Previz #68 – Avatar Pride Parade

Photo of Anndy Believe & Vaneeesa Blaylock standing in the street at Circuit La Course on the Second Life Mainland

Brazilian Vocalist Anndy Believe & Vaneeesa Blaylock at Avatar Pride Parade Start/Finish line in Circuit La Corse on the Second Life Mainland

CIRCUIT LA CORSE, MEEWALH SIM, SECOND LIFE MAINLAND, 9 August — Over the course of VB/CO’s history our performance works have covered a wide range of aesthetic and ideological territory, but it’s probably fair to say that they have moved generally from more scripted to more individualistic. In VB04 – Prism, for example, we all wore the same avatar and fit in a precise style program. By contrast in VB28 – The Seniors Project, we asked ourselves only to imagine a future self, and to bring that imagining together as a group in a specific time and place. In our most recent performance VB41 – Rock the Casbah, only the Air & Land campaigns were in our previz, the missing Sea battle was improvised on the spot by Laurel Leavitt and Yordie Sands.

Still Photo from Pride Parade

In parallel to the performance evolution at VB/CO has been the content evolution at the iRez Virtual Salon. Conceived 3 years ago as a documentation space for performance works, iRez has become a work in its own right, exploring Avatars and Identity in our 21st Virtual Century. Among many topics we’ve considered civil rights and human rights as they relate to avatars and pseudonymous identity. We’ve considered the Nymwars and the sometimes oppressive regimes of virtual nation-states like Facebook and Google+.

Still Photo from Pride Parade

Of course a virtual nation-state like Google denying an Avatar their civil or human rights is not a violation of the same magnitude as a State or a Culture denying a physical person their rights. I am painfully aware that real people have been murdered because of their sexual orientation, raped and mutilated because of their gender, denied access to a living wage because their ethnicity, shamed because of their body image, forgotten because of their age, and ignored because of their ableness. Even though discrimination against pseudonymous identities does not rise to the same level, what I do believe is that it is, in kind, the same sort of event. It is still declaring some group “better,” and some group “less,” it is still declaring some class of people as “other.”

I can think of no better way to have a voice than to speak up, no better way to be seen than to rise up, no better way to celebrate the diversity of who-all we are and can be, than an Avatar Pride Parade.

Still Photo from Pride Parade

For VB37 – Sitting is the New Smoking, we mapped out a 5k walking course through 21 regions of the Second Life Mainland, and with a Start/Finish line at Circuit La Corse. Since we already have this wonderful, exactly 5km course mapped out, I propose a 2 lap or 10k pride walk. The entire course only has a single “turn” you have to make, and this time we’ll station someone there to make sure walkers don’t go the wrong way! 😀

Still Photo from Pride Parade

VB42 – Avatar Pride Parade

Saturday 29 September 2012
Saturday 8 September 2012
10am PDT / SLT
1pm EDT
17:00 GMT
18:00 BST
19:00 CEST
Sunday 20 September 2012
Sunday 9 September 2012
01:00 HKT
03:00 AEST

Come as the avatar you are… or any other avatar you’d like to be for the day…

Second Life Map showing path of 21 region Avatar Pride Parade


R E L A T E D . M A T E R I A L S

SL-URL / Circuit La Corse

iRez / Civil Rights Home Page
iRez / Identity Home Page

VB04 – Prism
VB28 – The Seniors Project
VB37 – Sitting is the New Smoking
VB41 – Rock the Casbah

Still Photo from Pride Parade

Still Photo from Pride Parade

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Previz

Author:Vanessa Anne Blaylock

As a Virtual Public Artist my work invites virtual communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.

27 Comments on “Previz #68 – Avatar Pride Parade”

  1. Friday, 10 August 2012 at 00:53 UTC #

    This sounds like great fun! This could be my second virtual world pride walk!

