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Friday, June 21, 2013

Can You Tell a Story in a Single Frame? She Can: An Interview with Whiskey Monday

Of all the projects that transcend the virtual boundaries of Second Life, the Single Frame Stories Challenge is my favorite. I have contributed to it in the past, though not recently, and watch for the post from Whiskey Monday each Saturday morning that says that a new gallery has been posted. When I heard a few weeks ago that Single Frame Stories was coming to SL10B, I could not wait to see how they presented the works of the artists who contribute.The approach that was taken to the exhibit space is simple and elegant.

As a member of the SL10B Press, I was given a list of exhibitors who were willing to be interviewed. When I saw Whiskey's name on the list, I knew that was one interview during SL10B that I wanted to get. I was not the first to interview her, though. She had a very well attended Meet the Artists session in the Auditorium at SL10B on Tuesday, that covered a wide range of Whiskey's experiences in Second Life.

Whiskey Interview
A thoughtful Whiskey Monday during our interview
I met Whiskey at her home, far from the crowds of SL10B. After she invited me in, we sat down to discuss the Single Frame Stories challenge and the exhibit at SL10B.

Linsey: Who are you?
Whiskey: Oh gosh. I'm not anyone, really. I haven't accomplished anything inworld. I'm just someone who started taking photos, and got noticed. I've no titles. I'm not partnered. I don't own anything or build anything. I'm just me.
Linsey:  Why are you at SL10B?
Whiskey: OH! Of course. My apologies, I'm sleepy. :) My exhibit at SL10B is for a project called Single Frame Stories. I felt like showcasing some of the work done inworld would be appropriate for the theme.
Whiskey Monday: Botgirl Questi and I "host" the SFS challenge. It's a weekly prompt, and folks submit an image that tells a story in a single frame, their interpretation of the prompt.  For this SL10B exhibit we had prompts inspired by just a few of the reasons people stay in SL. Creativity, Identity and Community.
Linsey: Let's start at the beginning. Botgirl and you launched Single Frame Stories Challenge almost a year ago. What brought this project about?
Whiskey: She and I were both doing our own visual stories, sort of a tale in a frame. We had both participated in Crap Mariner's 100 Word Stories, and so were inspired to try a visual challenge similar to that. We both appreciated the challenge of paring a "story" down to its most essential elements. Which is what you must do to tell it succinctly.
Linsey: One difference with Single Frame Stories is that you accept all forms of visual art, not just things that originate in Second Life. Is there a reason for this?
Whiskey: We didn't want to limit creativity.. The majority of folks submit photos from SL, but if someone came upon our challenge and didn't have access to SL or the right graphics for taking photos, I'd hate to see them left out.
Whiskey: I had miserable graphics for years, and know how that feels. I'd hate for someone to feel limited, ya know?
Linsey: What is it that you look for when choosing the weekly prompt?
Whiskey: Something that can be broadly interpreted, mainly. A word that's ambiguous enough to inspire variety.
Whiskey: I tend to come up with the prompts spontaneously when I'm writing the weekly blog post. One week we shared the same prompt as Crap's 100 Word Stories challenge, and it was fun to both write a story and visually tell it at the same time. I'd like to try that again.
Linsey: You have this challenge that exists on a blog outside of SL, so why bring it inworld for SL10B? You have not done anything like that before.
Whiskey: I think it just felt right. Everyone who participates in the challenge is in virtual worlds, (InWorldz and SL and Hypergrids) and so most of us are shooting our shots inworld, and to have them come from the blog back into SL for the exhibit felt like coming full circle.
Whiskey: We've discussed showing the weekly SFS entries inworld somewhere each week, but it just hasn't fleshed out.

Single Frame Stories
Above the maze of stories at the Single Frame Stories exhibit
Linsey: About your exhibit itself. You say that you are not a builder, but I find the design of your exhibit simple but intriguing. A maze of glass walls, with a glass floor, sitting above water. What was your inspiration for your exhibit space?
Whiskey: I wish I could say I had some amazing inspiration, but the truth is, I had mesh walls from another project, and I just started moving them around until something started to click. I wanted the build to showcase the art, not compete with it. So the glass seemed to allow the stories to shine instead of the build. And the glass floor is mainly because I love SL water so much. I just thought it was the perfect backdrop. Our space was limited and I knew we'd have several pieces to exhibit, so the maze allowed me to show off the work without making the build too huge and imposing.

Single Frame Stories 2
Every frame tells a story in this exhibit

Linsey: What do you think of the location of the exhibit? It is located on the main road in the Welcome Area. Did you enjoy the prospect of getting so much attention from visitors?
Whiskey: It's funny, I didn't realize we had such a wonderful spot until the last few days of building. I was so focused on getting my own build done, I didn't pay much attention. But yes, I think it's a great spot, but the way the sims are laid out, there are very few "bad" spots. There's so much to see and the paths take you through all of it.
Linsey: Well I know many exhibitors who would covet the location that you have  *smiles*
Whiskey: I'm really honored to have a place at all.
Linsey: I have a couple of questions that i am asking everyone that I interview.
Linsey: SL10B is known as a "Community Celebration." When you can be anything, and be anywhere,whenever you want, The normal boundaries on community disappear,. It is not based on geography, nationality, religion, or any other thing that people share in common,  So what makes a community in SL?
Whiskey: Well, there's the larger community of general users, where the only common denominator is that we're in SL. But I think lately, there are oddly formed communities related to social media. The SL community on Plurk is very active and chatty. The same on twitter. But I think it also has to do with how you enjoy your time inworld. There's the furry community, the blogging community, the art community... etc. And sure, we all intertwine, but I think shared interests is the biggest community builder.
Linsey: One final question, The theme of SL10B is "Looking Forward, Looking Back". It is easy to look back to where we have been. It is much harder to look forward to see where we are going. What are you looking forward to in you Second Life in the short-term and in the long-term?
Whiskey: I agree with you, it's tougher to look forward. I've been around long enough to know that folks always think SL is dying, and I don't believe that it is. But is that wishful thinking on my part? I hate to imagine SL limping along as it has the past few years, but I also don't think Linden Lab will do much to shore it up. I think SL will continue and I'll be here for as long as I can be. Short term, I hope to enjoy every minute that I'm given here. Long term? I hope to have one. I've learned not to look too far ahead.

Be sure to stop by the Single Frame Stories exhibit in Wonderous before SL10B ends on June 29th.

For more information:

VIDEO: Meet the Artists: Whiskey Monday
Single Frame Stories Challenge
Whiskey Shots (her blog)


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