Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ducky...

Posted by Alpha Auer

Ever since I wrote the post on art in the age of computational (re)production a few weeks back I have been meaning to follow up on it with a few posts exemplifying what it is that I am actually trying to say there. What my point in all of that ultimately is.

I wrote a while back that it seemed to me that the folk that stayed the course in Second Life® were in fact the very ones that were creatively active: Only so much shopping and disco hopping you can do - and let's face it, when it comes to those kinds of activities Real Life is really far more engaging. So yes, as far as I can see, the metaverse is teeming with creative activity. We seem to have gone past the early days and entered a new era where more than just a few select individuals are putting out the content. These days Second Life seems to be in the process of transforming into a petri dish of activity where individuals from all walks of life are engaged in creative expression.

And one remarkable manifestation of this is the output of the Second Life community on Flickr, which is where I encountered Ravenelle and Ducky.

Now, although some of the "point and snap" photo documentation undertaken in-world by Residents is very accomplished indeed, the output that I have in mind here is the one where an individual takes the raw images captured in Second Life and then proceeds to manipulate them in an external bitmap application. In other words, the image processing activity surrounding Second Life photography. Indeed, I am quite surprised that this phenomenon isn't being widely talked about and indeed exploited in the "serious" Real Life art enclave out there. Probably is already, and I just don't know it yet...

So, why Ducky? Why is Ducky so very special? I am not going to spend a lot of time discussing the visual accomplishment of these, I would instead urge you to go and take a look at the collections on Flickr. I will say this however: There is a finesse, a sophistication in Ravenelle's visual approach which reminds me of the Renaissance masters. I will merely give links to who/what these images below remind me of and then proceed on to say how it is that Ducky really grips my heart.


Sandro Botticelli?


Georges de la Tour?


Leonardo?
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And then of course there are these here, in a world of their own, maybe reminiscent of Max Ernst's Bride, come to life in a new shape and manifestation?




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Unfortunately - and no matter how I slice this - I do have a real gripe with solely "viewable" art. I have had it for a long time I suppose, long before I ever came into Second Life, in fact. And I think the reason that Second Life grabbed me as a creative platform in the first place is the very fact that here creative activity has the hope, the chance of metamorphosing into a lifeform. Into becoming a living entity. An organism in its own right. Not something on a wall or a designated 3D space - but alive! (Really - an installation, no matter how accomplished - is absolutely no different to a modest 2D painting in my book - it is still there to be viewed and then gone home and left behind!)...


Ducky and Torley

Ravenelle gives us no textual clues outside of the visual material about Ducky. And yet, as I look and watch the videos, a fully formed persona emerges: A creature of ladylike elegance, with dreams and affections. Unspeakably delicate and feminine. Who loves her all too human Torley. With fears that haunt her and then the occasional lighthearted playfulness. Just as it should be, the personality slowly emerges as we watch. We get to know her over a passage of time. She is there, present, alive. Not hanging on a wall. Not on display in a showcase. She is wandering Second Life, she is wandering in the crevices of Ravenelle's mind and now she is also wandering in mine.

And no, this is not just about "building" a gorgeous avatar. Ducky is a gorgeous avatar - no doubt. But, far more is involved here: This is about making something come alive. This is about the deep commitment of an individual to a being created out of her own innermost being. An emergent, ongoing process. One which evolves and changes over time. One which I, with my huge tribe of alts, have yet to master. Alas...
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Is Ducky Ravenelle? Well, maybe. Only Ravenelle can say. She has emanated from Ravenelle for sure.

Is Ducky "art"? I say yes! Emphatically so! I believe that a decade from now the "serious" art world will be making room for a new category of artistic expression: They will probably be calling it "avatar art". Just like "body art" "performance art" today... These were not around 50 years ago, or at least the activities undertaken in these domains did not yet have these handles attached to them. And I really think that "avatar art" will take its "official" place as a novel form of artistic practice in the very near future. Hopefully the officialdom of it all will not ruin the spontaneity, the unselfconsciousness, the selflessness, the utter abandonment to the joy of the creative process of its early day practitioners like Ravenelle...
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Again, you can get to know Ravenelle's Ducky here.
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4 comments:

Ravenelle said...

Thank you so much for following Ducky and sharing your thoughts here. I am very flattered and Ducky has been prancing around all day thinking she is like a famous painter now. She loves the encouragement.

QUACKKKKKKKK

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ravenelle/3237942618/

blu said...

Wonderful article on a great creative mind! Bravo!

Charles said...

Bettina and Alph, what a pair. You guys understand Second Life better than almost anyone. Congratulations on your latest article about Ducky.

http://www.nextworlddesign.com

gradyechegaray said...

Great post on a great body of work!