Saturday, 18 August 2012

Fleeting Glimpse

Since I began my Second Life, I have been a trigger-happy screenshotter, pressing ctrl+alt+s every time anything remotely interesting, amusing, beautiful, or wordlessly ugly crossed my path. 

But here's the thing - just as in real life, taking a photograph does not make you a photographer, and I have not been what you might good a good SL photographer. I have often been in awe of the shots my friends have taken, and not only because they are using SL on a better set-up than mine. In my first life, I am something of an amateur photographer, and have just recently had some of my photographs published in a book overseas (which I thought was ultra-cool), so it isn't like I don't have something of an eye for the field. My SL screenshots, however, have been all kinds of suck-ish. 

Look at this classy screenshot go!
I expressed this negative view of my SL photography to Sian Pearl, and she gave me a crash-course in the tricks of the trade - really, simple button commands that allow for a much more delicate and intelligent manipulation of the viewer camera that I was just not aware of before. I had been using my mouse, and what we not-so-affectionately term the 'perv cam' (that is, the button that allows you to click around and zoom in on things without moving your avatar - you can see how it got that name!) to get the angles for my shots, and it was clunky and slow, prone to lagging out and I would somehow manage to get my camera stuck inside a wall or something. Very frustrating.

However, I think I've been getting better, and when I logged into SL the other day to take some screenshots for my new blog banner (all of which I discarded for being of entirely the wrong nature), I managed to take one that I'm actually really proud of. There have been a couple of shots lately that I have been proud of, all of which have been uploaded to Kitti's flickr stream, but I decided this one deserved a blog post all of its own. 

Ta-dah! Best viewed large on Kitti's flickr - see the link at the end of this post
 In a world as fleeting and ephemeral, as subject to nigh instantaneous change, as Second Life, how important is photography? It's a topic I picked upon in the last installment of Kit 49. How important is it to catch a moment that is just that - a moment - gone so quickly it was barely even there? One could ask the same of real life, too, I guess, but the ability to change everything so completely is what makes the question all the more poignant for the virtual world. When I can change everything about Kitti, her skin colour, hair colour, body shape, size, height, style of dress, even her name, in just a few clicks, what is the point in capturing her so?

Sulky or sultry?
I think the point is to record that ability to change, to document our virtual selves in each and every incarnation. Perhaps we applaud our own creativity, in which case it is for vanity. I mean, if I took this many photographs of myself in my first life, I would certainly be labelled vain, and probably a lot of other names besides. We have the ability to document our own lives, our own histories and stories and evolutions, in a way that was not open, or at least perceived to be open, to the generations before us. We create our own history books, censoring as we go.

But also...does Kitti change so much from screenshot to screenshot? Sometimes her hair colour might change, yes, and sometimes the exact shade of blue of her eyes is altered slightly. But in terms of height, weight, skin colour and shape of her features, she stays exactly the same. When someone speaks to her in world, my voice comes out of her mouth, whether that mouth is painted red or blue or no colour at all. 

All I know for sure is that I feel the importance of photography in both worlds, and so it makes me happy that I have found a screenshot I am truly happy with, even if I can't quite decide whether she looks sulky or sultry. Nor that, in world, it would be a rare occasion to find her behaving with each of those attitudes!

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