Eshi Otawara

… has left Second Life.

I did not know her, had never met her or talked to her. I do not know why she has left. I know of Eshi through Bettina, and what I do know about her is that Eshi was a dedicated hardcore, longtime SL Resident. A person who had huge big stakes in her Second Life. As big as mine for sure and quite possibly even bigger. And yet, Eshi has left.

I have come within a hair’s breadth of doing the same. And not spontaneous, knee-jerk decisions either but more in the nature of long, calm deliberations which I have carried with me day in and day out over many weeks and months. In fact, I could probably say that it is an ongoing process. I am always carrying this around with me.

In the end I do not leave because I cannot face sitting here in cold isolation, pottering around in all kinds of software, making little things which no one will come and play with or wear or find any other usage for except to look at them on my RL website, as used to be the case before I started doing stuff in SL. The participatory element where others buy my outfits, visit my islands, play with my silly old rejuvenation spheres or work out in the neko gym has ended up meaning as much to me as the building of these gave me pleasure. I look at the photos posted to the alpha.tribe group on Flickr and see what others do with my stuff. And suddenly the whole effort makes sense in a way that it never had before. Is there any place else I can get this? At this particular moment in time, no there isn’t. So, I stay… And I invest more and more: I even go as far as writing papers and making presentations that all more or less relate to my experiences as a content creator whose content actually gets used by others. Second Life has altered my work process and my expectations of how I would like to have my stuff be put to use.

I do not have big pretensions when it comes to my artistic abilities. I do not think that I am an artist. I am a designer. A good one, yes. So, finding utility and function, placing the aim of what I make in “usage” is right. I did not use to have the same sense of satisfaction when I worked in advertising, which is hardly surprising, given the ultimate nature of what advertising is all about. And then after I quit that job I fumbled around with art (if one call what I did art, that is). And I always knew deep down in my heart that this wasn’t really “me”. I am just simply not cut out of the cloth that artists are made out of. So, now, after a long search I seem to have come to the one place which is right for me: I make things which others use. The process is playful and innocent. I am not robbing anybody or trying to sell them a product against their will. Yes, I suppose I could start some kind of cottage industry in RL, make jam or pillow cases or something. But, I do not have those skills and what’s more I do not like to work with my hands. So, a virtual, participatory world where I make synthetic objects which others can use seems to be the place for me.

There are a number of SL photographic artists whose work I follow on Flickr. These are people that create sensitive images carrying implications riddled in metaphor. Output which demands to be taken seriously, created by persons that are a far cry from the crowds of SL-Flickr enthusiasts whose gushes and aversions are often all too predictable. And it may be my imagination, and I may be misinterpreting what I see and read altogether; but there is deep unhappiness in some of their images and in the few lines of accompanying text and also concealed in their responses to comments left. It is the unhappiness of having become confused upon a core precept – one which to many SL Residents is something quite other than what it is to them: They misunderstood the rules of engagement. Invested emotions and formed attachments where it was probably not at all appropriate to do so.

A while ago I made body-parts. I still believe that I was onto something there when I made that and also when I wrote the statement for it, although I probably did not express it at all adequately enough. Concealed in there somewhere is my reason for wanting to leave my virtual existence behind.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, I believe it is called.

Good luck Eshi…

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