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Reflections on Second Life Text by Flora Nordenskiold Edited by Huckleberry Hax

Published in March 2012 as an Issuu publication


Content Introduction.....7 Art.....9 Avatar.....11 Blogging.....13 Conflicts.....15 Creativity.....17 Dreams.....19 Exploration.....21 Fantasy.....23 Friendship.....25 Glitches.....27 Holidays.....29 Home.....31 Love.....33 Play.....35 Profile.....37 Sex.....39 Style.....41 Work.....43 Writing.....45 Afterword.....47


Introduction Second Life is an online virtual world developed by Linden Lab in 2003. It consists of a grid, or a world, and residents, or avatars, who interact with each other on the grid. This online publication consists of thoughts I had about Second Life after I had left it on January 30, 2012. The nineteen reflections in this book were initially posted on my new blog, Blueberries and Milk in a Glass Bowl (http://blueberriesandmilkinaglassbowl.wordpress.com/); writing them down helped me process the transitioning from one world to another. The purpose of this publication is at least twofold. First, it is a memory-book of sorts; many of the photos and text descriptions depict my past experiences in Second Life. Second, to the Second Life newcomer or Second Life novice, this publication may be regarded as an introduction to Second Life. i would like to thank huckleberry hax who edited this publication and also wrote the afterword. huck’s generosity and enthusiasm are inspiring in any world. Flora nordenskiold

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Art What is art in Second Life? There was a power struggle surrounding Second Life art and it was about who defined what Second Life art was, social status and money. A few self-appointed specialists who had been successful in integrating Second Life art with Real Life art took it upon themselves to decide what was art and what it was not. In fact, there seemed to be a widespread notion that Second Life art could only be taken seriously and be considered art if it had also been recognized in Real Life. In other words, only Real Life artists were also Second Life artists. Ultimately, of course, if Second Life art was recognized in Real Life it was considered a success not only for the artist but also for the Second Life art community as a whole. But this was only one part of the story. There were challenges, like the UWA challenge, who promoted Second Life art within Second Life. Here we saw incredible works, most or all of them only created and shown in Second Life. Then there were the people who downloaded a photograph of a flower from the internet, put it on a prim, hung it on a gallery wall and called it art. To them, this was art. There were artists who showed large artworks on an empty sim. Their work was not restricted by a gallery wall, it simply stood alone, a part of the space that surrounded it. Then there were others who just did their own thing. The photograph to the left is of Axis Mundi, by Igor Ballyhoo, a beautiful work, full of meaning, that is suspended by itself in the air. Art in Second Life was not well-defined. There were attempts to categorize things as art, which often failed since everything in Second Life had been created by someone. To narrow things down, one could certainly categorize basic things like grass, walls, clothes, cars, etc. as craft, separating these from more specific objects intended as art. These specific art objects, however, were considered art by some, but not by others. Generally speaking, art in Second Life may be considered an expression of creativity as seen in non-craft objects. Photo to the left by Flora Nordenskiold 9


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Avatar The avatar is like a doll. I always felt that way about it and I am not ashamed to admit that I derived an enormous amount of pleasure thinking about it that way. I would love to dress Flora, to change her hair and skin and to occasionally switch AO. Truly, it was like being a child again playing with this doll in various settings and having her interact with other dolls. There were times when I felt that this was superficial, I should attempt to change her into something else. Once I changed into a black, fluffy little cat for a few days and hated it with a gusto; I would constantly bump into things and trip and fall. Not my thing. Of course there is so much more to the avatar then being like a doll. The avatar is a representative of our internal world. With it we display who we are and who we wish we were. I truly think it is a combination of both, not one or the other. Since we put much so of ourselves into our avatars a special bond develops over time. I had several avatars and it seems like most people do (even though some prefer to keep this a secret). First there was Linnea, then Violet and most recently, Flora. I only used Flora, she was my main avatar. Linnea and Violet would come out when I needed a piece of furniture or some other object only found in their inventory. Come to think of it now, having left Second Life, I know that what first comes to mind in terms of missing things are my friends and then the gallery. But really, I also miss Flora, she is right up there on the top.

