain showed that she wasn't plugged in.

And that's how I came to the concept for this piece. In Second Life, it's so easy to show concepts that I could never really capture in paintings. The image of the woman alone in her space surrounded by the flashy images and noise of technology (that all seems the same) while not connecting or living within herself is powerful. Especially with the soothing trees and calm grass that surrounds her. Just outside her walls is a beautiful rich world that she chooses not to connect with.

Did you have any collaborators?

The first challenge of this build was finding space, which Truthseeker Young has generously donated for the duration of the build. WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget provided production support, doing tedious things like updating scripts in dozens of prims, or deleting every other blade of grass, or sanding and activating scripts as needed! Without her this would have been impossible. And Moongold Munroe was commissioned to develop the sound scheme for the build. They complete the build!

Your new grass is sumptuous. How'd you go about making it?

My grass has developed over the last 6 months. Originally inspired by the wheat at AM Radio's Wheatfield, it was first used in Throes of Rapture, a collaborative build with the Fallopian Fighters. This particular version of the grass is different because while the graphic is in the shape of individual pieces of grass, what is masked over it is a photo of a field of daises in the grass, giving for a much more rich texture. Not possible in real life, I know, but its green, and on the ground so our minds read it as grass!

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