Renowned SL machinima creator Draxtor Despres continues his “The Drax Files: World Makers” series with a third instalment; his enthusiasm and drive is such that, whereas he had planned for the series to be monthly, he now presents us with a new episode every week. The show examines the people behind the avatars who, with their passion and persistence, continue to push Second Life forward. As is the style and tone of this series, Drax uses mixed reality, cutting between SL and Real Life (RL) to provide insight into aspects of the former and introduce the viewer to the persons behind the avatars and their creations in the virtual world.
Eshi Otawara’s uniquely-styled shop in SL
In this episode which went live on April 5th, Drax interviews Eshi Otawara. Eshi has been in Second Life since 2006, and she’s what one would call a veteran of this virtual world. She is well-known in-world for her unique SL fashion designs; there’s more to her than this, though: she’s a classically-trained RL artist and also provides support and input in other SL projects, such as Chakryn Forest, which has already been covered by Exotix (Inara Pey). Eshi’s motto, which pretty much defines her approach towards SL, is “Second Life is too beautiful a tool for us to only be used for plain simple reality.”
As I’ve already mentioned, Eshi is a veteran SL resident and she’s still going strong, investing time and talent on the platform; given her artistic education and her long experience within SL, one would expect her to provide an insightful view of Second Life – and she delivers just that in her interview, offering viewers not only an educated and insightful look on Second Life, but also a crystal-clear view of the augmentive and immersive capabilities of the platform.
Before I go any further, I must say that, within the SL community (and, perhaps, within the communities of other virtual worlds) there is a divide between “immersionists” and “augmentists” (Gwyneth Llewelyn had written an excellent post on this debate, as early as 2008); many users tend to treat it in a manichaean manner, treating and picturing it as either augmentive or immersionist, with an unbridgeable (at least to them) chasm gaping between the two. Linden Lab’s recent focus on the more immersive parts of the platform, perhaps at the expense of the augmentive ones, has contributed to a number of users (those who identify themselves as 100% “augmentists”) seeing it as a “failed project”.
Some of Eshi’s unique creations
Through her words, Eshi reminds people that SL doesn’t have to be either immersive or augmentive; it is, it has always been, and (hopefully) always will be a combination of both. Therefore, how we perceive the platform and interact with it is eventually a matter of our own preference, character, nature and approach.
Early on in the interview, Eshi says “at the beginning, I created my avatar to be everything that I was not. She was super, super tall, super, super skinny, [and] had super long hair. When I realised that my personality and my spirit continued to experience life no matter what kind of packaging I put myself into; nowadays I’ve just kind of become a complete shape-shifter…” This approach towards her own avatar reflects exactly the combination of immersion and augmentation: she immerses herself in the virtual world through the continuous transformations of her avatar and, at the same time, she augments her artistic talent and her love for art and design in ways that, as she notes in the interview, are not always possible in RL – so, SL acts as a liberating force, allowing much more of her personality, spirit and talent to come forward and shine than if she restricted herself into producing only RL works.
The way Eshi speaks about the creative powers of the platform also speaks volumes of the platform’s appeal: “It’s not a non-existent universe,” she says. “It’s there. It exists. If you just release yourself of that prejudice towards what’s virtual; that’s it’s not real, it will make you happy.”
I must say that this is another excellent piece of coverage of SL, which manages to speak both to those of us that have been involved in this virtual world for quite some time now and those who are new to it – or even skeptical about it. Draxtor’s videos also remind us oldbies what brought us here in the first place, while showing others that virtual worlds (and SL in particular) can offer a truly magical experience to their users. Once again, I must congratulate Draxtor for achieving exactly the perfect balance in editing this piece, allowing the interviewee room to shine – and I must congratulate and thank Eshi for her perspective of SL and her involvement in it, as well as her creativity.
Mona (formerly slutrix)
First posted at: http://wp.me/p2RycE-82