    Small detail:
    When I went shopping for a new walking animation in SL, I ended up choosing one meant for men. Generally I found the places that offered these to be very binary (only very feminine walks or very masculine walks) and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this one man-walk was perfect for me! Yay for virtual worlds where you can choose these things yourself, trust me, there’s great many things I’d like to change about some of the character animations in WoW.

    • Friday, 10 August 2012 at 04:30 UTC #

      Oh, uh, “WoW” — I haven’t really thought about “walks” so much… I’ve always been aware of how many of the avatars on the dance floor are built like either Kim Kardashian or Matthew McConaughey (it mostly is that way on more sexualized places like SL dance floors… if you go, for example to an SL EDU event you’ll see much less hormonized, and more eclectic avatar bodies — but then that parallels the different body images IRL doesn’t it?)

      I actually have a theory about why this is. Or Vilayanur Ramachandran at UCSD does and I’ve adapted it for avatar bodies. YES! University of California, San Diego AGAIN!!! I studied with both Allan Kaprow and Miller Puckette there… I’ve never met Ramachandran, but he’s totally in the same stratospheric league as those guys.

      Ramachandran’s neuroaesthetic theory is called “Peak Shift,” and the idea is that we’re designed to exaggerate distinctive features. The Dutch ethologist and Nobel laureate Nico Tinbergen did some of the freakin’ slickest work you’ve ever seen on this idea with Herring Gull chicks.

      The version of this research that I-forget-who did with rats went like this: drop a rat in a Skinner box with an image of a square and a rectangle. Give the rat a food pellet when it goes to the rectangle and nothing when it goes to the square. It very quickly “learns” to “like” the rectangle.

      Then put it in a box with the same rectangle, no square, and another rectangle even longer than the first… What happens??

      The rat goes to the new rectangle, not the one it was previously rewarded for. The theory is that the rat didn’t actually “learn” the original rectangle, rather it learned the concept of rectangularity, so when it sees a never before, but even more rectangular shape, it “loves” it.

      Ramachandran’s Peak Shift theory is that if you subtract what your not looking for, and exaggerate what you are looking for, then you have something really potent. So on a sexualized place like a dance floor, if you subtract one gender shape from the other and accentuate what’s left, then you get something really powerful. So things like women with huge breasts or men with huge biceps make “sense” from this “Peak Shift” perspective.

      Anyway, I thought about that in bodies a lot — but I hadn’t thought about animation! of course you’re right — there are all those “Female Sexy Walks” and “Male Clunky Dude Walks.”

      But as you also noted, there are a zillion animations from designers, so it’s great that you found one that felt just right. You can get different “stands” also BTW. You can “Override” all the animations and there are many, but probably Walking and Standing are the 2 that most give you character. And really, you’re right, just like RL, how you walk and how you stand probably says as much as your shape itself.

      You know, BTW, that you can make your own Walks and Stands, right? You can use the free program QAvimator (or if you have it the pay software Poser or many others, but QAvimator does everything)

    • Friday, 10 August 2012 at 04:33 UTC #

      WoW Ironyca, it would be SO great to have you come do the walk with us in SL… but… I was thinking that if we really want to celebrate Avatar Pride… not just the wonderful diversity of avatars in SL… but in Virtual Worlds wherever they may be… maybe the walk wants to extend beyond just one world…

      What would you think of organizing a little Avatar Pride Walk for WoW? The number of avatars and the distance aren’t really important… but it might be nice to have multiple worlds…

      Or it’d also be great to see you in SL…

      What do you think?

      • Saturday, 11 August 2012 at 00:25 UTC #

        I don’t think I’d have to time to organize it. I’m also skeptic a lot of WoW players would embrace it, I don’t think they are in general as “avatar-aware” as SL people. How prejudiced of me >.< Maybe they are, I just don't see as many posts about topics like these in the WoW community. SL puts the avatar a lot more in focus than WoW does, for a lot of people, the character in WoW is just a tool for play.

