Here are the front and back images and the inner text from the Christmas card I sent to SL friends on 25 December 2020.
VANESSA BLAYLOCK COMPANY
public art in virtual worlds
Merry Christmas, 2020
I once started to tell an RL cousin about SL, and he quickly informed me that to spend even 5 cents on clothes for your avatar would be the very pinnacle of insanity. I was surprised that such a tech-friendly relative had such a firm and dismissive attitude. This usually gentle person seemed almost angry at this most ridiculous of human folly.
I have spent a lot more than 5 cents on clothes, art projects and everything else under the SL sun. I don’t see a lot of difference. If I wear a t-shirt IRL for an hour, or in SL for an hour, if I feel good, maybe someone says “nice shirt”, how is that RL shirt different from the SL shirt?
In the past clothes were functional. A parka at the poles to protect you from the cold. A swimsuit at the equator to cool you from the heat. For many of us fortunate enough to enjoy the fruits of late capitalism, we have a bit more than that today. RL or SL, our wardrobes go beyond survival skins to aesthetics, identity expression, and no doubt a bit of cultural appropriation.
Facets of Identity
I have about 100 RL cousins! And just about all of them are more conservative than the one who blanched at the very idea of spending 5 cents in a world like SL. I rarely talk to RL peeps about SL. That may seem like a compartmentalized life. But IRL I rarely talk to anyone in Visual Art about the Dance I used to do. And they’re both Arts! I think we do have different sets of people who map to different facets of our identity. We are whole people, but most of those we know don’t connect to every facet of our being.
My extended RL family is very conservative. I do my best to never talk with them about cultural issues. I save that for friends and other artists. But when there is a birth, a marriage, an illness, or a death, it is that family who is there for you for all the hours of the joy or the ordeal. They are deeply loving people who happen to have a very different world view from me.
(and I do have one!)
We are on our own in this world. IRL the gods made the world and pretty much said “you’re on your own.” On your own to invent or discover the wheel, fire, the jumbo jet, the personal computer, penicillin, and a COVID-19 vaccine.
It’s pretty much the same in SL. The gods made the world and said “you’re on your own.” Maybe they’ll come back and fix chat lag one day, but most of the things we love about this world are UGC. They were mostly made by other avatars.
I don’t share much about this world with RL peeps. I don’t talk too much about RL in this world. In a ballet class you might say a few words to a friend about other life issues and events, but mostly we talk about dance. Even if it bores non-dancers to tears.
I Love You
What I think I’m trying to say is how special it is that some group of us have chosen to spend a little or a lot of time in this world. Peeps from RL, even peeps from other Virtual Worlds, mostly don’t get our world. It’s just us. We build, we shop, we create, we explore, we dance, we play, we photograph, we document.
Our solar system doesn’t care much about the idea of “January 1st”. But for we humans it feels right to put a marker somewhere, and use it to note the orbits of the sun, the passing of the seasons, and times of our lives.
The lives we live here may not make a lot of sense to my RL cousin or many others. But they feel right to me and I suspect they feel right to you.
I don’t hate 2020 the way many others do. I appreciate it’s taken a health, life, economic, and mental health toll on many. It also brought me back to this amazing world after a 2 or 3 year absence.
2020 was a devastating year for some. And a very weird year for many others. It was also a chance to reflect on our lives. It was fatal for some, but not all bad for many of us. I hope 2021 brings better things.
Thank you for letting me be a part of your world!
Happy Holidays & Best Wishes in 2021!
I love you,