Senna Coronet

Senna Coronet‘s new exhibit Loss opens tomorrow at Berg by Nordan Art. We got to spend some time together planning the show and we ended up putting together this interview as well. I am so pleased that Senna will show his extraordinary photographs at the gallery and very happy we got to put together the interview too. So without further ado, I present to you the talented Senna Coronet.

~Kate Bergdorf

Interviewer

First, thank you Senna for agreeing to this interview. I know you are incredibly busy at the moment with all kinds of things, both inside and outside of Second Life. I very much appreciate you making time for this!

Coronet

No worries at all. Thank you for the opportunity to do this show in Amona’s place.

Interviewer

Let’s jump right in. You have been in Second Life since 2006, meaning you are now at least a decade old! Ten years of this virtual reality business. I remember when I first came here, in 2009, I never thought I would last longer then a week. But I did. Then I left a few times, I think I had doubts, and it wasn’t that easy coming back, but I did anyway. What is it do you think about this place that makes us somehow not take it seriously initially, but then eventually it turns into such an incredibly meaningful part of our lives?

Coronet

Well, I know from my perspective, when you first get here you don’t know what it is you’re supposed to do and then you realize you can do anything. Thereafter, you might ask yourself, should I do those things at all? I started taking images early in SL, back in 2008. That was also a time when I was just starting to revive my RL art skills, which I hadn’t used in a long time. SL was just another way to explore creativity. I was pretty raw back then. Very few controls and objects weren’t that great, but still, you could play with forms and color and the very basics of light to create compositions. But that all got a bit boring after a while and I was not happy with who I was in SL. I was doing a lot of magazine work and fashion shoots but that wasn’t really me. It became work, not art. So, I left SL for essentially 2 years. When I came back I dedicated myself to making images (photography) that were artistic. Now, SL is more fun and rewarding for me than ever. The talent here is amazing and my friends are just fantastic.

Interviewer

Many of us stay I think because we are drawn to and curious about the creative aspects of the virtual world. I’ve given some thought to virtual photography lately. It’s fascinating to me how much we get inspired, and also learn about technique, from our peers in our little Flickr community and how we develop as photographers there. I also think of photography in that particular context as a means of communication between Second Life residents. What are your thoughts on virtual photography in general and in the virtual Flickr setting in particular?

Coronet

The “photography” subject is very interesting and it’s a continuation of a discussion about what is art. I have been referring to this thing I do here as “image making” rather than photography lately simply because it’s not photography in reality. I’m not offended if someone calls it that, I just tend to think it’s something else so call it Image Making. Well, clearly I love this thing we do here in SL. The advent of mesh and the massive improvement in general of textures of objects, clothes, and skins/shapes, it just gets more fun every day to create images. I don’t say this enough but I really appreciate the people who create the viewers that we Image Makers use most often. They give us the features and tools that make our curious hobby easier to do (thanks guys!). Then, of course, you have the people in the community that just add all their talent in so many ways to make the experience so much better. I laugh sometimes when I shooting images I’m all by myself, yet think of all the hours that were invested by so many people to let me do this. It’s mind-boggling.

At the end of the day, all these improvements let us explore our individual creativity and express ourselves through the images we make. That process and the resultant art is as valid as any other art created today. It’s not second class art, not by any measure, it’s true art. That doesn’t mean everyone outside of SL (or inside SL for that matter) understands what we do or likes what we do, but it is a serious artistic endeavor none the less.

Interviewer

It seems that some of our virtual world photographers are also creative outside of Second Life, but not all. I am not, the virtual world is my only creative outlet. I am curious about if creativity is part of your life outside of Second Life as well. And do you think that it matters when it comes to quality of work produced in-world if a person is creative outside of Second Life or not?

Coronet

I went to fine art school (college) for classic art studies – drawing, painting, printmaking, and I worked in the commercial art world for about 10 years after getting out of college. But then got involved in other things professionally and my art laid dormant for many years. I don’t think it’s necessary to have prior art skills in order to be successful (whatever that means) with your work in SL, in fact, I tend to like to see when people “discover” their creative side through SL. It does not come laden with preconceived notions of what art is, and can be refreshingly raw. I love it.

I’ve started doing my own RL work again, and that will get more intense in the next few years. I owe that all to my renewed interest in creativity which came from SL. No question about that.

Interviewer

Let’s talk a bit about your photography style. You mostly take portraits, some are self portraits, but many of them are of female subjects, some of them with an erotic undertone, and in my humble opinion, all of them sublime. There is simultaneously something elegant, decadent, raw, and modern about your pictures. There is emotion and depth. Tell us about your work and how did you go about getting to where you are today?

Coronet

My artwork and style are just basically what I tend to like in the world. From a “style” perspective, while I like realism and even some “hyper-realism” (think Chuck Close), I also like to see that blended with surrealism. They are not mutually exclusive, so that works. As I mentioned early, the improvements in all areas of SL have made making images just better all the time. Even still, I’ve long given up the notion that I can do everything in world to get the images that I want so I spend many hours working on images in Photoshop after a shoot. Basically, my philosophy and advice to anyone creating images in SL is to create the best raw images you can, you can’t make bad images much better in Photoshop. I am very picky about images that I take to completion. For every image I finish, I probably shoot 10 to 20 that don’t make the final cut. This is a lot like RL photography. Which is basically to say, be a good editor of your own work, you are the best judge of whether it is “good” or not.

I do shoot a lot of Female subjects mostly because I found Female AV’s more interesting to shoot in SL (textures and clothes were better) and eroticism/sexuality comes across better with Female subjects. I do like to shoot mildly provocative images but not overtly sexual ones. My primary interest has been and remains to try and draw out some humanity in the AV’s. It’s not easy and it doesn’t always work but it’s a constant struggle. The one thing that I love about this effort in SL is watching the changes in my work and the people I follow on Flickr. It’s absolutely fascinating to look at someone’s image stream and literally see where they made a change or a jump in creativity in their images. Try it sometime with your own stream or someone you know, you can see the progress. It just means its not getting stale and boring and there’s more work to be done.

Interviewer

Clearly, and not only in Second Life, but in general, the creative process becomes a means to process feelings and experiences, which are then in turn reflected in the finished work. I have a feeling that the work you did on your new Berg by Nordan Art exhibit, Loss, will illustrate this. Can you share with us what that process was like, what were some of the hurdles and some of the triumphs, putting together that show?

