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December 24, 2010 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Koolaid Man in Second Life: “Maybe the Internet is for me what Paris in the 20s was for Joyce, Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein or New York in 50s was for Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg.” Jon Rafman (previously with the 9eyes Google Streetview blog) gives guided tours of Secondlife, and records some of his experiences. Being related to Secondlife, some content is naturally not work safe.

The interview from which the quote in the FPP is pulled.

My favorite quote from the video linked above,
You know there's an aspect of Seconlife that's grotesquely kitsch. And I can't help but, and I can't help but lov[e] this aspect. I think we've reached a point now... my generation... where we don't even know whether we're celebrating something, and saying it's great and affirming it, or if we're engaging in ironic critique and mocking it. We've almost collpased the two.
Art:21 Blog writes,
According to Rafman, it is the live navigation of Second Life that constitutes “the performance,” which goes down something more like an experiential, group lecture that favors extroverted participants. It is Rafman who navigates Kool-Aid Man; however, he asks attendees for their input on what to do, where to go, and what to say to other avatars while perusing the program. Like a physical tour with an informed tour guide, Rafman invites the audience to ask questions throughout the tour. During the performance, we stumbled upon virtual parties, orgies, dystopian wastelands, and the most bizarre social encounters occurring between other avatars
Found via Frontsection's art column.
posted by codacorolla (12 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I always loved the idea of second life, and enjoyed a number of visits. Then being pretty high tech but not a cutting edge gamer and clumsy to boot, broken laptops and slow adoption of systems with hot new graphics cards left me out in the internet cold. And a bit disinterested. And acquiring pretend pennies by letting my avatar dance at a mostly empty floating virtual nightclub got old in well milliseconds.
posted by sammyo at 8:53 AM on December 24, 2010

But I still have my LambdaMoo account (radish)!! Woo, logged in the other day, still online, double woo!
posted by sammyo at 8:54 AM on December 24, 2010

A quote from the video - "... there's a certain playful irony that i find that is also tragic at the same time" - for some reason reminded me of this.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:55 AM on December 24, 2010

I dig the autotune on Koolaid Man's voice.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:39 AM on December 24, 2010

What's this 'being Second Life some content is naturally not safe for work'? Second Life somehow is more naturally unsafe than the rest of teh internets?
posted by mouthnoize at 11:05 AM on December 24, 2010

What's this 'being Second Life some content is naturally not safe for work'? Second Life somehow is more naturally unsafe than the rest of teh internets?

The parts of Secondlife that tend to get highlighted are usually the porny parts. I'd say it's more a result of the cultural perception of Secondlife than it is any intrinsic nature of the program itself. That sort of gets discussed in the video, actually.
posted by codacorolla at 11:09 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wow. Unicorn Pr0n. That's really pushing the envelope.

He's amazingly thoughtful and appreciative about all this unconsciously constructed, self-expression. He walks through that landscape like a self appointed Buddha bestowing love and interest upon all he sees and survey's. I never realized the Kool-Aid man could be so peaceful and self-deprecating and illuminating all at once.

One point, I'd like to make is that, what we see in Second-Life (or don't see depending on if you've got the bandwidth, memory and super duper video card to render accurately, so good thing for the videos), is not something new, exceptional or contemporary. It is really only within the onslaught of media devices and programming, and the industrial assembly line (i.e., Radio and TV, mass produced goods and products) of the 20th century that the idea of passive consumerism became the norm. Before Radio and TV, and before branding and the mass manufacture of everything from brooms to beds to distribution of branded food products (the refrigerator), people had to define the world around them much more. Not only to survive, but for those rare moments of entertainment, they played games or made music, or had sex, or told stories and had to self-define their world to a much much greater degree than in the 20th Century.

People, HAD to use their wiles and ingenuity and creativity, every single day and in every single way and any passivity in that regard meant a shit quality of life at best and death at worst, if plans weren't carried through and weren't effective. So people's imaginations were more naturally employed in the act of not only survival, but of divertment and enjoyment. And a lot of it must've been kitsch and curious and weird (and it was).

