At least, that’s the impression you get as you explore the exhibits at SL11B – galleries abound, along with photography studios and the odd plot or two devoted to camera-related paraphernalia.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that – photography in rl has seen something of an upsurge in popularity as the ability to take high quality images has become ever more accessible. Digital photography has brought the cost of taking pictures down enormously since the good old days of film, and social media has become the de-rigeur method for sharing and displaying our work. With most mobile technology now incorporating some means of capturing both stills and moving pictures, photography has achieved an immediacy that it never previously possessed – practically everything we see on an daily basis can, and has been documented, from the utterly mundane and worthless, to the priceless once-in-a-lifetime moments, saved forever because everyone has access to a camera these days. With the advent of Google Glass and such like, (Google offered me the opportunity to become a ‘Glass Explorer’ the other day… but at £1000 a pop – no thanks!), this is a trend that it’s difficult to envisage dying down.
There are disadvantages, of course: we are now overwhelmed with photo’s, from the ubiquitous selfie, to blurry, poorly-composed and lacklustre running commentaries on the everyday lives of all our acquaintances, and much of it really is dross.
Is this obsession with capturing life in all its gory detail reflected in sl? Well, i’m beginning to wonder, to be honest – not particularly about capturing images for our own personal record of our virtual life: that’s something i’d expect anyone and everyone to do – heck, i document almost everything i do! What surprises me is just how many go further by both putting their work on public display and, seemingly more and more frequently, are very much in the business of providing a portraiture service to others. And i find that a little surprising.
Certainly, i inflict my screen captures on you, gentle reader, but i try not to go overboard, and there’s no way i’d ever consider going further and setting up an sl photography business. After all every one of you has the means at your disposal to take photos to your exact specification whilst inworld, which sort of negates the whole point. There will always be, of course, the real pro’s – expert photoshoppers with high spec computers and oodles of time to play with windlight and DOF. These same people are those who invest in high-end virtual studios, bazillions of poses and produce stunning results, but – and i hesitate to say it – an awful lot of what i see, other than these, is well… just plain old screen grabs.
Decent sl photography takes a good eye, top technique and lots of hard work – i’d even suggest it can be harder than rl photography: your options are somewhat limited and, ultimately, you’re working in a 2-dimensional medium, with fake light. That makes capturing the illusion of depth, space and substance incredibly difficult, and i take my hat off to those who can do it well.
All that aside, there’s one overriding irritation that remains for me: i understand that you may be proud of your portraits, but honestly, who really wants to spend their time looking at pictures of other virtual people?
Erm… sorry, didn’t mean to rant! Back to the celebrations: In my heroic circumnavigation of Fascinate, Astound and Beguile yesterday, i found a huge amount of work that demonstrates the artistry, as well as the creativeness, of sl residents. Photography, sculpture, machinima, documentary works, the written and spoken word, dance and music are all represented and all deserve, very much, to be appreciated and enjoyed. There are some remarkable artisans involved in sl and it’s great to see art and culture sharing the same space as less altruistic endeavors. The really cool part of it for me, is how people who wouldn’t be seen dead in a gallery in rl, will happily spend time enjoying the virtual equivalent, which has a wow factor all of its own.
Pictures of you, pictures of me
Hung up on your wall for the world to see
Pictures of you, pictures of me
Remind us all of what we could have been
The Last Goodnight – Pictures Of You