        • Saturday, 11 August 2012 at 00:47 UTC #

          hmm… I guess… you should totally check out this show The WoW Factor though… they do these turbo transmog festivals where peeps really go all out… and then they hang out like ALL FREAKIN NITE to show off their avis to peeps and talk about them.

          Sounds pretty aware / obsessed to meeeeeee 😀

          • Saturday, 11 August 2012 at 00:48 UTC #

            True true.

          • Saturday, 11 August 2012 at 00:51 UTC #

            I thought more about Third faction when I said that though.

            • Saturday, 11 August 2012 at 00:59 UTC #


              Wow, amazing stuff! We need to get one of them to do a guest post for us!

              So was “/hug” it’s own group? or was that a project by Third Faction?

              Liz Solo, who does performance works in WoW / SL / RL was part of /hug… and TF if they were the group on that…

              Actually she recently said she’d join in the conversation here…

              • Saturday, 11 August 2012 at 03:10 UTC #

                /hug is a project of Third Faction (love that name btw). I got the impression they were inactive. But it would be great if it turns out they’re not. But maybe I misunderstood the whole Avatar Pride performance. When I read it, I thought about your posts on Facebook where SL avatars have had their issues and so on, so I thought it was along those lines.

                • Sunday, 12 August 2012 at 04:48 UTC #

                  One of the seeds of the idea was the “civil rights” aspects of pseudonymous identity… which seems “general” to me, but you may be right that it applies a bit more to an SL-like mindset than a WoW-like perspex… not sure…

                  Either way though… the bigger picture is really a celebration of avatars and diversity. It’s crazy to think that a generation or two ago not many people even knew the word “Avatar!” It may be that James Cameron did more for the word than SL+WoW et al… but, his movie was, of course, all about “human” rights too.

                  One of the most powerful things about Cameron’s movie to me, is that by going to an “alien world on a distant star,” he was able to tell a story that resonated around the globe, that people feeling oppressed everywhere saw the film and said, “OMG, Cameron’s talking about us!!

                  It’s a wonderful case where a general thing can take on lots of specific power. With the Avatar Pride Parade, I don’t mean it to be about one world or one issue, but rather a realization that in a short time some of us have come to spend enough hours of our lives with these identities that we feel compelled to not just “make a character for the game,” but to make elaborate backstories, blogs, Facebook profiles… hahaha… nobody at Blizzard or Linden Lab said “Step 3, Make a Facebook Account for your Avatar”… but like Pinocchio these identities become “real” thru dedication, will, and desire.

                  Anyway, it seems reasonable that in the future more people will, for a variety of reasons, spend more time with these sorts of identities, so VB/CO, iRez, and the Avatar Pride Parade are all thoughts about exploring this new phenomenological realm.

                  IDK if Third Faction is still active or not… but I do know that Liz Solo is. She did a mixed reality piece in WoW + SL + RL not too long ago. I’m currently twisting her arm to come join our conversation here, and hopefully she’ll chime in with a little info on her exciting work.


            • Saturday, 11 August 2012 at 01:03 UTC #


              Ok, cool, so TF is the group Liz is in… I’m not sure what she was going to talk about, but I should encourage her to talk about TF! 🙂

  2. Friday, 10 August 2012 at 05:04 UTC #

    Erm… ok. Just one question, err… erm… do I have to become gay or somethin? hehe

    • Friday, 10 August 2012 at 06:05 UTC #

      haha, no no, it’s not a “GAY Pride” parade… it’s an “AVATAR Pride” parade…

      We’re celebrating our identity as avatars… as sexy human avatars… as funky artist avatars… as avatars in wheelchairs… as avatars with wide hips… as avatars that look like sticks… as Furry avatars… as Tiny Avatars…

      Avatars are real people… avatars are intelligent beings… we are celebrating our many identities!

