Environment Expanded by Carmsie Melodie

Small decisions can have major effects. Carmsie Melodie was attracted to the virtual world as a diversion. Prior to this discovery, she had joined a rudimentary platform called There.com, but ‘there’ was only a prelude. Soon she reached its limitations for creative exploration. “With only a few building tools, I got bored. People in There kept talking about Second Life®, though in a negative way. Because of their comments, I didn’t check it out. But I needed something more challenging. So, I took the leap. And, surprisingly, as soon as I landed in SL, I found myself in Heaven! I even dragged friends from There in here, and they are still here too. Within months, I owned a sim. With a full time job in real life, my weekends have become 1200% SL.

The in-world edition article, “Passion with Purpose: The Expressive Development of Carmsie Melodie” examines her selection of works that demonstrate her journey. As Carmsie is inspired by themes, viewers can also see themes within her work that emerge when evaluated comparatively:

Themes inspire ideas. The University of Western Australia’s 3D Art Challenges became the catalyst for Carmsie’s development.

Ideas push skills. To realize many of her concepts, Carmsie had to learn new techniques in construction and how to incorporate animation or sound.

Limitations demand resources. Many of her ideas necessitated finding elements to use from others that were beyond her capabilities.

Advanced concepts require building upon the shoulders of others. Carmsie discovered that she loves to collaborate with scripters. Understanding her own limitations does not mean her creations have to comply with them. Many of the builders within SL offer basic forms that others can expand upon. (The longer conversation contained in the in-world edition, she expands on how her work has been transformed by the virtual experience and challenge from the UWA competitions.)

Focusing further on one particular 3D piece that can be represented online without the necessity of the immersive experience, “Cherish & Renew” has four levels [these images augment the in-world article, “Passion with Purpose”]:

Level 1: Entrance
As if like Alice in Wonderland, the visitor enters and exits through small red doors. The first door immerses the visitor in a starlit expansive space that orients with a quotation floating against the night sky, accented by a suspended bandaged globe: “The care of the earth is our most ancient, worthy, and pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” —Wendell Berry

Carmsie Melodie

Level 2: Trash
Another small door opens into a dreary landscape littered with garbage and abandoned cars, much like after the apocalypse. Confronted with the worst that mankind can inflict upon the world, this level is highlighted with the statement: “Our trash is Earth’s Skin, which Carmsie says is the theme of the entire sequence.  Just to add a humorous element, Carmsie includes some movement: “The animations are not really needed. I just put them in because I like them—hehehe—trash can diving!”

Carmsie Melodie

Level 3: Deforestation
Through the next door, the brown dismal world turns green and lush, but it is deceptive. At first, dazzled by the filtered light and sounds of birds, upon closer inspection, something is wrong. There are inviting stumps to sit upon while orienting, but unexpectedly, the pastoral bird calls are subdued from the sound of chain saws. Carmsie explains: “This board has pictures of many countries to show that we all harm forests, not just in the Amazon. A slideshow was the best way to depict multi-nations efficiently.

Carmsie Melodie

Level 4: Pollution
Continuing the progression by slipping through another small door, the viewer becomes a giant in a smoky polluted landscape. Small factories spew out clouds and the haze swirls about phrases that exemplify the effects of negligence. The immersive experience is intensified when the visiting avatar can receive gas mask in defense.

Carmsie Melodie

To escape completes the circle. She concludes: “The last level is the first. I return people here deliberately to reinforce Wendell’s statement. It’s an instructional design strategy actually—I just thought of that!”

On the one hand, creating experiential works in the virtual world is easier because the artist does not need to contend with gravity or labor-intensive materials. But on the other hand, new qualities of the medium must be mastered. The biggest is that this world is interactive. The more the artist can include the audience in the experience, the more powerful the result. Much like the musician who encourages the audience to sing along, the artist provides ways to participate. What elevates this four-part sculpture from the cliché of environmental statements is the fact that the viewer can be a part of the scenes. But the visitor needs instructions and directions. The artist becomes a guide as well as a communicator.

Carmsie’s work is also notable by its narrative depth. She does extensive research and presents her themes from many angles. “As I make art works—ones that include people—I always have a full back story in my head by the time they are done.” Another piece, “Looking Back,” also an award-winner from a UWA Challenge, portrays the story of a young woman who was raped on a bus, and later died of her injuries. Feeling is my benchmark and additions to each build are measured against it. I work note by note. By the time I am done, I have LONG invented back stories, as the mood becomes realized. I love stories.”

Carmsie Melodie

People best remember through stories. The emotion leads Carmsie when developing the statement. It continually pulls her along, and determines the relevance of decision makes. Yet, spontaneity is not like a faucet that can be turned on and off. Feeling is underwritten by knowledge, and when the two combine, she knows the decision is right. “To have a concept, a ‘feel,’ and to hold onto it as you move forward, keeps the idea alive. If the mood goes, the art dies. There’s no going back. The flops are the ones where I build for ages, yet lose the thread.”

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Please see the in-world edition of Sim Street Journal #17 with comparative and critical articles that add to this online content. Available in kiosks and at the Sim Street Journal SL Office (Innu 40, 36,1649) or download PDF Sim Street Journal #17.
— The in-world magazine has topics that relate to those who understand the virtual context, including photographs, parallel articles. It has tabs for information landmarks, and web links.
— The online magazine expresses what the virtual world offers the real one. It is a mirror that reflects parallel articles, hot topics, and provides more links.Contributions are encouraged if covering topics relevant to real world readers.

Please see the INDEX for all contributors and articles.
(Back issues are available on MARKETPLACE).

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Eleanor Medier (avatar of Liane Sebastian)

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© 2016 by Liane Sebastian/Eleanor Medier, Sim Street Journal.
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