Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kristine Schomaker's "My Life as an Avatar: The Gracie Kendal Project" & "1000+Avatars"

Yoshikaze presents Kristine Schomaker's

"My Life as an Avatar: The Gracie Kendal Project" (

via Skype Video

4pm on 30 January 2012, RL HUMlab, Umeå University, Sweden

In "The Gracie Kendal Project" Kristine Schomaker investigates our obsession with the notion of the physical ideal, through her own relation to her alternative ego Gracie Kendal, the Second Life avatar.  The interaction between Gracie Kendal and Kristine Schomaker has resulted in virtual dialogues between the two, revealing the conflicts and even dependency of her dual selves, as well as the influences and impacts one has upon the other.

"1000+Avatars" is an off-shoot project from "The Gracie Kendal Project", however, in its own right.  By documenting individual portraits of more than 1000 avatars in Second Life, the project bears a testimony to the avatar constructions of our time and witnesses the unique composition of our desires in the pursuit of that construct.

Gracie Kendal/Kristine Schomaker is a new breed of Second Life artist.  Rather than pursuing the futuristic vision of the technological possibilities of the virtual, her projects firmly place themselves within the social, historical and psychological context in which ""[t]he avatar becomes a vehicle for personal and public reflection."

Yoshikaze is proud to organise a presentation by Kristine Schomaker on 30 January, 2012.  The presentation will be held from 4pm at HUMlab, Umeå University,  via Skype video connection with Kristine Schomaker in her location in Los Angeles.

Yoshikaze curator: Goodwind Seiling/Sachiko Hayashi.  Yoshikaze is part of SL HUMlab activity. 


[Description of the Projects by Kristine Schomaker]

In 2006 I began using new media to bring more attention to the obsession our society has with physical appearance. The media is often the hub of this obsession, typified by stars and models with eating disorders, reality TV shows about plastic surgery and advertisements defining the paragon of beauty. This results in an internal conflict between our reality and the idealized.

The Gracie Kendal Project is a close-up daily view of a personal, social and psychological co-existence with my virtual persona. My work deals with the process of becoming self-aware while living in a society obsessed with physical appearance. It is symbolic of the personal anxiety and loss of identity occurring in a world where visually aggressive advertisements dictate who you are supposed to be. In this environment I find it difficult to be comfortable in my own skin.

Every day I would take pictures of both myself and Gracie and place them next to each other comparing the physical with the virtual, the real with the ideal. After observing how we were interacting with each other through photos, I realized there was a dialogue forming. The natural extension in this story was for this dialogue to be realized through actual conversations between Gracie and I.

Through written chat and eventually comic-like banter, we express our inner dialogue in a public way. We have developed a co-dependent relationship in which each of us wishes she were the other. I yearn to have the life she does, the beauty, the success, and independence. She yearns to be free from the constraints of pixels.Using Gracie as a form of self-presentation, I started to explore my relationship with my body as well as question my own identity. I realized that everything going on in my life was manifesting in my body and in the figure of Gracie. Both were becoming a site for anxiety, fear, stress, grief, loneliness and depression. My body and that of my avatar became a source of autobiographical material in which a story was being written.

Comparing the ‘perfect’ Gracie with my real self, I will bring more attention to the obsession our society has with physical appearance. I am hoping to engage with every person who believes they are unattractive, overweight and afraid. I hope young girls will see my project and feel empowered to be brave. I plan to videotape my performances with my avatar and post them on YouTube. I hope to give talks about my project to appropriate organizations and schools, boys and girls clubs and eating disorder groups.

While working on My Life as an Avatar on a personal level, I was compelled to expand my project universally to explore notions of online identity in the construction of other people’s avatars. My 1000+ Avatar project consists of individual portraits of over 1000 avatars within the virtual world of Second Life. This project also questions and explores commonly held assumptions about stereotypes, judgment, self-awareness and those marginalized by race, gender, sexual preference and physical appearance.

The 1000 Avatar portraits zoom in on the complex social and cultural conventions that determine our identity. The avatar becomes a vehicle for personal and public reflection. This series of portraits is a contemporary anthropology of a cross section of avatars from the virtual world of Second Life in the early 21st century. In these portraits, I explore the representation of the avatar as a construct, distinct from any traditional notion of the ‘self’. I examine the sitter’s identity and probe below the avatar surface to reveal and comment upon their character, personality and their diversity.

The subjects are neither simulacra nor characters in a game: they are people, complete, complex identities with defined social roles. The avatar becomes the projection of our identity. Each portrait represents a different personality, a singular life. These people entered the brave new world of virtual environments as explorers, searching for anything and everything, finding a new empowerment- and a new freedom to be themselves. Experimentation is welcome. As an avatar, they are provided with a safe environment which allows everyone to divulge and consider boundaries and barriers that aren’t readily accepted in the physical world.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Textual Internet

Key quotations used in a lesson for Language Consultancy Program in HUMlab yesterday. The full notes for the class are here.

