[ "leve ookoi !" is the title of the 12th
edition of Raudio's mainstream, currently evolving. It is built from
the many hours of material that ookoi recorded between may 25th
and may 28th 2007 in the Art Garage in Maastricht, during the 2007 Kunsttour
... Featuring certified reconditioned live-contributions from Xiamen,
China by Yariv Alter Fin (
† ), by the Jan Smeets Groep live in Maastricht, by Wiel's Instruments
& students of the Dutch Academy for Pop Culture live from the island
of Ameland, by Jean-Jacques Duerinckx, Béla Janssen, and ... ! ... by the
ookoi itself ...
Now listen to this ... ]
august 22, 2007.
"Her skirt kept flying up,
and there was nothing there."
( * )
This august month brings us the third edition of das kleine, once again with sheer boundless enthusiasm and dedication put together by its great helmsman and loyal captain, Rinus van Alebeek. Every week there's different artists, every week there's new surprises... The das kleine festival appears to be moving on, like a well-known starship from pop culture, set "to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before ..."
No wonder therefore, that in parallel with happenings at Raum in the Schwedenstraße in Berlin, saturday august 10th saw das kleine landing in Second Life, where a special program was staged at the deck of Virtual Haidplatz, Odyssey, curated by Miulew Takahe , (in real life) also known as Björn Eriksson. Together with the Avatar Orchestra Metaverse and some clever architects, scripters, application builders and composers, Miulew continues to investigate and push forward the possibilities for performance and sound art in this curious 'parallel universe'. ( ** )
As it is pretty much certain that I will not be able to go to Berlin in person to participate in this new series of das kleine events, I was happy to be able to attend, and even to contribute to the happening in Second Life ...
The picture coming up was made by noizz
pap. If I'm not mistaken, this was sometime at the very beginning of
kleine in Second Life event, and maybe we are listening to Jeff
Gburek's short Noganet Field Recordings, in which someone could
be heard talking in dutch to his son about a dog (a puppy), and then explaining
this to someone else in french; or to Hervé
Birolini's travaux, who did very serious studies and won a
lot of prizes?
Bon, enfin bref ...
Sitting on my right, there's Spinster Voom. And on my left, the cutie with the dorkbot t-shirt and the purple cuddly slippers? It's Evo Szuyuan !
So hopla ...
Worry not if now you feel im-pressed ....
That is how you are supposed to feel ...
For, that's me in the middle!
That's me in the spotlight!
Second Life is the stage set for a curious puppet show. It is a world moved by puppeteers. Or navigators, as SL users like to say. Much of it is about role-playing and story telling. That is of course what seems to make SL to many so attractive and explains the fascination that it exercises upon its users. A fascination that I recall from times when the only 'online second lives' to be had were in text-only Multi User Dungeons, where worlds were built by the mere suggestions and the power of words. To this SL adds some physics, images, sounds and animations; but I think also in SL the words are essential for a second life to be(come); a sine qua non.
Avatar', a talk organised by the Pomodoro Bolzano group inworld,
on tuesday evening august 21st at art.xxXtension,
Gumnosophistai Nurmi (Leif
Inge in RL) and Wirxli
Flimflam (Jeremy Owen Turner in RL)
reflected upon the relation between the identity of the avatar and the navigator
In the course of that discussion Gumnosophistai proposed that avatar names, like real life artist names, are brands.
"My RL name is not much of a brand," Wirxli then
told wrote the audience viewers, "because
it is generic. To avoid namesakes, I include my middle name, so I am not
confused with the well known landscape photographer, BBC
documentary producer and guitarist for Cannibal Corpse ;-) ... which is
why I have to be 'Jeremy Owen Turner' to be me. My RL
surname is simply a job my ancestors had in the middle ages in England.
I am what I do (or what they did) ... No wonder I like SL,
I can be a real Flimflam artist ! [ ... ]
The idea of being an avatar has always appealed to me because you can control every aspect of your personality and audience demographic and world from the ground up ... it is a fantasy made reality - pardon the cliche ..." "A fantality," I found myself thinking, "is that what one would call it in newspeak ?... "
Gumnosophistai, on the other hand, confided that 'living' with two identities, inworld and outworld, did tend to become confusing, especially at times when the two start to mingle. "Keeping your SL identity within SL is easy," Gumnosophistai said, "and the other way works quite fine too. But the mix aint easy ..."
Because role-play and storytelling also shapes much of our 'real' life,
the 'second' life's psychology - how it works inside your head - basically
feels the same. A second life may feel very 'real', even though
it exists outside the space and time that frame 'reality' as we know it.
