ARE 494 / 598 Digital Ethnography- Ashley Roberts

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Digital Ethnography on Second Life.

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1. A Journey Through Ashley Roberts – aka AshleyElizR Professor Dr. Mary Stokrocki – aka Marylou Goldrosen ARE 598: Digital Ethnography in Virtual Worlds- Summer 2014 2. Ethnography relies greatly on up- close, personal experience. Participation, rather than just observation, is one of the keys to this process (Genzuk, 1999). Traditional ethnographers focus attention on a community, selecting knowledgeable informants who know the activities of the community well (Garson, 2008). Digital Ethnography is participation and observation on a community in the digital world. Digital ethnographers can participate and observe online films, digital games, blogs, and virtual worlds, to name a few (The Qualitative Report, Stokrocki, 2010). During this class we focus on digital ethnography in the virtual world of Second Life. 3.  Stage 1:Data Collection  Gathering information in a 3D virtual learning environment can be done by using various methods such as interviews, group chats, observations in different locations, screen shots, and surveys.  Stage 2:Content Analysis  Taking the data collection and organizing it into different groups and/or themes. Breaking up data into smaller parts is to gain a better understanding of it.  Stage 3:Comparative Analysis  Using the content that was gathered and comparing/contrasting it to another item that is researched. Stokrocki, 2007 4.  Second life is very new to me, so I felt I would be most comfortable choosing an avatar with similar visual representation of myself. I chose a “generic” blonde woman and changed her height and clothes. I then added some eye make up, lipstick, nail polish, and slightly changed the skin color. I wasn’t sure how to adjust the facial details such as the eye shape, nose, and lips. After a lot of trial and error I was able to change the clothes of my avatar. I found out the clothes have to be made of mesh. Some of the clothes I purchased for free, weren’t mesh, which is why it didn’t work. My avatar was wearing a dress and boots when I first joined Second Life. I purchased a floral dress for free, and got tired of that, so I reset my avatar to the original outfit. I added a skirt on top of the dress because I didn’t know how to take the dress off. Finally I figured out how to change my entire outfit, so I changed her outfit to a casual dark colored, v-neck, t-shirt and skinny jeans. I am still hesitant to change the clothes because of the amount of time and frustration I experienced doing that. 5. I chose to discuss the context of Le Botanique. It is a rain forest-like environment floating in the sky. It was built by Liara Okiddo. The reason why I chose to write about Le Botanique, was how calming it made me feel. When I first arrived in Le Botanique, I could hear and see rainfall all around me. The sound of rainfall reminded me of how much I like the smell of rain. I could imagine it feeling cool, wet, and refreshing from the rain. The sky was covered in clouds in most areas of the island. As I walked around I could see pockets of blue sky. I was near a post-modern looking bungalow with glass panels and clean lines. As I made my way away from the building, I noticed soft, violin music playing in the background. The paths are paved with cobbled stone with moss growing on them. There are flowers and lush vegetation everywhere. I came across a wooden bridge, and beyond the bridge is a small table with two chairs under a tent. On the table is a bottle of wine and two wine glasses. Looking at the wine, made me think of the dry, yet fruity taste of the wine. Under the bridge was a pond with lily pads. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Mir am%20Brown/40/169/607 I only noticed about two or three people in there. They seemed to be enjoying this amazing place as well. Some were dressed more formal than others. I noticed one lady wearing a business casual outfit. A man was wearing a shirt and shorts with sneakers. This could possibly be a meeting place, for a quick art critique. There is one painting of a portrait of a woman wearing what appears to be a steam-punk style mask around her mouth, nose, and right eye. The painting is in a corner on an easel inside the small bungalow that could be discussed. This place would be ideal just to sit back, relax after a long day at work, and listen to violin music and rain. 6. I was able to interview three avatar artists on Second Life. The name of the avatar artists I spoke with are Marx Catteneo, Quan Lavender, and Wizard Gynoid. I found Marx Catteneo through an avatar I met on Secondlife. Marx Catteneo then introduced me to Quan Lavender. Knowing the right avatars on Second Life really saved me a lot of time from hunting down avatar artists to interview. I had to research Wizard Gynoid and message her, which took some time, but later was a success. Here are some screenshots of me interviewing each artist. Wizard Gynoid Quan Lavender Marx Catteneo 7.  