Photo to the left by Flora Nordenskiold

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Blogging I am no Second Life blog expert. I started my blogging in August 2010 in Second Life about Second Life and I also, still, regularly read others’ blogs about Second Life. Initially, when I started blogging, I felt incredibly insecure and uncertain about what I had gotten myself into. But I plugged along. At some point the blogging became a diary of my experiences of art and creativity in Second Life. The first blog was less personal and more documentary, exploratory in nature. The blog from which these entries are taken is more personal and leaves me feeling more vulnerable, exposing internal reactions to a major change in experience. Regardless, it has always been important to me to put down an extended text related to the event I am blogging about; I want the reader to have some kind of meaningful experience, be it simply factual and documentary or expressive or maybe both. The layout of the blog itself is important to me too; photographs and text should be part of a larger presentation that frames each blog post. There are now many blogs in Second Life. I read all kinds of them, but seem to be returning to the ones that are informative and beautifully presented. Blogs containing snapshots with a line of text below or gossip blogs don’t seem to do it for me. But all these blogs have become a part of the fabric of Second Life. There is something alluring about reading about somebody else’s experience of the metaverse, a place that at times appears so incomprehensible. Photo to the left by Flora Nordenskiold

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Conflict Conflict occurred on a regular basis in Second Life. Some people would call it “drama� and write paragraphs in their profiles about how they wanted a drama free existence in Second Life. I always found this funny, thinking to myself that if someone writes this in their profile, they themselves must in fact know drama very well. Since we lack in Second Life certain means of making ourselves understood, i.e. we basically only have chat and voice, interpersonal conflicts generally took place due to some form of misunderstanding, which grew out of proportion, but was then generally easy to resolve. I also observed conflict taking place between Second Life lovers. Suspicion, which at times induced paranoia, seemed to be the most common reason for these kinds of conflicts. But conflict could also be provoked by griefers or gossips. This kind of conflict truly deserved to be called drama since it was in some sense fabricated and meant to entertain a larger public. Griefers or gossips would thrive on this kind of conflict since it provided material for their blogs and momentarily put them at the center of attention. It seemed the best way to deal with general conflict was to attempt to resolve it in a realistic way and without taking things too personally. In terms of the griefer and gossip drama it would get trickier. There was an innate need one had to defend oneself against false accusations, one wanted to set things straight publicly. This was a mistake. Griefers and gossips should be ignored completely. Ultimately, conflict, or drama, was part of the intricate Second Life fabric. It was a common occurrence that seemed impossible to avoid. Photo to the left by Flora Nordenskiold

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Creativity I don’t even know where to begin. Anywhere you turn in Second Life, there is creativity; architecture, ballet, fashion, machinima, music, performance art, radio, theater, visual arts and writing. During my time in Second Life, I was curious about all and blogged, sometimes several times per day, about my impressions (http://nordanomjorden.wordpress.com/). It soon became clear to me that within all these areas there were people who excelled and the quality of what they produced was outstanding. There were moments then when I was so caught up in a performance or a reading or an installation that I lost track of time. I realize now, I was privileged to have been exposed to it. I was specifically engaged with the visual arts. Visual arts in Second Life comes in all shapes and forms, both two and three dimensional, and it all starts with a prim. There seems to be no limit to what people can create inworld using images, sculpties and most recently, mesh. Also let us not forget, everything in Second Life has been created by its residents. Every Second Life building, road, grass, water, poseball, snow flake, sign, animal, hair and piece of clothing has been created by someone who figured they would make something. All of the creations put together are Second Life. Photo to the left by Flora Nordenskiold

