Virtual photography – valid or not?

Sunday 21st May 2017

I think maybe an image created within a virtual world environment should be referred to as ‘screenshot photography’ or ‘screenshot art’ rather than simply ‘photograph’. Because the image is not made with a camera, but via a monitor.  (Possibly a fresh name for this burgeoning new art form should be considered?)

But both require human input. A degree of skill is required with both methods. They both follow the same rules of composition and lighting/ exposure etc.

And they both fulfil a desire to capture a scene, a place or moment in time, a memory – whether that scene has been constructed or simply happened upon.
Is a scene constructed for a photographic picture any different from one constructed within a games engine? Photographs are taken of statues, of inanimate objects……..are they any different from an image taken of an avatar?
It can perhaps be argued if an avatar is regarded as a prop rather than a ‘human’ ,the gap between the two art forms lessen .
And as many photographers use a PC to store, edit and maintain their images, do not use film or developing-room techniques, the gap between the two methods draws even closer.

Is a screenshot art? That depends upon who is viewing it. All art is subjective . It’s only of value to those who value it.

Likewise how an image is processed or edited is subjective. There is no loss of validity if someone uses a filter, or a fancy lens. Both can be used creatively.
If just one person has an emotional response to an image – it IS art. Be they the creator or a viewer.

I personally think that how a piece of art is created, the tools used and the methods employed are irrelevant. The perception of what can be considered as Art is ever changing, so too are the methods of achieving it.

Artists throughout history have constantly pushed the limits of their processes, their materials and their perceptions. Many great works of art are in danger because the artist used untried techniques and unstable pigments. Artists by their very nature seek to push boundaries and provoke a reaction for their work.

All methods are valid.
All processes are valid – because they are merely construction techniques.
And just because a method of construction is complicated does not mean someone conquering that method can produce Art.
A camera is a just a tool. Learning to use a tool is a skill, not an art. It is one’s selection of what to make an image of, and the way it is processed or edited, that can make it art.

Does the fact that making such images is now available to millions – rather than  the relatively few who could afford, and use a camera and to then develop their own films – make that form of producing an image  any less of an art form?

Are images made within  a virtual world platform valid as an art form?  Absolutely yes!


I think the problem of legitimacy for screenshot images is more the crux of the matter.For an art form to be taken seriously these days – and by that I mean that it has the ability to generate money – it has to be quantifiable. If the Art World cannot make money on an image …….it is regarded by the art community as worthless. But financial worth does not equate to artistic merit.


Limitless copies can be made of a screenshot image. But isn’t that fact also true of a photograph taken with a camera?
An artist, or a photographer, or a print maker, can put a limit on the number of copies of an image he or she will produce. The copies are numbered accordingly, and the artist is trusted that the copy ‘run’ is adhered to. They are trusted.
It would seem that those of us who use our PC monitors cannot be trusted in this way. Are those of us who use this new technique less than honourable? Sadly, I think perhaps the perception is that we are.
But are we less of an artist?  Nope.


Does selling an image for pennies lessen that image’s possibility to be regarded as Art And more importantly to be taken seriously?
Personally for me the answer is yes.
I was taught that any creative, any artist, should value their own work. That if they did not value it……neither would others. It’s about respect for oneself and one’s craft.
Therefore if you offer an image for sale it should be costed on the hours spent making it, plus the cost of materials used – and have those costs applied to it before considering how much possible profit one can make from the project.
And  it should be limited in copies. Not endlessly churned out like doughnuts at a factory.
If screenshot artists value their work – eventually the Art world will too. Their fate is in their own hands.

It’s been a long time . . .

I have been thinking lately of how this current crisis is a taste of how the World might be one day. People locked away inside walls constructed by fear rather than bricks and mortar. No longer merely sheltering from the elements, but imprisoned by fear of the unseen and unknown.

We seem to be on a trajectory into a future we can never return from. A future of fear, isolation, despair and mental torment.
I truly hope humanity can make use of a time like this – of enforced social isolation – to contemplate on how we are conducting ourselves. And really think about the fact that we share this beautiful planet with other’s, and not just our own kind. That we must respect and value all who inhabit the Earth. That only together can we safeguard the rich tapestry of this small planet we call Home.

We are currently riding the wave of a pandemic that we have very few weapons to fight. And I do not think this will be the last.  As we crowd out, obliterate and push Nature to the brink, it will send us more fights like this one.
I believe this current crisis is a wake-up call ….and we ignore it at our peril.

So I began reading the first few lines of a post by Rico Saenze today with some trepidation. But as I read on, I realised that he hadn’t written of doom and gloom.

He wrote of the love and support that Second Life gives to so many on a daily basis. That now, more than ever, such things are desperately needed. And he is so very right.

Even though we are merely pixels projected into a 3D world, our avatars can bring joy and comfort to a bleak and lonely existence so many are enduring at this time. They enable us to be with friends, loved ones, and those we count as extended ‘family’.

