about the project

Updated 01-17-11


“Think for a minute about what makes you fabulous and how you can celebrate it.”
– Laura Mercier

****Dedicated to Delinda Dyrssen who passed away much too soon!!!!!****

Come celebrate your ‘fabulousness!’
I would love for you to be part of my project on online identity/anonymity.
I am shooting portraits today, come on by and hang out, chat and be part of my project.
I have over 1029 portraits so far of some of the most amazing people I know.
My goal is now 2000.

IM Gracie Kendal
email krisartlvr@verizon.net
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/KrisSchomaker
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/GracieKendal
Plurk: http://www.plurk.com/GracieKendal#
LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kristine-schomaker/5/180/925

If you want to keep up on where this project is going, where I’ll be showing it in SL and what I’ll be doing with it in RL. Please click on the Kiosk at my studio and join my mailing list.

Process/What to do:
Wear or be whatever represents you in SL. Favorite outfit, or avatar etc.
You can use any AO, or pose or dance you’d like and any props you can wear. (Poses are easier and faster if you have a good pose you want to use.)
Please turn off all face lights.

When I am shooting the high rez pictures sometimes my system pauses for a few secs because of my graphics being up higher so it may take a longer to get the right pose and I may not respond right away.
Also depending on the AO or dance, it may take a little longer as I am watching for good angles and good poses.
Otherwise it normally takes 10-15ish minutes.

“What started out as a set of 100 portraits to help illustrate the idea of online anonymity, has turned into a sort of documentation of avatars in SL. There are so many questions I have been asking myself and ideas I’ve been pondering throughout this whole process, especially on the idea of online identity.”

“Like many of my other projects, I started out with one idea: to take portraits of avatars facing away from me. That was it, pure and simple. I had the idea that I wanted them to be unrecognizable, their faces hidden, just another level of anonymity in SL vs. RL. I plan on printing some if not all of these portraits out in RL for an eventual show in a gallery as well as publishing a book.”

“Our online identity has become a way of life for millions of people around the world. Not just in Second Life, but on many internet sights you go to. When you look on Facebook, or Twitter, how many post pictures of their children or pets? Pictures of places they have visited, cartoon characters they love, logos of their business, landscapes, art, and anything else they find from their lives that they want to represent their identity online.”

This is our avatar. I write about the avatar in my thesis…

reposting here…

I think it’s important to begin with an explanation of what avatars and Second Life are. Sean Egen explains that “‘Avatar’ derives from the Sanskrit word Avatara, which literally translates as ‘descent,’ specifically, a deliberate descent by a god into the land of mortals. In Hinduism, an avatar is the bodily manifestation of immortal beings… Many who use avatars today are literally approaching it from the point of view that their avatar represents their ‘incarnation’ into the internet.” In contemporary culture, an avatar is our virtual representation.

Most people are familiar with avatars through video games. In World of Warcraft, for example, players create avatars then customize their appearance. People also use avatars as icons in instant messaging applications, social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter and through their email programs. Avatars are also represented in film and other forms of media. Max Headroom (1986) is an early manifestation of an avatar. The British virtual band Gorillaz (2006) is made up of cartoon figures representing its real life band members. Movies such as Tron (1982), The Lawnmower Man (1992), The Matrix (1999) and Avatar (2009) give examples within the plots of alternate realities in which the person has an alter ego or other persona: an avatar.

Besides the practical reasons for having an avatar, there are many psychological reasons. Because avatars offer anonymity, people use them as a way to escape reality. In his book I, Avatar, Mark Stephen Meadows discusses how people use avatars as masks. “We are more inclined to reveal ourselves when we use our avatars. We’re more inclined to reveal what we want, dislike, and think. But in a world where information is more important than physical proximity, we are not as safe as we might assume… After all, the word persona originally meant, in ancient Greek, ‘mask.’ Not as in a thing that hides your face, but one that shows what is truly underneath.”

SL offers people the freedom to explore changing identity dynamics. Experimentation is welcome. It is a safe environment which allows unlimited freedom to express oneself and consider boundaries/barriers that aren’t readily accepted in the physical world. “Computer screens are becoming the new location for our fantasies… The immateriality of cyberspace dissolves not only space and time, but our identities as well. For some this is a frightening prospect, for others perhaps the beginnings of a new empowerment.”

