Friday, September 14, 2012

Virginia Alone - Cats

    I began working on Virginia Alone perhaps a year ago, and within this period Virginia was taken out of her home which you can find on Immersiva, and put into a nursing home for the aged by her estranged daughter who had reconnected with her.   Virginia was not terribly happy about going to live in a nursing home and felt betrayed, yet in the end it was for the best and she now understands that.  She  has people cook for her as well as doctors and nurses etc.
     One difference between my build and the reality of the house was that Virginia was a hoarder.  She had filled the entire house with boxes of things and her living space was reduced to just a small area where she sat by the front door.  She would receive her delivered groceries to this door and from there she would fill her cupboards and feed the cats.  Outside this radius of chair and stove it began to fill with debris.  She was able to, at one point, go to her bedroom but in one tape she describes a collapse of of a tower of her hoarded items which then made the trek upstairs impossible.. so she began to sleep in her chair by the door.  The photos on my desk show some of the feral cats who lived outside her door as well as some of the debris in the front room.   Virginia encouraged me to tell her story and to do so all the cassette tapes she had made over the years had to be found.  Not an easy task.  I spent many hours listening to the tapes and one thing I wished to portray with my machinima was that her tapes were not just of her speaking about her mental illness but rather a variety of things including her recording her favorite music and in the case of the one above.. singing along with them.  Hearing her sing to the final song in the machinima or on other tapes really affected me.   As an artist I guess I am a pretty visual person, so for me I would imagine her with her cassette player recording a favorite song from the radio, sitting alone contemplating her life.  Each tape I listened to was about an hour long and there were hundreds.   Some full of music,taped telephone calls or radio programs.  Others would be about her struggle to understand what assailed her though not understanding it was Schizophrenia.
     Then there were the tapes where she recounted an event that transpired.  They would be explained from the perspective of someone who could not see but interpreted events occuring around them.  So for example hearing banging in the basement and wondering at its cause but never fully being able to explain it,  or noticing snuffling noises by her piano and questioning whether it were a raccoon or cat or her mind playing tricks.  One tape described the other cats killing and eating one of their own.  After hearing this tape I knew there should be some kind  of evidence of this happening and was able to locate the bones the next time that I returned.   Much of my interpretation is based around discovering clues or references then actively searching for and then speaking to her about them.

      I will go through each machinima I have made for this project and give some insight, then upon completion I will close the exhibit.  So go have a look now if you would like to see it in person.
 SLURL http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Immersiva/18/129/21
      So far the build has been up for over two months and has had just under 15,000 visitors worldwide.  Quite rewarding when I compare it against my traditional art openings in first life.  The access that a virtual world offers is remarkable.
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