The first four days of walking have been amazing. Friday, the third day of the reenactment, I found myself physically and mentally exhausted! Yesterday, Saturday, after a good night’s rest, I was re-energized – to the point of returning to riding my bicycle in to Eyebeam (2.5 miles each way to my sublet in the East Village). Over the last two days I have started to have success in soliciting others to join me on the walk. The picture below shows a small group of three hardy individuals who decided to march with me for a while. Yesterday I had three separate individuals take me up on my invitation to walk. I’ve been making friends and hopefully will be able to gather a larger group as the project moves forward. Most of the avi’s I’ve stopped to chat with are very curious about the reenactment and impressed by the physical component of project.
I suspect over the course of this walk I will be gaining a unique insight into the nature of SL. So far, it is quite interesting how similar it all seems to be – both in terms of the buildings, objects and the choices of appearances of the avi’s. I find myself drawn to those places that are truly different – an attempt to create a building being demolished that looked like it had been destroyed by a bomb, a field littered with simple colorful shapes embedded in the ground that was refreshingly creative, or avatars that are curiously dull – those who avoid the seven foot tall, big breasted or muscle bound chests, tattoos and flashy clothing to instead appear as representations of rather typical personas.
I’ve been thinking as I walk continuously of the “why” regarding this project. I find my conceptual thinking being pulled in many directions at once in this regard. It is through research and activities surrounding two of my most recent projects, “dead-in-iraq” and “Iraqimemorial.org”, that I have come to engage the work of Mahatma Gandhi as the subject of this new work of reenactment. It was through my interest in exploring the history of protest and passive resistance in the 20th century and an ongoing dedication to exploring the creation of online reenactments that led me to focus upon the work of Mahatma Gandhi, specifically the “Salt March to Dandi”. All of my work in performative actions in game spaces have relied on a basic principle of non-violence – from my first work, “Howl: Elite Force Voyager Online”, where I read Ginsberg’s seminal beat poem in this Star Trek shooter game to my ongoing project, the aforementioned “dead-in-iraq”, where I enter the America’s Army recruiting game online, drop my weapon, and type in the names of actual soldiers who have died – all of these works involve a core belief and realization of a non-violent position that is central to defining my work. By virtually walking as Gandhi in Second Life and committing to physically walking the actual 240 miles on a treadmill, I am furthering my efforts to investigate online game spaces as sites for interventionist, non-violent, creative action.
This is one part of my reasoning and thinking behind the work. Must get ready to walk further today. I will have more time to write tomorrow, Monday, March 17th, as this is one of the three official rest days of the original Salt March.