The first artist I interviewed on Second Life is a real life and second life photographer, Marx Catteneo. I was able to meet Marx through another avatar on Second Life. We interviewed in his Second Life art gallery called Marc Cuppens RL Photogrpahy. Marx was dressed in a grunge style, wearing worn/ripped bell bottom jeans, dusty brown boots, and a dark red, plaid, button down shirt. His hair was dark brown and shaggy in length.  Marx Catteneo is a photographer in real life in The Netherlands, and he sells his artwork in his Second Life gallery. He also has a YouTube channel with Second Life video work he has made. He has been a photographer since he was 14 years old. His large collection of his work consists of photographs of architectural detail, buildings, landscapes that he has taken over many years. His older photographs were taken with an analogue camera, but he now uses an Olympus 35 mm. In 2005 he bough his first digital camera. He sells his photos in real life and in second life. He collaborates with other SL artists on various projects such as filming a dance art project on Second Life. He has worked with SL artists such as Chantal Harvey, Bryn Oh, Pixels Sideways, Quan Lavender, Artistide Despres, and many more. We focused on one photograph that caught my eye. It was a photograph of a laser show on the Expo in Spain. The light effects is pure laser in the lens in the photograph. He was vacationing in Spain when he took the photograph. He said he feels that he is more observant than most people. While photographing, he cuts out a frame that emphasizes the esthetics. Marx is also a member of the LEA: Linden Endowment for the Arts. Linden Lab provides 29 sims for the presentation of art. The artists get grants for a certain time. Linden Lab is the owner of Second Life. His installation was exhibited in 2012. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Rainbow%20Park%20Island/39/134/47 http://www.youtube.com/user/MarxCatteneo http://www.youtube.com/user/MarcCuppens http://justpaste.it/MachinimaManifest http://lindenarts.blogspot.nl/2012/12/konne cted-piano-by-marx-catteneo.html Laser Light Show, Spain 8. [08:47] AshleyElizR: Why do you make art on Second Life? What are the benefits? [08:47] Marx Catteneo: i try to sell my real life work inhere [08:48] Marx Catteneo: i was setting up an exhibition for RL and updated all my photos for SL as well [08:48] AshleyElizR: Do you collaborate with any other artists? [08:48] Marx Catteneo: i have collaborated on various projects with other artists yes [08:48] Marx Catteneo: and will do again [08:48] Marx Catteneo: i will film for a dance art project [08:49] Marx Catteneo: that's in SL [08:49] Marx Catteneo: i have filmed artists in RL too [08:49] AshleyElizR: who are the aritsts you have collaborated in SL? [08:49] Marx Catteneo: i'll paste my 2 youtube channels here one sec.. [08:50] Marx Catteneo: http://www.youtube.com/user/MarxCatteneo [08:50] Marx Catteneo: http://www.youtube.com/user/MarcCuppens [08:50] Marx Catteneo: i have worked with... [08:50] Marx Catteneo: Chantal Harvey [08:51] Marx Catteneo: Bryn Oh [08:51] Marx Catteneo: Pixels Sideways [08:51] Marx Catteneo: Quan Lavender [08:51] Marx Catteneo: Artistide Despres [08:51] Marx Catteneo: and many more Here is part of the interview: 9.  After interviewing Marx Catteneo, Marx was nice enough to connect me to another Second Life artist, Quan Lavender. Quan Lavender is from Germany and is a curator and art blogger on Second Life. She was dressed in a long, sleek, formal, black dress and wearing a large, fancy, black hat with blue, peacock feathers attached to the edges of the hat. Quan made an SL exhibit called, Art in Hats. Art in Hats was her idea where she invited more than 80 artists and fashion designers to create hats for the event. The exhibition gives a good overview over the art scene in SL. I asked her the benefit of having an exhibition on SL, and she simply said because it is fun. She said you can’t get rich with art in SL. Quan said she would love to curate art in real life, although she hasn’t studied art. She said she has enough knowledge in art that she can inspire and encourage artists. She said this is one of the things she learned about herself through Second Life. “My favorite thing is when I see it is a success, the people are coming and the artist is happy. I think a curator has to have the ability to see the potential of an artist, not only inviting the art”. She gave me an example of a well known photographer in SL, Melusina Parkin who had a great interest in Art Deco. Quan helped her create an Art Deco installation where her photos where part of it.  