We can forget the grim news that is put out hour after hour, and enter a world that is free from health cares. Where the sun always shines, and where there is always a small pocket of silliness to be found to put a smile on our face.

Second Life allows us the comfort of never needing to feel lonely, even if we are physically alone. We are all simply one click of the mouse away from another human being.


Safe journeying through this crisis for you and your loved ones. And remember – you are never truly alone.


Observations and et cetera’s

below or contrary to the standards expected in a particular profession or activity.

A word only relevant when a person is actually engaged or employed, in a profession, or particular activity.
To expect someone to be ‘professional’ before they have embarked upon an activity or employment is, therefore, totally ludicrous and indicative of the user being unprofessional.

having or showing behaviour that is respectful and considerate of other people.

Before calling out another person for their behaviour be very sure that you have acted respectfully and politely in the first instance.

a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.

The term Friends within Second Life is somewhat loosely used. It’s become Debased even.
We have our Friends – people we actually care about.
And then there are people who are not a Friend as such. They’re on our friends list because they – or we – have, for various reasons, felt the need to be in easier contact.
Usually in Second Life it’s because of a perceived convenience to one or both of the parties concerned.
Accepting the offer of Friendship was a courtesy given to the Asker – but it does not give them the right to expect to know when, or if, we are online.
Switching someone’s ability to see us online is a basic form of ensuring our privacy. We don’t hang a sign outside our front door in the real world to tell the world we are at home or away.
Neither should we be expected to do so in our online life.

Reflections . . . . and a realisation

Today I had the pleasure of reading a friend’s latest blog post,  his first after quite a long hiatus.

And reading Ricco’s post had me pondering my lives – atomic and Second,  and how reclusive I am,  and always have been.

In the beginning of my Second Life it was primarily due to my PC being less than capable of allowing me to see the wider environment. It simply could not cope.

So I stayed  ‘at home’  and built with a vengeance!

Perched on my platform all day I cobbled prims into a Something or Other.  And I was very happy to be doing so.

It was the reason I first entered Second Life – to make,  and create  ……and without all the fuss and mess and bother that usually accompanied my entire life.
No more wood shavings under my feet,  no gesso dust in my nostrils – or the constant lingering smells of glue and paint and turpentine.
To have my kitchen used solely for the purpose it was intended for – food!  Not as the place I washed and hung my paint brushes and tack cloths to dry.
To grow my nails!
I had found my new workroom in a pixel environment.
True,  it did not make me a living as those other things had done,  but it served to fulfill my need to create.  Something.  Anything.


And now,  even though I have a machine with more than enough capability to explore – I’m still perched in the sky on a platform!
Nowadays I don’t build quite so much,  but I spend hours creating backdrops,  and digging through my inventory for just the right piece of clothing or hair to complete the vision I have for a picture to be made.


I know I possibly  ‘should’  explore,  there’s no reason for me not to.  But I don’t.
I rarely interact with others in either life.  I think perhaps I am a natural,  and long standing,  recluse.
Not that I don’t care for the few friends that I have,  I do,  I care very deeply about them.
And hope that each of them knows they will always find a shoulder to cry on,  and an ear that can be relied upon to listen.
And the ability to ‘forget’ whenever it is politic to do so.


In the atomic world I worked alone.  Occasionally I had a little company – perhaps a trainee,  maybe a workman patiently readying where I was about to work.  Clients – of course.  But they were merely a necessary evil,  never company!
Perched on a ladder,  squeezed into a corner somewhere,  sitting at my work table, washing my brushes at the kitchen sink – I was alone.  And happy in my solitude.


I am never lonely,  but almost always alone.


But in writing this I have had the sudden realisation that I DO travel! ………. but not to places.
I travel the routes of knowledge.  I visit the sites of learning.
And here was I thinking I had been merely pootling through life! 


In the last six months I have taught myself to mesh.  For sure no Artist – but capable enough,  and the possibility is there to be one if I work hard.
And I am about to start learning again.  This particular platform could almost have been created with me in mind!   Clothing,  fashion,  textiles,  design. Things that have been the very foundation of my life,   that have lead to all of the other paths I tread.

I have Second Life to thank for these new and thoroughly enjoyable pursuits.

For without it,  and the need to learn how to make the best of the machines I had,  I would still be muddling through in that other, messy  existence.
Still be drifting through life trailing the scents of turpentine and oils rather than Fragonard.
Still be wondering just how the wood dust and the silver leaf got to be in my bed.
Still finding a pot of sequins where the salt should have been.
And would never have known the utter joy of beautifully manicured nails!

And still ignorant of this brave new world of computing and science that we find ourselves in.


I bestride two worlds …….and their horizons are only limited by my imagination.
I AM an Explorer!




I wish you all a safe, peaceful and joyous New Year.

And I hope that in 2017 we are granted strength, courage and fortitude, wisdom, humour and integrity as our armour against the Bad times that may come.

With Love in our heart for our fellow man, for the Earth that we live on, for the creatures we share our planet with – we can overcome anything.