Double Love

According to some people, I’m an “online crossdresser”, most likely because they don’t understand how Second Life works for those who are nonbinary (meaning, a gender identity which doesn’t fit with just “male” or “female”). If you want to understand a bit more, listen in on my story and see how this might stack up against your original opinion of nonbinary users in SL.

Back in 2003, I didn’t know what being genderfluid was. I do, however, remember making a beeline for the men’s section in a department store and buying slacks and oversized shirts to hide my figure. I had no idea why I was doing this. I was just doing it. Before I had a name for what I was, I did it and was happy, not caring about the weird looks other people in the store were giving me.

About ten years later, I began “masking” (as my people call it) for performance art and to play with gender again. I liked the way I felt when people said, “I can’t tell if you’re a man or a woman”. It made me feel powerful, like I had defied something and become a completely new person entirely. I took it and ran with it–it was my life, my rules, but those were not the things I practiced in SL yet. When a newspaper asked me to talk about my work, I talked about shifting genders when masking. I was proud of who I had become and you can find that article to this day. (more…)

Hi! I’m Aemeth. I paint and make things in SL for fun. Read my blog at Aemy Says.

We Need To Talk About Racism On The Grid

Note: Plurk images have been moved to a mirror blog.

The man in this picture could be anything. He’s got fair skin and light eyes. His long hair are put into braids, and his cheekbones are prominent. Even if he didn’t match the race you think I said he was, he is that because I deem him to be.

He is me–as a male, in the grid. I created him to be more creole-looking than my female counterpart, which I still think doesn’t look that Caucasian to me. Before I donned a mesh head with either gender identity, my avatar resembled my grandmother–a creole woman who would probably cut her hair short and dye it bright red if she were the age I am now.

Even if I change bits of myself in the game, I carry my heritage with me. I know other black users who along with me, mix and match hair, eye colors, and skin tones. We don’t do it to escape–but some black users do. I don’t fault them for it because I understand the grid isn’t very tolerant of us.

Second Life has been used as a means of escape for so many people. In the end, though, we’re just that–people. It’s inevitable that things like civil rights would rear their head here after a while. Especially when you get incidents of users being silenced when talking about racism. (more…)

Hi! I’m Aemeth. I paint and make things in SL for fun. Read my blog at Aemy Says.

The Second Life Art World Isn’t Pushing Hard Enough

Paying It Forward

Listen–we need to talk. You aren’t going to be happy about what I’ve got to say. You probably have your defense ready and that’s great, I’m happy to have this discourse with you, but I would like for you to consider what I’m about to say first.

Yes, I love participating in LEA programs. I can’t praise the idea of allocating sims to artistic endeavors enough. But there’s something going on that I’ve noticed and needs to be addressed. Are you ready? Let’s do this.

There’s way too much self-importance and too little forward thinking in the SL art world. It isn’t groundbreaking enough, and focuses too little on the very culture that makes up this game. It doesn’t warrant the attention it gives itself, and is over-saturated with elements that ignore what the outside art world even celebrates about us.

Second Life is a place of unlimited potential. For a community of creators to miss the train on this again and again is a damn shame. This is a virtual world, where anything is possible, and yet most of the art produced and put on gallery walls are little more than selfies and headshots.

Yes–selfies are a valid point of work. Some artists’ entire careers cover evolving selfies. But this is something our art world is positively bloated with.  When you have an art gallery full of headshots from various artists and this is the best you can present to anyone, you know your industry is in trouble.

Exhibit A: Second Life has missed its own honorary party in the mainstream art and fashion world. When’s the last time anybody pursued some still life shots like this? Or this? That’s a serious callback to SL and our snap-to grids. When’s the last time you saw a virtual body of work like that? This is the kind of aesthetic we’ve seen with vaporwave, with past fashion collections, and nary a fuss was made on the grid about this at all. How? And why? When did we become so blind to what the rest of the world was doing that’s clearly inspired by us?

Exhibit B: Most of what is considered fine art and put on a wall is not fine art. Blogging pictures are great and can still be art, but that’s like visiting a gallery, expecting to see fine art, and seeing a bunch of Annie Leibovitz shots and no paintings. That’s what we have. A lot of Annie Leibovitz and Vogue editorials. Where’s the work commenting on the culture of the game, the administration, making fun of ourselves and talking about how we relate to one another? We can’t call ourselves a proper society until we have art like that.

Exhibit C: The best machinima artists are designers who have never had major participation with a LEA sim, much less the SL art world in general. We need to be trading more notes with each other, and this is one aspect I’m focusing on for the next six weeks to even learn more of myself. Machinima has got to improve, but there are definitely people willing to try that out.

Exhibit D: What’s with the drama? What’s with this? Are you serious? You guys act like thousands of people are going to your shows, because that’s the kind of egos I’m seeing pop up a lot. Tone it down, have a seat, and chill out. Let’s get somewhere better with our overall scene first, and then we can talk about how much bravado we should be sporting.

