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Do you think your avatar is art?

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Dresden Ceriano wrote:

My avatar is certainly part of my creative process... that doesn't mean that I think of it as a work of art.  The way I see it, art must invoke something more than simple beauty. 
I feel as if art must transcend beauty and somehow become more deeply meaningful to the observer than just a pretty face.
  As far as I'm concerned, true art is supposed to make you feel something more than just, "Oh, that's nice to look at."

I've seen many incredibly beautiful snapshots of extremely gorgeous avatars taken in SL, but rarely would I ever equate any of them to my interpretation of true art.  There's very few people in SL that have ever been able to transform the beauty which they've been able to capture into something which I would honestly consider to be art.  If you're interested in what I think of as art, as it pertains to an SL avatar, I suggest you look up Whiskey Monday... actually, let me provide you with a link...

Never would I consider the thoughtful modification of my own avatar to in any way compare to the deeply, emotionally affective impact of her images.  Never would I equate my ability to put together a decent looking avatar with her ability touch people's soul.


By that definition most of the things that are in "art" museums, particularly before the 19th century, couldn't be considered art. A lot of it was done to pay the rent or to keep the king happy. And what of "prehistoric" art? A lot of it really is a bunch of pots and baskets.

On the other hand, to a parent a child's doodle of them with "Mom" or "Dad" scrawled on it would have deep emotional meaning - almost undoubtedly more for than that person than the Mona Lisa would. And realistically, would you have a deep response to the Mona Lisa if you didn't know it was "great art"?

My main account is an orphaned teenager (although she's growing currently.) I made her an orphan, then a runaway basically to explain why an unacompanied teenager would appear in a new world but I eventually found myself wondering what her family had been like, what she thought of them, etc.

One day I found a bracelet in a SL shop that was a piece of a broken charm bracelet tied together with a leather thong. I bought it for her, thinking of it as a momento of a lost past life that she was trying to keep held together.

And then I started crying for this imaginary girl.

And I'm damn close to doing it again.


I'm not saying that the Mona Lisa, the child's doodle or my avatar and her bracelet are or are not art because I really don't care for that word, and I especially don't like the term "artist." If I had to make a definition of the word "art", though, I'd think of it as something at least partially done for its own sake instead of for a purpose - the prehistoric pot ends up in the art museum because someone decided, "Well, I need a pot but I might as well make it a little... special."


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(This is probably going to read a lot more negatively than its intended. The TL:DR of it is that the avatars in SL are, in my opinion, mostly about a RP re-enactment of youth and popularity desires - which is not something I see as art.)


Walk into the average crowded event in SL and about half the female avatars are using a pouty face with blond mesh hair, baggy pants, and some lolipop thing in their mouth.

Half the male avatars have a slightly broody expression, and hair that is long in top and shaved sideburns, with a torso 2/3rd as long as the legs, and baggy pants. a third of the remaining half are on the old stereotype: very long black hair, native american jaw but caucasian features. super wide shoulders, skinny hips, jeans, and either topless or a leather jacket.

Clone armies.

I keep expecting Vadar Linden to show up at these events and then for some rabbit Furry with floppy ears (as most of them have) to yell out in blackface dialog that we gotta run for it...


I don't consider that art.

Its just people all copying their friends in reactive circles for a trend. They all shop at the same basic places. The stores in these cycles copy each other trying to ride the wave of the current fashion trend - mostly using the same mesh template and just coloring it differently. The skin makers all copy each other. Some of them to the point of copy-theft. Most just look at the others and think "I can make that look, only cooler". The hair makers are all doing the same styles - it takes work to find something different. And in their annual Hair Faire - half just put out the same old thing while the other half get 'different' in the same basic way as each other...

- And their customers are even less varied. The same blond hair, the same poof-top black hair on a male. The same baggy pants. The same lolipop in the mouth.


Go to the events, and they all stand in a line and dance the same dance...



Not willing to call it that.

I would say the art takes being individual, but if you go to an infohub and see that one person being individual: its also usually the same basic thing: an ugly avatar with certain kind of funny face and mishapen body, with often a single solid color skin.

This isn't bad per se... its just not art. Its more like a bunch of older folks trying to recapture high school. Listen to chat... it sounds like high school kids from the 70s and 80s...

(Lest you think I'm giving furries a free pass, go to a furry club: they all look the same as each other there too - its not a space of individual stykles, just another alt-cult in the high school. Like most folks are trying to be preppies, and the furries are the stoners. But its still just a high school re-enactment.)


There is more diversity in avatar styles on this forum though than you will find in most of SL. Folks in here who's tastes I have no appreciation for - are still often outside the clone army thing I find in so much of SL. Or that could just be because this is an intersectin. Like the school cafetaria. The jocks, preps, geeks, and stoners can't avoid each other in the forum... :)


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   I'm no art expert or anything, but I have a few basic guidelines on what I consider art to be. 


I) Art is a creative process and a method of self-expression.

2) Art is highly subjective. This is why some people's art is other people's pornography, heresy, or just trash.

3) Art should provoke an emotional response. One should be awed by the beauty (as with the Sistine Chapel), shocked by the content (as with many of the iconic Vietnam War photos), made contemplative, etc.   

   Thus, I'm not sure if my avatar is art or not. I consider the content created in SL to be art because it is the creative, self-expression of the content creator. My avi's skin, clothes, etc are art. My avi is merely a compilation of these artistic components, thus, probably not art. The creative process that goes into visualizing the avatar may be art though. However, since art is highly subjective, I think the only answer is probably the same as always - it's art to people who consider it art. 

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Georgina, if you're still there, you might check this out. I found it researching a blog post I wrote a week or so ago, using (of all things!) Google. It's an unpublished article by a Turkish academic (in English) that addresses your question directly.


There are some very good answers here already. I'm not sure I have an opinion myself that I could summarize easily. Art can be "self-expression," and it can have a meaning that can be paraphrased, but neither is necessary, and neither is a sufficient definition.

Art is defined by social convention: a century ago, Jackson Pollock wasn't "art," and 150 years ago, neither were the Impressionists. We've just decided that they are.

I think you've asked a difficult question because, as the discussion here indicates, you first need to define "art." Maybe it would be better to talk about avatars as a form of self-expression?

(And there goes my status as a forum lurker.)

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I think that for something to be defined as art it has to involve at least two people. One person to present it as art and a second person to accept it as art. Everyone else may disagree but between those two people that something is art. It may not even involve the artist. If two people come upon a painting, one will say that it is a great piece of art and the other will agree.

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