15-17 September 2008
Centre for Intermedia, University of Exeter (UK)

Avatartist 2.0 was a three-day, professional development project for live artists new to Second Life. Part of DIY5, it was facilitated by Stephen Hodge and the participanting artists were Holly Bodmer, Matt Fletcher, Paul Grimmer, Ilana Mitchell, Francesca Steele & Tekla Wozniak.

Through a series of in-world, practical sessions, exploratory journeys, encounters with artist-avatars, and self-directed exercises, Avatartist 2.0 aimed to:
• familiarise participants with some of the skills needed to kick-start a Second Life;
• demonstrate how Real Life and Second Life practices might support each other;
• facilitate dialogue and artistic exchange between participants.

What happened? Seven avatars were born - they learnt to walk, fly and teleport - they chatted and gestured to each other - they constructed public profiles - they made friends and joined/created groups - they customised their bodies and clothes - they realised impossible architectures - they encountered other artists who have worked in Second Life - they drifted the world alone, open to the possibilities of chance encounters - they went on managed site visits (e.g. to Lynn Hershman Leeson's L2 project) - they were exposed to examples of mixed-reality work - they constructed picnic spaces and events for each other - they reflected on their three-days of Second Life, and wondered what type of work they might make in this world...

DIY5 was a Live Art Development Agency initiative developed in collaboration with Arnolfini and Theatre Bristol; Artsadmin; Colchester Arts Centre; Fierce Earth, North East; New Work Network and China Plate; and Nuffield Theatre and LANWest. It offered artists working in Live Art the opportunity to take part in a unique series of short training and professional development projects conceived and run by artists, for artists. Projects were aimed at both emergent and experienced practitioners. DIY 5 took place across England and offered eleven projects during August and September 2008.

» DIY5: 2008

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Participants' comments:

I found this workshop both useful on a practical level (equipping me with skills I wanted to learn) and insightful (broadening my understanding of an area I want to link to my artistic practice and enabling discussion about this).

Funding for this sort of training is invaluable, and I am already disseminating what I learnt to colleagues and students, so that the funding has a wider impact.

The course provided an excellent introduction, and we are still keen to work in Second life. It really helped us to understand the possibilities and limitations of the world and how we could actually develop our collaborative language in this context.

I personally find my creative synapses fire in such spaces and my sense is that others are also stimulated in this collaborative way. I think space to make work, and have discussions, that are aside from general practice help to focus and better artists' practice.

The DIY programme is great. I had a great time, met with other practitioners and learnt a lot, quickly - in an area I otherwise would have had some difficulty accessing and understanding on my own.

Participation in the workshop and our group work possibly saved us a few weeks of 'work' in SL.

I have been back since - in fact, I spent a few nights of my sleeping hours dreaming there - which proves its impact, and brought up further issues to think about.



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