Now, we don't have to think A to Z through our lives to survive on a very granular level, although we do in an more abstract way of being effective interpersonally, and money-wise, and what's happened with the rise of Web 2.0 especially is the creation of imaginative homesteads of sorts and people are forced back to a more normative way of creating their own worlds. An inner world, but a world nonetheless and the interations and ersatz and kitsch creations employed to the basic needs that can be satisfied in that world is staggering. You can never know what you will find, and this is a more normative state I would say. Nature is endlessly interesting, because understandable and common needs are met in such staggeringly different methods and I can see that walking through SL, must be what a drifter experience going from town to town, yet a hundred times stranger than that.

What happens when the imagination is codified? And SL becomes rampant with brands and products that are uniform?? Will avatars simply live there for a user without any maintenance and therefore no need to deal with it....will we morlaly responsible for whatever an automatic avatar, run for us by a company does? Will all the strange needs it satisfies, frees us in the carnal world, to be be more free?

Anyhow, good stuff thanks for that. That was some interesting Kool-aid.
posted by Skygazer at 2:40 PM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Thank you, Koolaid Man... This is exactly what I have never been able to convey about why I think Second Life is so interesting. Why people go there is secondary to me--I'm so fascinated with what people there create... what they spend their time doing. Map-clicking around in Second Life is my favorite mindless leisure activity. It can be gorgeous and weird and banal and ... yes... *kitchy*. What do people choose to do with an avatar if they can look like anything they can conceive? What do they build when they can build anything? The constant frustration in-world always seems to be "What's it for?" and "How do I make money at this?"

And for me that's always besides the point. It is an anything goes place. So what's there? Why? I too have often insisted to people, "It's not just for pixel-fucking! Really!" And yet, there is so much of that there--the behind-your-spouse's-back feverish sort of search for connection. And incredibly banal chatting in clubs while your avatars dance. And it's often empty, or feels that way because there is so much empty space--virtual miles and virtual miles of what someone decided to create one day. But sometimes I'm just struck with the effort at beauty. The layers upon layers of meaning behind what exists in front of your virtual eyes. I often trespass in-world into what people choose for their homes. It blows my mind sometimes, how detailed they choose to get, sometimes with a baby in a crib, left alone in a virtual home while they live their first life. Crazy consumerist fantasies. Castles. Spectacular beach front villas. Apartments on spaceships. Poseballs everywhere with every action you can imagine your avatar doing, sometimes into empty air, and sometimes into another pixel creation.

The art of Second Life--the endless changing, disappearing-- is what brings me back every time. I could go days or weeks without talking there to any one of my SL friends. But I love to see what is on the next island.
posted by RedEmma at 3:16 PM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

I would just like to say that I have been active in SecondLife since 2007 and I have never had sex with a unicorn, or any other avatar*. I'm fully aware that plenty of adult activity takes place in SL - I've built adult environments, I attend any party I'm asked to, I think the Dark Desires scripted animals are genius - but it's really just part of the backdrop of the way I experience SecondLife on what passes for a daily basis, the same way furries are, or guys dressed like Koolaid jugs. I always think of it like I do porn on the net; sure, it's very much out there and you come across it minding your own business, but to consume or take part, don't you really have to seek it out?

Anyway, I like Koolaid man - maybe he'd like to give us a group tour!

*This may have something to do with the fact that I run around SL in a full nun's habit, complete with flexi rosary beads.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:43 PM on December 24, 2010

Great post. It reminds me a little of Waking Life with all the wandering through surreal landscapes while waxing philosophical.

I'd actually thought of doing something like this for Active Worlds after I posted an FPP about it, but never got around to it. It would be hard to make it work the same way, on account of how eerie and oddly depressing the abandoned worlds there are. It's got a distinct charm of its own, though, especially since porn and commercialism are almost nonexistent. It leaves much more room for weirdness-for-weirdness's-sake to flourish.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:53 PM on December 24, 2010

Well, that video answers that question I've idly been wondering about for a while now: how do furries have sex?
posted by DarlingBri at 4:58 PM on December 24, 2010

I tried to find him, but no luck...does anyone have the slurl to his profile or home?
posted by ~Sushma~ at 10:59 AM on December 25, 2010

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