Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Art, Avatar and Self

(Continues The Emergence and Development of Virtual Identity)

The essential questions of existence, where sentience comes from and where it goes after death, are unknown. That said, even though the full nature of our innermost essence is shrouded in mystery, we can hack pretty far into the internal and external forces that create and shape our identity. Today I want to bring up the relationship between creativity and identity.

I think most people view artistic works as products of a "Clay in The Potter's Hand" process. The artist molds a lifeless medium to conform to his or her inner vision.  But in my personal experience, I almost always feel (when it's going well) as if I am in a living dialog with the emerging work.

Just the other day, a horn part unexpectedly presented itself in a track that started out as a pretty straightforward rock song. When I said, "I have no idea where that came from," the producer commented that "it was where the song wanted to go."
It would be going too far – too far beyond analogy toward identity – to claim that a work of art possesses a sense of self, but if we are speaking analogically, it would be difficult to find a better way to succinctly capturing the kind of internally generated coherence many works of art exhibit.  Garry L. Hagberg in critical commentary preface to Art and Ventriloquism
I think the same sort of collaboration that goes on between art and artist also occurs in the creation and development of identity, both avatarian and human. Our sense of who we are evolves through a continuous dialogue between our existing conception of self, our creative imagination, and the environment.

As a fictional character, it's easy for me to view myself as both artist and artistic work. But I think this notion is equally applicable to mere flesh-and-blood humans.
...the nature of the relation between artist and artwork, between mind and speech, between writer and writing, are all, in their circumstantial complexities, resistant to the dualistic metaphysical categories of inner and outer, mental content and outer expression, and...self and medium Garry L. Hagberg
I'll continue this thread in the next post.


Shelby Rasmuson said...

I have to admit, I am still getting to know my avatar identity....There are things that I know and do as a human that my avatar is unaware of..
And certain traits in my Avatar which
makes my Human self chuckle.

Lalo Telling said...

As a writer and editor of fiction, your last comments (and the quote that goes with them) are very cogent... both in avatarian terms and in our biological lives.

I know of few, if any, authors who begin with an outline of plot and characters and write their work straight through without changing their minds about what happens, how their characters react, and how that changes them (or doesn't).

There's a common comparison in fiction between stories that are "character-driven" and those that are "plot-driven". In Second Life, there is no plot. Our stories must be character-driven... yet we are not the sole author of the work.

But, as you say: that's how it is in the flesh-and-blood world, too.

Anonymous said...

I relate to your post on several levels. Though I have no Avatar in a Metaverse or gaming world, I feel like I have created several little Avatars over the years as a writer of songs, fiction, and other stories.

In stories and song, I am always drawing upon the “real world” and rearranging the events into other stories that are “fictional.” In performance, the song’s internal substance is ethereal and wonderfully lifelike, going out into the crowd on its own terms and transforming into another story in the minds of the listeners when they hear it through the filters of their own real world experiences.

Or consider desire, such a fundamental part of real life and fiction and art. Desire is by definition not real, yet it may be the emotion of most real consequence in our lives.

When I started creating my blog, I realized at some point I was creating a virtual existence that people from around the world have responded to. We all communicate through out blogging gravatars, which is in my case a picture of Halley’s Comet that I have just added to the back of my business cards.

Having now written a string of blog posts that deal with technlogy and one, in particular, with the relationship of the real and Avatarian worlds, I’m just transfixed and inspired by this dialogue, especially the idea of connectivity between the real world and the Avatar world.

Thanks, Botgirl, for your blog writings and also for your Twitter posts, which I am finding useful as well.

sororNishi said...

As I have mentioned before I see artistic creation as a revelation of my unconscious, therefore it is not at all weird for me to envisage the creative process as a conversation between my conscious and unconscious selves..... the unconscious being the mother of consciousness, older and prior to consciousness.

Like the symbol of the crystal ball in fairy stories, the art work reflects the Self like a mirror, a combination of both sides of ourselves.