Noon – hope to see you there!
Archive for March, 2008
Yesterday, Sunday, the 30th of March, I walked 14 miles – the greatest daily distance so far in the march reenactment. It was a most interesting day – the afternoon of walking was actually going fairly slow – I spent much time stopping and chatting with others – finding myself at the 8 mile mark near 5pm and hoping at least to make 10 miles by my usual stopping time of 6pm. Just after 5pm or so the entire world of Second Life crashed completely! So I took a break grabbed some food and waited until the service was restored around 30 minutes later. Feeling re-energized by my rest and hoping to make up some lost time I began walking again and didn’t stop until just after 8pm. I was also assisted in the walking by one Gyovanna Schumann from Brazil (see image below on our walk posing by a cactus) who walked with me for the last hour or so. Having others for company makes the experience that much more interesting. So, with the 14 miles from yesterday, that makes for a total of 182 miles covered!
I have five days of actual walking to go as the original march technically reached the beach at Dandi on April 5th, 1930, with a short walk to the water and the making of the salt on the following morning of April 6th. As such, Saturday, April 5th will be the culmination of the actual walking of the 240 miles – I am hoping to have a crowd both with me in SL to complete the walk on next Saturday afternoon and in person at Eyebeam in NYC. Please join me in either context! Information on the last day’s events will be posted soon!
Hail Caesar! So visited a Roman sim, complete with a Coliseum where gladiators were engaged in battle. Gandhi walked around the viewing area a bit and sat in Caesar’s throne – soon thereafter finding his chair floating upside down over the field of battle – upon detaching myself (standing up), I landed in between to of the fighters below, picked myself up and made my way towards the exit to continue on.
Later I found myself at Svarga where I posed with a dragon and had a chat and made some friends with some wizards and such. At the far corner of this sim, I found an audio installation called “Ambipod”, very nicely done – one gets into an elevator pod and you are lifted to an airborne environment where you are invited to float or move around the space, all the while with sound loops intermingling and overlapping – quite a sensory experience and one of the few I’ve come across so far that truly, imaginatively utilizes the visual and auditory possibilities of SL.
Of the more typical variety of activities, imaged above, are the plethora of “camping” opportunities in SL – these are avatars who plant themselves on a given property to be paid by the owner of said property just to be there in order to attract others to what then appears on the map to be a populated area. Here is a large group of campers earning Linden dollars in SL.
And of course more of the ubiquitous beachfront properties (hope they survive global warming!)
And visiting with two guys who I think were from Brazil in a private residence – if the property allows me, I generally walk right in and say hello! These two were very nice to me. Others have ejected me using security software.
Finally, just before the SL crash yesterday I landed at a most fascinating region of Mission Viejo College. I suspect this is meant to be a creative artwork/online performance work (although one could argue that this is essentially what the entirety of SL actually is!). Another stand out experience in SL visiting this space – all the avatars on the site were attached together in a vibrating group at the top of a ominous formation in an otherwise empty world of water and stone. Very worth the visit, will likely return to see if it changes over time.
10.5 miles yesterday for a total of 168 miles so far. Heading now into the last week of the reenactment. A busy day at Eyebeam yesterday in RL, many people stopping by for a day of events surrounding the Feedback show currently on view. While I am not part of this great exhibition addressing themes of green and sustainability through artistic inventiveness, my performance set up with the treadmill and video projection of the Second Life image, fits well in this context – particularly in regard to “human power” which are words I hear hundreds of times a day from the exhibition’s video shown just adjacent to where I am walking.
I’ve been thinking much in regard to the formative concepts and historical connections to performance art. An aspect of my thinking towards developing this project is my appreciation for the durational aspects of performance works, particularly some of the seminal works of performance art in the 1970’s and 80’s. Joseph Buey’s I like America and America Likes Me of 1974, where he shut himself inside a gallery in NYC with a live coyote. Or Linda Montano’s amazing project 7 Years of Living Art and Another 7 Years of Living Art.
I’ve been performing in game spaces since 2001 – the commitment of my body towards any type of risk or exposure being primarily the result of long hours of sitting and typing extended texts into these online environments. Through this new project, where I have physically committed my body to the walking on the treadmill to “march” my avatar across second life, I hope to take online performance to a more committed position. More on this later…time to get ready to walk.
Starting point at the Panda’s in the snapshot below. So far have walked 157.5 miles!
Here are some interesting snapshots from the walking of March 28th. I’ve been island hopping in earnest. A bit of a random selection, starting where I leave SL the day before. The smaller regions, many of them only one small square island, are loaded with private properties with either access blocked entirely or “orbs” which are essentially automated alarm systems that tell you you are trespassing on someone’s property and you have 10 seconds or so to leave or be tp’s to your “home”. As I am walking, this makes things a bit tricky as by the time I stop and try to turn around to reverse course and walk off the property in questions, I land up getting teleported – sometimes nearby off the property but often times to a “sandbox” area on the other side of the SL universe. I’ve taken to looking at these unexpected tp’s as a blessing – a way to start anew somewhere else on the map. I then proceed to wander my unexpected arrival island and tp to the nearest populated land.
