Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Between the Digital and the Real

First, we start off with some mood music...just to get the juices flowing...

Daft Punk - End of Line

After the last couple of days surrounded by my own dismal and highly unnecessary neuroses, I decided to get back to really what makes me tick...the fact that I dig on "bio-digital jazz, man..."  If you don't know where the quote is from, it's courtesy of the first guy to make the jump from real to digital...the one and only Kevin Flynn, played by the legendary Jeff Bridges in Tron and Tron: Legacy.

Y'all know me, I dig so hard into the virtual space that sometimes it's hard to figure out where I stop and my connection to the digital begins. After writing this:

While MMOWs are not technically “games”, the genre in which they reside gives rise to the arts and the user’s participation with higher art forms.  Artistic inspiration is found in the creation and artistic texturing of a building on a digital landscape to the artistry in a unique piece of clothing or a vehicle used by an avatar, even down to the terrain the avatar walks on and the sounds and/or music that permeates the real-time simulation, the genre gives audiences an opportunity to experience the arts that, in some societies and socio-economic strata, have been lost over time.  

I know, right?  I love that paragraph, and that's what I do, I create bio-digital jazz in which I tell people about the wonders of the virtual space and what a person can do within it.  Sorry guys, but that really gets me going.

Think about it, my formative years, after sitting in that darkened movie theater when I was 11 seeing Tron for the first time, were spent trying to get into the machine.  I dreamed night after night of getting hit by that crazy laser in the Encom building and being pulled into the machine, now look at what I do, I'm still a Kevin Flynn disciple, bringing the wonders of the grid to the world.

You should have seen what I've seen in the last six weeks, something that bends the mind to places where you go, "Whoa man..."  It's some SERIOUS bio-digital jazz.  I really do love what I do and after spending nearly three weeks writing on the subject, I'm having a hard time trying to differentiate between why the real world is so appealing while the digital representation seems to speak more volumes to me than my boring corporeal self.

Think about it, when you're behind the controls of your avatar, you're fearless.  There's no mountain you can't climb (barring collision mesh) and if you fall, you get back up again without a scratch.  The only way your avatar suffers is by "de-resolution" because you typed in the word "delete" or just simply uninstalled the program.  On top of that, there is no being judged physically while you're in a digital space, what are they going to judge? Your pixels?  They're the same pixels everyone else has...just customized a bit differently.

So anyway, after I got done writing for work tonight, I decided to get my zen on.  I plugged in to the inspiration of why I love what I do, and what gives me the most ease when I'm down, I pressed "play" on my DVD player to immerse myself into Tron: Legacy one more time.  I swoon every time over the new suits, the new computer animation for the new light cycles and their light walls.  But it's the whole premise of being inside the machine that gets me every time.  I sat on my couch drooling over every visual aspect of the film, and as I did, it made me realize that there is maybe one man in a billion who's going to get the bio-digital jazz that's zooming around in my head and how it drives me.  

I don't know what it is, inside the digital space, I'm more comfortable, it fits like a second skin and I feel more at home and stress-free inside of it.  I speak to it, it speaks to me.  Let's face it, inside the digital space with all of my knowledge, I'm as close to "all-powerful" as I'm ever going to get.  Put me behind my druid, and I'm a nearly bullet-proof, sharp-clawed decimation machine or healing wonder, put me inside the world of Myst and I get lost at the world's coolest MENSA convention and I'm among "my people."

I started out in the digital space as an ordinary explorer, just playing a game, understanding the Myst universe for all of it's quirks and real-time tactile sensations.  Think about it, most virtual worlds don't make you turn the doorknob to open the door, do they?  No, they don't.  But there I was, opening doors, pulling levers and using my brain to actually solve the problems in front of me that when I touched something, it had impact on what was going to follow, just like in the real world.  On top of that, I was given the gift of the most beautiful photo-realistic scenery that was to everyone on the outside completely fantastical, but there I was, accepting it as normal.

I started out in virtual worlds because my real world was a colorless, snow-covered wasteland where I didn't speak the language, I didn't fit in, on top of that, I was neglected and ignored by the one person in the world that was supposed to be my partner.  But, as soon as I jacked in to my digital world, everyone spoke the same language, it was filled with new sights, sounds, colors and an infinite supply of people who knew EXACTLY what I was talking about.  It was like coming home to no home I had ever known.  People loved me not because of what I looked like, but because of who I was in spirit.  I guess you could say that my external search for acceptance had come to an end the moment I logged in to a virtual world.

Now look at me, I write poetically and convincingly about the uses of virtual worlds for people who have difficulty in the real world, so I guess I'm writing for all of the people like me who find acceptance inside the virtual space.  Who don't rely on an "interview process" as a first date, where when you meet someone inside the virtual space, you already have something in common, you don't have to wonder if they're judging your physical appearance and you just roll with the flow, conquer the obstacles, and your energy moves through your digital representation with fluid skill.

But alas, here I am caught squarely between the digital and the real.  I have to face facts that while I love my digital constructs and all the trimmings of technology, some people don't get it and I have no right whatsoever to expect them to, even however much I'd like them to.

I was asked about how I can fumble my Blackberry and how I'm all thumbs at the hand-held technology that everyone in the world can't seem to live without.  My answer at the time wasn't the best, but at least now I can express it a little more clearly, it's the fact that those small hand-held devices can't hold a candle to the digital constructs I'm used to working with.  I deal in three-dimensional constructs, not apps on a phone.  I move at a speed that is much faster and with my quad-core driving the whole thing, there's no where I can't go faster than the speed of light.  4G?  Pffft, nada compared to the processing speed of my gorgeous desktop computer and modem.  My Blackberry is a phone first and foremost that I can get and send e-mails on while I'm out in the world, I could care less about all the other fancy stuff that is carried on the hand-held wannabe computers in everyone's pockets, although mobile Skype is pretty damn cool.  A phone is a phone to me, if it can carry the signal when I'm away from home, that's all that matters to me.  I'm fancy with my technology at home, not when I'm out and have my attention focused on where it should be, the people around me.

Well, anyhow, as I get down some more to the sounds of Daft Punk and dream of having one of the new Tron suits custom made for me, I'll just quote the Master Control Program (so expertly voiced by David Warner) and say three little words...

End of Line.

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