No, I’m not saying every artist is guilty of these things. But I am saying it’s the majority and it should start to change. Stop and ask yourself–what is this art I’m creating, and why? And then ask how we can push a bit harder to create something more thought-provoking.

Hi! I’m Aemeth. I paint and make things in SL for fun. Read my blog at Aemy Says.

Stop Ripping Art That Isn’t Yours.

STOP this practice.

The person responsible for the mural in this painting is MALT, an artist from Detroit who does beautiful paintings around town and abroad. I recognized this picture because the irl version is located at an art park not far from me (scroll down to the last picture), and his style is recognizable just about anywhere.

I am not the first Detroiter to be active in the grid. Detroit Techno Militia was here once too. I’ve seen Niagara‘s work for sale at Tart Gallery, I’ve seen tons of great art in galleries that said they were used with permission, but I always had a funny feeling about it. Something was always off.

So when I recognize a fellow painter’s work in the game, especially if they’re a local artist, I contact the artist to let them know what’s going on. Sometimes they have actually given permission to have their work for sale or used in the grid, but many times they don’t even know their work is being used at all.

This practice is especially troubling when it comes to to hi-res photos like the one in the picture. I can tell it’s of a good quality. Whoever uploaded the texture either took a picture of this themselves, or ripped off a hi-resolution photo of the mural.

Many people still don’t understand this rule about art in Second Life, so let’s be clear:

YOU CAN’T UPLOAD ART/TEXTURES TO THE GRID WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE PERMISSION TO.

  • You can’t just “take art” from Google searches and use them on tshirts and clothing.
  • You can’t use Disney movies on mesh versions of a VHS tape for c88 because you think it’s quirky and cute and that Disney has “enough money”.
  • You can’t upload books you didn’t author that aren’t public domain because “you think all creative work should be open source”.
  • You can’t demand to be talked to privately about this in order to prevent a public discussion. Get over yourself.

The sim this belongs to is filled with art that is both corporate (I saw an ad for Levi’s on the other side of the wall in the photo), and from other art that is so varied, it couldn’t possibly be all sourced with permission. I won’t link to them because it would encourage visits or possibly even hate–but I have contacted the muralist to tell him where his art is being used.

It’s not snitching, it’s what happens when other artists are tired of seeing work abused in Second Life and want it to stop. The grid should be a place to foster creativity and inspire others, not to deposit work you’ve taken from others.

Hi! I’m Aemeth. I paint and make things in SL for fun. Read my blog at Aemy Says.

The Rules of Gacha

The Woods

It’s pretty obvious I’m not opposed to gacha machines when I create gacha sets myself. Recently, however, Gogo brought up a pretty interesting conversation on Plurk about what’s okay to include in a gacha and what isn’t.

By the way. Is it gatcha, or gacha? How do you spell that? Because I’m pretty torn on that issue.

Anyway, here are my personal rules for content creation when it comes to Random Stuff You Stick In A Machine In Order To Get Money:

  • Don’t set the playing price too high. I’ve seen some gacha machines charging 75/play or higher. Are you crazy? The only way I would play that is if there were relatively valuable items for commons, or if I truly wanted to win the rare.
  • Don’t bait-and-switch your customer. Some machines show rare prizes on one sign, then farther below are the common prizes you’re more than likely to win. Come on, you don’t have to trick us into paying you for anything. If we want your rare prize, we’ll play anyway, right?
  • Don’t use mesh templates for gacha prizes if you aren’t going to add unique textures to them. WHY? Why do this? For a few hundred more Ls, we can snag the original, full-perm item on Marketplace. It would be one thing if the art you add to the template were outstanding and worth it alone, but an everyday item with forgettable textures? That’s rude. Make it truly unique if you want to use mesh templates.

Gacha(gatcha?) machines are supposed to be fun to play. The dress I’m wearing in this picture, for example, is from Junbug and had reasonable common prizes to win on top of the rare corset I wanted as well. I was fine with playing the machine over and over in order to obtain what I desired. It’s an even deal when your machine is set up that way; both creator and customer walk away happy.

But when the practice gets out of control, it’s giving your client base the short end of the stick. They aren’t your enemy and they aren’t obligated to be your source of income. Treat them with respect when you create your machines, and they’ll come back to play again and again.

The Woods

What I’m Wearing

Pink Fuel Skin
Junbug – Madame Corbeau’s corset (rare)/silk ruffles/split silk skirt (Ivory)
Blueberry – Tiara (hair fair gift)
Dura – Girl’s hair 51 (Strawberry)

Location: 005: Dreams of Secrets

Hi! I’m Aemeth. I paint and make things in SL for fun. Read my blog at Aemy Says.
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