Quan Lavender explained the reason why she had artists make hats was because often artists create hats as a gift for the guests, or people create a hat for their parties or their friends. She said it’s one of the easiest and most creative things to wear in SL. Her intent for Art in Hats was to create a cross event of art, fashion, and photography.  Quan Lavender is also a member of the LEA: Linden Endowment for the Arts. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Boutou/89/65/21 http://issuu.com/rboniefacio/docs/modelsissue15/88 http://quanlavender.blogspot.com/ http://lindenarts.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-wizardry-of-ctrlshiftr-on-lea1.html 10. [09:44] Quan Lavender: I have to add that I am no artist [09:44] Quan Lavender: I am curator [09:44] AshleyElizR: Still a very important role in the art world. [09:44] Quan Lavender: this event was my idea and I invited artists and fashion designers to create hats for this event [09:45] Quan Lavender: then I gave them to photographers and the took a photo with the hat [09:45] AshleyElizR: How did you come up with the idea? [09:45] Quan Lavender: that exhibition gives a good overview over the art scene in Second Life [09:49] AshleyElizR: How do you inspire and encourage artists? [09:50] Quan Lavender: my favourite thing is when I see it is a success, the people are coming and the artists is happy [09:51] Quan Lavender: I think a curator has to have the ability to see the potential of an artist, not only inviting the art [09:51] Quan Lavender: let me give you an example: There is a well known photographer in SL. And I know her great interest is Art Deco [09:52] Quan Lavender: I invited her to create an Art Deco installation where her photos where part of it [09:52] Quan Lavender: it was amazing [09:52] Quan Lavender: and she created as plus an information show about Art Deco [09:53] AshleyElizR: What's her name? [09:53] Quan Lavender: Melusina Parkin [09:54] AshleyElizR: Where is her art displayed? [09:54] Quan Lavender: That was Art Deco: http://quanlavender.blogspot.de/2013/02/opening-today-art-deco.html Here are some parts of the interview: 11.  Wizard Gynoid in her own words, is a “Fractal Expressionist. A citizen of the Info-Sphere. A virtual artisan and sacred geometer.” Her appearance was like a science fiction human. Her face and body looked human. She appeared like she was made of liquid metal. Her color is mostly silver with turquoise electricity in and around her body. On Second Life, she belongs to the University of Western Australia art group, and Linden Endowment. She belongs to many groups, and is fairly well known in the SL community. Her newest installation, CTRL+Shift+R on LEA: Linden Endowment for the Arts. She described her work to me as very large and very complex. Her inspiration was inspired by the work of Buckminster Fuller (famous architect) and Nassim Haramein (physicist and philosopher). She told me that there is an elegance and beauty to mathematical structures. “We are made of mesh, and that mesh is made up of triangles. So we are all made up of triangles, and we are all part of a grid that is made up of triangles”. She told me that her structure, CTRL+Shift+R will be torn apart on LEA at the end of August, so the next avatar artist can use the space. She said they’ll have a party on the last day, as she unlinks it all, and it will all come crashing down.  Wizard explained that SL provides a nice pallet on which to paint. It provides a nice forum for the work, due to the numbers of people on the platform. “People can log in from their living room, and come and immerse themselves in my work. This is unparalleled in the history of art.” She told me that there are other programs like Second Life were she builds called, Inworldz and Open Sims. They are not as popular as SL, but allow artists to use more building blocks called prims. “Here (Second Life) we are limited to 15,000 prims. In the Open Sims you can have 45,000 or even more. The maximum size of a prim is limited to 64 meters in SL. In the Open Sims it is 256 meters, or virtually unlimited. Wizard also told me that Facebook is one of Second Life’s competitors. She said that Facebook is actively investing in virtual reality. Wizard has set some virtual world records by making a huge sim-sized object, 7,153 prims that are all linked into one rotating object. She said you cannot do this in Second Life.  