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Dreams Second Life was a place where dreams were made. Some aspects of the dream were already in place and others one could dream up oneself. Already present dream parts were things like flying, teleporting, falling off a high cliff and not dying, breathing and talking under water, dancing in the sky, getting dressed and undressed in two seconds and eternal youth. Then there was the personal dream. These dreams, of course, came in all shapes and forms. Some people dreamt of making money and opened businesses and became rich. Others looked for love and married and maybe even had children. There were people who wanted to live out some sexual fantasy, like engaging in BDSM. There were others who made art and excelled at it. Then there were people like me, who initially didn’t have an agenda, but whose dream developed over time. My dream was about creativity. It was lacking in my Real Life and I found an outlet for it in Second Life. At first, I created things myself, which I loved, but wasn’t very good at. Then I started writing the blog, which seemed to come easier to me. After that, I became involved with creativity only indirectly by exhibiting the works of others. Gradually, then, I had created my Second Life dream; a gallery, Nordan Art, from which all kinds of related creative efforts emerged. Ultimately, I spent most of my time writing about and showing the art of others, which I found tremendously satisfying. If anyone would have told me when I first haphazardly joined Second Life several years ago that I would make come true my dream to become a gallery owner and curator I would have laughed out loud simply because at that time I did not know that this was my dream. But this is the thing with Second Life; via fantasy and creativity one gets access to a deeper level of experience which otherwise might never have been known. Photo to the left by Flora Nordenskiold 19


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Exploration There was no limit to the places available to explore in Second Life. There were the well-known places that everybody knew of that should of course not be missed, like the works of AM Radio. One would go there once in a while, stand on the train or perhaps float in the air. In my early Second Life days, when I didn’t yet have a home, I would head over to AM Radio’s wheat field and just stand around. Predictably, I would get into conversations with people, perhaps even make a new friend. At some point it become clear that “regulars” visited this place. To most of them I did not speak, but I was always aware of their presence; they had sort of become part of the landscape. If they for some reason would not show for a few days, things would not be the same. It was great to go to a beautiful place that most people knew of, but I loved even more to discover a place on my own. Roche was one of those places; a simple place, really, but for some reason it struck a chord with me. Once I had teleported in, I might jump on a bike and bike around on the narrow roads for a while. If I remember correctly, one could hear the sound of the bike wheels as they touched the ground. I would also take friends to Roche, we would sit in the house on the hill and chat, at times for hours. Sometimes we would just sit quiet for a while and listen to the music. Occasionally, random people visiting the place would enter the house and stare at us for a while, perhaps say hello, but then take off and leave us alone. Then there were the places that other people took me to, like the Missing Mile. This was a place were I would be guided around and not only be excited about what I saw but also witnessed the pleasure of the other sharing what they had previously discovered themselves. Missing Mile was an incredible place, there was tons to explore; I would take many other people there, sharing with them what had been shown to me previously. Each time I brought someone new there, I would be reminded of the first time I had been there myself. Places would come and go in Second Life. One friend would not get very sentimental about it when one of his favorite places would suddenly disappear, saying, “It’s just pixels!” But I felt differently. Each place was meaningful to me in its own way and simply knowing that I could no longer go there because it was gone was at times sad. Later on, talking about certain places with friends, one would say, “Oh, remember that place!” and we would compare what we had seen and experienced. And in the end, that’s all that remained of those places we had explored. Memories. Photos to the left by Flora Nordenskiold

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Fantasy I always thought that one of the people who was the most invested in incorporating fantasy into her art was Maya Paris. I was immensely drawn to her work and blogged about it often. Her installations were colorful and interactive, making the observer a big part of it. I thought of Maya as an adult Pippi Longstocking; the stuff she created was free of restriction and filled with imagination. It usually happened that I went to check out her work on my own, to write about it for my blog. I would read her detailed note cards and put on a costume and then I would dance like nobody was watching. See, this was the thing with Second Life in general though, you could really always dance like nobody was watching. Since we were always in front of computer screens, never present as a physical person, we were all wearing masks of sorts, we were invisible. We could be who we chose to be and there was no need to feel self-conscious or shy about it at all. I think we were generally aware of this on superficial level only. It was usually when we involved fantasy that we truly became aware of how limited we had been without it; we then became like children playing and we pretended. It was an utterly freeing experience. There were many other artists who made great use of fantasy in Second Life, like for instance Kikas Babenco and Marmaduke Arado, or The Wearers, with their shows The Extraordinary Adventures of Kikas and Marmaduke. I went to their show twice and I had a blast. And of course one made use of fantasy on one’s own in Second Life as well. When being creative, using my imagination, I always felt liberated; building, terraforming, creating photo collages, taking photographs or writing set me free. Photo to the left by Flora Nordenskiold