“The portraits I am taking have become a documentation of the lives of hundreds of people who to me are fearless. These people (yes I say people, because no matter how we represent ourselves online, we are all people on the other side of the computer) put themselves out there into the brave new world of virtual environments as explorers, searching for anything and everything. They are amazing, creative, soulful people who I am so honored to have in my project.

Each portrait represents a different personality, a singular life. Each person has a story to tell, a life to live. Does it matter if we know what these stories are? Does it matter if we know who is on the other side of the computer?

Thank you to everyone for your amazing support!!!

If you would like to be part of this project, please IM me inworld- Gracie Kendal or leave a comment here. I’d love to shoot ya!!”


“By All Appearances” by Michele Hyacinth                                                 http://michelehyacinth.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/by-all-appearances/

1000 Avatars (and counting)… by Jealous Rage                                                                                http://jealous-rage.blogspot.com/2011/01/1000-avatars-and-counting-project.html




“We are all beautiful. We are all fabulous” – An Interview With Gracie Kendal  by Lacewing Mesmeriser http://slfix.com/?p=12537

“You, too, can be a Usual Suspect” by Lou Netizen

“Batting 1000 Avatars” by Harpers Ganesvoort

“Gracie Kendal’s 1000 Avatar project” by Senban Babii

“1000 Avatars, an installation in Second Life” by Jenn Frank

Visiting The 1000 Avatars Project by Daniel Voyager

“The 1000+ Avatars Project by Vixen Rau                                     http://cheapsecondlifediva.blogspot.com/2011/01/1000-avatars-project.html


“1000 Avatars by Gracie Kendal” by Caitlin Tobias                                 http://caitlintobias.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/1000-avatars-by-gracie-kendal/

11 Comments on “about the project”

  1. […] is just over the halfway mark, so now is the time to participate. There is more information on the project on Gracie’s Usual Suspects blog, or I can send you a notecard and landmark inworld if you prefer. Just don’t ask me to get a […]

  2. IEEEVirtual says:

    “We could have found that most everyone goes to the store to buy gestures, but it turns out about 50 percent of gesture transfers are between people who have declared themselves friends. The social networks played a major role in the distribution of these assets,” said Lada Adamic, an assistant professor in the School of Information and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

  3. Buffy Beale says:

    ROCK on Gracie, what an incredible historical collection you are building to document the current day avatar, I know your project has taken on wings and I can’t wait to see you fly 🙂

  4. Buffy Beale says:

    Hey Gracie, for themes I think a wing collection would be just lovely 🙂 Then at least I’d be down from the nosebleed heights lol

  5. […] the articles.  You can find out more about the Project, if you haven’t heard already, on the about page, and also learn how to offer yourself up to Gracie for 5-10 minutes of (backward facing) fame. […]

  6. […] recent post about Gracie Kendall’s 1000 avatar project presents Gracie’s pictorial documentary in an interesting way:  as a complete […]

  7. scottmerrick says:

    Hey, Gracie, beautiful stuff. Wanted to let you know your blog is up for Blog-o’-the-month for December at ISTE Island’s Blog-o’-the-Month. You can see more at http://scottsecondlife.blogspot.com/2011/11/novembers-blog-o-month-is-virtual-and.html and good luck!

  8. SR says:

    I participated in the project. As we all waited our turn to take our picture there was this feeling of history being created. A moment we would always be a part of without actually knowing each other or seeing the face behind the Avatar. Finally seeing my name being called after waiting for 30 minutes to get my picture taken was well worth it. The thrill of knowing my Av would become infamous would not have been any more exciting in real life. I hope we can find our picture by typing our Av name in this site at some point.

    • SR says:

      PS. I am FoxyBlue Rae on Second Life.

    • Awwww thank you so much for your lovely comment. I understand your want to find your avatar on the site by using your name, but a main part of the project has to do with anonymity. So There are no names with the avatar portraits. Your name is a huge part of your identity too and I think it would be giving too much away. In the books I published, I have a list of names in the back of the book, but not with the avatar portraits for this reason. Thank you again for participating in the project. It has been such a wonderful experience, and still goes on with the real life show that is coming up in May 2012. Have a great week!!

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