      • Friday, 10 August 2012 at 12:12 UTC #

        i was just being silly. i can’t wait to pick my quirkiness. hehehehe

        • Friday, 10 August 2012 at 18:04 UTC #

          On thing seriously though, I would love to try to reach out to as many different communities as we can… I hope I can get some peeps from the SL/RL group Gimp Girl, many of whom are in virtual wheelchairs to join us… we should totally reach out to Furry & Tiny communities… and it’d be great if YOU want to go poke around your old Geisha stomping grounds and see if you can drag a few peeps in to join us! 🙂

          • Friday, 10 August 2012 at 19:01 UTC #

            I’ll see what I can come up with, Vanessa.

          • Monday, 13 August 2012 at 21:19 UTC #

            I’ve reread the article and enjoyed the girls with the great boobies again. /me giggles.

            My connections with the geisha houses, sadly, have gone unattended for too long. And while I still have friends there, I’m afraid that the commitment required would to allow me to ask them to join might be too great at the present time. I’ll visit with friends at okiyas on Little Yoshiwara and Hosoi Ichiba, and if there are enough old friends I’ll try to get something going.

            Otherwise, I feel I represent women adventurers to some extent. We could each wear our favorite adventuring outfits… perhaps. I think women are far more vulnerable in real life when they venture out into the wild. Here in Second Life, we enjoy a special freedom and safety that we can never fully achieve in real life. What do you think of this idea? That I try to gather some women adventurers?

            • Monday, 13 August 2012 at 22:00 UTC #

              Love it!


              • Monday, 13 August 2012 at 22:03 UTC #

                Ok, I’ll go for it then. Women adventurers in second life. i can really get behind this. btw, it’s skeery for women to hike off into the mountains in real life. sure, there are bears but there’s always the danger of much worse.

                • Monday, 13 August 2012 at 22:19 UTC #


                  Kathleen’s written about how The Salon was such a potent place for women… and perhaps VR can be that today…

                  Anyway, the Avatar Pride Parade will be great no matter who shows up… but I do think it’ll be nice to try to include whoever we can

  3. Saturday, 11 August 2012 at 19:26 UTC #

    Activity is already picking up at the Start / Finish line in Circuit La Course!

    Vaneeesa Blaylock & Xue Faith sitting in chairs outside an adobe building that houses Gallery Xue / Circuit La Course

    Xue opened a small satellite gallery, “Gallery Xue / Circuit La Course” at the Start / Finish line. She’s going to pass out free water so Avatar Pride walkers don’t get dehydrated

    Pixel Reanimator and Gina Broono standing in the street at Circuit La Course on the Second Life Mainland, wearing matching "Klimt" outfits

    Pixel and Gina came by to check out the new gallery and the Avatar Pride Parade route. They’re not sure Xue’s water station will be enough and suggested seeding rain clouds!

  4. Saturday, 08 September 2012 at 15:45 UTC #

    Okie dokie, I’m chekcing in. Are we on for tommorrow? I’ve bot my dancing shoes and I’m ready to roll if we are a go.

    • Saturday, 08 September 2012 at 15:57 UTC #

      Thanks so much for asking Yordie — as you were kind enough to notice elsewhere, Our Young Miss Vaneeesa has been somewhat MIA with the start of the new academic year.

      Avatar Pride Parade would be a great event even if it was just the 2 of us walking, but I think it’s worthy of rallying a bit larger group, which YMV (Young Miss Vaneeesa) has, thus far, failed to do.


      • Saturday, 08 September 2012 at 16:04 UTC #

        I may be on the road on the 29th but if I’m near an internet connection, I’ll hop on an march my avie right up the center of the parade route.

        • Saturday, 08 September 2012 at 16:22 UTC #

          Oh gosh Yordie – so sorry! 😦

          Uggh – it’s always something.

          Did you move already? Or is that part of it?

          Thanks for everything Yordie. And most of all, thanks for being Yordie! 😀


          • Saturday, 08 September 2012 at 21:25 UTC #

            I’ll send you a message in FB and explain the status.

            • Saturday, 08 September 2012 at 22:46 UTC #

              oooooooh… we like “Status Updates!” 😀

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