Sunday, August 8, 2010
The Gracie Kendal Project-My Life as an Avatar
Today I went to a Gracie Kendal talk and am sooo glad I didn't skip this. I heard her once before in parts on some SL TV program I happened on. I recently came across her web site and find her to be extremely interesting and hilariously "truthful to a fault" person and avatar. I say person and avatar because of "The Gracie Kendal Project" where she is her RL and SL selves exploring their identities together. It makes for great entertainment and also inspiration in a very creative way. If you have not heard of Gracie, RUN to her "Food For Thought" art show Tuesday August 10 5:30 SLT at The Library Art Gallery, and hope to goodness you meet her.
"The Gracie Kendal Project-My Life as an Avatar" is the brainchild of RL 37 year old, unmarried, childless, Kris's (Kristine Schomaker). Gracie and Kris "talk" to each other via comic strip type bubbles and explore their sameness and difference. Kris went to the extent of making another SL avatar in the likeness of RL Kriss and had the SL Kris and Gracie play together in SL. For Kris' masters thesis she decided to "be" Gracie. Kris, who is much shorter at 5'4" yet much heavier than Gracie, struggles with self esteem, being overweight and her body image a great deal. They progressed together through RL and SL and discovered some interesting things as Kris attempted a RL Gracie style makeover. Kris and Gracie found that in the end Kris is more comfortable in RL as Kris (during her makeover she dyed her hair, worked out trying to get into better shape, got a nose ring, and had her nails and makeup done, but in the end stopped wearing the nose ring and was not thrilled with the heavy makeup) Gracie however was most happy with the SL Gracie and not the Kris SL avatar who Kris feels is a bit heavy in SL and doesn't often get on her any more in SL. Some other finds along the journey to find her inner Gracie included a turning point of thinking of Gracie as a separate entity and fully realizing who has the control, like where would Gracie be without Kris and how they are reflections of each other. The self talk comics wound down as the end of semester neared with Gracie thinking she wanted to come to the real world, but realized she can't yet they will still always be a part of each other. Don't worry, Gracie is alive and well in yesterday's recent post about "10 Things I Hate About You" (see web site and top pic). I'm waiting for the "10 Things I Love About You".
Kris just finished her Masters degree in studio art at CSU, Northridge. She will soon start teaching African Art history and is a RL/SL painter. She also self-published an 80 page book in real life about "The Gracie Kendal Project" which includes pictures of the project, her art and images from second life. She won a RL award for a presentation about this project. Her site is here: GracieHere. This is really about Kris' journey to find herself and exploring options that bloomed within SL. She spoke about a book she was recently given by a friend that she found some similarities with her experiences in, "Eat, Pray, Love" that will be a movie out soon and is a travelogue of soul-searching and self-discovery by Elizabeth Gilbert. Kris is an exceptional speaker and was as much a pleasure to listen to as her interesting RL/SL observations and reflections have been to read about.
Her own words sum this up best:
"Who am I?
I am an artist. I am an avatar. I am a woman. I am 36. I am ageless. I am thin. I am overweight. I am beautiful. I am not. I am a lover. I am not a fighter. I am a dreamer. I am an artist. I am a romantic. I am scared. I am strong. I am vulnerable. I am wanted. I am unwanted. I am intelligent. I am witty. I am ditzy. I am happy. I am unhappy. I am lost. I am found. I am alive. I am alone. I am lonely. I am an artist. I am free. I am enslaved. I am independent. I am dependent. I am loved. I am unloved. I am rich. I am poor. I am an artist. I am talented. I am a creative. I am an expressionist. I am successful. I am unknown. I am an artist. I am Gracie Kendal. I am Kris Schomaker.
I am real.
Kris Schomaker: Who are you?
Gracie Kendal: I am your inner conscious, your alter ego, your self portrait, your avatar, your art… I am you.
KS: “I remember when, I remember when I lost my mind…”
GK: Who sings that song?
KS: Gnarls Barkley, why?
GK: Oh good, let him sing it then.
KS: “Well, I think you’re crazy, Just like me…”
GK: Ummm yea! I could have told you that. So, who are you?
KS: I am me. I am you. So, why are we here? Oh yea, I remember. I am using you to confront my imperfections and insecurities.
GK: Yea, well here’s the thing. I don’t like how you’re ‘using’ me, but I like the use of new media, installation, photography, video and performance for this project.
KS: Well, by projecting myself onto you, I am exploring my personal anxiety and loss of identity. As you know, I have found it difficult to be comfortable in my own skin. After living with years of criticism, my sense of self has become dislodged and torn apart.
GK: You really think I can help?
KS: Yea absolutely. You already have. You are Gracie Kendal. You are a beautiful woman and a thriving, successful artist. You are confident and self assured, you wear the hippest clothes, hang out with the coolest people, have a really fun and exciting single life and you seem to be happy. Of course, this all takes place within Second Life, but such is life, in one reality or another.
GK: But, Kris??
GK: I am you!!"
Ok, Sorry, I Know this was a long post, but it's a interesting project worth my space and time.
Addendum: BOSL (Best of Second Life) picked up a story I did on this. Check out the September BOSL magazine for this review.