ARE 494 Digital Ethnography - Jessica Wyner

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Post on 09-Jul-2015



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ARE 494 Summer 2014. Professor Mary Stokrocki


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Digital Ethnography & Virtual Worlds: Soup EryriBy Jessica WynerAvatar Name: JeseaMarie1Defining Digital Ethnography

Digital Ethnography: The study of the cultures and customs that can be observed within a digital space. Traditional ethnography involves physically traveling to different countries to observe different cultures in their own context; digital ethnography involves obseving the cultures within virtual worlds like Second Life.2Stages of Digital Ethnography

Data Collection: An organized approach to gather information from various sources with the goal of obtaining a complete and accurate picture of the area of interest. Content Analysis: A method used to summarize any form of content; evaluating any data that has been collected.Comparative Analysis: Examining the contrasts between 2 or more processes, sets of data, systems, or products. 3Research Questions

1) What draws the line between an "installation" and a "collaborative space?"

2) What is the artist trying to say?

3) Why is this called Soup Eryri?

4) Based on this SL artwork, what kind of artwork can you predict the artist does in RL?4Context & Atmosphere

My first impression of Soup was that it reminded me of Alice in Wonderland; bright colored and strange objects, nature that is ever-changing, and so many things to discover. It combines natural elements with the bizarre. I chose to study this space because of its endless unique qualities that are made to spark my curiosity. And they definitely did. 5Content & Atmosphere

Soup Eryri is located on a small island with high mountains and deep valleys. It can be described as a playful, dark paradise. I have not seen a single avatar here with me while I explore. There are no definite scultptures or artworks; there are small, moving pieces that work together to make up the single organism that Soup is. As seen in the pictures below, many parts of the environment either move or change once an avatar touches or walks near them. 6Mab MacMoraghMab MacMoragh is the owner and creator of Soup Eryri. In real life she enjoys poetry and photography. In the virtual world, she likes to create collaborative spaces and create michinima films. Here is one of them:

My response: This michinima was filmed at Soup Eryri. It highlights a dog's reaction to the strange world around him. The dog might represent people in general or Mab herself. Toward the end of the film, the dog barks, seeming to call out for help. But when he calls, an operator says "your call cannot be completed as dialed...". The film projects feelings of loneliness, isolation, and confusion.7Data Collection: Avatar Artist Interview

Mab was only available to meet inworld for a few minutes, just so I could see what her avatar looks like. The interview was conducted via email. She is a young girl of caucasian descent, she wears a sweats outfit that is all grey. She posseses a humble attitude of herself and her work. She belongs to a "small and quiet" builders group called Lovers Lane Studios at Soup Eryri (

I discovered Mab by stumbling upon Soup Eryri through a SL search of art locations. I noticed that everything was owned by her. I added her as a friend and messaged her. She got back to me within 24 hours, providing an email address. She was extremely flattered that I found her collaborative space so fascinating and wanted an interview. 8The Interview1) What is your real life name?no comment, sorry! i promise the answer is not interesting or important2) Where are you located in real life?i live in a rural area i call Smalltown USA3) Why did you create this space and what inspired or prompted you to make it?through random homeless hub-hopping i became a wandering outlier of several diverse and non-overlapping international 'communities' which was an interesting place to be as an observer in sl. my husband and i bought our first parcel of land at a fundraiser for a theatre company. i had been gifted virtual artworks and wanted a space to display them. shortly thereafter the sim Intemptesta Nox came up for sale, one of a legendary cluster of sims owned by Sue Stonebender and Baron Grayson called Tryst. we bought this sim and renamed it Eryri, which is welsh for Snowdonia, a region in north Wales. In the course of my wanderings, i met artists at the gallery Arth0le who introduced me to Brooklyn is Watching, a hybrid reality experiment, a sandbox where people could build anything and arty people off the street in a Williamsburg, Brooklyn art gallery could look around at what was created on an immersive giant screen and talk about it on a podcast. it was bizarre and magical. when Brooklyn is Watching held their Best of Brooklyn is Watching competition based on popular vote I offered to host a companion event for the rest of the best with no competition, no judging, and beyond rules. this became the SLon des Refuses and was held on Soup Magoo, adjacent to Soup Eryri.

#The Interview Continued5) Do you create any type of art in real life?there is no meaningful difference between real life art and second life art to me. i am a poet and photographer and artist mostly on the conceptual side, which is all in the mind and heart, and in energies and experiences between people. i have a physical painting studio with many paintings and assemblages in progress but can't get to it due to health challenges.6) How long would you say it took you to create this world?it has taken me a lifetime to create this evolving world and it's not finished. it will be complete when i depart7) What is your group name and type?the private builders group in second life for Soup is called Lovers Lane Studios. it is a small quiet invitation-only group.

#Content Analysis

#Comparative Analysis

According to a study conducted by Joe Sanchez, many of his students who were brand new to Second Life were angry and frustrated because of the many technical difficulties they faced. They also stated that SL was pointless and they weren't getting anything out of it.The reason I mention this is that during my interview with Mab MacMoragh, she commented that when she first started using SL in 2007, she felt it was "incomprehensible and unappealing".Her work in Soup Eryri and her many creative michinima films done in SL are proof that an artform that is challenging and seemingly complicated can eventually become one of your most cherished ways of expressing yourself. This could be used as a teaching tool or anecdote to share when students are unwilling to try new things in art. #Conclusions

Soup Eryri is the resullt of many years of learning, creativity, time, and patience of Mab MacMoragh. It is an interactive and collaborative space that incorporates dark mysteries and fun elements. It is the combination of many carefully conceived and placed components that make up this "soup" of art. The artist is a gentle and quiet soul that emulates a combination compassion, sorrow, and warmth. Her life is dedicated to her work. Her art is an expression of her view of life; beautiful yet complicated, and sometimes scary . #Sources