In real life, Wizard is from the Seattle area and works in similar media. She creates tensegrity and kinetic sculptures. She solders and welds sculptures, and paints as well. Wizard uses a variety of media such as ceramic tile, cut glass, and mirror sculptures, working with these same themes. She collaborates with friends on SL. She has a scripter who helps her, and has “the best” particle engineer in SL who helps her too. She returns the favor by helping her friends as well. Wizard recommends that people not work in isolation. She said to join art groups, organizations, go to shows, participate in group shows, and contests.  At the end of our interview she gave me a personal tour to ride the elevator that takes you from the bottom of her installation to the top. It was such a fabulous experience I had on Second life. wizardgynoid.wordpress.com http://about.me/wizardgynoid http://maps.secondlife.com/s econdlife/LEA1/123/118/57 12. [20:47] Wizard Gynoid: There is an elegance and beauty to mathematical structures. I have an intuition that this structure better describes 3D (and thereby virtual) space than the Cartesian coordinate system we were taught in school. [20:48] Wizard Gynoid: And I believe that the interconnectedness of this grid serves as an analogy for the interconnectedness of all spiritual beings. [20:49] Wizard Gynoid: I see each node or vertices of this latticework as an individual consciousness, and they are all a piece of the web of reality - The infinite universe. [21:11] Wizard Gynoid: LEA asked me for a proposal about what i planned to do and i said i couldn't give them one. If you give me a sim I will do something, but i can't tell you ahead of time what it will be. [21:11] Wizard Gynoid: so they took a risk. heheh [21:12] AshleyElizR: How did they contact you? Did they see your other artwork? How long will this be up in LEA? Is this permanent? [21:13] Wizard Gynoid: this will be here thru the end of August. I have a reputation for doing outlandish and extravagant things. They saw my previous work and they saw some of my work on the other worlds. [21:13] AshleyElizR: After August, does it just disappear? [21:14] Wizard Gynoid: i have set some virtual world records. one of my works is huge sim-sized object. 7,153 prims that is all linked into one rotating object. That you cannot do in Second Life. This is what I meant by the limitations. [21:15] Wizard Gynoid: i have a copy of that on the OSGrid now. i can also show a copy of that on Inworldz. This structure will be torn apart. you can't save it as one piece. Here is just part of the interview: 13. Marx Catteneo Quan Lavender Wizard Gynoid What kind of art do you make on Second Life? Photography and filmmaking Curator, makes art events and exhibits Complex, mathematical structures Why do you make it on Second Life? To sell and for the passion For fun For accessibility What kind of artist are you in Real Life? Photographer and short filmmaker Blogs about art in SL. Would like to study to become a RL curator Creates tensegrity and kinetic sculptures. Solders and welds sculptures, and paints How do you collaborate? Films art projects on SL Builds art exhibits and events Works with people to help make complex structures How did you make this artwork? Photography collection was uploaded into personal SL art gallery Attends building schools and is in the Builder’s Brewery group on SL By linking many prims into one complex object. 14.  After interviewing the three avatar artists, there was an overall similarity of their answers about Second Life. They all believe that Second Life provides a nice pallet on which to paint. It offers an enjoyable forum for their work, due to the numbers of people on the platform. Second Life presents wonderful accessibility for people to connect with one another from all over the world. The virtual world supplies people to network with each other, join organizations, go to shows and art groups, participate in group shows and contests. “It takes time to show and develop a theme, or language that you are comfortable with, and that people can recognize. You have to find your voice, and of course that is a process- never ending” (Interview with Wizard Gynoid, 2014). The lessons learned in virtual worlds can be valuable and applied in real life. It could be considered a training ground for the real thing.  Comparing what the avatars said during my interviews to a part of the analysis Sanchez wrote was about creativity on Second Life. Sanzchez quoted, “Students felt the Second Life environment perpetuated a sense of creativity. Remarks from students show an appreciation for the visual creative outlet afforded by the virtual world environment” (Sanchez, 2007). I also believe the majority who experience Second Life for the first time gets frustrated due to technical difficulties and/or lack of knowledge of the program, but for some reason, they come back for more. “Students were engaged in their work while they created buildings in Second Life, many worked long hours straight through the night” (Sanchez, 2007).  