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Friendship Friendship in Second Life extends borders. Some of my friends are from Australia, Denmark, Canada, England, France, Italy, Netherlands, Serbia, Switzerland and the USA. With some of these people I would communicate on a daily basis and not only in Second Life, but also via email and on Skype; we wanted more. See, there is a lack in Second Life in the connection with others; we can’t see the other person, we can’t look into their eyes, there is no touch and no smell. The only forms of communication available to us are typing and voice. Most people don’t use voice, which leaves us then with simply chat. We find ways to use chat to communicate in a nuanced manner, but parts of our personality remain unknown to the other and I think it is something we get used to and accept. For me, there was always a curiosity there, a desire to know the other person as a whole. But only rarely do we actually meet people outside of Second Life. I think what happens instead is that our Second Life surroundings and interactions serve as a context; i.e. we connect when we do things together, like plan events together, build together or dance together. These activities bring us closer. Also, I find that simply sharing the commonality of existing in Second Life brings us closer; people in Real Life have no interest in finding on what we do in this other world. Most often, they simply don’t get it and they really don’t care. I can’t imagine a Second Life without friends. I remember the little blue box in the bottom right corner suddenly popping up saying something like “Nick Potterman is online” and my heart beating a little faster. I also found a strange comfort in looking at my friendslist and seeing people being online. Friendship in Second Life is what makes us want to log in, it is what makes us want to come back. Photo to the left by Flora Nordenskiold 25


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Glitches There were glitches in Second Life and it seemed that most of the time all one could do was just to sit around and wait for them to miraculously go away. A sim might crash and not restore itself for hours. Sometimes there was a legitimate reason for this, like overcrowding and too many scripts at a gallery opening. Sometimes it happened for no reason at all. Then there were times when I teleported in to Nordan Art and several walls of the gallery, the fountain or large pieces of art were missing. The next day when I arrived it was all fine. There were other times when I had no friends in my friends’ list, they were all gone. A few hours later they were back again. Some days I would log in and be a cloud and stay that way for days. People had all kinds of methods to try to remedy this particular and very annoying glitch; change hair base, switch groups or CTRL+ALT+R were a few popular ones I used, sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not. Oh, and the worst nightmare of them all; Ruth. This did not happen that often, but when it did it was truly maddening. One was suddenly Ruth, the deformed little pre-historic female avatar with helmet shaped hair. It used to take me hours to figure out how to restore my avatar to her normal self, until very recently when I figured out there was a relatively easy way to sort it out. There a many more glitches, I am sure, I just don’t remember them all. And where was Linden Lab support staff when all this was going on? The sad answer is that they were mostly not available. The few times I attempted to contact them, usually in a state of desperation, it took them days to get back to me. I did not have a Premium Account, maybe those folks who did had a different experience. People like me, without a Premium Account, had to take matters into their own hands. Most of the time I would just hang out and wish the glitch would just resolve itself and at some point it did; these were the times when the Lindens would be badmouthed to no end. At other times I would log in with a different avatar and things would work just fine. My last resort was generally to give up and just log off. Somehow I knew that things would be back to the normal order the next day. And, magically, they usually were. Photo to the left by Huckleberry Hax. 27


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Holidays There is sentimental value to the holidays in Second Life. For Christmas, people would elaborately decorate their homes with snow, trees, lights, wreaths and all kinds of ornaments. They would send handmade or store bought Christmas cards to friends. Perhaps they would hold a party or visit Christmas themed sims. For Halloween, people would love dressing up and holding or attending big parties. These were of course particularly fun since one could then make use of colorful particles, all kinds explosions and incredible fantasy outfits. Valentines day was celebrated with a partner or a date. Again, handmade or store bought cards were sent and people went dancing at some romantic place or simply spent the night together alone. Then there were the other holidays. The planned weeklong travels to beach resorts or mountain cottages. These vacations served the function of an escape from the stressful everyday existence in Second Life; one would rent a place, put on “busy” or “away” mode and simply try to be at ease in a relaxing environment. I admit, initially I was against all kinds of holidays in Second Life; I already celebrated them in Real Life, which seemed to be enough. But eventually I caught on. I made Christmas cards I sent to friends, I put up two Christmas trees at the gallery (one year I even had snow) and this year I had a gorgeous AM Radio Christmas tree in my house. I wrote special Christmas blog posts. For Halloween I had a big party at the gallery. I sent a Valentines card or two. And most recently, we went on vacation to a beach resort. Holidays are about family and togetherness and I think at some point I came to terms with the fact that the people I hung out with in Second Life were like family too. Photo to the left by Flora Nordenskiold

