It’s not something i’ve ever really considered before mainly, i suppose, because sl has been very much an environment within which creativity forms a major element. The nature of sl has driven me to build, texture, landscape and has itself been both the instigator and perfecter of numerous flights of fancy. i suspect this is the case for very many sl residents – even those for whom object creation plays little, if any, part in their virtual lives, the very act of participating in the sl community is in itself a creative activity. Whether our thing is roleplay, gersturbating or shopping in order to clothe and equip our avatar, these are all essentially creative pursuits – even those who would describe themselves as simply ‘playing’ sl cannot escape the fact that most forms of play are indeed creative at heart.
When we consider this creativity from a standpoint outside and distinct from sl, something not immediately apparent begins to become clear: sl is very much a closed system and many of us are stuck in something of a creative loop. So, for example, if i should happen to have an empty plot of land presented to me in sl, it’s not long before the creative juices begin to flow and something will be purchased or constructed to fill that empty plot. Although a creative process has been at work here, it’s happened in a very abstract manner – there is no real, tangible evidence of what i have achieved and, apart from a very limited audience, the only real beneficiary of the results of that creative process is myself.
Similarly, if we expand the process, by putting things on a commercial footing, it’s still very much a closed loop – the demand inworld for a product provokes the creativity that produces the supply of goods, which in turn are subsumed back into the virtual world.
i’m not making this very clear, am i?
In a nutshell, although it’s a wonderfully creative medium, the major part of creativity is entirely self-perpetuating and focussed firmly on sl itself.
This is not a problem, but it is something that seems to me to be inherently wasteful – all that talent, ability and effort being expended, with very little, outside of sl to show for it.
Although, it doesn’t have to be that way. More recently, i’ve found that sl has changed somewhat for me – whereas before sl would be both the means, and the end to any creative whims, more and more frequently i’m finding myself using sl as a tool to facilitate creative activities outside the immediate environs of the virtual world. It used to be the case, for example, that an inworld happening or an inspiring screen capture would provide the inspiration for a post in this blog – lately, i’m just as likely to come up with an idea for a post, then seek to contrive a situation or image that suits my purpose. Ever more frequently i’m finding the writing comes first and i’m using sl as a tool to accentuate it.
Take a look at sites like Single Frame Stories and you’ll see much the same process in action. A large proportion of the images you’ll see there will be made in sl, or a hybrid of sl and some other reality, yet the seminal inspiration for those images comes from outside the virtual environment and, essentially, has no explicit relationship with it – it is a simple word prompt. In challenging sl residents to think outside the virtual box, we see creative expression that employs sl as a means to an end, but an end that has a provenance all of its own, and which can stand distinct and separate from the world that may have made it possible. Much as the colours on an artist’s palette may have inspired and enabled the artist to create the painting, it is how the artist has used that paint which becomes the artwork.
Whichever way you look at it, sl is a creative medium, and there’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t get creative in the manner in which we use it.
She’s like a rainbow
Coming colors in the air
She comes in colors
The Rolling Stones – She’s Like a Rainbow