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Having a Second Skin…

Last Saturday night I participated in a one night happening at a gallery in Los Angeles. It was a lot of fun. There were a lot of people wandering through my space and asking some really great, perceptive questions about my work and Second Life. I think I converted a few people! LOL

I basically sat at my computer for 3 hours, hanging out with friends in Second Life. We went shopping, playing in my friend’s Alien Jungle, hanging out at my studio/home and went to a couple art galleries.

My life as an avatar

My performance, part of the “Second Skin” one night happening, is a commentary on fantasy. If you could have a second chance, live a second life, create a second self, what would you look like? Who would you be?

I am not comfortable in my own skin.

I want to find out what it would feel like to be thin, beautiful, desired. I want to find out what it would feel like to be able to wear any clothes, dance all night, talk to any guy without fear of rejection because of how I look. I want to escape the suffocating world of judgment and criticism due to my size. I want to escape the superficial world of the media’s distortion of beauty.

This is the story of Gracie Kendal. Gracie has it all; she is a beautiful, thin, blond-haired, blue-eyed woman. She has a plethora of amazing friends; she lives in a beautiful lake-front home with three dogs and has her own loft studio. Gracie is a well-known, successful artist exhibiting in dozens of solo and group shows. She has been written about in numerous magazines and art journals, has been interviewed on television and she has been listed as one of the 10 most influential artists.

Gracie’s life began almost 6 years ago. She is an avatar. She is my avatar. Her life involves living in the virtual world of Second Life, walking around in a pixilated body and communicating through text. She is my self-portrait, my alter ego, my inner conscience. She is a character in my life story that revolves around the loss of identity, self-awareness and self-acceptance.

Using Gracie as a form of self-presentation, I explore my relationship with my body as well as question my own identity. I have realized that everything going on in my life was manifesting in my body and in the figure of Gracie. Both are becoming a site for anxiety, fear, stress, grief, loneliness and depression. My body and that of my avatar have become a source of autobiographical material in which a story is being written.

KRISTINE SCHOMAKER: also known as Gracie Kendal, is a Los Angeles based new media and performance artist, painter and art historian. She received her BA in Art History and her MA in Studio Art from California State University at Northridge. For over 14 years, she has been experimenting with various interdisciplinary art forms including using online virtual worlds and social networking technologies to connect with international audiences and local arts communities. Kristine’s current work explores notions of online identity, specifically the construction of Avatars. Her work as a whole stands as an allegory of the relationship between appearance and identity, illusion, belief and reality.

During the performance I asked people a couple questions:

What would your alter-ego look like?

If you could have a second life, what would you do?

Some of the responses placed on the wall…

  1. would play the piano and always wear high heels always

  2. I’d have curlier hair and a stronger voice

  3. a mouse who runs around and sees everything

  4. Courageous

  5. ME+

  6. A dangerous man

  7. I would marry her

  8. Harvard professor of kittenology

  9. Leave my family situation earlier

  10. A lion or (lioness perhaps)

  11. Thin, athletic, healthy

  12. Marry my husband again and keep him alive

  13. exact same that I’m doing in this life

  14. extreme abilities and physical strength

  15. myself

  16. a combination pizza hut and taco bell

  17. assiniboine sioux warrior

  18. I would be a telenovella superstar

  19. ME!

  20. A tree

  21. Barbara Streisand

  22. Thin, tall with musical talent

  23. A younger richer me

  24. Career diplomat

  25. A french clown who brings smiles to hospitalized people

  26. Eliminate chemical dependency

  27. Anime Indian woman on a magic carpet

  28. A private investigator

  29. A woman

  30. Trust fund baby

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