Coronet

That’s a big question. This show is very important because now that it’s done, I’ve finally been able to put the hurt to rest following the death of my good friend Amona Savira back in February. It wasn’t just her passing that was at the root of the emotional storm I’ve been in for more than a year now, there are many other factors in RL contributing to that, but Amona’s passing was the straw that broke the camels back, it was just too much to deal with. She was just a very very good friend but I cried for 2 days when she passed. I was totally distraught and I couldn’t stop seeing her (SL) image in my head. As I said in my message on flickr, on the day I heard the news, Amona had transitioned from being just an SL friend to becoming a RL friend to me, as is true of other friends of mine in SL. I just didn’t know the depth to which she meant to me and that’s what was coming out in those days after she died. But it was more than that, I was leaving a home that I’d had for almost 2 decades, that event was coming and it became clear that I was far more emotional about that event than I realized. So in the end, the notion of Loss is very strong and not simply about Amona but just generally about the experience in general and how it messes with your mind, your emotional stability, and how you recover from it in the end.

Creating a show from this is a challenge, I didn’t want it to be trite, and I didn’t want it to be too depressing. In the end, it’s a story, shown as a series of vignettes, expressing the engrossing nature of Loss. Stepping back from the hundreds of images i made for this, in the end, I had to pick the ones that told the story but were also beautiful art as well. The final edits and image selection is a difficult process. I’m pleased how it came out but like all of us, we finish something and start seeing all the faults, but I’ve been through that so many times, I just ignore it now!

Interviewer

Thank you very much, Senna.

Coronet

Thank you so much Kate!

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

Serene Footman

Serene Footman is known to many of us as the owner of Furillen, the virtual world interpretation of a place with the same name in Sweden. I was immediately drawn to Furillen, partially due to my Scandinavian heritage perhaps, but also because of the raw and unusual beauty of the environment. Serene, with his somewhat grumpy exterior (he will be the first to admit to this), but kind heart and welcoming demeanor, has  succeed in creating an unusually intriguing minimalist environment with a unique atmosphere where people return to visit. An academic in real life, living in London, England, I know he is busy so I was so grateful to catch him for this interview. It is such a pleasure to introduce to you here the talented Serene Footman.

~Kate Bergdorf

The Serene Footman InterviewPhotograph by Kate Bergdorf

Interviewer

First, thank you very much for agreeing to meet with me for this interview. I remember visiting your sim Furillen sometime last year. You had just opened the place then and it was not quite done yet, but a few visitors had found their way there regardless, myself included. It was a quieter time there then, but I think we already had a sense of what kind of magical place it would ultimately become. Tell me please what it was that inspired you to put together Furillen and what were some of the challenges you came up against initially.

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Photograph from Furillen Website (http://www.furillen.com/images/uploads/slideshows/furillen-hotel-gotland-utsikt.jpg)

Footman

I saw pictures of this place in Sweden called Furillen around two years ago. I was doing up a beach in SL – somewhere in the Fruit Islands, I think – and wanted a look that was a bit different from the usual tropical thing you get so often on the grid. I knew that Furillen could make an awesome sim, but was pushing it too far at that place, so I opted for something a bit more North Atlantic instead. Then I took up a sim on the New England estate, which is connected to all those wonderful sailing sims around Blakes Sea. Here, I was if anything more restricted – in order to keep everything in theme there, owners aren’t allowed to terraform, and they have to use only builds that are recognizably ‘New England’. I liked it there, the people are nice and sailing in SL is fabulous – and because of the strict rules, the estate looks pretty good. But after about 18 months I began to feel a bit restricted – getting permission to use certain buildings, changing season at set times, etc. – so I moved to the sim I have now, which is free-standing, so I can do what I like. After a week or two the Furillen idea came back into my head. I took a more serious look at photographs of the real Furillen, checked Google maps, and felt that I could make it work. I envisaged a setting that combined the cold, hard brutalism of an abandoned quarry, with the (very Swedish) minimalist style of the hotel that is situated there. I liked this contrast, and felt that it could bring something really quite new to Second Life. The first thing I did was to work out where everything should go, using maps and ariel photographs and taking a few liberties along the way. The second thing was to decide on the land texture. This was all fine. The third thing – and this proved the most difficult – was finding the main buildings: the hotel itself, and the house next to it, which sits more or less at the centre of the sim. Every building I tried looked wrong, to my eyes – too cute, I guess, or in some cases too urban. Then I found the Junk house, and the Soy building – on the same day, as it happened. Once they were in place, it seemed clear to me that I could get the atmosphere I wanted.

Interviewer

As time has passed, Furillen has become an incredibly popular Second Life destination. It still remains a great place to just linger, for thinking and daydreaming, but it is now of course much busier compared to the way it was initially. Please share with us what it is like for you presently to manage this sim. I suspect that the challenges and rewards may be quite different now than they were in the beginning.

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Photograph by Serene Footman

Footman

It is busier, with around 300-400 visitors per day – and over 13,000 visits in total, now – and although I sometimes think back to the early days when there were just a few people around and the place was empty, I wanted it this way. Too often during my eight or so years on the grid I’ve seen great sims pretty much die because nobody visits them. We all have our theories about why this happens, but I hoped that it might be possible to sustain a livelier sim. People attract people on the grid, we all know about the network effects – so with the sim always looking busy, it would inevitably stay busy. I’ve gone about doing this in several ways. The first is simply to be around when I can. You don’t have to talk to everyone – lots of people come to Furillen for peace and quiet – but being on hand to answer questions can make a difference to whether or not someone feels welcome, or whether they feel like they are intruding. The second way was to tap into the interest generated through Flickr. But if you want interest to be sustained, this is actually a bit more involved than simply making a sim photogenic. Once people have their pictures, they move on, so I tried to keep interest high by changing things, particularly in the hotel rooms, where there are these little ‘installations’ – but also in the outside spaces. You also need an active Flickr group, with people commenting. My good friend Laura – Mrs S –  has helped greatly with that. The final bit of the Flickr puzzle is the competition. I don’t know how this will turn out over time, but initially it has created a good buzz. I avoided making it too big a deal by having no significant prize (the winner gets to choose the next theme and has their picture displayed on the sim) – but I also made it democratic, people vote on the winner, I have no say. And it’s fast – a two-week turnaround, so a theme won’t go stale. We’ll see how it turns out I guess. Then there is the blog, which is quietly building up a readership with short daily posts about the sim and a daily feature picture from the Flickr group, Then there is the music stream, which I tailor and tweak to keep things relevant and interesting. This sounds like a lot of work, but really it isn’t. I’m busy in my regular life anyway, so the Furillen stuff just slots into this. And I really enjoy hanging out at the sim – there are very few problems, and the people who visit are great, I have made some nice friends. Many are photographers, some are bloggers (who appreciate being told they can rez stuff) – many are just tourists and dreamers, or people who want to listen to music while going AFK. So the rewards speak for themselves, and the challenges are minimal. I guess I’ll have to wait and see what happens if and when visitor numbers go down, but that’s not something I worry about right now.