What has become a bit mind-numbing as I journey through these smaller, mostly residential islands is the sameness of it all. These islands are similar to efforts in Dubai (one could ask, which came first?) to create artificial islands where everyone has “shorefront” properties. From overhead these square islands in SL, some interlinked, others orphaned in the sea, are cut through with lagoons and channels that provide water access to these virtual beachfront properties. The overall architectural approach for these homes is to create large, modernistic structures with a serious use of glass. As noted previously, many of these private areas disallow access to passersby, thus making my walking an extreme navigational challenge. I spend much time under water, in fact, skirting these boundaries – walking underwater has become one of my favorite experiences in SL, quiet, generally open spaces without all the commercialized clutter and the occasional unexpected surprise of sea monsters, dolphins or buildings constructed on the sea floor.
March 27th starting point: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Marvelous/244/13/21
The last two days in Second Life have been rather extraordinary. I’ve migrated from the two largest land masses to smaller islands – my strategy is to work my way through the mid size land areas (comprising multiple regions) and working towards the smallest single region islands. I’ve found these areas to be very interesting in that they tend to be dedicated to various group sims – including a fascinating sim called “Gor” where the residents were role playing a series of fantasy books, all in character, beautifully rendered landscape with midieval – Lord of the Rings overtones – complete with wenches and warriors. I also visited the island of Entropia where briefly sat with four avi’s who appeared to be trekkies taking part in a class – I asked them if they were Star Trek re-enactors and they suggested it was more about stars.
Today, I continued my island hopping – yes, by necessity I am teleporting, but only to get from one island to the next – otherwise I could not move between these smaller land areas. I visited several areas that were typically filled with dance clubs, shops and gambling enterprises. I tp’d to Roma which is an amazing sim of ancient Rome – quite convincing recreation, visually stunning and enjoyable to explore on foot – the sim is a bit like walking into an illustration from National Geographic Magazine. Yesterday I visited a Samurai battleground sim that was as well quite engaging and authentic in it’s representations. Many of these areas have differing rules – ie – one could be attacked as they are often used for simulated battles. Being Gandhi has so far be thoroughly disarming to those that I meet on my travels. Avi’s are usually curious and/or excited to see me – although I do get some, “um, ok’s” from residents when I tell them of the reenactment and the treadmill and such, mostly I get very supportive comments and have made many friends. I stopped in one area today and asked two dancing avi’s to join me in walking for a bit of walking, mostly they posed for the photographs although one of them walked with me for 15 minutes or so (note the walking sticks that I give to everyone with whom I stop to chat).
Towards the end of my 12 miles today I sent out a number of IM’s to friends on my contact list inviting others to walk with me for a bit. 5 of my contacts took me up on the invitation and we walked around the Princeton University sim – really interesting islands full of experimental architecture and large scale science projects and such, plus the obligatory simulation of the old campus buildings. Here is a group portrait:
Here we are on a mountaintop over what we think was a gigantic scale model of the human eye and nerves and such.
While I wouldn’t say the walking has become easier, I have definitely found a rythmn on the treadmill. What has become most curious is the blurring between SL and RL. I find myself walking down the street in NYC wanting to click on people I see to learn more about them – or having a flashback/deja vu to SL while walking up the subway stairs – a bit disturbing but also fascinating – I’ve now spent approximately 70 hours in the past two weeks in SL – it has definitely found a place in my subconscious.
I’ve realized as well one of my motivations for this work is to create an opportunity for the enjoyment of the enactment of an online work such as this (I’ve been creating experimental performance works in games since 2001, visit my website for documentation). Over the past two years my work has been dedicated to addressing the military and civilian deaths in the war in Iraq. My ongoing protest/memorial within the America’s Army computer game has been the basis of my in-game creative work for over two years now – the “dead-in-iraq” project has been an intensely meaningful experience but also very difficult to undertake – the abuse I receive while doing this work and in reaction to it has been challenging. As well, I’ve been involved in a major project to memorialize the civilian casualties in the Iraq war, this web based project has been very meaningful and rewarding – although, again, addressing difficult subject matter. Both the Iraqimemorial.org project and “dead-in-iraq” have been formative towards my interest in exploring Gandhi, both in terms of the background research regarding the history of protest and in terms of developing the concept for this reenactment in SL.
The reenactment of Gandhi’s Salt March has, in regard to the progression of my work, been a revelation – this has truly been both a joyful experience. I suppose one thing I have come to appreciate on SL is that it generally appears to be populated by friendly people with a desire to connect. I’ve had a few individuals who have been hostile to my presence with SL, but these have been by far the exception rather than the rule.
I’ve also found the walking to be transformative and meditative in a very powerful way. Walking is such a naturally rythmic process, like breathing or the beating heart. I really believe that physically walking encourages brain activity – I am thinking in a way I have never experienced previously in a computer game space. Perhaps this is similar to the phenomenal popularity of the Wii system. More on this in future posts.
That is all for the day – continuing on, have now covered 135 miles! 10 days of walking to go!
I will making a late start tomorrow, Tuesday, March 25th, at 4pm Eastern time, walking for 5 hours until 9pm.
I’ve taken to island hopping, unavoidably teleporting, but solely to get from one island or mass of regions to the next nearest space.