In spite of all its grounding power, the big Other is fragile, insubstantial, properly virtualin the sense that its status is that of a subjective presupposition.
It exists only in so far as subjects act as if it exists.
Its status is similar to that of an ideological cause […]
it is the substance of the individuals who recognise themselves in it, the ground of their whole existence, the point of reference that provides the ultimate horizon of meaning […] yet the only thing that really exists are the individuals and their activity, so this substance is actual only in so far as individuals believe in it and act accordingly…

Slavoj Žižek – Empty Gestures and Performances
(on Lacan’s big Other)

So we might say that one of many possible readings of
Bryn Oh’s Virginia Alone could be…
… the exploration of a personal oral documentation which facilitates our witnessing Virginia’s exigent discourse/expression – that of a human subject’s existential and psychological disjunction with reality,
[acute physical disorientation, hallucination, delusion, dysfunction and disorder] – and the consequence of her endeavouring analysis through her imminent intuition/perception, understanding, engagement, interpretation and response to her ‘condition’ – a particular micro-focused, revelation/documentation of the subject’s Other from the articulation of her ‘intentionality’ the sum of her recorded thoughts [and actions] become a declaration of her own ontological significance…
here we become immersed, in an oral/aural immediacy and share a temporal interiority with a ‘fellow human being’ – a very beautiful fellow human being – a first for any work I have seen/experienced through the medium of second life…

From visiting and interacting –
I made notes and acquired documentation…

The use of Virginia’s reference to dates, sites the work’s subject as ‘contemporary’ and refers to her life being lived in the 21st Century – [random logings]
December 25 2006 – Monday
The Night of January the 2nd 2007 11:15 PM
Wednesday July 21st 2009
Tuesday August 28 2007
Friday August 31st 2007
Tuesday December 15 2009

I google mapped and explored 653 Gould Road, Dawn-Euphemia, Lambton County, Ontario, Canada…

Occasional distressing extraneous sounds (possibly recorded within a sealed hospital unit/nursing home) place one in a disturbing virtual aurality…

Tragic irony within a closing shot of Virginia’s piano as we hear the recording of her playing her own composition [on her piano] against the shot of the instrument in its current disused/dilapidated state…

Virginia’s Audio (Music) Recordings – [random logings]
The Wayward Wind
I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Has Gone
Old Lang Syne
If You Knew Susie
These Boots Are Made For Walking
Theme from The Good The Bad The Ugly

Hand Written Letters – [random finds]
letter 4
letter 6
letter 7
letter 8
letter 10
letter 11
letter 12
letter 13
letter 14
letter 15
Archival Photographs – 
[random logings]
As a young child (on the floor with the tape cassette)
at 13 yrs (1943)
at 31 yrs (1961)
at 35 yrs (1966 March)
Bert and dog (up against the wall)
Virginia & Mother and Father
Virginia rowing
Virginia with dog
As a young child (zoomed)

Random Quotes –
“Where when and why, although I don’t know why”

More virtual than you’ll ever know by looking at a screen… its an uncanny feeling”

“It seemed to be a different world at night up in the sky, the only way I could get away from that well the day time too, was to move to the country, and out in the country it was no longer in the sky it was sideways at the neighbours, so that’s what happened when I moved to the country”
“At night it would get worse it was like another world closing in unless I played the piano”
“My left hand had taken over”
“So the big thing that was wrong with my life that I insisted on living alone”
“December 24 2006 Sunday… nothing recorded”
“If I went to Victoria Avenue Church and played the piano… …for two or three hours, everything would be fine, I think it was the using of the hands”
“And at night it would get worse it was like another world closing in unless I played the piano”
“But that more or less saved my sanity in the city”
“These words were written at the bottom of the second page… the inner page, of a letter, it looked like my writing I couldn’t be sure though, to whom or about whom, I don’t know anything in a vision I had around one thirty two o’clock maybe when resting…”
“What bothers me is my orientation, and I suppose that is linked with the left right business”
“And I had a voice beside me saying I’m that person out there yak yak yak yak yak I’ve all sorts of stupid stuff which I said I didn’t believe, and it was all so spooky with the voice beside me here, aehhh so what is a person supposed to believe”
“Its this left hand left side that wants to take over, I don’t know what to do about this except to refrain from using my left which is… pretty much ok but I get physical… problems and it does not make sense I’ve never known anybody to have this problem before, how can I have one side that’s fighting the other all the time but that’s what it is I think and I’m fighting them both…”
“I am penned in here by this stupid left side that is determined its going to run things, and I’m determined its not… and that’s all I know about the situation”
“My older sister went to live with her grandparents near Dresden but she was killed about two years later on the highway going to school”