Interviewer

The simple beauty of the Furillen environment inspires people to become creative and astonishing photography has been produced there. You have three Flickr Furillen groups, one of them is used for a photography competition that you started this month. While the sim inspires and challenges new and experienced photographers alike to continue taking photographs, I think the taking and posting on Flickr of these pictures may also represent a form of communication between the Second Life visitors themselves. Please talk to me about your thoughts about the meaning of photography on Furillen.

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Photograph by dolletjes

Footman

It was inevitable that the sim would become a place for taking pictures, because that has been a big interest of mine throughout my time in Second Life. But like many people I know, I do have some reservations about how Flickr can work, with people obsessing about how many favourites they get, and so on. So I had several aims with Flickr at Furillen. First, make it open, positive and welcoming to people who might be inexperienced picture makers. The group is accessible to all, and I try to comment on everything – as does Laura. Second, make it about the pictures, not the popularity – encourage people to try new things, or to recognise what they are really good at and improve on that. Third, make it a bit of a community thing – SL Flickr people know each other, and Furillen has become one of the places they like to hang out. Fourth, and like the sim itself, keep it busy – the turnover of pictures is high, there are over 2000 pictures in the main group now, with nearly 300 members – which is pretty astonishing given that it started only three months ago. Finally, make it fun – so the competition has been designed to give people a focus, set them challenges, not decide who is the best. Most people – everyone I’ve spoken to about it, in fact – have entered in this spirit. So to sum up – photography at Furillen is about capturing the beauty of the place in as creative and social a way as possible. My role has simply been to encourage that.

Interviewer

The people who visit Furillen are an unusual and intriguing crowd of noobs and long-time Second Lifers; fashion people, art people, photographers, bloggers, grid-travelers, dolls, animals and more. People come to take photographs. Many come to just watch people or explore. There is also a friendly atmosphere on Furillen, which I think compels people to come back. Please share your thoughts on the value of making people feel welcome, specifically as it pertains to Furillen.

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Photograph by Revan Jinn

Footman

Second Life is a strange place, we all know that – lots of different needs, agendas, real life problems and constraints, lots of different reasons for being here. I have always enjoyed the variety, and have liked moving between activities and groups – I lived at Wastelands for years (just about to celebrate its 9th birthday – awesome place, wonderful people, and the brilliant Neo running it all), enjoyed the sailing, move in and out of Flickr, and so on. So it feels perfectly natural for me to have a variety of people moving through Furillen, from the AFKers to the noobs through the regulars and dreamers to the photographers and bloggers we already spoke about. The only real constraint I imposed was to make the sim ‘moderate’ (not ‘adult’), so this cuts out some traffic that might put certain people off from hanging around. Otherwise, my aim is to provide an environment where people can do their own thing in peace, whatever that might be. If anyone threatens that in any way I kick them immediately, but otherwise I think visitors feel welcome and relaxed there. They aren’t bombarded with notecards or requests to accept group membership or landmarks; there are donation boxes but these are placed around the sim rather than hitting you in the face when you land – people are left alone. I have gradually gotten to know some of the more regular visitors, and I may say hello to anyone who comes by and looks interesting – so I guess it builds over time that a fairly large number of people (several hundred by now) consider Furillen to be a bit of a home spot, where they are likely to run into someone they know or where they can simply watch the traffic – because as you rightly say, there are some great characters around most of the time.

Interviewer

I am sometimes silly and call you Mr. Furillen, but there is also a more serious reason I think to why I do this. Your passion about the place is recognizable in all you do there; the research you have done on the actual non-virtual Furillen and conscientious planning and replication of your findings then in the virtual world, the consistent and careful changing and replacing of objects on the sim, the well-thought-out music stream, the Flickr groups, then more recently the blog and there is probably much more that does not immediately meet the eye. To many of us you are the glue that holds Furillen together. Please expand if you don’t mind on your passion about this place.

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Photograph by Tutsy Navarathna

Footman

This was not something I necessarily expected or planned, but I have found myself enjoying the role of talking to visitors and keeping the Flickr groups going, encouraging people to become involved, and so on. This evolved naturally, most of the things I have done have seemed quite logical – ways of keeping momentum going and making the sim interesting for people who visit. Underlying it all is my own enjoyment – if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it. I also know my limitations. I’m not a great builder or artist like Cica Ghost or Bryn Oh. People aren’t coming to Furillen to see what great thing I’ve made, they come because they like being there. I like being there too – it is a social space, as much as anything else, but having said all that, my reason for putting the sim together in the first place was the challenge of capturing some of the appearance and spirit that I sensed in the real Furillen – and this is still a huge motivation for me. So I took time finding someone with the skills to build the pier and make it as close as possible to the real thing – KT Syakumi has done an awesome job. And right now I’m talking with her about making one or two other structures that closely replicate what exists in the real Furillen. So besides the social stuff at Furillen, there is this fascination that I have – and some visitors share it – with replicating something that really exists. My personal view is that this correspondence makes the sim even more magical and intriguing.

Interviewer

Lastly, a non-Furillen specific question! You have been in Second Life I believe since 2007 or 2008. Much has changed since then, especially in terms of technology. Our insights about being part of this virtual world, however, still remain fairly basic I think. It seems there is still much to learn about various aspects of our existence here and how to have it be part of every-day life. What are your thoughts on virtuality and how have you managed to incorporate it into your life in general?

Footman

I think many of us still enjoy the challenge of finding some kind of balance between the two worlds. Everyone has their own take on this – how much of their real self is reflected in their virtual self, how much cross over there is between one world and the other, and so on. As I said before, we all have our different reasons for being here, and I never judge how others deal with the connection between what they do and who they are here, and what they do and who they are in their first lives. My own experience has varied quite a bit over the years. Like many people, no doubt, I have experienced periods of over-immersion, as well as times when I pretty much leave the grid altogether. Running Furillen may have changed things a bit for me, because it gives me more of a structured reason for being here. It’s a bigger commitment, but can also be more rewarding. And interestingly, it actually feels more like my real life, where I am also very involved with other people as an academic. But the experience of virtuality is different for everyone, there is no doubt in my mind about that. If there was one thing I could change, it would be that we could feel a little bit more relaxed and open about who we really are – but even as I say that, I realise that for many people this is missing the whole point of being here. Such is the infinite complexity of this wonderful, weird and wacky place …

Interviewer

Thank you so much again for this, Serene, it was a great pleasure. And thank you for maintaining the beautiful Furillen for all of us to visit. I hope it will be there for many, many more years to come!