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Home Not everybody has a physical home in Second Life. Some people don’t want to spend money on it, others find it silly to put up pixel objects and pretend to live in house and, yet another group of individuals, simply want to be homeless. I didn’t belong to any of those groups, I loved having a home in Second Life. I lived in everything from a small grunge-box in the sky to a twelve-room Danish castle on the ground. I decorated the inside of my homes with beautiful items I had found in stores and with art that I had purchased from artists or had been given by friends. When I had homes on land I spent a lot of time terraforming, integrating all kinds of vegetation and sometimes birds, sounds, rain and fog. My home was a base where I changed clothes and had privacy. It was a place where close friends would visit and where I did a lot of my writing and planning of events. I also had platforms there, or sandboxes, where I built or took photos. I never lived on the mainland, always on a homestead. I also never lived in a rented apartment, surrounded by others, I was always had my own place. I liked having the illusion that my home was private, even though of course knew that when I was away anybody could get into my place and sit around or do whatever. I never bothered with security. Also, on several occasions I lived with people with whom I was romantically involved. Basically, I experienced this as living with someone in Real Life. We would have a great time putting the place together, fight sometimes, but also poke fun. One person, who shall remain nameless, would always tilt a particular painting we had on the wall, so that it was not straight. When I logged in I would notice this and straighten it again. He would make the whole thing look crooked again when I had left. This went back and forth for a while. It is one of my fondest having-a-home-in-Second Life memories. Photograph to the left by Flora Nordenskiold 31


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Love Love is true in Second Life. We fall in love. The experience of being in love in Second Life brings with it, as does friendship, a lack of connectedness with the other (we can’t see the other person, we can’t look into their eyes, there is no touch and no smell). When falling in love, these missing dimensions of experiencing the other person become the source of intensified longing and desire. We want to hold hands. We want to look into each other’s eyes. We want to touch and kiss. We want to make love (more about this later in a separate post titled Second Life: Sex). To make up for these missing factors of the relationship we resort to fantasy. While there is certainly fantasizing on an individual level, there is also a very explicit shared fantasy of connection. This mutual fantasizing is expressed using words and is enhanced by various methods of experiencing things together, like for instance pose balls and romantic places. People in love partner in Second Life; I think to show others we belong together, but also, symbolically, to manifest and strengthen our love even further. At some point then there is also a mutual desire for the fantasy to become real, at which time we resort to voice and Skype. And we have all heard about the rare occasion when people who fell in love in Second Life met up in Real Life and continued their relationship there. When bringing a romantic relationship from Second Life to Real Life, we are shifting an experience from one world to another. The experience is the same, but the world is now different. Initially, there may be a struggle with this new surrounding or setting. But love is still there. Photo to the left by Huckleberry Hax

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Play I can’t think of anybody more playful in Second Life than Betty Tureaud. She also happens to be a talented artist and a very good friend. If you should come across her, be aware, she is full of mischief and all kinds of tricks! Betty would invite me over to her place and we would try out the new things she had created, like flying airplanes and other moving things. I remember sitting in one of her airplanes, she sat in another, and we were flying together; such an incredible freeing experience. Betty would almost always attend Nordan Art openings and there would never be a boring moment; her particle explosions and dances were outstanding. There are many opportunities to play in Second Life. If you have a rich fantasy life and even just a little bit of talent when it comes to building and scripting, Second Life can become an amazing playground. Games, like for instance the ones Bryn Oh hosted for a while; flying vehicles like planes or balloons; ice skating and sledding are only a few examples of play. Of course, these activities are best enjoyed with other people, doing it together is part of the fun. Photo to the left by Flora Nordenskiold

