Thursday, June 05, 2008

... if a woodchuck could chuck wood ...

So in the last post I asked the musical question, "How big a bang will Berkeley Big Bang be?" For me, it was more like a *boink* than a bang.

Not to say it wasn't interesting ... it was. I especially enjoyed Bert Dreyfus, a professor emeritus from UC Berkeley's Philosophy department ... it never ocurred to me to wonder what Heidegger or Descartes would have thought of Second Life. He's been on Second Life, although he admitted it's been about six months since his last visit. I'm guessing, crusty old SL veteran that I am (today, in fact, is my rezzday ... all you terrans can go look up what that means), that he actually hasn't spent all that much time in SL, because he kept talking about shared mood and how you can't share mood in SL in all the subtle ways you can in person. Actually, I find it's pretty easy to pick up on and share mood in SL. It's a heavily intuitive thing, but it happens and it seems to happen fairly easily.

Philip Rosedale (or, as we like to call him in-world, Castro Linden ... er, I mean, Philip Linden ...) is responsible for the company that has made Second Life possible. He spoke after Dr. Dreyfus, and was all excited about how webcams will soon enable you to reflect your facial expressions and hand gestures in SL in real time. Frankly, this sounds dreadful to me, because sometimes my avatar is feeling something completely different than what I'm feeling. I don't WANT my RL facial expressions to become pasted onto her; it will limit her expression. (And now, I'm sure there are some psychologists who want to talk to me ...)

Oh well, enough of that. Day One of BBB '08 was allegedly about "Embodiment." Ironically, I was suffering from bodily "interference" and wasn't 100% healthy on Day One, so I don't tend to remember many details from that day except for Dr. Dreyfus, Rosedale's kid-like nuttiness and enthusiasm, Kimiko Ryokai's real-time image capture "paint brush" (which everyone who was at the conference now wants to own, it's so cool), and introducing myself to Lynn Hershman and having her look at me like I'd just dropped a dead fish on her foot. In general, although I spoke to a few people in the audiences, it was an off day for me and I found myself feeling shy and stupid and annoyed.

Day Two was Art/Science day, co-sponsored by Leonardo. I was more focused on this day (generally feeling better), and loved the descriptions of the projects and collaborations between artists and scientists. Some presenters, like Camille Utterback, were one-person artist/scientist collaborations--she herself writes the software that she uses to produce her weird, lovely interactive video installations. Others like Melinda Rackham from the Austrailian Network for Art and Technology and the Exploratorium's Jennifer Frazier, were fun, enthusiastic and bright and really brought home the point that this kind of work, aside from the heavy political implications it can sometimes have, is also fabulous for highlighting that sense of mystery, wonder, and curiosity we so often mercilessly squelch as adults. I came out of it not quite feeling like I'd found my tribe, but also not like I'd been hit by a bus. Somewhere in between.

In poopy news, apparently I didn't get onto the CAA program for 2009; the deadline for responses has passed and I never heard anything at all about my paper proposal, which I thought was terrific. I guess maybe the panel chair wanted to pack the session with uber-successful theoretical SL artist-types and didn't feel like someone who is in the process of making her way and carving out her place who could make it all relatable deserved a voice. (See? I'm not bitter.)


Ann Tracy said...

Hmmm....will have to check out 2nd Life.... sounds very intriguing....

E. Marie said...

you'll have to come to my party in SL, ann! I'll send you an invitation!