“its not real art is it?”

Reactive art by Feathers Boa

Reactive art piece presented by Feathers Boa during Art Talk! at Mandel ‘BRAT’s and BREW’, 10 March 2008. Location: Artropolis (70, 101, 25)

This virtual world is a giant interactive art exhibit.
I first ventured into Second Life to look at the Goldsmith College of Art, 2007 degree show after reading about it on the BBC . Students put up a digital replica of their art and displayed it in a virtual gallery. Since, that first venture into SL, I have found hundreds of visual artists at work. In fact this virtual world is a giant interactive art exhibit in a constant state of flux, or ‘lag’; perhaps I should say ‘SLag’ or ‘flug’ instead? (To describe SL ‘go-slows’ and crashes.) Artists are no longer bound by the laws of physics, or financial constraints (just the aforementioned technical hiccups) they exploit this by creating unique digital art often on a grand scale. This post is about an artist, Feathers Boa, who makes ‘Reactive Art’ i.e. art programed to respond while you look at it or walk into it.

“its not real art is it?”
When I heard Feathers Boa speak she was asked by the audience if she shows her work ‘in the real world’. She said she is currently an art student and she does not show her SL art anywhere. She believes her art school would not take it seriously “they would laugh at what i do here- its not real art is it?” There is a problem here! Feathers might be right that the school would not take her work seriously. On the other hand, there might be some interested faculty there but art schools can be very intimidating places. Sadly, sometimes these institutions can have an altogether negative effect on student’s creativity. Feathers is making art to be seen in a virtual world and a surprising number of people will see it there. Obviously, at the moment, more people will see her work there than in the physical world.

Second Life as a kind of sketch pad or experimental ‘ideas book’
This makes me wonder whether art schools might benefit from using Second Life as a kind of sketch pad or experimental ‘ideas book’? Send students in there to make art. Encourage them to create media ‘mash-ups’; explore their images and virtual sculpture; get them to experiment with their art on a huge virtual scale. Instead of discouraging students it makes sense to see what they are doing; consider how to bring their ideas into the real world; at the same time start taking people into immersive virtual gallery space. This is just what Course tutor Matt Ward at Goldsmith College of Art did in 2007.

Feather’s Boa
And now a look at just a few of Feathers Boa’s art pieces. I photographed the works at a distance so that you can get a sense of their scale. She has more work but I only managed to capture these pieces. I am not doing them justice here as they are ‘frozen’ by my camera. In SL, I could walk into some pieces, hear them or see them move before my eyes. I have added some of Feathers Boa’s words beneath her artwork. (Words saved from the text message of her presentation at ‘Art Talk!’) Also see PleaseWakemeUp’s (Art Talk’s host) introduction to Feathers at the end of this post.

Heart of Steel

Heart of Steel
ok this one is weird
very little reactiveness
the contrast is beauty and hardness
industrial and cold
the heart is rusty
and u can hear the beat (it’s true, the room is filled with the sound of heartbeats)
you’ll notice details
the corrosive materials
the broken tile
the rustiness

Haunting Beauty

Haunting Beauty
this is a self portrait of sorts
the face is RL me
the rest is an old picture and a montage
now watch
(Feather’s walks towards the picture and the face changes into a skull)
this is about death and spirits of the past
i found this photo and it intrigued me
it was in some stuff of my families
i wanted to make my portrait as if it was haunted
when i was a little girl i felt i was ugly and weird
i do alot of self portraits now
its the idea we are haunted by the past
our own
and others

Live Book

Living Book invites Feathers to walk into its pages

Alice in Wonderland
you walk into the book
and it changes
Living Book: Walk into me!
your perception changes inside
from outside
Living Book: Walk into me!
the pages shift
Living Book: Walk into me!
and you never can be sure what they say
its the constant shifting of perceptions


Layers in front of this image move like ghostly curtains

and its a self portrait
this was my first reactive
more 3D mixed with photoshop and objects
she is frozen
trapped and trying to escape

About the Artist – PleaseWakeMeUp Idler’s introduction given at ‘Art Talk!’:
“Feathers Boa is the avatar of a 19 year old female art student from the Boston (U.S.) area. She creates richly textured and incredibly detailed digital paintings that blend modernist and antique styles seamlessly. To create the pieces, she trolls junk shops and back alleys to find interesting objects such as old sepia photos, newspapers, postcards, letters, broken watches, etc. She either photographs these objects using a consumer grade Nikon digital camera or uses her Epson RX580 scan bed to scan them directly into Photoshop CS3. These “found” objects usually form the central images of her pieces. But she also uses Cinema 4D r10 to create wholly digital 3D objects. She sees textures everywhere and never leaves home without her camera in her handbag or backpack.”

UPDATE 29 March. 2008
See Feather’s work on display at: VIT World: Art Maniac Research

3 thoughts on ““its not real art is it?”

  1. “What attracted me to this piece: The concept of an artist producing and displaying work solely within the virtual bounds of SecondLife interests me, as it stretches the definition of both what constitutes a gallery space and what constitutes reality. Having become rather fond of reactive art while in the process of completing this journal and having always been fond of and bemused by SecondLife, when I stumbled across this piece I simply could not resist using it for my final entry…”

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