Digital Ethnography and Virtual Worlds Aziza Ismail Professor StokrockiAvatar name: aismail4 Summer II 2012
Ethnography:Descriptive study of a particular human society. Contemporaryethnography is based almost entirely on fieldwork. The ethnographerlives among the people who are the subject of study for a year ormore, learning the local language and participating in everyday lifewhile striving to maintain a degree of objective detachment. He orshe usually cultivates close relationships with “informants” who canprovide specific information on aspects of cultural life.Digital ethnography is simply the application of new technologies tothe process of ethnography.(referenced from: Reference.com)
Stages:1. Data Collectiona term used to describe a process of preparing and collecting data. The purposeof data collection is to obtain information to keep on record, to make decisionsabout important issues, or to pass information on to others. The method used inEthnography is meant to capture the “social meanings and ordinary activities” ofpeople (informants) in “naturally occurring settings” that are commonly referredto as “the field.” (Wikipedia) 2. Content Analysis: A methodology in the social sciences for studying the content of communication. (provides insight into the research topic) (to “discover logical patterns and social structure”) (Wikipedia) 3. Comparative Analysis: Method of analysis that compares and contrasts two things.
Research Questions: 1. What artwork forms and methods do they use? 2. What does their artwork mean – expressions? 3. What are their art preferences?
Context and Participants:Afghan Virtual Museum, Second Life http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Trillia/ Mountainous, rigid terrain, a waterfall and a small pond. Mostly isolated, desert landscape. Camels, snakes, and flying birds. A museum atop a mountain. Rooms each elevated, each on higher land than the other. Modeled after traditional Afghan Architecture, with flat roofs which act as additional exhibit spaces/markets. Selling of virtual Afghan clothing. Museum is modeled as a traditional Afghan home. Additionally, there are caves, sky buildings, magic carpet rides, genies, and much more to explore. Very little greenery available. Architecture created with stones and natural materials (digitally textured to look so)
Community: Picture from AVM webpageThis is a museum dedicated to the Afghan cause -- teaching the West aboutAfghanistan, spreading awareness of womens issues of Afghanistan (RAWA), havingparticipants question the NATO occupation of Afghanistan, which are some of the goalsof the museum. The museum attracts people both Afghans and non-Afghans who sharethese interests. Racially, Afghanistan itself is very diverse, being homes to severalethnicities. The language of the Museum is English and was created by a Western artistfor Western audiences. Many different locations for meetings to take place. Seating isarranged with traditional Afghan furniture, aligned against a wall. Really an immersiveexperience into an aspect of Afghan culture. Allowing for a better understanding of it --a powerful learning experience. Lots of information on the walls, many items to clickon to provide visitor with more information. Not just a bunch of written material, butalso a lot of visual and interactive materials. Visitors may also donate to RAWA bypurchasing items (i.e. Afghan dress) from the marketplace, located on the roof of themuseum.
Artist:The artist I chose was TrillZapatero. I chose herbecause she started and hasdone most of the work onthe Afghan Virtual Museum.Her avatar looks very youngand seems to have a mix ofdifferent styles of clothing –as she is always changing. Ifound her by clicking forinformation at the museum.Then I sent here a privatemessage.
Data Collection: [12:09] Trill Zapatero: Ive been working on other projects since then [12:10] Trill Zapatero: well I started by bringing in paintings [12:10] Trill Zapatero: then I started to raise funds for RAWA [12:10] Trill Zapatero: do you know RAWA?[12:10] aismail4: I have heard of them.[12:10] Trill Zapatero: the revolutionary association of the women of Afghanistan[12:10] aismail4: Ive visited there site before[12:11] Trill Zapatero: so I make clothes and send the proceeds to them[12:11] aismail4: Why do you make art on Second Life? What are the benefits?[12:11] Trill Zapatero: a person can make quite a bit of money in SL[12:11] Trill Zapatero: at certain things, clothes being one of them[12:11] Trill Zapatero: well, the benefits are many[12:12] Trill Zapatero: for one, its a whole new genre, virtual world building andinstallations[12:12] Trill Zapatero: and the opportunity to collaborate on projects with people allover the world[12:12] Trill Zapatero: its a great way to share your work internationally too[12:12] Trill Zapatero: and meet a lot of very interesting people
Content AnalysisWhat is Art?She is a Painter and illustrator. Her work is mostly in SL although she does RLas well. The boundaries between which are blurry.What is title -favorite artwork? Why choose?The Grail. Meaning of life. Good things people do in life vs. the bad things.Why make it?New genre, opportunity to collaborate with people all over the world.How made?Started with bringing in paintings. Illustrates book digitally. Built the buildingand exhibits with a combination of sculpts and system prims. Sculpts made inan external program. Textures made in Photoshop. AC3d or Maya. Opensource tools --scripting, etc. Use ofphotography, textures, 3Dobjects, collage, paint.
