5. Reflection on Assignment 4

Reflection on Assignment 4: Digital Identities 1


The initial plan is here, for this Assignment and the exploratory themes agreed with my tutor were:

Exploring how I relate to ‘landscape’
Creating photographs of Bonsai trees
Exploring the landscapes in ‘Second Life’.


I was concerned that the themes were too diverse but, in retrospect, working on a few smaller projects rather than one large one helped me to make links I would not otherwise have made as one thought led to another whilst working on them concurrently .

I enjoyed creating new and different photography with the Bonsai trees  and having no other thought in mind except the photography itself.  Afterwards, when pondering why I chose to re-photograph with a polaroid camera, I realised several links – firstly with my earlier research on the art of Hokusai then, thinking about natural /replicas, indexicality and originality brought Jean Baudrillard  into my mind. I have to admit that I didn’t feel sanguine regarding the prospect of gaining a greater sense of his rather difficult writing style but my curiosity and inclination to disagree with Baudrillard motivated me to persevere.  I even had a look at him as a photographer to see how his photography reflected his views (to be written-up) and if extend my explorations of Second Life for Assignment 5 I think I may need to reflect further on how his theories link with Plato’s Cave.

Regarding Landscape   , I was pleased to be reminded that, along the way of this Module, I had actually still been out there taking photographs and experimenting with video. More importantly, thinking along the lines of “Landscape as a failed record” I realised I have been constantly attempting to capture the feelings evoked by being in the landscape and that is something that will continue into my next Module. I was also aware whilst exploring Second Life that I was seeking places where I could be alone in those created landscapes and also recognise how far they had been modelled on actual landscapes. If I decide to continue exploring Second Life I will look further into contemporary artists/photographers who are using virtual reality techniques and other technologies to portray landscape.

Avatars and the Uncanny Valley

Thoughts of dolls, robots and Avatars lead me there.  I haven’t yet seen enough Avatars in Second Life to form a view on where they might stand on the scale of ‘reality’. Second Life itself is no longer in the forefront, although I see that Linden Lab, its creator, is developing other programs such as Blocksworldf (for iPad) and Sansar a new platform for creating social VR experiences.  I have hardly set foot in the latest technologies but family members have and I experienced some different forms when I recently visited the Roya Academy Exhibition From Life .

Additional Research and Reading

Mindful of my tutor’s reminder ‘to have some fun’ I tried hard to keep the reading down as much as possible and the reading and research recorded in this post were in addition to that done for other areas of this Assignment (see the PDF of my Bibliography for this Assignment) . I do think that I have investigated several new areas, made links with previous reading and work, and discovered artists/photographers who are thinking and working around the dimensions between technology creativity, philosophy and theory;

Exploring Second Life

Beginning exploring here has been both enjoyable and frustrating. The greatest realisation (which I should have expected) is that, so far, I have behaved the same there as I do in ‘real’ life in terms of not wanting to get too involved in any form of social networking and being happy with my own company whilst realising that, even there, I am lacking in the skills needed to get the most out of it – by which I mean more advanced  technical skills.  I have been trying out new skills though in using Snagit software for screen grabs and videos and Filmora Software for processing the videos. I’m more used to using iMovie for video creation but this doesn’t have the facility for dual screens whereas there are several options in Filmora which I want to try out. I have downloaded Adobe Premiere Pro but it looks complicated as yet and I hope to get some training on it in due course.

The landscapes vary in Second Life – some recognisable and comforting in a way – such as herds of cows; waterfalls and peaceful gardens. Others, such as on New Caerleon Island, are more futuristic and I was reminded of the Supertree Grove, Gardens by the Bay in Singapore – tree shaped yet alien in their unchanging aspect.

Where to next?

Of course, this will depend on feedback from my tutor, but at the moment I’m thinking there’s something about the polaroid Bonsai that makes me think this will be it for now as those small polaroids seem complete in themselves.  I will have to think of how I present them at Assessment though and I will continue to use a polaroid camera to photograph them as new bonsai are acquired and worked with, and also as the current trees grow into the seasons.

I talked about this Assignment at the OCA Thames Valley Group meeting last week and both the Bonsai polaroids and the contact sheet from Second Life received positive and interested comments. There seemed general agreement as well that the polaroids seem to be complete in themselves (plus some concern expressed at my ‘mishandling’ them by pinning them to a whiteboard using magnetic buttons). There was also interest in my self-assessment of how I was behaving in Second Life as I do in real life. One of my fellow students compared that with how her ten year old daughter builds amazing structures in Minecraft with no limit to her imagination.  There’s something there around how ‘self’ , ‘self-image’ and character traits become more fixed as we become older I think. Obviously, that’s a psychological aspect but there’s could be some narrative in that.

If I continue in Second Life I have already identified that I would like to learn more of the Adobe programs available to create animated characters; find the best way to present the snapshots and videos I have created with the Snagit program, and also think more regarding the links with Plato’s Cave. I intend to jot down some more ideas before I discuss with my tutor.

Overall Bibliography for Assignment – see PDF below. 

Bibliography Ass 4


Links below for all sections of my Assignment write-up

Project and Exercise Part 4.1:  https://catherinebanksdiac.wordpress.com/category/coursework/part-4-digital-identities/projects-and-exercises/project-1-and-exercise-4-1/

Initial Plan for Assignment 4: https://catherinebanksdiac.wordpress.com/category/assignments/assignment-4/1-initial-plan-26th-october-2017/

The Art of Bonsai: https://catherinebanksdiac.wordpress.com/category/assignments/assignment-4/2-the-art-of-bonsai/

Jean Baudrillard: https://catherinebanksdiac.wordpress.com/category/assignments/assignment-4/3-contextual-research-and-reflection/jean-bauadrillard-part-i/

Thoughts on Landscape : https://catherinebanksdiac.wordpress.com/category/assignments/assignment-4/3-contextual-research-and-reflection/landscape-further-thoughts/

The Uncanny Valley: https://catherinebanksdiac.wordpress.com/category/assignments/assignment-4/3-contextual-research-and-reflection/the-uncanny-valley-and-avatars/

Exploring Second Life: https://catherinebanksdiac.wordpress.com/2018/01/26/exploring-second-life/