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Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Art of Blogging ... Art

Writing about art in Second Life can be a lot of fun. You get to have proper conversations with interesting. passionate people... also quite a few twits, but you knew that already. What makes for a better blog, when it comes to blogging art in Second Life? Here are the reactions of a handful of people who know a bit about it, from different perspectives.
Apmel posts notices, reviews, and (what he probably would hate to see called) understated social comment. His blog is regularly updated, sometimes several times a day, often in Swedish, never without purpose. What would be his philosophy on blogging about art - well, not just the art but the people who make it, buy  it, and blether about it? Appropriately, his answer was a link to his blog.
Apmel: his blog is scary good.
          Let's get this out of the way before we go any further: the 'Dear Diary' style: "I got an IM, and..." "I always think...", "I was invited by my good friend Kewlkid Namedrop..." I, I, I....unless you're describing your illness or your solo trek up Everest, mentioning yourself 10 times in the first paragraph makes you sound like a raging egomaniac, not a hip young thing, or the voice of authority. We know that you were IM'd/invited/present at an event, and heck, we kind of guessed that your blog contains things you think and opine. Be warm and personal, but get straight down to the bit we care about, the art and the events.

          But how often to post? It's not necessary to keep pace with Apmel. Professional artist and regular blogger Bryn Oh takes a different approach.
Bryn Oh: Determine if you are an every day poster or better a few times a week (or once every few weeks like me).
Treesmith and artist soror Nishi is a bit of an SL escapee and her blog reflects this with updates on her adventures in real world sculpting and woodworking. She also advocates the occasional approach.
This just in: soror is working on a new build at LEA. 
soror Nishi: Never blog 'because you should', only blog when you really want to. Mix it up, blog about different stuff, rant very occasionally and get political annually. Religion, I never touch. Don't use your site for advertising, the revenue is tiny and it looks terrible.
          If your opinion were humble, you wouldn't have a blog, so avoid that trite expression. That doesn't mean you should be sententious, though. Bring the goods to back up your views. Dividni Shostakovich, curator of the legendary Split Screen Installation Space,  has a blog that is part notices, part thoughtful conversation.
Although not actively showing new builds, Split Screen is still here, and full of treasures worth visiting.
Dividni Shostakovich: Unless your blog's sole purpose is posting announcements, give some idea of what you liked about the work.  "Oh the pictures are so beautiful!" isn't good enough.  What did you like: something about the technique? the theme? the emotional content?  And of course not all good art is beautiful.  If you're ambitious, write a full-scale commentary.  You aren't required to like everything: if something doesn't work for you, go ahead and say so.
Bryn Oh: If you wish to be an art blogger then it is always nice if you can talk about the artworks greater place within virtual world art history.  Make connections to past artists or try to see schools, styles or movements that the work might be connected to.  What is unique about virtual art when compared to other mediums like painting and cinema?  For example, Virtual worlds are open ended 3d environments where the viewer has great freedom to do as they wish.  Is the artwork trying to force the viewer into a passive observer role similar to cinema where we have to follow the camera wherever it goes while we sit passively being told a story?  Is the artwork breaking any new ground or is it interchangeable to another artists work from years ago?
soror Nishi It better to 'speak' in a realistic, natural manner than try for too much philosophy or Art Crap Speak. Don't be a pratt.
          Vernissages and openings are fun to blog about, but only as social events. The artist and curator generally fob you off with notecards, there's too much lag to really appreciate the exhibits, and it's more fun to mess about than to be serious about the art. 'Blogging with the pack' - covering some big event everyone's talking about - is an exercise in repetition. Discover someone who's just getting started, or a build off the beaten track, from time to time. Exploration and serendipity are the cornerstones of creative writing. Copy-pasted press releases are for bots. If you're given the rare priviledge of a preview, be careful not to reveal the whole build, but make your post a mysterious invitation. Write for yourself and for the artist. If someone else reads your words, that's a plus. Don't feel you have to meet the artist to blog about their stuff; many artists can ruin their work for you by turning out to be conceited jerks, like Gleman Jun, or socially inept, like ... well, the list is too long. Never change what people said to suit yourself, and keep notes. It pays off.
           Artsparks was dormant for more than a year, but that didn't stop visitors mining the archive to the tune of a thousand hits a month. Should that matter? *stat angst...sob*
soror Nishi: I used to count visitors and aim for High Traffic, but that was when I was a beginner... much better just to accept that you have a limited and faithful group of people who read your stuff occasionally. Write stuff that will be OK to read in 6 months time as people often read your old stuff.
Bryn Oh: Don't let the desire for "hits" dictate how often you post.  I like when people leave something up two or three days so I have time to notice and read it.
Bryn Oh at The Singularity of Komiko
OK but what about photos? Take your own! (Not mine!)
soror NishiI'd much rather see one good photo than 5 mediocre ones.
Dividni ShostakovichForget the selfies! Once in a while you may need a photo with you in it so you can indicate scale or to show outfits/avs that the artist offers.  Otherwise, stay out of it.  I also don't see much point in photos of the artist.  The exceptions are interviews and, occasionally, artists with unusual avatars.
Bryn OhUse pictures and video that are of high quality and represent what the artist aesthetically intended.  If you are promoting or commenting on an artists work then show what they created rather than using a neon green windlight sky you like.  Take those pictures later, but initially stick with what they have done if you are giving a review to people who have not seen the work yet.