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Profile The Second Life profile is much more then a business card. The first page contains the Avatar’s name and age. It also lists a partner, groups and general information. Other pages contain picks and more information. There appeared to be no limit to people’s creativity when it came to their profiles; in many ways the actual appearance of the profile said more about the person than did the content itself. Some people would switch profile photo daily and others never at all. Some would use funny fonts and symbols when describing picks. Many people would chose to show only a few groups (even though a member of the allowed 40) and others would show all or none. Some people would have the maximum allowed picks of ten, while others would have only one or two. Some people would show a real life photo of themselves, others would chose not to. The profile would also somehow indicate why the person was in Second Life. Business profiles would be professional, with contact sources and information about the product itself. Profiles belonging to artists would contain picks of galleries. If someone had found love in Second Life, a wedding picture and several photos of the partner may be displayed in the picks section. Some profiles were bland, neither a photo or images in the picks. My profile advertised my gallery and everything related to it. It also showed that I was partnered to Huckleberry Hax. I would usually list only a handful of groups that were important to me, the rest were hidden from the viewer. I would switch photo every other week or so, I had fun doing it. I loved checking out other people’s profiles and I would assume that people were the same as me, predictably curious and nosy. Photo to the left by Huckleberry Hax

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Sex Sex. It usually starts with jumping on a pose ball to kiss or make out. We chat about what we experience and what we want. Gradually, just like in Real Life, the interaction becomes more intense; naked on a bed, we use sex pose balls, which come with fairly graphic positions. Our chat becomes more explicit. As we get to know each other better, we may start using voice. I felt incredibly self-conscious and insecure and doubtful about all this at first. It was something I had never engaged in before. There was something shameful about it to me. Eventually, I got over myself. Sex became sensual and exciting then. Then, at some point, one hit a wall. There is this desire for more (touch, smell) that is completely out of reach and makes sex feel repetitive and lacking. One former lover, who became a good friend, said he had enough of sitting by himself, chatting with someone 6,000 miles away, staring at the screen, getting excited. Having said that, however, one finds ways to deal with the lack of sensory stimulation; fantasy plays a large role here. We find ways to make sex in Second Life more meaningful. Photo to the left by Huckleberry Hax

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Style Style came in all shapes and forms in Second Life. At a Nordan Art opening, for instance, you could be surrounded by a faerie, an otter, a robot, a purple haired punk rocker and someone dressed as a box. People would make their own outfits or purchase them at specialty fantasy outfit stores. There were also avatars who were dressed in regular clothes, like myself. Hair, skin, makeup, eyes, eyelashes, nails, clothes and shoes were available to us everywhere. But it seemed style went beyond avatar appearance. Appearance was only one part of a bigger whole. Type of Second Life home, type of Second Life profession, type of Second Life community one associated oneself with and, yes, type of communication style with others in Second Life, where some of the other parts that contributed to a person’s overall style. Come to think of it, time of arrival in Second Life also contributed to a person’s style; someone who had arrived in 2004 would look and interact markedly different that someone who had arrived in 2011. I usually had a lot of respect for people who had been in Second Life for more than five or six years, and I think, perhaps, I was even a little envious. Mostly, these people wore old-fashioned Second Life outfits and AOs; it was immediately apparent they had some experience under their belt. Their style was in some sense historic. To me, one of the most stylish people in Second Life was my friend, Paola Tauber. Her appearance was just right, her home was simple yet sophisticated, her job as Creative Director at AVENUE was cool, her gallery containing her art was very fine and the art itself was beautiful with a slight edge to it. I could go on and on. But most of all, interpersonally, Paola was funny, sweet, smart and kind; she was always ready to lend a hand and there when you needed her. Paola did her own thing and had a unique style. Photo to the left by Flora Nordenskiold 41