Footman

My pleasure – and thanks for all the support you have given me – you were one of those very early visitors to Furillen, and your report on the sim was one of the very first to get published. I remember feeling hugely encouraged by it.

Tutsy Navarathna

Tutsy Navarathna immediately struck me as a visionary, as someone ahead of his time. A virtual world film maker extraordinaire, he consistently intelligently questions the meaning of the virtual world as we know it. Tutsy is about film, photography, art, psychology, philosophy, language and, of course, the internet. He is also about sensuality, sexuality, nuances, symbolism and metaphor. A former resident of Paris, France where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, Tutsy now permanently lives and works in the beautiful Pondicherry, India. For a few weeks, we communicated via email and IM across the oceans to put together the interview that follows below. It is my great pleasure and honor, really, to introduce to you here the immensely talented Tutsy Navarathna.

     ~Kate Bergdorf

Interviewer

Congratulations again on winning the University of Western Australia (UWA) MachinimUWA VII Transcending Borders Challenge. There have been seven UWA Machinima challenges so far, you have won four of them. To what do you attribute your success?

Navarathna

The techniques used when creating Machinima are still in the early stages and require the Machinima-producer to have plenty of experience. But regardless of this fact, I notice new and emerging talents every year which, of course, offer new challenges for me to overcome. There is a healthy competition preventing me from resting on my laurels. 🙂

Interviewer

Let’s talk about your MetaPhore Machinima. In this work aspects like music, voice, location, avatars and plot seem somehow to magically come together to create a coherent whole. Addressed in this Machinima are not only issues surrounding gender, but also the notion of what it means to be an avatar in a virtual world in general. What was going through your mind when you created this particular Machinima?

Navarathna

What does it mean to be an avatar today? What kinds of feelings does an avatar have? With your question you have certainly put your finger on the core issue. This is exactly the purpose of my Machinimas, trying to identify and show the different aspects of being an avatar. How and in what way has the radical and rather brutal intrusion of virtuality taken hold of our daily lives? How do we evolve from passive spectators into active participants and content creators? What are the implications of these new forms of relationships? How will our brains manage the effects of these new “virtual extensions?” When Mark Zuckerberg speaks of the Oculus Rift, he does not hesitate to speak in terms of teleportation and notes that “[p]eople will develop and construct interactive connection models, with remote locations and it will be almost equal to teleportation.” But in contrast to the prevailing opinion I belive that virtual life does not isolate us. On the contrary, I think it has significantly increased our options in the areas of  interaction and communication. For instance, we often feel closer and more intimate with an avatar that we never have met (or with a virtual FaceBook friend) then with our next door neighbour who we call real. I do not believe that this excitement will pass; this is just the beginning of a phenomenon that will gain power and expand rapidly. But we have much to learn in a short time. And, importantly, we need to ask the right questions in order to fully grasp the phenomenon of our transition into an augmented reality.

Interviewer

In all of your Machinima you beautifully capture the essence of what it means to be in Second Life©. Your work is a great representation of the virtual world to someone who has never visited. Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process when it comes to actually creating a Machinima? Do you have a plot in mind from the start or does it all fall into place as you go along?

Navarathna

I am particularly attuned to and quite sensitive to things generated by the metaverse. Before a film project I’ll usually hang out in different places. I am on the lookout for a clicking sound, for something to get me started on my story. I am looking at avatars and their profiles. I am very curious about this great need that so many people seem to have here, namely the desire to express and share their inner visions by creating their own worlds. Thanks to the internet this is possible. I often have a simple idea about a Machinima that develops further as I visit places in Second Life. I am also very focused on creating characters; the look of the avatar and what he or she may be wearing are important. These factors will eventually all contribute to the change of scenes in the Machinima itself. In fact, the character of an avatar alone may be a reason for me to make a film. I find that the collage technique that I used as a painter in the past now is a big part of my virtual world filmmaking. Machinima, unlike traditional cinema, is mostly graphic and pictorial. It is really altogether a different mindset. Production and filming of a Machinima are also totally different from traditional filmmaking. For example, one can easily go back and forth between the editing timeline and the virtual world and change scenarios while editing. Besides the time that is actually spent creating the Machinima, production costs are minimal. YouTube and Flickr have become to Machinima channels to “reality.” These are small windows that are wide-open to the world, offering snapshots of what is happening in the metaverse. Keep in mind, that all virtual worlds, creations, installations, exhibitions, sculptures and photographs are for the time being only being seen by the residents of Second Life. Thus virtual art is still very much confidential. Yet in my view, there is a true revolution going on here in terms of observing and sharing creativity. We find in the virtual world a profound change in our relation to the art object, which is expressed in its weightlessness. The object loses its materiality and allows for interaction and immersion.

Interviewer

So many of us find purpose in being creative in Second Life. Some of us bring with us experience from outside the virtual environment and others just learn about creating as we go along in Second Life. Did you have any prior film making experience or were you creative in any other way before you joined Second Life? If not, how did you go about teaching yourself how to make virtual world films?

Navarathna

I graduated from the Beaux Arts in Paris, which was followed by a lot of painting and exhibitions. Then I became curious about electronic images, video and computer. This area fascinated me right away. I did not have to dip my brush in the pot anymore. 🙂 As I gradually abandoned painting to explore these new mediums, they quickly started to fill my life, both artistically and professionally. I have worked for TV and for the institutions. When I first entered Second Life, around 2007 or 2008, it was like stepping into a childhood dream. I experienced the same emotional state as when I was a kid looking at my first remote-controlled car. Totally magical; I could remote control a character that was me!!! I very quickly became aware of that this was a fantastic tool for creating and communication. Around that same time, I befriended a well-known noo-cyber movie maker who told me it was possible to film in the virtual world. And the idea of making films inside the internet excited me. In fact, at that time, to me, it was almost unimaginable! There was an abundance of images and inventions in Second Life, great for use to to make films. However, there was still very only few Machinima that had been made and no tutorials available at all. Becoming familiar with the tools and catch every little trick was not a simple achievement. Ultimately, my experience with video, computer and especially film editing helped me a lot.

Interviewer

I am curious about what kind of films might inspire you outside the virtual world. A few days ago, I watched the movie I Am Love (2009), directed by Luca Guadagnino and starring Tilda Swinton. There was something about that movie that made me think of your virtual world films. Have you seen it? And can you tell us about some of the movies outside of the virtual world that have inspired your machinima making in Second Life?