          And then there are Notecards.
          Artists, the Notecard is to an installation what a voice-over narration is to a film: something of a defeat to your chosen medium. Of course, there may be things your public should know before viewing your art (your special windlight or nifty script), but the Notecard, filling half the screen with ugly font, is not the way to do it. The more you write, the less we will read! Trust your audience and your art, and make peace with the fact some people won't get the message you intended. A poster is worth a thousand notecards. Bryn Oh has the audience prep down to a fine art, as you can see in this picture of the landing point at Immersiva. Don't have room to do something this big? You're a 'creative'...come up with something.
His tag read 'I surf Nude' so thank your stars this isn't a beach build.
            It is your blog, but you do owe some consideration to the people you involve in that blog, like getting their names and SLURLs right, if for no other reason than you'll be deluged with complaints if you don't. Divini advocates correcting the English of foreigners, just as a courtesy, and IM-speak makes people look footling in the long term, unless it's a humorous piece, so trim that down too. But do you always have to play nice?
Bryn OhIf you are a critic or keyboard warrior then back up your comments with something thought out and explained so that people can evaluate your position.  Just saying you don't like something is boring. I like bloggers who add their own perspective or opinion to their posts. If an artwork is commenting on Euthanasia for example, then give your opinion too so that a dialogue is opened.  Be unbiased, if you dislike Euthanasia then you don't automatically have to dislike the artwork.  
soror NishiI think if you have nothing nice to say about someone else then you should shut up. I will 'attack' a philosophy of art or anything pretentious, but will avoid being plain nasty or personal.
          If you do decide to be harsh, brace yourself for some in-world backlash. The smaller the real life, the longer the memory. Sometimes it's not the individual you criticized, but their crazed groupies who go after you. That needn't stop you, some people are really asking for it, but remember that circumlocution is your friend, and for the foreign mockee there's nothing like idiom for throwing google translate for a loop. Try to stay out of trouble.
          Which brings us to this: When it comes to art and blogs, one stands alone. Inseparable from the inworld antics it chronicles, SaveMe Oh's transgressive, provocative blog is revolting to and against respectability. Now into its seventh year, it is probably the longest continuous performance in a virtual world, a portrait of the artist, the Rembrandt of Second Life blogs. Via Joshua White and Paul Fryer.


Anonymous said...

Does this blog has any readers?

Apmel said...

You and me (and the rest of the world) SaveMe :)