I attended a bit of the Art Breaker opening event at the Pop Art Lab -- much less than I would have liked (damn you, RL!), but a bit. From what I've read on other blogs, I missed some good stuff. I did catch the last half of the initial talks, including that of Pathfinder Lester (formerly Linden). I have to admit, most of what I heard didn't seem very informative (I won't be as hard on the speakers as sororNishi was, after all I missed a lot, but I also won't say she's wrong).
But my ears perked up when Pathfinder, near the end of his talk, spoke of artists affecting people's lives and their work needing to be known more widely. To me, this is crucial. Who is the audience for artists' work in SL? How can artists find their audience? The Art Breaker event drew a lot of people -- at one point the sim held as many as 63! -- but I could see that many of them were other artists, plus some gallery owners; I suspect that "outsiders" like me were a distinct minority (it would be interesting to find out). Pathfinder, albeit not an artist himself as best as I know, for his part talked mainly as though he expected only artists in the audience.
Now, it's neither surprising nor problematic that artists would mostly want to spend time with each other (and to some extent, gallery owners and patrons), stirring each other's ideas and encouraging each other onward. And when I've happened to meet them, I've had really interesting conversations with several artists, including Bryn Oh, Kolor Fall, AM Radio and Miso Susanowa, who were very generous with their time.
But at presumably public events, relationships between artists and non-artists (if present) seem to easily go a bit awry. For instance, when I attended Selavy Oh and Misprint Thursday's "Wedding" performance last January, it made an impression that at the reception afterward, when I thanked them for the (theoretically open) invitation and congratulated them on the piece, neither of them replied. Similarly, I went to an opening at Crossworlds once, where not only did the gallery hosts not greet me, they didn't notice that I asked them something. Hello? Audience here! You invited me!
Miso, in her own post on the Art Breaker event, criticises a "marketing maven" for recommending "pithy, zen-like SHORT [blog] postings," and she says, "Listen up, droid-boy: it all depends on what audience you're trying to reach. Now go get some real-world experience and call me back." I wasn't at that part of the event; for what it's worth, I agree that it depends on your audience, and still more, on your goals and the complexity of what you want to say (not to mention your particular writing style and abilities).
However, there is an obvious question: who is she trying to reach, whether in her blog or her art? Is the "marketing maven" not part of her audience? I ask because -- whatever the appropriateness or viability or even the tone of his suggestions -- he was there. I doubt he was forced to attend, let alone that he was paid to. Surely he came because he wanted to offer his support and appreciation for art in SL, making a time commitment just for you? Is it too much to expect some dignity in return? Either debate with him, or thank him for coming and leave him to enjoy your work (or not) in whatever way he does. Or maybe, even take him seriously.
Okay, I don't want to go too far off the rails here. As I said, I've had some great discussions with artists in SL, including Miso. And she does have the right to be irritated by things someone says. It may also be the case that incidents like the ones I mentioned at public events are exceptions, have extenuating circumstances, or whatnot; perhaps I'm making too much of them. But my basic point is, if you're only interested in addressing other artists, then I think you're setting your sights too low. The growth and development of art in SL can only occur as a larger collective effort -- or better, a collaborative one. Non-artists are not flies in the ointment. As soon as you put your work out there for a wider audience, one way or another we're part of your future.