Navarathna

I have not seen I Am Love but you make me wish to do so. 🙂 As a cinephile I have an eclectic taste and I am driven by the passion for either a film, director or movie style. I like to watch or re-watch all the works of great directors. For example, I watched all films by Akira Kurosawa in ten days. I am also captivated by some French filmmakers with true cinematic style, like some of the films by Robert Bresson. I recently re-viewed his A Man Escaped. Above all, it is the originality of creating a movie that I love. I would like to say that for me cinema is neither radio, nor theater, nor a series of pretty pictures. I have a weakness for non-linear narrative structures such as in 21 Grammes by Iñárritu. The clever structure feels very chaotic to us at first, but forces us to be creative and in the end makes us feel completely immersed in the story; it is like a collage. That being said I don’t think I am being influenced by any director in particular. My inspiration is linked to a set of things, painting, cinema and literature. My real culture is the image. Sometimes a single image can be the trigger of a story. I can even suddenly change an idea that already is being edited because I am captured by a picture, experiencing it as a scene that speaks to me. Strictly speaking I am not a filmmaker, I prefer this definition: I switched from painting with fixed images to moving images, to tell stories.

Interviewer

Over the past years the interest in virtual world filmmaking has grown tremendously in Second Life. Both beginners as well as more established film makers produce compelling work. What do you think are some of the most important things to keep in mind when starting out making a virtual world film in Second Life?

Navarathna

In some ways we are pioneers because we still are traveling blindly into virtuality. The main idea throughout the works of Herbert Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher of communication theory and a public intellectual, can be summed up in one sentence, namely, the medium is the message, meaning that the communication channel used is in fact a true message. Nowadays, the internet is undoubtedly the medium provided a new extension to our senses. In regards to Machinima, I would like to say that it’s important to research and try to discover the specificity of this medium. I wouldn’t use the Machinima in Second Life for something than can be done better with another medium. For instance, making the movie Avatar as a Machinima would be like making Apocalypse Now with black and white 16mm, a completely wrong choice of medium. This does not mean one cannot create masterpieces in 16mm, it’s just different kind of medium! Another example, A Trip to the Moon, by Georges Melies, was created with very limited techniques, yet it still affects us. Virtual worlds such as Second Life underwent a huge graphical improvement during the last years. And even though the avatars are becoming more and more sophisticated, they unfortunately still lack expression and smooth movements.When you are immersed in some average unimportant action, the brain can somehow compensate and invent what we need to make us feel less average. We function through metaphors. From a movie spectators point of view it is very different. People who are unaware of the current virtual worlds will encounter many difficulties to connect with our graphic universe. They are used to see great images in superb 3D productions or animations, made by major studios. Compared with that our Machinimas offer really pale figures. I think we need a different aesthetic vision to achieve an approach that will represent virtual reality in a good way.

Interviewer

Not only are there more virtual films produced lately, there are also different types. Some are more mainstream, while others contain complex plots and are more like independent films. One quite sophisticated virtual world filmmaker who comes to mind is Hypatia Pickens. I think one of the things the two of you share is the ability to in your films draw a connection between the virtual and the real. Can you speak more of this, the boundary of the virtual and the real and how they merge in the machinima that you create?

Navarathna

We’re back to reality and virtuality duality, which actually is close to my heart. Hypatia Pickens approaches this issue with talent, not to forget Draxtor Despres with the series The Drax Files: World Makers is at the heart of the matter, as well as some others. But it always takes some time before new talents will emerge in something as complex as expressive strength in a film. Virtuality nowadays allows the mind to speak without borders or limits. Exciting and breathtaking! But is it not a human’s reason/need/drive to live their dreams and incarnate fantasies through mental projection? This notion has always has existed. I am thinking of the epistolary love affairs that existed in the past centuries and of two sometimes for years separated lovers, writing passionate letters to each other. Is and was that not virtuality?

Interviewer

You have made many beautiful Machinima over the past years. This is probably not easy to do, but, if you had to pick a favorite one, which one would it be and why?

Navarathna

MetaPhore as the youngest of course. 🙂 But I also like MetaSex because it’s analysis of avatar feelings. Or Welcome To The Other Side, which is almost only made from artistic creations in Second Life.

Interviewer

Thank you so very much for agreeing on such short notice to be interviewed. And thank you for the beautiful virtual world filmmaking you consistently produce. We are very fortunate to have you in Second Life.

Navarathna

Merci à vous. 🙂

Igor Ballyhoo

People come and go in Second Life© and then sometimes they come back. I spent some time with the Second Life artist Igor Ballyhoo, putting together this interview. Igor left Second Life at the height of his artistic productivity, which at that time left a big gaping hole in the artist community. He returned eventually and continued creating, but kept a rather low profile and we have not heard much from him until recently when he contributed work to LEA (Cyber Orthodox) and SLB11 (Slave). What follows below is meant to be an interview, but really turned out to be more of a talk about how to make sense of Second Life and art and creativity and everything in between. It is such a pleasure to have the opportunity to present to you here the outrageously talented Igor Ballyhoo.

                   -Kate Bergdorf

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Detail from Cyber Orthodox. Photograph by Igor Ballyhoo.

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Slave. Photograph by Kate Bergdorf.

INTERVIEWER

You did some pretty incredible work when you first came to Second Life. I am thinking about art works like Axis Mundi, Kunst der Fuge, Cyber Shark, Forest of ScissorsSnow Crash, Metamorphoses and others, it is a long list. Then you left Second Life for a hiatus and returned again about a year and half ago. I also at some point left Second Life and then came back. I know for myself that in the beginning after having returned to Second Life I struggled a little with finding a sense of purpose. What I am trying to say is that it is really not that easy coming back after having been gone for a while. What has it been like for you coming back to Second Life, both in terms of creating art and on a more personal level?

BALLYHOO

It’s fine.

INTERVIEWER

The way people are creating in Second Life has changed tremendously since the introduction of mesh. I’ve noticed that you don’t use mesh. I think you told me once that you did not plan on getting the tools required, but I think maybe you prefer not to use mesh at all and I can’t figure out why. I am wondering if it has something to do with craftsmanship in general, but I really don’t know. Would you please expand on your thoughts on mesh and why you may or may not be using it yourself?

BALLYHOO

Mesh, prim, sculpt, particle…for me these are just tools. I always use the most suitable tool for what I want to do. I find mesh be too prim needy and overrated for about everything but wearable things. I can make mesh works, but I didn’t need to so far. Besides, mesh is made outside of SL. I create all my things mostly inworld, or create parts offline, and then assemble it inworld.

