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!