Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tooter Claxton sounds off on justice with his "Free world - the fenced edition"

Tooter Claxton is no stranger to these pages. This Dutch, punk-rocking, avatar-making, Second Life Hobo is an articulate and informed, somewhat mad/ingenious graphic designer and art director in Real Life, and a favorite personality of mine.

In my dealings with him, I have come to recognize another quality in Tooter that I so admire: integrity. Tooter shoots straight and he's true to himself. And he's funny while he's doing it. Can't say that about too many people.

I didn't thoughtfully consider this unique combination of attributes before I invited him to participate in the "Visions of Global Justice" group art exhibition in Second Life. I just knew it in a flash. Ah, what a good kind of flash that turned out to be! The even better news is that he accepted, and his installation joined those of over a dozen artists who came together for the opening of the International Justice Center.

Tooter's piece is called "Free world - the fenced edition." Walk up to it (teleport directly from here), wait a few seconds... and you are in for a surprise.

Tooter Claxton - Justice

Tooter explains it this way:

Tooter Claxton: Justice and law are based on agreements between people of what is right and what is wrong. Sometimes the difference between right and wrong is evident to everyone, but it isn't always that clear (that's why we need to write the agreements down in books of law, treaties and such) and the line between them can get fuzzy or even disappear. The two sides can even flip, depending on the perspective or interpretation of the viewer. When is someone a freedom fighter? A patriot? A terrorist or an enemy of the state?

Tooter Claxton's "Free world - the fenced edition"

A small, high walled structure, fenced off thoroughly with barbed wire and thick walls. Inside is some grass and flowers on the ground and a door with a lock and a key. The outside walls are textured with 'jail graffiti' and surrounded by a forest of cctv camera's moving around like meerkats, eyeing the visitor.

There are scanners, lights, lots of beeping and humming and scripted checks of the visitor. Security is over the top. Way over the top. Even their trash is sifted through.

Justice a la Tooter Claxton

Tooter Claxton: In other words: we punish criminals by putting them in confined spaces, so we can watch and control everything they do. The criminals obviously experience this control and lack of freedom and privacy as punishment. But we, who have committed no crimes, have not been convicted of anything, are increasingly being watched and controlled in the same way: our emails and Internet history can be stored and read, our phone calls are being scanned by the NSA a.s., we get bio-metric passports, all your trips and purchases can be traced through air miles and credit cards, and the cities are full of cctv's watching our every move... Is there still a free world? Are we still innocent until proven guilty?

Tooter Claxton's "Free world - the fenced edition"


I walked up to the structure, and a few seconds later, it started talking to me:

[22:26] ::: Initializing. Please remain stationary, Bettina Tizzy
[22:26] ::: Please stand in the designated area. You have received your location 2008-03-20. Check your inventory Bettina Tizzy.
[22:26] ::: Free World Access Scanner Hub (FWASH) activated, please wait.
[22:27] ::: ::: :::
[22:27] ::: We are strongly committed to your right to privacy, Bettina Tizzy. Please read the privacy disclaimer provided by FWASH, available to all Free Citizens.
[22:27] ::: FWASH error: unable to deliver privacy disclaimer. Free World group membership detection not available at this time.
[22:27] ::: Please enable scan and temporary deactivation of Data Protection Act by typing 'I agree' in chat within the set time.
[22:27] ::: Please note that except as otherwise expressly provided, whenever in this Act an amendment or repeal is expressed
[22:27] ::: in terms of a section or other provision of the Data Protection Act of 1984 (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.), Section 3 (47 U.S.C. 153) is amended: in section 332(d), by striking `section 3(n)' each place it appears and inserting `section 3'.
[22:27] ::: ::: :::
[22:27] ::: ::: :::
[22:27] ::: No response from agent Bettina Tizzy detected within set time. Scanner status: suspicion of possible concealment of identity by agent. Agent status set to 4-B: suspect. Initializing full scan. Please wait.
[22:27] ::: ::: :::
[22:27] ::: FWASH identity confirmed: Bettina Tizzy. Retrieving data. Please wait.
[22:27] ::: ::: :::
[22:27] ::: Your Universally Unique Identifier: cb84ba5a-70bb-4ba7-85c7-a29992d42382 Status unverified.
[22:28] ::: UUID Confirmed suspicion rate 4.7. Restrictive violence acceptable. Subsequent action classified to agent.
[22:28] ::: Facial recognition unit initializing... FRU ready.
[22:28] ::: User Bettina Tizzy born: 2007-01-26. No history of active membership of Free World group detected.
[22:28] ::: Possible membership of non governmental organizations detected.
[22:28] ::: Your Payment info on file: Status: 3-PAYMENT INFO ON FILE Scanning for other payment methods and potential fraudulent transactions.
[22:28] ::: Repetitive purchase of foreign comestibles tracked on loyalty cards: Pizza.
[22:28] ::: Repetitive purchase of foreign comestibles tracked on credit cards: Pizza.
[22:28] ::: Domestic comestibles purchase rate: 5 – average. Probable polynationalism or lack of patriotism detected. Xenoscan Tracking permanently enabled on Bettina Tizzy.
[22:28] ::: FRU scan result: Undetermined moisture detected, probability cold sweat: 87.472%, probability wallpaper adhesive: 12.528%.
[22:28] ::: Retrieving your energy invoices and air miles statistics to determine Fuel Consumption Level for Bettina Tizzy with mass 1.822263. Ratio of mass to energy utilization is not within projected economic stability range.
[22:29] ::: FWASH FCL 3.2 Category Treehugger
[22:29] ::: Avatar clothing changes: over 256 since 2007-01-26. Possible ID concealment. Avatar clothing changes: less than 512 since 2007-01-26. Possible use of alternative accounts.
[22:29] ::: Liquidity in Linden Dollars per day: < 565. You are extremely poor. Enabling financial tranquilizer for Bettina Tizzy.
[22:29] ::: ::: ::: ::: :::
[22:29] ::: Financial Tranquilizer: -start message- Welcome Bettina Tizzy. Money isn't everything. Keep in mind that over 3.8 billion people have less than 565 Linden dollars a day to spend. In the real world. Count your blessings.
[22:29] ::: Financial tranquilizer: Poverty is a choice, Bettina Tizzy. Obey and prosper. -end message-
[22:29] ::: Financial Tranquilizer is offline.
[22:29] ::: ::: :::
[22:29] ::: ::: :::
[22:29] ::: Engaging Waste Analyzer
[22:29] ::: ::: :::
[22:30] ::: Waste Analyzer engaged. Connecting to Department of Sanitation.
[22:30] ::: ::: :::
[22:30] ::: Connected. Scanning garbage bag 00567 through 02441 - Bettina Tizzy. Please wait.
[22:30] ::: Thank you for your patience.
[22:30] ::: ::: :::
[22:30] ::: Traces of addictive substances found. Coffee. Possible tofu. Notifying Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force.
[22:30] ::: Scan finished. Please wait for results.
[22:30] ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: :::
[22:30] ::: No criminal record for user Bettina Tizzy. Suspicion level 7. Estimated loyalty rating index at 2.1
[22:30] ::: Preemptive safety measures will be taken. Please wait.
[22:31] ::: Bettina Tizzy taken into custody by FWASH on suspicion of planning potentially subversive acts.
[22:31] ::: Bettina Tizzy will remain detained.
[22:31] ::: Entrance to Free World denied.
[22:31] ::: Thank you for you for keeping the Free World safe, Bettina Tizzy. Have a nice day.


This just in and direct from Tooter when I asked him for the authorized bio:

"I don't get bored easily. I am a graphic designer/ art director by profession but I have done, and still do a lot more. I have been singing and/or playing guitar in bands since 1976; punk rock, bluegrass, country, traditional dutch music, german schlagers and even just plain old rock 'n' roll. I've also hosted a variety of shows, quizzes and contests. I design and illustrate books, magazines, and occasionally write for them too. I draw comics and make animations. I've made hundreds of posters, flyers and record sleeves for the local and international 'underground' music scene. I've spent many holidays making and playing theater shows, I have worked with poets, sculptors and painters, making installations in musea, illustrations, short films, prints, performances. And then there's computers...

I've been working with computers since shortly after I left art school in the early eighties. First I tried programming in Basic, making simple games, but I soon used them to design typefaces and animations. After that computers have become an integral part of my work and life.

For the past year and a half I have also been active in Second Life. I spend most of my time in sandboxes, playing and building. I particularly enjoy the absurd side of Second Life, and I see it as an eclectic artwork made by all it's inhabitants. I learned (and still learn) building from other more skilled builders (mostly from the hobo group) and try to add pieces to the dadaist collage that is already there. I 'make a living' in Second Life selling somewhat 'off' avatars, which makes me enough to pay for rent, tier and a premium account. The more I make, the more land I buy to build my own projects on: usually silly, more than often useless. I try to make as many freebies as I can, and as I am selling more and more avatars, I've been giving away more of my builds free. I've also done -and cooperated in- artworks in SL. Most were themed around (dis-) communication, one of the most interesting parts of Second -and real- Life i.m.o."

Many thanks to the MacArthur Foundation, Global Kids and the Justice Commons for hosting this event, together with the USC Network Culture project. Special thanks, too, to In Kenzo, for giving me the opportunity to serve under her as co-curator, thereby allowing me to learn much about how to curate an art event in virtual worlds. In addition to Tooter Claxton and Pavig Lok, whom I featured in my last blog post, the following artists created original art works for this show: Tuna Oddfellow, AM Radio, Tooter Claxton, Juria Yoshikawa, Dancoyote Antonelli, Filthy Fluno, elros Tuominen, Chance Abattoir, Adam Ramona, Josina Burgess, Velazquez Bonetto, Junivers Stockholm.


Neil said...

Where has Tooter gone?