Below is the main content of my Tutor’s feedback:-
You have produced a voiced narration over a simulated journey through Second Life for your submission for Assignment 5 and have really pushed yourself technically into areas with which you were previously unfamiliar, applying yourself to the research with characteristic rigor.
Feedback on assignment
The personal diary or voice you have used in conjunction with CGI in Second Life allows for an interesting reflection in the gap between reality (the ageing body) and simulation, between reality (problems for example on communicating with others, etc.) and fantasy (creating the apparently perfect avatar). I think that this strategy can work well, especially when you perhaps juxtapose the life you have in the ‘real’ world with life in a virtual environment where identity is controlled by you. You also say “although self-identity becomes more fixed as we get older we all have the capacity to take surprising turns in our lives and continually reinvent ourselves.
I notice that in one of the comments on your work on your LL, a colleague suggests you put more of ‘you’ into it. I think this comment is very revealing as I do find it pertinent that it is after a period of ill health (and recovery, with your sight now fully restored) that you’ve moved towards this investigation of virtual life, where the confines of the physical self (the body) take second place to the imaginative leaps taken on platforms such as Second Life.
I do think that certain images in your animation work very well when paired with your personal and very human narration: the image of the flying figure (i.e. the figure being freed from the physical constraint of the body, associations with dreaming etc., seem to work very well with the kind of ideas you are interested in exploring. Similarly, the image of the figure walking out into the landscape works well (the searching figure and the journey). Similarly, I do like your voiceover describing your surprise at coming across a herd of cows. Linking this very virtual experience back to a very early formative memory was interesting. The juxtaposition between the two things – memories of the rural and pastoral landscape of 1940s or 50s – with the hyper-simulated experiences offered up by Second Life seems to work really well.
You’ve already written well in your LL on those who for a variety reason, find life in a virtual world easier (i.e. easier to move, easier to relate to others etc.) and I do think it’s this juxtaposition (when the real meets the virtual) where the ideas become interesting. You might be interested in looking at Ed Atkin’s 3-D generated man in this respect (excerpt of Ribbons (2014): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EkqVWXBVOQ
You do explore in your reflection the journey you have made in terms of technical terms in for assignment 5 and the course as a whole: ‘Whilst I did experiment with earlier, layered forms of 3D, I haven’t as yet used the Second Life 3D modelling software…Instead I’ve concentrated on learning how to control the camera, how to actually ‘unpack’ 3D objects which were already in my inventory…most importantly how to move my Avatar. However, as a respite, I have recently downloaded Adobe Fuse and created two 3D characters which are older appearance-wise and ready to be animated when I have more time. Still not as old as me …’
It is perhaps in CGI’s very inability (or indifference) to represent the aging body that you might find your subject.
Congratulations on reaching the end of the course, Catherine. Your enthusiasm and research throughout has been impressive.
My response added to the Report itself
I was very pleased to receive such comprehensive and positive feedback together with recognition of the steep technical learning curve I have engaged with. I also enjoyed the research and was pleased I was able to ensure I kept it focused on what I was aiming to achieve.
What I enjoyed the most though was being able to link this Assignment with earlier Assignments – one of the poppy colleges I created for Ass 1 is now on a wall in my Second Life house and I was also able to link some of my “Second Life’ commentary back to Assignment 2 (the work done juxtaposing my father’s letters from 1940s Egypt with the landscapes of Egypt and Derbyshire).
Additionally I linked my Second Life experience with research on the theories and philosophy on simulacra/simulation and created a narrative from it. Through this I have stepped along from the fairytale I created in my first Model TAoP and the male character I spoke through in C&N. This is the kind of work that very much appeals to me where image and text work together as I like to tell stories.
CGI and the virtual world are fascinating and there is much available to explore so I am wondering how/whether I might continue engagement with it into my next Module. It would be a shame to lose the opportunity to improve on the skills I am beginning to acquire. I was already aware of Ed Atkins’s work but looked at it again, with more experience/knowledge to bring to bear. It’s fascinating and I will write a little more on this when I reflect on feedback in my blog.