The main difference from the avatars I interviewed, to the students Sanchez evaluated is that the students were only participants. They were asked to make an avatar for school. This is a huge difference in the purpose of Second Life because the avatars I interviewed started Second Life on their own time, not for class participation. The attitude the students had are different because they were doing this for a grade. “Although they didn’t understand the purpose of the activity, the Second Life component was completed because it was a part of their grade, one student indicated she was “willing to give time to it, but, we didn’t care about it. I don’t get any of it” (Sanchez, 2007). 15.  During my interview with Wizard Gynoid, she mentioned that Second Life is evolving and changing rapidly. “Second Life is working on a newer generation virtual world, which may not be so limited. There are competitors in the works too” (Wizard Gynoid, 2014). One of these competitors is Facebook. Facebook is actively investing in virtual reality. The recently bought Oculus Rift, which is a state of the art head set. “The idea is to immerse people more. One of the ways you do that is with a 3D headset” (Wizard Gynoid, 2014). After our interview, I wanted to find out more about what Facebook plans on doing.  According to Forbes, Facebook bought Oculus VR, which is a 3D headset for gaming for $2 billion dollars. Mark Zuckerberg believes virtual reality will be one of the major platforms of tomorrow. “Imagine studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world” (Quote by Zuckerberg, King, Forbes, 2014). I immediately thought of my experiences in Second Life. Second Life’s mission statement is “to connect everyone to an online world that improves the human condition” (Linden, 2006)  Both Facebook and Second Life have a similar objective. The objective is basically to connect the real world and virtual world together. The difference is Facebook wants it to have a billion users, which would require a much larger network than Second Life. This could hurt Second Life as far as users staying if Facebook creates their own virtual avatars. Another difference is that this could be a headset that people wear. They want people to be completely convinced that when these hopefully “glasses” they put on, they see a realistic virtual world. They want to add eye tracking, hand tracking, mouth tracking, making these experience feel real. The avatars would still look cartoonish, but “you will believe these virtual avatars are real and that you are actually there” (Interview with Oculus Rift CEO Brendan Iribe, TechCrunch Disrupt interview, New World Notes). 16.  In conclusion, my digital ethnography experience on Second Life, is something that I cannot really compare with. It is something new and different to me. I have learned that Second Life provides a network for anyone, but especially artists, to come together. The art community on Second Life is friendly and full of art exhibits from all over the world. I have gained respect and knowledge of Second Life after interviewing the three avatar artists, Marx Catteneo, Quan Lavender, and Wizard Gynoid. I loved the freedom of traveling from one island to the next. At times, it was almost overwhelming, with the amount people and places I could explore. Other times, I felt isolated and lonely, wandering around places by myself. My favorite part of this experience was meeting with our class, on Tuesday nights to discuss artwork and places on Second Life. I have learned that human contact is essential in both real life and Second Life. 17.  G. David Garson (2008). "Ethnographic Research: Statnotes, from North Carolina State University, Public Administration Program". Faculty.chass.ncsu.edu.  Genzuk, Michael, PH.D., A Synthesis of Ethnographic, Center for Multilingual, Multicultural Research, University of Southern California  King, Leo, Facebook, Oculus, And Businesses' Thirst For Virtual Reality, http://www.forbes.com/sites/leoking/2014/03/30/facebook-oculus-and- businesses-thirst-for-virtual-reality/, 2014  Linden, Phillip, http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Features/The-Mission- of-Linden-Lab/ba-p/533170, 2006  Oculus Rift CEO Brendan Iribe describing to TechCrunch Disrupt MMO:http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2014/05/oculus-rift-metaverse.html, 2014  Sanchez, J. (2007). Second Life: An Interactive Qualitative Analysis. In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2007 (pp. 1240-1243). Chesapeake, VA  Stokrocki, M. (1997). Qualitative forms of research methods. In S. D. La Pierre, & E. Zimmerman (Eds.). Research methods and methodologies for art education (pp. 33-56). Reston, VA: NAEA.