Controversy About SL Art Exhibit


One of my favorite art galleries is running an installation that includes more than 100 sculptures by Starax, some of which are for sale. This installation has raised questions about sharing rare virtual art in an environment where copybotters run free.

Starax is considered by many to be one of the best, if not the best, virtual artist to rise to prominence in Second Life. His early fame was secured by the creation of his magic wand, which produced a 15 minute long show of sculptures and effects. A few years ago he disappeared from the grid but then reemerged as Light Waves who built "Embrace" (above) and many other works for Rezzable. Some suggest the same person is 3d Soup who created the Odalisk. You can read more about this incredible person and his work at the NPIRL blog.

To many, Starax is the "father" of virtual art in Second Life. He is revered. He is loved. His work was collected by devoted followers and much of his art is tucked away in their inventories. When the work is displayed it is often in private. Why is the work hidden away?

There is great fear that Starax's work will be stolen by a copybotter and ripped copies will appear for sale. Theft of his work would diminish the value of the originals which are in short supply due to high cost and the fact that many are no transfer. Sadly, copybot fears are quite legitimate. Unscrupulous people steal content all the time and it appears there is little that is being done to stop them.

If you are looking for a link to the Starax/Light Waves installation, I am not going to share it here. I am sensitive to the worries about copybot and now that I am aware of the concerns, I am not going to do anything more to contribute to the theft of the art. At the same time, I do I think hiding great art away from view is also a crime of sorts. People who are new to SL don't know who Starax is and they should be able to see and appreciate his work. In order to fully appreciate why Odalisk is breathtaking you have to understand the history of SL sculpture. One way to do that is to see the parade of animals produced by Starax's magic wand.

So, what do you think? Should early Starax work be on public display?


Gary Kohime said...

Yes, it should be on public display. If we all worried about copybots to the point that we are living or creating inside of fear isn't that contrary to free form creative expression?

Also, if you look at the former rezzable sims, much of Light Waves works were out all over. Why would they not have worried about this?

I have just posted extensively on this topic on my blog: To Show or Not to Show Virtual Art

Sapphoria Shilova said...

Of course it should. A work of art no longer lives if the experience of it is not shared. It's outrageous really that anyone would condemn such an important exhibit. I think the "risk" here is overblown but even with that...we must take the risk or why bother to create? Here is what I have submitted to several sites on the controversy surrounding this exhibit:

do we ever really own art?

it "belongs" to its creator through the tortured and euphoric process,
but do we "own" our creations?
Much like Parent to Child,
the Artist has an immeasurable bond
and sees to a purpose driven life for their creation.

it "belongs" to its collector through the passage of coin,
but does the price offer ownership?
or the exquisite obligation to share the experience of it?

Art has no master,
and it's purpose cannot be squashed by politics, fear, ego, money, or agenda.

Dale Innis said...

I agree that it should be shared. Which is to say, if the owners asked my advice, I would encourage them to seriously consider not keeping it hidden away. It is of course the owner's right to do whatever he wants with it, modulo contractual obligations; that's just what I'd suggest.

Is the show that you mention but don't name a secret? "Secret art show" seems like almost a contradiction in terms. :)

chestnut rau said...

No the show is not a secret at all. I can tell you where it is inworld if you like. I am refraining from posting the SLurl here because of the controversy but its easy enough to find for those persistent enough to look.

Megan said...

I wanted to post it as well but was concerned about posting something here that the blog owner clearly didn't want posted. But if you would like to know and haven't gotten the location yet, please let me know, I would be happy to give you that.

Sasun Steinbeck said...

Huh? It's a completely public show, at AngelGate. There's no secret, or even much of a controversy here. How can someone in their right mind say that these works need to be protected by HIDING them? Really the ONLY way to stop a copybotter is to delete the original. If you don't do that, then there's just no sense in freaking out every time you rez it.

People need to be aware of the magic "inspect" command and USE it when purchasing an expensive item (or ANY item!) 2nd hand to avoid buying a copybotted version. It can EASILY be used to make forgeries painfully obvious. If 99% of the prims in your potential purchase are made by someone OTHER than who you expect, then guess what? It's a forgery! Don't buy it and immediately abuse report the person that tried to sell it to you!

If you buy a sculpture and don't check it out, and wind up with a forgery, well you shot yourself in the foot, especially when it's SO easy to find out before you buy. I just don't see how copybotters are going to make a whit of difference in the value of the legit copies, no one is going to buy an easily spotted fake! They'll be busted and abuse reported for copybotting. With illegal copies so hard to resell, I just don't buy the argument that there's any real danger to copybotting here.

I have heard that there are some accusations of copybotted sculptures being shown at AngelGate. I did not check every single sculpture personally but I know the curators shure as heck did and there are NO forgeries on display there and NO actual hard evidence to suggest that there are, other than claims that essentailly boil down to "I would have known about other copies" by other people, which is weak at best unless Starax (in whatever avatar he's in now) can corroborate that claim or someone show *something* to prove that they own the only existing copy.

Go enjoy the art! It's just way too good to hide away! People need to see this stuff, it's part of the historical record of art in SL and needs to be seen, despite the minor and overblown dangers of people selling illegal copies.

chestnut rau said...

Thank you Sasun. Thank you. I agree 100% with what you have said.

In thinking about this issue a little, I have come to the conclusion that the real issue is an elite wanting to control access to the art and not copybots. SophiaJane Alcott was quoted on Nazz Lane's blog where she said,

"The history of RL art is beset with the desire to monopolize the meaning, access and importance of creations by the few for the many. An interesting question is: Is this happening within SL?"

I think the answer is yes. Please do read SophiaJane's words for yourself here

Sapphoria Shilova said...

And more logic continues to come out. Thank you so much Sasun. Regardless of those who stirred up a faux controversy, it is ludicrous to suggest that these extraordinary works should not be displayed.

Nazz Lane said...

Take a look at White Lebed's thoughts regarding the History of SL Show at Angelgate.

White Lebed said...

Wonderful article, Chestnut! great comments...
We are closing the show in a few days - September 18th - as planned.
The exhibition turned out to be very popular event. We are very proud of it! And what can close it better than the Magic wand demonstration? Given that very few people have seen it we anticipate a lot of interest and will try to run several shows for different time zones. The details will be posted on site and, of course, in Angelgate Arts group. Chestnut, mark your calendar, dear :)

Concerned SLer said...

Whilst the art of Starax had a time, it sadly has been forged . Unfortunate collectors have been unwitting victims. Sasun has even admitted in comments that she did not think of something. A person not skilled enough to notice the date discrepencies will easily be confused. Originals and forgeries have not been considered equals in RL, should they in SL?