One of my many hobbies in this virtual world we share is inworld photography. For many of them, the idea of the photo can be as simple as finding a really good prop, or being handed someone’s wonder widget on the hope I’ll blog it. Some are a bit more than that, being expressions of my first life feelings or illustrating a memory.

Last night, I was working on a photo of my avatar as a ballerina. The idea was a simple one, initially formed because I’d fished some really good ballet slipper feet out of a gacha machine. The shoes, being pink, matched well with a pink ballet tutu and leotard from a past Arcade round, too. Because of this, I thought a green background would be best.

I had considered doing it as a fairly straightforward ballet pose on a stage, but in the shooting it took a slightly different turn.

The background I chose, a “forest” studio backdrop by DRD, had a distinctly flat, stage-y feel. I started to dress it as an artificial environment. A wooden stage was added, as well as hanging lights and backstage clutter. No attempt was made to craft it as a “real” space.

Then again, it is a real space. A stage may be a place where artifice and illusion reign, but the flats and stringers are real wood, canvas, and paint. The space remains fully real.

Then again, is is real? The stage isn’t a real stage. No one is coming to see a play, it is merely pixels assembled on my computer screen to resemble a stage, mesh objects arranged to look not entirely unlike a stage set. The space isn’t a real stage at all.

Then again, perhaps it is. It exists for the viewer of the image, anyone who choose to view the photo can see it is a place that exists, or at least existed until a few minutes after I clicked by inworld camera. And for me, who put these assets together, it was certainly a completed virtual space. Assets, I should mention, we carefully crafted by any number of designers in Second Life, including myself, and as “real” as any other object in this world. This building, this microphone, this stool for example. So the space is, again, a real space.

Or is it? It is assets on a computer, collections of little 1s and 0s. Arranged, surely, but still without mass. Items that don’t exist in a real sense.

Or do they?

(by Marianne McCann. Presented at Espresso Yourself, 5th April, 2016.)


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