Where from?Travels all over and is inspiredby her travels.Expression:Color, line, etc.?Each thing is so different. Liketo use many differentpossibilities. Mixing b/wschemes with color. Mixingabstract and representation.Magical symbols. Straightgraphics and symbols. Mixdrawing and painting. Mix 3dbuild with 2d art. Metaphor.Collaborate with whom?With people all over the world. Sims. Big builds with several artists workingtogether. A LEA project with a Frenchwomen.Evolving Questions?
Comparative Analysis & ConclusionsThe artwork forms and methods used by this avatar includedDrawing, sculpture, Digital art forms - 3D modeling using Maya andsculpting using AC3D. Painting, etc. Her method is to upload as texturesonto 3D surfaces.Her artwork is very open as she likes to try out many things and thus themeanings and expressions they take on are many. For example, her grailquest, this expresses the problems of the world to the visitor. She also hasin her work magical symbols of alchemy, hidden messages and stories. Thegrail itself is symbol for all the good things in life - its meant to be a cupthat heals the world. It can, however, take on many different meanings todifferent people. To the artist, it is us humans who are the grail; those of uswho do the little good things that all add up.
Comparative Analysis & ConclusionsThe artists preferences, she iscurrently an illustrator, she illustratesbooks digitally that can be viewedonline on the Huffington Post. Shealso designs and sells digital clothingonline at the Second Life Marketplaceof which she sends the proceeds tothe non-profit organization, RAWA.She prefers to be open to differentpossibilities. She also enjoyssculpting, creating architecture. Shetravels around the world, althoughshe hasnt been to Afghanistan. Sheworks with international artists, andcreates in Second Life, artifacts thatare inspired from other parts of theworld.
Comparative Analysis & Conclusions Second Life has its benefits compared to Real life. It offers its artists many opportunities, among them are opportunities to collaborate with different artists, while separated physically and in disparate lands. It provides the opportunity to bring together 2D and 3D artwork, and allows for artists to showcase their work to the international community. Artists are able to raise awareness of different issues and to raise funds for non-profit organizations, thus does Second life make possible community engagement. It allows users to experience the art, and thus the art is not static but rather immersive and dynamic. There is much more that can be done with 3D artwork in a virtual environment than in the 2D artwork in real life. Your artwork becomes potentially more accessible to a greater and far more diverse audience/viewers.
Comparative Analysis & ConclusionsAs Sanchez states in his writings, Second life can be very time consuming; it can openup possibilities for more creativity; and overall artists enjoy building in Second life. Ittook Trill 2 years to work on the Afghan Virtual Museum and yet there still remainthe possibilities of expanding. She did state that she very much enjoyed working onthe project. She has explored many and very creative ways to display her artwork atthe museum, including genie lamps, holograms, magic carpet rides, caves and secretdoors, sky rooms, games, etc. Second life also allowed her to be more creative as shecould mix her 2D artwork with 3D forms. Trill also took advantage of the digitalstorytelling opportunities that are offered in Second Life. She had created animmersive learning environment, meant to teach people about the Afghan peopleand country. She wishes that this museum would get people to question the NATOoccupation of Afghanistan. She takes visitor through games that get people toquestion the meaning of life and its troubles. In second life you are not limited bywhat is or is not possible in real life, therefore you have many moreopportunities, and many more opportunities to be more creative/imaginative. Youare not limited by financial or physical constraints, either. Of course, it depends uponthe skills of the SL artists to make his/her vision a reality.