“You’ll know what your avatar looks like when you find your soul avatar. You’re like, ‘that’s it! That’s me. That’s who I am!’.” so opines Absinthe (aka Sinontherocks or AbsintheMontenegro) at the start of The Drax Files: World Makers episode #26.
This might sound like an obvious statement to make; but like many things that may first appear to be blindingly obvious, Absinthe’s comment contains a huge amount of depth; for many of us who come into Second Life, our avatar is such an extension of our personalities, that we can feel confined, or self-conscious or even inadequate until we find that visual look that encompasses what we feel within, but haven’t perhaps found a way to give it expression.
It is also a statement that opens a segment of the Drax Files which, in just five minutes, once again paints a broad and fascinating canvas encompassing matters of self-identity and expression, the power of Second Life as a creative medium, thoughts on the perceptions about Second Life and those who use held by people not involved in the platform, the way in which the platform can spur on into endeavours that reach back out into the real world, and more.
The matter of identity and our relationship with our avatar is encapsulated within the first 73 seconds for the show, as Absinthe talks about her relationship with her avatar – an SL fashion model – and her upbringing, and how the latter informed on aspects of the former’s looks. I actually feel a strong affinity with the remarks made in this part of the video, as Absinthe and I share something of a similar upbringing, and we’ve moved in a similar direction in terms of avatar looks which has little to do with matters of ethnicity or anything like that, but is simply an expression of various facets of our personalities and outlook; the primary difference between her and myself, is it probably took me a little longer to discover my “soul look” with Inara.
From matters of looks, the programme transitions through a glimpse of the world of SL fashion modelling – something which some may look upon as slightly frivolous / bordering on role-play, yet the fact of the matter is that modelling is one of the central pillars of the fashion industry within SL, which is itself one of the powerful engines of the platform’s economy. Absinthe provides insight into the complexities involved in working as an SL model – including matters of anxiety and nerves which can be experienced prior to a show.
However, the power of the piece – for me at least – lies in Absinthe’s outlook on life, her work, Second Life and in how, as with others interviewed through this series, this virtual world we inhabit and which is so often sneered up by those outside, Second Life has been both a welcoming hobby and release and the focal point of growth and the catalyst for new opportunities for creative expression within the physical world. In Absinthe’s case, the creation of the Ferosh project,
Ferosh, which absinthe describes as a “visual art and fashion experience [in which] our photographers, models and designers use products from Second Life to interpret real life fashion trends”. The result is a stunning publication, primarily offered as a e-publication on-line, but which appears to also receive at least some hard copy prints as well, going by the footage in the video.
It is a project that has allowed her to bridge the virtual and the physical in a unique way, not only becoming the medium through which she can explain her involvement Second Life to her family, but one which has also attracted the attention of digital artists from outside of SL who want to be part of the project – thus opening doors to ways and means of encouraging people to look at the platform with unbiased eyes.
Ferosh has come about as the result of a number of things – not the least of which is Absinthe’s own determination and her zest for life. It has also, I’d venture to suggest, come about as a result of one other thing she has a lot to say about that should be heard – friendship. And it is in her comments on myriad ways in which people are drawn to Second Life, and the manner in which friendships are formed and – to return to the open element of the show – we can find outward expression of our inner selves, that Draxtor puts together a little magic of his own.
The images of people alongside their avatars, the clips from earlier shows in the series and clips from the brilliant Login2Life documentary that presents a very poignant and clear message to all who watch the segment.
This is another quite brilliant piece, with a richness of content from both Absinthe and Draxtor that make it a powerful slow burner; I was privileged to watch its development over several iterations, I’ve watched and re-watched the finished item several times – and yet, each and every time I’ve watched it, it has had something new to say to me.
So if you haven’t seen it already, click the Play button below.