And, notwithstanding the addition of more and more external (audiovisual)
stimuli, more and more detailed 3D
graphics, and ever more powerful animations, pretty much all of a second
life's heart - that what makes it tick - resides inside
the puppeteer/navigator's heads ...
All of which just goes to show that SL might be a great tool for producing fiction - in a broadest possible sense.
When I'm navigating my little Hefferman about within this window framing so many other puppets, most of which are animated images of a certain beauty and/or extravagance, adhering to what obviously is some 'esthetics', I always have this vision of a whole team of puppeteers standing around, pulling strings and staring down from above on the stage. They do not pay attention to each other, they only pay attention to the puppets. For these do need to be attended to pretty much continuously. An SL avatar cannot do a single thing by itself. Left to its own devices, it goes into an instant SL coma, like the girl that you see in the picture, which is a still from one of several Second Life parodies that may be viewed on YouTube. It's "Interact or die!", to borrow the motto of this year's edition of the Dutch Electronic Arts Festival.
It is remarkable that so much of the virtual world which Linden Lab lets
its users create and inhabit is so very like a carbon copy of the real world.
Not only in its re-creation of existing institutions, buildings and complete
(parts of) 'real life' cities. Also much of the more 'original' architectural
and other builds in Second Life could, given the necessary means, easily
be realized en vrai. And in this ocean of code and data where one
maybe would rather choose to roam as a yellow submarine, a rubber red bouncing
ball or a crimson crawling
bug, the cartoonish figures representing the modal avatar are
modelled after the average human. Inworld the average avatar is
occupied doing things similar to the ones its
does outworld ( **** ) - or would like to
do, with various degrees of urgency, but doesn't do because for some reason
he/she cannot, does not dare or isn't able to. The avatars chat, brag, flirt,
buy, make, sell, date, (pretend to) mate, entertain or look to be entertained
Several of them make art, in which
puppeteers navigators usually are RL
artists ( ***** ) . Lots of that art is very much a virtual carbon copy of outworld
art, presented in inworld galleries that are virtual carbon copies
of outworld galleries that I probably would hesitate to walk into.
Some of it though actually is (at least) fun and (sometimes even)
interesting, mainly because of the way it exploits the possibilities and
limitations of SL as a program,
as an algorithm and as a social networking tool.
One should think of the AOM and its inworld sound performances as being in that category.
Listeners to inworld sound performances hear the sound according to where in the simulated 3D environment their avatars are placed with respect to the performers (or other sound sources); the sound will change when the avatar moves around. Just like in the outworld. It will be easy enough to built RL versions of, for example, Bingo's aviophone. And given an aviophone for each of the players, the AOM could come together in RL to perform. Oh, I think they should, if only once! ... (Actually getting together in RL will be the main difficulty of the exercise ... ) ... :-) ... It would be a nice piece of théatre, now wouldn't it, to have the AOM step off its virtual SL stage, onto an RL one? If any, I think that a real difference between an RL and an SL performance of an AOM piece will possibly be found in the absence of the internet lag, which is the major source of indeterminacy during sound playing in SL: for each of the players there is a certain amount of time that separates the moment of playing a sound (turning it on) from the moment that it starts sounding and (s)he will hear it back. It will be easy though to incorporate such a 'random lagging factor' in the construction of the RL version of the SL instrument. (It'll be somewhat less easy to incorporate the sudden disappearance of orchestra members due to a 'crash' of their SL client software, which remains one of the salient ingredients of current sessions; let alone the sudden failure and crash of a complete sim, amounting inworld to sheer apocalypse, and which in RL would of course correspond to ... a public disaster of no light consequence? ... Or merely to a power failure ? ... :-) ...)
I often do enjoy works that are built around indeterminacy caused by the
unforeseeable values of the many varying parameters Linden Lab uses in rezzin'
the world on a client's machine. Like Angrybeth's height harp (that
was presented at one of the SL
dorkbot meetings) which uses the height of the avatars near
it. Or the Resonating
with SL Wind sound installation by Edo
Autopoiesis/Paulus, which makes use of the parameters determining the
varying patterns of the artificial winds that are blowing in Second
Life's sky. (Yes, it may not always be obvious, but your Second Life indeed is Blowing in the Wind, which moreover
continuously changes in force and direction ... :) ...)