INTERVIEWER

Pretty much at the same time as mesh was introduced there was a wave of increased production of  all things related to interior and exterior design. I remember years ago, when I frowned upon unattractive, poorly designed and prim-heavy things like sofas and houses and wished they would have been made differently. These days, wherever you turn in Second Life, there is an abundance of beautiful things, it is like stepping into an Architectural Digest magazine, really. And it is not only things, whole sims are created in such as way as to perfectly imitate real life environments. While I eagerly keep on blogging about these places and things and love visiting them, I am also asking myself if this is really the point of the virtual space, to copy real life I mean. What are your thoughts on this?

BALLYHOO

The first thing I realized about SL is that most of the time you can use reverse psychology – you see what others gravitate towards and you can see what they don’t really have in RL. The most beautiful and attractive avatars are most often ppl who are crocodiles in RL. The most beautiful villas are owned by the poorest fucks in RL. SL is in a way a prosthetic for human needs. Me, for example, I was known for cybering around. Of course, that means I didn’t get much intimacy in RL. SO what ever thoughts I might have on if it is right or wrong to imitate RL in SL is actually irrelevant. SL has ability to be everything.

INTERVIEWER

You have succeed in Second Life in doing something only a small group of other creators have successfully done, namely, the work you produce is original. We see this done by other gifted artists in Second Life as well, like Simotron Aquila, Rebeca Bashly, Typote Beck, Baker Blinker, Rose Borchovski, Artistide Despres, blotto Epsilon + Cutea Benelli, Claudia222 Jewell, Meilo Minotaur, nessuno Myoo, Romy Nayar, Soror Nishi, Bryn Oh, Selavy Oh, Oberon Onmura, Maya Paris, Scottius Polke, AM Radio, CapCat Ragu and Bliss Violet. I am sure there are others, but these are the ones that come to mind at the moment. The point is, that the work created by these people, and by you, is groundbreaking in the sense that it is original for the virtual setting. I suspect it may not be that easy to speak of the creative process, but, if you could, please share what it is like for you to create, specifically as related to the virtual world.

BALLYHOO

It is easy. Effortless.

INTERVIEWER

To me, one of your most beautiful and meaningful works is the installation Axis Mundi, created in 2009. It could be seen at the space provided by the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) for a while, but, as the sim was recently closed, I suspect it is now gone. Thankfully, one can easily google your work and as most of it has been written about and/or captured on machinima so we have an archive of sorts. It is obviously not the same as experiencing your installations in vivo, but better than nothing at all. Please reflect if you would on Axis Mundi, how it came about and what is the meaning of it to you.

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Axis Mundi. Photograph by Igor Ballyhoo.

BALLYHOO

I was always obsessed with contrasts. At the time when I made Axis Mundi, I was trying to make conclusions in regards to what I had observed for about 35 years of my existence. And, of course, I came to the same conclusion that millions of others have come to – things are never black and white, they are always gray. NO. That can not be so. Something must be of an origin, something must be the true source of all good and all evil. So I realized that the source of all good and all evil must be in the center of existence and that all we have of it are logically mixed in waves of gray. Before anyone who might read all this shit thinks I am some religious wanker, I must declare that I don’t believe in existence of GOD or GODS or what ever.

INTERVIEWER

Let’s switch gears a little and talk about music and how it is part of your creative work and your life in general. I think it is pretty safe to say your taste in music is eclectic, anything from punk and heavy metal to classical music and opera? I know for a fact that you are a great admirer of Johann Sebastian Bach. One of your best works, Kunst der Fuge, also created in 2009, is based upon the work with the same name by Bach. How did this work come about? I think it was housed at the University of Western Australia (UWA) for a while, is it still there and, if not, can you tell us where it can be located inworld now?

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Kunst der Fuge, aka Chaos in Order. Photograph by Igor Ballyhoo.

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Kunst der Fuge, aka Chaos in Order. Photograph by Igor Ballyhoo.

BALLYHOO

YES, yes! I adore Bach. Kunst der Fuge… hm, it was like this: there was a soul in SL, AuraKyo, who was the absolutely best artist I knew and she was making some like group exhibit festival or something. She knew some of my works and she invited me to participate. I so fuckin’ wanted to impress her with some spectacular work, but I couldn’t think straight at all since I was obsessed with Kunst der Fuge. It is magnificent in it’s contrasts. It is true chaos in full order! So I said fuck it, I’ll never be able to make something worth seeing for that festival, I might as well make what ever I want. And I created a fine grid of contrapunctus. Then I needed demons inside of it and I made them. They moved randomly, just as they had to. I was sure nobody in world would find any interest in that work, yet it became the one things I made that ppl mention the most. So I think it is a product of me missing intimacy and Bach’s guidance. Everything has to be the product of something. I never did it before so now is a good opportunity – I dedicate Kunst der Fuge (aka Chaos In Order) to AuraKyo Insoo.

After she was gone I was still coming from time to time to have my hair brushed but all that she was became just reflection in her mirror

After she was gone I was still coming from time to time to have my hair brushed but all that she was became is just reflection in her mirror. Photograph by Igor Ballyhoo.

INTERVIEWER

Cyber Shark. It won the January 2010 round in the UWA 3D Art & Design Challenge (and, of note, it was also your second win in a row at UWA). This work is truly outstanding and mesmerizing in so many ways. I remember having been in an almost hypnotic state watching it gliding forward under water, its translucent structure forceful in a sort of quiet way. I was, I will not lie, a little fearful of its imposing presence alone. Do you remember what was on your mind as you made this creature?

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Cyber Shark. Photograph by Igor Ballyhoo.

BALLYHOO

Yes, of course, I remember. I was completely bored and I wanted to make myself a toy, a pet if u like. I spent much time on platforms and around sandboxes just building. Sometimes people would come to watch me build, but most often I was alone and wanted something that moved around while I was building. So, that shark was just my toy that people took too seriously. I sent it to Jayjay [Jayjay Zifanwe] as a toy and he entered it into the competition. I didn’t even know he did it, I think. And ppl liked it. Weird.

INTERVIEWER

I believe you made Forest of Scissors in 2010 before Snow Crash. This haunting installation, consisting of tall, extended scissors grouped together as a forest, was the subject of countless numbers of machinima and blog posts when it first opened. I visited the Forest of Scissors many times over the years, usually when I wanted to impress a friend or just needed to be reminded of the awesomeness of creation in Second Life myself.  Can you please share with us what is the meaning of this work and what the creative process was like? You told me once you had to position each of the scissors separately in different angles, must have been a lot of work.

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Forest of Scissors. Photograph by Igor Ballyhoo.