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Work After a while in Second Life it occurred to me that I spent a lot of time working there. I would arrange exhibits at the gallery, which entailed contacting and arranging for artists to show their work at Nordan Art. A lot of detail went in to this, everything from making sure the work was in place on time to sending out group announcements for openings. I would also arrange and host special events at Nordan Art, like the one year celebration and price award ceremony. I would write blog posts and take photos for my blog, Nordanomjorden’s blog (http://nordanomjorden.wordpress.com/). This took me everywhere in Second Life, from exhibits to places to events. I also conducted artist interviews with most artists showing their work at the gallery. Then there were also many other things in between, like for instance the monthly UWA awards and the collaborative issuu online publica t i o n N o r da n Ar t : A R e t r o s pe ct i v e 2010- 2011 (http://issuu.com/nordanart/docs/nordanartretrospective2010-2011). Gradually, it seemed I had established, with Nordan Art as a focal point, an entire operation of sorts. I derived an incredible satisfaction from this operation; I couldn’t wait to log in so I could continue working. In retrospect I wonder about this. I have a high-pressure job in Real Life, why would I want extra work in Second Life? Well, I don’t think I saw it as work really. I think it was only one part of what structured my Second Life environment; working was not a burden, it was pleasure. I loved the work because it tapped into my creativity. Working in itself was an opportunity for me to be creative and then the product itself, the showing and writing about art, was a means of sharing the creativity of others. Photo to the left by Flora Nordenskiold

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Writing When I first came to Second Life I was intrigued by the writing community. I wanted to write a novel, set in Second Life. I started writing it several times, but was never motivated enough to finish. I felt discouraged by this, I thought writing was my thing; in Real Life I had been writing poetry, short stories and academic work all my life. So instead, religiously, I went to book reading events and writing forums, perhaps looking for inspiration. But I found these events dull. Until the day when I encountered Huckleberry Hax. He was reading a chapter out of one of his books at an event. I found out that Huck had written several novels set in Second Life. Needless to say, I became a great admirer. It was also around this time that I met Igor Ballyhoo and I became involved with the art community, which for some reason appealed to me much more than the writing community. I gave up on wanting to write a novel and started working on Nordan Art and the blog writing began. I invited Huck to read at Nordan Art. At some point we partnered and Second Life writing and reading became a big part of my life again. We went to Second Life reading events together and I no longer found them so dull. Through Huck I have learned that in order to be a Second Life fiction writer you had to be driven; Huck wrote all the time, he couldn’t help himself, he just had to do it. He wrote Second Life novels, short stories, poetry, AVENUE Magazine articles and blog posts and had found a way to make it all seem easy and natural. Writing was clearly his thing. Huck was well-known in the Second Life writing community. He was also invested in getting his written work published and found ways to do this. All of his books were published and available online. Obviously, writing was hard work and if you wanted to get your work noticed by larger audience you had to invest time and energy into properly promoting yourself. It became clear to me that writing fiction in Second Life involved so much more than simply half-heartedly beginning drafts of a novel. Photo to the left by Flora Nordenskiold 45


Afterword Life is a sequence of episodes. Things end. Sometimes they end because we want them to end; sometimes we don't want them to end at all, but they do just the same. How we deal with things ending is important. 'Reflections on Second Life' is Flora's final snapshot, her last look back at the metaverse as she packs boxes and prepares to move on to new things. This book is about Flora leaving SL and thinking about what it meant to her so that these thoughts are finished and her association with the metaverse complete. I miss flora in SL. I miss Nordan Art and the busy life it was the centre of, but most of all I just miss Flora in SL. I always appreciated the gentle lens with which she contemplated her SL discoveries and the sheer delight she took in the creativity she encountered. In fact, I have never met anyone for whom that word - creativity - meant quite so much. Despite her immersion in the art community, Flora was always able to maintain an 'outside looking in' view and this made her blog writing easy for the SL or art newcomer to access. That same quiet, albeit deeply personal contemplation runs through the final SL thoughts of hers you will have read in these pages. If you have never entered or properly immersed in SL, perhaps this book will act as your guide. For life is a sequence of episodes: things end, but they also begin. Huckleberry Hax

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Reflections on Second Life