And it was certainly a surprise- hopla! - to find
my avatar being caught inside a Campbell can, when visiting the Odyssey
ExhibitA Gallery ... ("You love Pop Art - Pop Art hates you", by Gazira
Transponderfish (Bingo Onomatopoeia)'s
interactive sound installation Transversalia at das kleine in Second
Life was brilliant.
Outside, between the two listening halls on the Virtual Haidplatz, Bingo rezzed some nine semi-transparent slowly waggling and vaguely cube-like, 'sculptures' (see the picture). Also there were a number of coloured balls moving around. Bingo 'filled' these balls with found sounds from all around the world, many of which came from the archives of Björn and Rinus. As an avatar, it was possible to wander around Virtual Haidplatz. By moving inside and through the cubes, the avatar triggers the playback of the sounds. The result is a true psychofest on your screen. "Better than acid ... almost," Hefferman giggled as I had him dive into the middle of one of Bingo's 'sound sculptures'.
I enjoyed the experience. But as on earlier occassions roaming around animated interactive SL media works, I also wondered whether there was something going on making this typically - or necessarily - SL. Was my avatar not but a fancy, animated, cursor, and wouldn't the experience be the same, were this installation a 'stand alone' interactive multi-media work, running on a computer, and me visiting it, inter-acting, by dragging, as usual, 'something' around with my mouse ... ?
At the times that here or there I visited similar (animated interactive) works in SL and my Hefferman was the only avatar present (like when I went back to the Virtual Haidplatz the other day to experience Transversalia again) I indeed found that apparently there is no difference. Also at such moments I somehow seemed to appreciate these works far less, as if they suddenly had become less of an ... art. I think that the reason for this is simple: when visiting alone, that visit comes without the social fiction that is generated as soon as other avatars are around and other puppeteers are navigating, which is reflected in the chat (an RL intrusion and comment) that comes with it ... even ( ... ! ... ) when there is none. It is a social fiction that comes with these works' inworld positioning, a fiction that continues to be written whenever an avatar group 'visits' the works. It is the (continuously) generated intertext, that for me distinguishes this 'art' as SL art, and sets it apart from technically similar programmed multi-media works.
For your instruction and entertainment here's a (partial) transcription of the chat text that was generated while I navigated my Hefferman through Bingo's Transversalia, during the das kleine in Second Life event. Note that the conversational part of this text was literally the same for all visiting avatars, even though its interpretation / comprehension of course will vary. I here and there changed the interpunction, but did not correct the typos. For privacy reasons I only indicate the avatars first names ;-) ...
bingo: I hear a bus in Portugal and a water-pump in Amsterdam.
nnoiz: Das hört und sieht sich nach dir an? Musste gerade meinen sohn abholen... ;-(
biro: I like very mutch. All the form are noise ...
sati: Eif, what are you doing down there ?
eifachfilm shouts: Someone made this to me! I cant move! HELP ME! I am violateted!
eifachfilm shouts: I cannot move!
miulew: I think relog is the best cure - for freeze frame, Eif ...
eifachfilm: Someone melted me in concrete ...
ida: Hi antib. Tu aimes ?
antib: Je kiff oui ...
ida: Modules d'espace ...
antib: En bon fan de sf je me voyais déjà en comm avec d'autres espaces ou dimmensions ...
ida: Oui! Tu es rentré déjà dans un module là ? Tu entends plein de modulation. C'est très immersif.
antib: J'adore ! ... Ils vendent ce genre de modules?
ida: Moi j'connais celui qui organise ici ...
antib: Il faudrait que christophe te montre son elcubo. C'est un peu dans l'esprit...
krakkie: Hiyo hars! I loved your show ... :) You should come over some day and dance for me ... ;)
krisp: c'est pas le mien... el cubo c'est un travail de Paty.
antib: avec toutefois une ambiance tres Lynch ...
antib: Et la fille qui vole au dessus de l'autre fille, cela fait partie de la perfo aussi?
krisp: Je ne sais pas...
antib: Je retourne à m'immerger. Cela me fait penser aux comm harkonen de dune. J'adore Lynch...
ida: Tout à l'heure il y avait une perf. avec d la pluie comme un lien avec hier soir ... Oui. La nuit comme hier soir ... Tu aimes bien la nuit?
antib: Oui! J'aime la nuit et la pluie ... mon côté underground dark pietere, peut être. Y a comme une atmosphere dramatique étrange comme si quelquechose allait se passer ...
antib: Là on dirait carrément la musique harkonnen avec les distortions... bref ... J'adore ...
krisp: Dommage que Wildo ne soit pas là ...