BALLYHOO

That was one weird dream that I had. I dreamed I was walking through the desert and all around me were these huge scissors that were falling from the sky. One of things that was the most impressive in the dream was the sound of the wind that went over the sharp scissor edges. I was not able to reproduce that sound in any way, so for me Forest of Scissors was never completed. At that time, I was hanging out a lot with one of the creators I admire very much in SL, Rose Borchovski. Forest of Scissors was supposed to be installed on her sim Two Fish, but we were fighting like two gypsies at that time (we don’t talk any more at all now). I decided I would put it somewhere else and I got the UTSA space in sky for it.

INTERVIEWER

You both curated and created your own work for Snow Crash, which was sponsored by UTSA ArtSpace in 2011. Rebeca Bashly took part in putting together this huge project as well. This large installation, inspired by the novel with the same name by the author Neal Stephenson, consisted of several smaller contributions by the best artists in Second Life at the time. Needless to say, it was a great success. What was it like for you to curate an event of that magnitude? And, in retrospect, would you have done anything differently?

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Detail from Snow Crash. Photograph by Rebeca Bashly.

BALLYHOO

Back then I was searching for origins of SL and stumbled up on a story that Philip Linden had read, Snow Crash, and then decided to make metaverse from the book. Personally, I didn’t like the book much, I found it to be something of a commercial copy of Gibson’s Neuromancer. I did like the moment in the book where some dude had an aircraft carrier, around which was tied all kinds of boats and rafts with international refugees. They were all traveling toward something different then reality. So I had to try to make that very scene, but where the refugees would be actual creators of SL from around the world. Back then, Rebeca was just starting building and I asked her to join me. It was an amazing colab between of us. Since then, she has outgrown me in technical ways as builder by far, but I think I still create with more freedom. The only thing I regret about the Snow Crash installation is that we didn’t have more strength and time to make it far bigger then it was. It was supposed to have hundreds and hundreds of rafts. Maybe one day.

INTERVIEWER

You worked on the installation Metamorphoses, sponsored by UTSA, for a long time and it was opened to the public in 2011. It was a dark, very beautiful and quite complex work consisting of layers and layers of meaning. Perhaps, to a certain extent, reflected in this installation was the discord experienced in the art community at large during that particular time. I don’t know. A short time period after that you left Second Life. What can you tell us about this work? And what are some of your thoughts on this time particular time period in the art community Second Life?

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Detail of Metamorphoses. Photograph by Honour McMillan.

BALLYHOO

I had not been in SL for about 1.5 to 2 years and then, a few days after I came back, I went to see Metamorphoses. When I saw it for the first time after such a long absence, I felt like it didn’t belong to me at all. Fuck, no, that work was genial, it couldn’t have been me who created it. The objects there were telling my life, I saw clear reflections of myself in each element, but I didn’t feel as if I had created them. In a way I probably didn’t create them, it was life itself that did it. I just took some time to paint it with prims. That particular time in SL was verrrry curious. Claudia222 just started creating her amazing works and, also, as you mentioned, other creators were at their peak. Then I just left. I came back and things didn’t move at all. Everyone was still recycling the same old shit. Or they had left.

INTERVIEWER

Maybe we can end this interview with some thoughts on the current state of the arts in Second Life. I’ll start with my two cents: When I am out exploring, looking for art galleries, I usually end up disappointed since an interesting small gallery is exceedingly hard to find. In terms of large installation sims, there are thankfully a few predictably really good ones (for instance, MetaLES [currently under construction], Mysterious Wave, Immersiva, Petrovsky Flux). While great efforts have certainly been made by the Linden Lab, specifically the Linden Endowment for the Arts, to promote art in Second Life, I think their attempt has only partially been successful. It appears the selection of artists for the sims available is the job of a small group of people with little or no input from the public. While some of the LEA installations are great, others leave a lot to desire. One wonders about selection criteria. What are your thoughts on Second Life art? What kind of changes should be made?

BALLYHOO

LEA killed SL art. It turned it into a gargantuan street fair. LL made a virtual burning man and a virtual SLB as a permanent thing, but art simply doesn’t work that way. In my opinion, small galleries by a few enthusiastic curators would be more valuable to SL art then are all these LEA sims now. I did recently show my work on a LEA sim, but, to be honest, it was not to support LEA but to support the man who asked me to do it – Jayjay (big respect). The biggest problem with the LEA sims is that from one sim u see the other sims that are located next to it. This creates the feeling of a sandbox. You can’t enjoy going to the opera if in the room next to it there is rock concert. Then all that shit with the ruling structures and all the bureaucracy… IF LL wanted to do something good for SL art, I think it would be wise to just to search around a little for people who like you had small galleries that they were paying for from their own pockets and provide them with sims to their disposal.

INTERVIEWER

Thank you, Igor, for agreeing to be interviewed for this blog. Hopefully we will see more of your work in Second Life on an ongoing basis.

BALLYHOO

 You are welcome.

Harbor Galaxy

As with most art genres in Second Life© the category photography is not easily defined. What we have are various photography subcategories like fashion photography, portrait photography, erotic photography, fractal photography, landscape photography, the list goes on. Then there is the fine art photography by Harbor Galaxy. I stumbled upon her work by chance whilst visiting an art gallery in Second Life. Struck by the beauty of her photographs, I was left with the sense that her work belonged in a class of its own. Besides that which is obvious to a viewer’s eye, like the well thought-out compositions, the bright colors and the subtle influence of light, reflected in Galaxy’s work is a sort of blurring of virtual and non-virtual boundaries. To me, this is the hallmark of her work; the seamless integration of both virtual and non-virtual visual aspects to the point where it becomes unclear which is which.

                 -Kate Bergdorf

 

INTERVIEWER

How did you get into virtual photography?

GALAXY

I am something of a purpose driven person. I had tried building but there were so many others who were doing it so much better that didn’t seem like such a good idea. I had always had an interest in photography and just thought “Why not?”

INTERVIEWER

What inspires you, in general? And is there anything specifically that inspires you to take photographs here?

GALAXY

I love the dream like quality of Second Life and how you can infuse a sense of mystery into your vision.

INTERVIEWER

I often feel the same way here. Can you say something more about the dream like quality experience?

GALAXY

Second Life provides me with an environment in which I can look at deeper emotions that I perhaps don’t access as much in my Real Life, I was going to say waking life.

INTERVIEWER

Your photograph And the Seas Shall Rise is very dreamlike to me. It reminds me a little of the watercolor paintings by the Swedish painter and illustrator John Bauer (1882 to 1918). Where in Second Life did you take this particular photograph?

GALAXY

I took that photo at Moving Islands, which is a LEA installation curated by Eupalinos Ugajin. The build itself was done by Meilo Minotaur. I was struck by the way she had the land sinking beneath the wave and the surreal nature of the creatures and it put me in mind of the global climate change and I felt I had to try to capture a kind of Cassandra moment. Does that make sense? I was thinking of those old master pieces where there is something going on in different parts of the canvas.

