Sunday, 19 September 2010

Virtual Body, Misty Mind of Longing

Exploring virtual realities has, for me, been tempered with a distant humming that can be translated as something like ... "what is the value of this exploration to my beliefs about existence on the earth and my personal responsibility to those beliefs?".

Recently, I had the pleasure again of collaborating in a project where artists pushed into questions of physicality through networked connections. Very many people involved, engaging in various ways with each other in this specific virtual space that is Second Life, people from three continents and numerous cultural, language, discipline, age, genre and expertise mixes. Perhaps most of the time, we have no idea what rippling webs of impact the nuances of our explorations together will have, so we keep going, through the intensities of planning, creating, rehearsing, coordinating, performing.

Ebb and flow, expand and contract, pausing to listen to deep caves echoing again "what does it all mean?" while the rare thunder here in the Real World this morning tremors a belly laugh at the earnestness of the question.

My most recent virtual investigating is leading me to acknowledge a longing for mist, smoke, the smell of forest, the whip crackle of pine fire, the sting of extreme cold on skin and in lungs. Breathing and listening to heartbeats while performing virtually - one way I've asked virtual performers to make choices to play sounds in my particular virtual compositions - is immediately intimate, and nicely ego-bypassing, yet it's not enough. Perhaps the vulnerability induced by simply focusing on heart and lungs leads to this longing for "home" in a broader sense - not a house or a community, but a connection to and integration of body, complete body in all ways of sensing, with deep phenomena.

In Second Life, I make hollow bright white globes. Inside, the avatar is encased by images, unedited, of environments, personal to me, that conjure senses that cannot be experienced in the virtual world.

Expressing this longing there, and here, is simply that, expressing. Perhaps all virtual and networked connections eventually address this longing and sense of loss. Because I am not sure how to justify, at the moment, how spending my resources on creating within them is of benefit to other than to the virtual worlds themselves and ego's need for expressing wherever it can. I find myself thinking, I'm not ready or willing to be a hybrid being, but perhaps I already am.

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