Over the past couple of months willy-nilly I somehow got to like my avatar. Even though, as you know, my Hefferman does not have much of a second life. It is only on very rare occasions that I choose to steer him. Nevertheless I am under the impression that he has started to resemble me; and more and more so, with every session that we spent together. It almost makes me feel bad that with every 'quit' I have to kill my avatar ... I think I might begin to understand how Gepetto must have felt :)
Though I am far from having 'big' or even 'coherent' theories about all of this, I cannot help but fantasize about possible bifurcations.
About avatars that come equipped with a certain autonomy.
About avatars endorsed with a certain 'artificial' intelligence enabling
them in some way or other to continue 'living' also when you are not around
to steer and guide them. Avatars that might come up with surprises - good
ones or bad ones - every next time you log on; because of what they find,
because of what they have been doing when you were not looking. Because
of what they build. Because of what they write. And - especially - because
of who they meet; who they will chose to interact with ...
That sort of fantasy will lead you from avatars with simple bot-like capabilities and properties, to the sort of 'artificial intelligent' entities - way beyond reach of current technology and programming - that one would need to consider as an autonomous 'other'.
You and your avatar will be two.
One may also fantasize about one and one's avatar becoming one. For this you will need a technology that, for example, will let your avatar move only when you do. That will let you feel what it is that your avatar feels when it 'touches' its surroundings. Or lays a hand upon a fellow avatar. You may be doing the moving while being attached to a sensor board. Or your immersion in the virtual space might be realized via your moving about an existing physical space that you observe through a special headset-display, like in Marnix de Nijs' Exercise in Immersion, an early development of which was shown at this year's DEAF (click the images for YouTube impressions of EI4 in Pakhuismeesteren in Rotterdam).
Unless something future dramatic and/or unforeseen will bring it to a halt, there is no reason for technology not to advance, and research - for profit's and for curiosity's sake - will continue to exploit both of these paths, and certainly even other ones that here and now I am not able to think of. It's also easy to imagine the seemingly absurd or just frightening extreme consequences of worlds in which the borders between what is 'real' and what is 'virtual' disappear. There's of course already a whole library worth of fiction developing the possible consequences ( ****** ) ...
Just imagine an avatar that continues 'living' in your 'absence', while at 'interaction
time' you do so by taking over its virtual body and soul ...
Ah, I am pretty sure that Hars Hefferman thanked all thankable gods on his bare knees that he does not have a life of his own, when for my performance at das kleine in Second Life on the evening of saturday august 10th in one of the stylish listening halls on the Virtual Haidplatz I forced him onto the stage, and had him take off all of his clothes - with the exception of his yellow shoes - and dance for the audience that was silently watching seated on the floor, on comfortable little cushions. (Click the pictures to enlarge).
told wrote the viewers about my
dreams of Mick Jagger, and the sounds that I listened to in the Sologne
wood, while streaming a live mix of the traffic sounds that I captured
through the open window of my room, and parts of the
recording ookoi did in Second Life early january of this year,
when Hars Hefferman was precisely one week old. And all the time that ookoi
played, Hefferman danced ... It was, indeed, "like a history of rock 'n' roll", as Rinus commented,
who for the time of the performance appeared to be Miulew's navigator.
During the opening event of the 2007 Kunsttour in the Art Garage in Maastricht
with the ookoi I briefly entered yet another part of Second Life. There
where cyberculture meets and continues the 1960s/70s psychedelic movement's
quests into realms of extended consciousness.
Lucid dream time, man! A virtual world of magic, myth and mystery unveiled...
If you'd ask me to name anyone I know that would eventually strive to become
one with his avatar, to ensemble live on in eternal psychedecybercosmic
consciousness, I'd tell you about techno shaman René
ter Horst, aka Don Renaro.
René (Carlos Tapioca in SL) is the
creator of the Mandala Bead Games Center in SL,
Cisseps, which he demonstrated at the Kunsttour opening in a mixed RL
/ SL presentation. Well, it actually
was something of a close call, as at the moment suprème Linden
Lab seemed to have smashed shut its doors right on Don Renaro's nose, and
announced a system re-boot for the precise time of his presentation ...
But, as if by magic, things did work out. Carlos somehow managed to slip
in, to the relief of the avatars eagerly awaiting him, and that greeted
him with an enthousiastic and heartfelt "Dag tovenaar !" ...
Seated on the floor in front of a wall upon which the SL dream world was projected, enriched with live streaming audio and video images of himself, Don Renaro showed how he uses his own brainwaves, picked up by sensors glued to his head, to biofeedback-control colours, shapes, textures and sounds in SL. We of the ookoi were there, supernumeraries in SL as in RL, wearing our green battledresses both here and there. We watched. Breathless ... A bout de souffle ... But also ritually danced on the magic beads together with the Magister Ludi. At the end of the performance in SL we all went to the Temple Roof, where we engaged in a scripted universal handshake, which afterwards - unscripted, or so it seems - was repeated in the Art Garage, in RL ... "Du weurs waarachtig werrum vaan zoene hendheekk," as Tonio Tone put it ...
Not much later that same friday evening of may 25th, 2007, René already had all but dismantled the set-up for his presentation. There was nothing left but the projection of a webcam looking at its proper image on the PC screen. But then all things said and done, would one not suspect some SL to still be lurking there, way back at the end of that tunnel of looking glass images? It is this SL leftover that became the decor for the ookoi vogelvlucht video clip below, which in turn became Raudio's 36th P/Vodcast. There and back again ... If you look closely, there's Peterman and Hefferman escaping, rising way up out of the virtual depths, tentatively searching their way into the real world. Or is it but us navigators, stretching after slumber?...
Still later that evening in Maastricht, shortly after midnight, it rained cats and dogs. But that, is yet another story ...
SoundBlog entries about the yearly Kunsttour in Maastricht, the Netherlands:
(june 06, 2013) - A Carcassonne Yodel in Blue [Kunsttour 2013]
(july 03, 2011) - Life is a Color Wire 3 - table version [KT2011]
(june 17, 2010) - Sunny soundy days [KT2010, iii]
(june 10, 2010) - A kitchen table and a game of cards [KT2010, ii]
(may 30, 2010) - Auto*noom en un*titled [KT2010, i]
(june 13, 2009) - More Best Before [KT2009, v]
(june 01, 2009) - Playing The Popular Classics [KT2009, iv]
(may 30, 2009) - "Also high bridges over the river" [KT2009, iii]
(may 28, 2009) - A sound is a sound that sounds [KT2009, ii]
(may 23, 2009) - It feels like summer in the city [KT2009, i]
(june 06, 2008) - Raudio Graffiti: almost live ! [KT2008]
(september 04, 2007) - "leve ookoi!" - iii. ... under scare vogel
crow vlucht score down ... [KT2007, iii]
(august 22, 2007) - "leve ookoi!" - ii. OK. Let's Dance... [KT2007, ii]
(august 12, 2007) - "leve ookoi!" - i. Certified Reconditioned [KT2007, i]
(june 04, 2006) - Sonofakunsttoer [KT2006]
notes __ ::
(*) From: ".echo", by Alan Sondheim. [ ^ ]
(**) I am a member of the AOM myself, ever since the 13th Vicky, but - for lack of time - a rather passive one, and it is only very occasionally that I find myself able to participate in rehearsals or performances. But on the other hand, this 'hap snap' participation makes me the more appreciate the impressive pace of the developments. [ ^ ]
(***) HarS Hefferman was born on january 7th, 2007. It was only and precisely one week later, on january 14th, that together with Frans Peterman he checked back in to metaverse the ookoi, who that sunday afternoon secretly and solitary performed at the May West Golden Era Nightclub (situated on the third floor of the Aman Male Shapes Bodies Store).
A recording of this historical event is still available; it is the 32nd raudio podcast ...
You will notice that HarS Hefferman did not get 'much of a second life'. He has chosen to become a penniless vagrant, a tramp, an SL busker, without no place to call his own, and with nothing but some gadgets and found sounds in his pockets, that others were kind enough to give him... [ ^ ]
(****) Except, I guess, that they will not been seen sitting behind a computer navigating an avatar in some 'higher degree virtual' world ... But indeed why not? It might be the kick off to an interesting 'infinite regression', where every avatar becomes a navigator; and every navigator an avatar in turn ... [ ^ ]
(*****) If they are not, the very act arguably will make them so ; except if one wants to mean by an RL artist someone that does not create and/or present any (art) work in Second Life ... [ ^ ]
(******) [added aug. 24th, 2007] As a matter of fact, fiction has been a major inspiration for the creators of SL, who actually modelled their project after what author Neal Stephenson called the Metaverse (whence the term) in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. I got myself a copy in a second hand store in Amsterdam today. Stephenson's first desciptions of his Metaverse (in chapter 3) indeed do read as an introduction to SL... [ ^ ]