INTERVIEWER

It does make sense to me. I haven’t seen that build by Minotaur, but I think it is probably still there so I will take a look. Yes, I can see the sort of split up parts in the photograph, little scenes of sorts at different places. Very cool. I also love the colors in that photograph and your sense of colors in general. You know, I was so surprised to hear that you are not an artist in Real Life. You are not in any kind of creative field in any way?

And the Seas Shall Rise
And the Seas Shall Rise. Photograph by Harbor Galaxy.

GALAXY

Thank you. Meilo and her artistic partner CapCat Ragu are some of my favorite installation artists in Second Life. No, although I grew up with a mother who was very artistic and did oil painting and I have an aunt that does wonderful portraits. I never really took it up. I did do a bit of sketching when I was very young, but never kept it up. I was a theatre major in college so I do have a flair for the dramatic, but that’s about it. I wanted to say that one of the best things about Second Life as an artistic medium is how democratic it is and how forgiving. It is a place where you can really play and discover your inner artist.

INTERVIEWER

Yes. And in some way it actually also makes sense to me that you are not an artist in Real Life. I think this virtual environment is a great place for us to discover aspects of ourselves that we otherwise would not. Do you think your photography has changed over the time you have been here?

GALAXY

Exactly. I think as we age we forget our ability to play and in this environment it feels a little safer perhaps to experiment and see where your creativity takes you. When I first started, I looked primarily at this world through the builders perspective perhaps. I took a lot of abstract shots looking at angles and such. As I became a bit more confident I started working more with the avatar, which I thought was difficult. It is hard to bring an emotional content to something that has no mode of expression. Somewhere in there I began being involved in the use of saturated color and trying to use color to help provide emotional content. It’s a work in progress, always.

INTERVIEWER

Considering what you just said, do you think taking photographs gets more difficult or easier with time?

GALAXY

I think for me it becomes more difficult. When I’m taking pictures I’m looking for a moment, a kind of aha moment. It usually has some to do with the light and color of the space I’m in and then I try to build on that moment. But because I work this way it’s easy to say the same thing over and over again. This is why I think it’s becomes more difficult for me. I’m always in awe of artist that know what they want to say from the beginning and then go about putting it together. Very few of my pieces start out like that.

INTERVIEWER

Tell me about the photograph Leave Taking. I like the contrasting red and black and also the way the female figure is almost absorbed in the black. Do you remember what you were thinking when you took it? Where was it taken?

GALAXY

I was taken by the color scheme and the almost architectural structure of her dress. I thought the black, white with the red elements gave it a strong graphic quality. And I loved the avatar walking out of the frame, it seems to give a sense of movement to an otherwise static shot. It was taken at a Rose Borchovski’s LEA installation, the Russian Avant Garde. I’m a big fan of some of the LEA installations.

Leave Taking
Leave Taking. Photograph by Harbor Galaxy.

INTERVIEWER

The thing that strikes me in many of your photographs is that you somehow are able to incorporate the virtual and the non-virtual. Do you know what I mean?

GALAXY

Maybe, and this is just a thought, because the work really isn’t about Second Life per se, it’s about a moment that is emotionally based taken from my Real Life experiences.

INTERVIEWER

Yes, I agree, it is about emotion and you capture it. Another one of your works, Red Cape Against Blue Sky, is more like a watercolor painting than a photograph. It has a Georgia O’Keeffeish quality to it. There is something incredibly sensual going on there! What inspired you to create this work?

GALAXY

It’s that damn cape! I love it and have used it in quite of few pieces. I think the structure of the cape itself in very sensual, it’s curves and flair and feeling of movement built into the garment. Whenever I wear it, it kind of demands a picture of some sort. I also like the faceless quality in that piece. The body language tells the story.

Red Cape Against Blue Sky
Red Cape Against Blue Sky. Photograph by Harbor Galaxy.

INTERVIEWER

Who do you think are some of the artists who have influenced your work the most?

GALAXY

That is really so hard to say because most of the influences are subliminal. I’m a big fan of Edward Hopper and I like the strong color of Van Gogh. You know, I really have no idea. I’ve had people tell me that a picture has a particular feeling to it like a certain artist but I really couldn’t say that any one artist is a primary influence.

INTERVIEWER

There is something wonderfully archaic about Sins Coming Home to Roost. I love the fantasy aspect, that the female figure is neither a human or animal. And, again, with this work I get the sense that it could be a watercolor painting, not necessarily a photograph. First I though perhaps you had taken it at A.M. Radio’s The Far Away, but looking closer it may have been shot elsewhere. Where did you take it? And what went through your mind as your were taking this photograph?

GALAXY

I love this picture. It was taken at a little temporary sim that was constructed for the Krosmomer Project. It was a project in which avatars and poses were provided to anyone who wanted them to create pictures or videos depicting various Norwegian folktales. The artists involved in creating this project were Heidi Dahlsveen, Mimesis Monday, Frigg Ragu, CapCat Ragu, Meilo Minotaur and Merete Grimeland. The only thing from this project I used for this shot was the location. I loved the sense of space and the fields of grass. The headpiece was one that was created by Meilo Minotaur and CapCat Ragu. I loved the hearts hanging from the branches. When I took the shot or, several shots actually, the hearts reminded me of the regrets or sins that we carry around with us. I put the birds in to create a sense of menace, a price to be paid. Everything has a price. Oh, that sounds so dark!

INTERVIEWER

Beautiful, really. What do you want people to take away from your photographs?

Sins Coming Home to Roost
Sins Coming Home to Roost.  Photograph by Harbor Galaxy.

GALAXY

I want the viewer to, for just a moment, share that aha moment I experienced when I took the shot. A recognition of a shared emotion.

INTERVIEWER

Do you have any advice or suggestions for aspiring virtual world photographers?

GALAXY

Play, play, play. Experiment with form and color. Whether you use Gimp or Photoshop, press all the buttons and see what they can do. It’s how you find your voice.

INTERVIEWER

Finally, if you could choose only one of your photographs for an art photography exhibit, which one would it be and why?

GALAXY

That’s like picking your favorite child! I do love Sins Coming Home to Roost and I have some others that aren’t as popular but I love because they are different. I just finished one called Still Waters that I like a great deal. It’s different from what a normally do and I have another favorite, Borderlands.

INTERVIEWER

Thank you, Harbor, for meeting with me at such a late hour and for answering these questions. It has been such a great pleasure spending time getting to know you.

GALAXY

Thank you, Kate. This is my first time being interviewed and it was painless, who knew? It was a real pleasure.