Virginia and Bert

All 10 videos (viewed at least 3 times)
Virginia Alone
Virginia cat
Virginia Christmas
Virginia visions
Virginia and Bert
Virginia house
Virginia’s piano
Virginia breakers
Virginia – Chandu the Magician
Virginia farm

It was here after seeing all videos, that I wanted to ask Bryn why the 9 [10] video pieces were not streamed within sl as an ‘integral part of the work’… for – from my viewpoint – by not doing so – the videos may become almost a ‘stand alone work’ –  [and could be open to a ‘separate critical analysis in this modality – as we know –  one of the most powerful operational effects of Second Life is its ‘immersive power’ – the ability/potential to ‘engulf us psychologically’ more than any other medium – by its ability to swallow/include/consolidate all previous mediums] of course, as YouTube videos, the works can be viewed by a much wider audience… but in so being – they risk, for me, becoming almost ‘detached – stand alone video works’  using the work produced in sl for ‘illustration of location’ or ‘referential support’ for the videos as opposed to being ‘the core’ of the installation in  Second Life –  I believe ‘modality’ is paramount when being asked to engage with any creative work – and that there is a difference between how time-based/moving images work in/on (to list a few examples)

  •  a movie theatre
  •  an art gallery
  •  a computer screen
  •  a virtual world

each of these modalities are integral in shaping/moulding the works ‘operational affect’ upon the spectator – and differ in most cases…
I believe that had they been viewable in/at the sim –the sum of the parts would have been so much greater than the whole… [which is massive as it is] the work/install would have been ‘complete’ although perhaps even more challenging for the spectator – existing entirely within itself, all within the virtual modality of Second Life…

Bryn on location at Immersiva

Bryn most graciously responded to my enquiry:
” …I spent a great deal of time trying to find a way to have the cassette tapes play the audio in world effectively.  Unfortunately SL’s audio capabilities are terrible and the choices I had were not going to work.  For example the region could be carved up into individual parcels which would allow the audio to play but that would necessitate a reduction in the amount of tapes… and since it is an ongoing work where i may add more audio that would be problematic.  So what that would have meant is that once an avatar entered a subdived parcel they would hear the audio as long as they were within its boundaries.  This eliminates the “discovery” element which is present in all my work, it would also force me to spread evenly the tapes which creates a degree of predictablility.  Another option was to use an audio hosting provider like dropbox which would still take the viewer away from the build but would have no visuals.  The choice would not work because it plays audio immediately provided they are fairly short in duration which my machinima are not.  So I finally decided to use Youtube because though it does remove the viewer from the setting it also allows for other benefits.  Each work was given visuals which allowed me to include subtle imagery and pacing which helped to define my personal thoughts on her.  Showing both the micro and macro aspects of that which surrounds us.  The Youtube videos have also acted as a “hook” which has brought quite a few non SL users in world to experience the work.  There have been around ten thousand visitors to the exhibit so far from both inworld residents as well as visitors to the RL Santa Fe new media festival where it was being shown and while the Youtube method was not ideal it was the best I could come up with to get past the mediums limitations… “

When taking Bryn’s response above into account, I am convinced, the project – Virginia Alone – by enabling our ‘witnessing of Virginia’s articulation and recording of her condition’, the transillumination of Virginia’s psyche via the medium of Second Life –  is a ground breaking work – one that not only signifies but demonstrates the power and potential of Second Life as the optimal medium for Artistic/Creative Communications in the 21 Century/Digital Age we all inhabit – and has without doubt, set an incredibly high benchmark for future creativity in Second Life…