Specialisation is for Insects

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying. Take orders, give orders, co-operate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialisation is for insects". - Robert Heinlein

I would add play a musical instrument, dance and have a command of at least two languages. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Online Profile

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Virtual Reflections: avatar self-idenity

A documentary I helped make about identity and avatars in the online virtual world of Second Life.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Centrum Sonic Lecture 4: Laurent Fintoni - A Boom Bap Continuum

Centrum Sonic Lecture 4: Laurent Fintoni - A Boom Bap Continuum
19.00 Sonntag,
 Januar 22 2012

Centrum Gallery Berlin presents Laurent Fintoni Sonic Lecture entitled A Boom Bap Continuum, which looks at the evolution and mutation of hip hop's 'boom bap' sound aesthetic from 1999 to 2009 and beyond. Exploring the sound's early mutations in the 2000s via the work of people like Dabrye, Machinedrum, Prefuse 73 and El-P through to the work of people like Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke, Ras G and Mike Slott. Using a chronological backbone, music selection and newly sourced input from some of the early pioneers, the lecture will show how terms like trip hop, glitch hop, IDM and later wonky were ultimately often attempts at pigeon-holing boom bap's mutations into more comfortable boxes and how its sonic evolution was influenced from the soul and funk of the 70s to electronic music, rave and video games which led to its revival and continued popularity. As Laurent says: "A Boom Bap Continuum seeks to trace what I see as the fascinating evolution of hip hop's most enduring sonic aesthetic and how it was influenced by technological evolution, cultural and geographical mutations as well as hip hop's original ethos of 'do what you want with what you have."

Please RSVP to david[@]
Lecture starts at 7pm, please arrive by 6.45pm. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fau Ferdinand in HUMlab

Yoshikaze Secodn Life "Up-In-The-Air" Residency presents

Fau Ferdinand aka Yael Gilks

23 - 27 January 2012
@ HUMlab, Umeå University, Sweden
Opening Hours: 8am - 4 pm Weekdays
Opening: 23 January Between 2pm - 4pm
Artist Talk at 2pm


"On virtual landscapes and real feelings.

Photons, camera lens, screen, eye -  mashed then mashed again.

Are landscapes seen from afar not virtual ? I can hardly see a thing but colour anyway, unless it’s on a screen near me soon.

The shrinking field of view, that particular scene  affects me - that  bird I couldn’t save. The cat too fast and ants have spread the word. Life abounds around death.

I join in, giving up on quality  to make believe I’m really there though I was there.

Inflation and deflation of an avatar that was death before processing. Death gets pregnant by Deformation.

The avatar, as the persona, is a battlefield.

I’m what eats me.

Distress grabbed." 

(Fau Ferdinand)


Fau Ferdinand, a.k.a. Yael Gilks, is an established Second Life performance artist, who has produced memorable works since her entry into SL in 2004.  Her work manifests metamorphosis of life, often dealing with the theme of life and death,  from one state of existence to another,  in a manner almost expressed as surreal.  Dissolving in fluidity, her subjects enter her world through the dreamscape which surrounds her Self.

During her residency at Yoshikaze, she has taken a step into a new direction, in which video/machinima proceeds not only as a mere documentation of her virtual performance but as a hybrid medium of the virtual and videoart for which she expands her theme as the end result.

Between 23 - 27 January 2012 at HUMlab, Umeå University, Sweden, Yoshikaze is pleased to present her first independent videowork "Bird Funeral" which she has completed during her Yoshikaze residency.  In addition the exhibition offers an opportunity to experience two additional derivative videoworks, into which "Bird Funeral" with the elements from the virtual world has metamorphosed itself through the techniques of moving image.

Currently Fau Ferdinand/Yael Gilks is a co-director and co-curator of SL sim Odyssey.  Her work "Bird Funeral" completed at Yoshikaze is online at  The remains of "Bird Funeral" can be experienced inworld at Yoshikaze residency spot:

Curated by Goodwind Seiling/Sachiko Hayashi in collaboration with HUMlab.  The poster design by Beatrice Rosberg at HUMlab.

Yoshikaze "Up-in-the-Air" Residency ( is a Second Life residency programme run by Sachiko Hayashi together with SL HUMlab sim manager James Barrett from HUMlab, Umeå University, Sweden. As part of HUMlab, its 3264 sqm land in Second Life supports SL artists in their pursuit of virtual art practices and researches.  For inquiries, please contact:

Yoshikaze is funded and hosted by HUMlab, Umeå University, Sweden.

Yoshikaze blog:
Yoshikaze vimeo: