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Avatars, part II of III: Cartooning (or, the Importance of Hair)

Now that my readership has appropriately flatlined, I am permitted to publish the second in a three-part series of journal entries about my quest to create the perfect avatar. In part I, we talked about caricature, and I obnoxiously examined what makes my own face distinctive. Now, we examine what, exactly, makes cartooning effective. Here’s a hint: HAIR.

Seeing in the Abstract

Let’s talk cartooning.

In his wonderful work of literary and visual criticism, Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud explains (emphases his):

...I’m going to examine cartooning as a form of amplification through simplification.

When we abstract an image through cartooning, we’re not so much eliminating details as we are focusing on specific details. By stripping down an image to its essential “meaning,” an artist can amplify that meaning in a way that realistic art can’t.

How do cartooning, caricature, and avatars relate to videogames in a broader sense? The key, I think, is iconography. Take a look at Character Design for Mobile Devices, wherein realistic character design and artistry are pared down to their simplest and most fundamental pixels.

“How did you feel,” 1UP editor James Mielke asked Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano, “about seeing your elaborate illustrations transformed into such tiny sprites?”

Amano replied with an elegant description that could be applied to any type of icon. ”...Back then, ...my art couldn’t just go into the game without major adjustments,” he explained. “So I looked at the sprites as just a symbol of my art. Here’s an example: when you say ‘Mount Fuji’ and you make a motion like this”—here, Amano makes a peak sign with his fingers—“everybody knows what Mount Fuji looks like, so they get the mental image in their head. So I was in charge of making the master art piece that people would keep in their mind, and people would remember this art because of these symbols in the game.”

Avatars as Cartoons

I’m not sure where this Flash avatar software came from, but I remember it being pretty popular a few years ago. In spite of its consistent inability to produce a reliably accurate face, I like it. It is unequivocally cartoony.

Since the choices for eyes, hairstyles, and mouths are deliberately limited by the software itself, I felt like it was necessary to select the second-ugliest chin possible. Does that make any sense? What I mean is, I feel like the software forced my hand in choosing a horrific, truly gnarly chin, but the avatar itself is all the better for it.

In the aforementioned Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud conveys himself as a simple cartoon dude wearing eyeglasses. “We don’t just observe the cartoon,” he writes, “we become it!” In the next frame of his comic, he draws himself unabashedly photorealistically. “Would you have listened to me,” his hyper-real avatar wonders, “if I looked like this?”

The moment is startling. But in the very next frame, he concludes—drawn again as his former, cartoonish self, with a speech bubble blooming above his head—“I doubt it! You would have been far too aware of the messenger to fully receive the message!”

McCloud’s point is significant: a meaningful avatar is one that is instantly relatable, if only because its identity is willfully indistinct.

Facing Your Manga

Because my MySpace user photo made use of ‘MySpace angles,’ it was almost less disingenuous to switch to a Face Your Manga avatar (at the time, it was all the rage on Twitter and Flickr). An ex-boyfriend witnessed the MySpace Avatar Switch and felt compelled to message me. “Your manga avatar,” he wrote, “is absolutely creepy.”

Dave, I absolutely agree. The manga software creator allows just enough variability for me to find my almost-actual facial features and hilariously uninspiring hair-do. But—and this is a big but—the creator does not allow so much variability that I will be permitted to choose another feature out of vanity. This seems important.

Instead, I will choose beady brown eyes, framed by eyeglasses and wickedly arched brows. I will choose plain hair, a smallish mouth with zero upper lip, a beaky nose, and a face shape allowing for just as much chin as possible. Ultimately, the outcome is as cartoonish as could possibly make me recognizable, without being so cartoonish that my avatar becomes gruesome.

AbiStudio Portrait Maker

I’m sorry. There is absolutely nothing I can say about the AbiStudio Portrait Illustration Maker (AKA “the one from Livejournal”). This could be a picture of anybody.

Anyway, I’ve only edited this paragraph in because I wanted everyone to see the crow shitting in a straight line.

The Simpsons, or, WTF?

Here is my Simpsons character.

Not too great, huh?

How am I supposed to superimpose my identity onto a standard Simpsons avatar? How should I depict my own ‘character’ on top of a Simpsons character?

Generally, and especially in this case, the shortest shortcut to my visual identity is hair. After all, the facial features will be Simpson-ized, so I have to rely on hair for my avatar’s identity.

No real offense intended, but it might be different for a man. His visual identity might be able to trade on sideburns, facial scruff, a mustache. He might give his Simpson avatar short hair, long hair, a curling ‘fro.

But this is the nearest I could find to my own hair, past or present, and the outcome is, for want of a better word, shrugging. By choosing the hairstyle nearest to my Self’s real-life hair, I have created an avatar identity that is distinctively faraway from my Self. It is distinctly indistinct.

Sure, using the Simpsons avatar as evidence of anything is unfair. The goal is to look, not like myself, after all, but like a Simpson. My pale flesh-colored skin is reinvented as pale yellow. I wear cartoon glasses, and I have a stylized overbite. Yet the implied humor of ‘Simpsonizing’ yourself using the flash avatar creator is, indeed, to create a vain ‘celebrity’ version of the Self as it would appear in a Simpsons episode. But especially for a woman, this motive seems unavailable. Why is that?

I Hair, Therefore I Am

In a recent blog entry (well, it was recent—editor), writer and indie game designer Auntie Pixelante explores the importance of Hair on female avatars.

Specifically, her blog looks at the changes in the hairstyles of Princess Toadstool and Princess Peach. Are they different people only because they have different hair colors? When clothing is stripped away—and indeed, in the case of fan-made pornography, Pixelante remarks, it is literally stripped away—hair color is the only discernible identity marker for Mario’s leading lady.

(Quick aside. Three seconds of research yielded the following: Princess Toadstool and Princess Peach are, in fact, the same person. -editor)

In her final paragraph, Miss Pixelante discusses iconography in a broader sense. She writes,

There was a time—those of us who are growing up with videogames as a given may not realize this—when the minute details of the appearance and identity of the characters who inhabit our videogames were not etched out and trademarked, and each of us had room to fill in the ambiguities between a character’s pixels. This is why I think projects like ‘i am 8-bit’ are so important: they reassert that each of us as players own an image of our favorite game’s characters that may be different than their author’s, because Nintendo doesn’t own our experiences. This is part of the reason why the cast of the ‘8-bit era’ resonates so much with us: because we define them, much more so than the talking, hyper-detailed characters of so many contemporary games.

I do not mean to miscommunicate her intent by publishing just this paragraph, but it is this paragraph that coincides most with Scott McCloud’s writings on cartooning and caricature. With a cartoon, and especially an 8-bit one, we are able to superimpose our own intent onto the blank slate character we are shown.

On the subject of hair, and for Auntie Pixelante’s aforementioned blog post, I remarked:

There was an online game-project, three or four years ago, that was all about word association. You were shown an image, or photograph, or graphic, and you needed to type the words that came to mind. Your goal was to type the same words you thought everyone else had assigned to each image.

Of course, the project was not a game at all—the idea was to get real humans to tag photos and make them human-searchable rather than robo-searchable. Here’s what they found out instead: any time somebody saw a photograph of a woman—any woman!—they would type “hair.” It is, especially for a man, the most salient thing about a woman’s appearance. It immediately and conveniently simplifies her visual identity down into an icon.

More broadly, though, I think we do the same with race, eyeglasses, wheelchairs, braces. I am not sure what this means.

I know for sure that Miss Pixelante is onto something. Otherwise my avatars would not rely on out-of-date hair for their identities.

Edit, five months later: over here.

Will it never end? Is there no respite? The disjointed ruminations will, we hope, come to a close in Avatars, part III of III.

14 responses to “Avatars, part II of III: Cartooning (or, the Importance of Hair)” »

  1. jc says:

    Well, this has been infinitely more enjoyable (in-depth, theoretical, not just comparing the three major console avatar systems) than the other avatar comparison articles I’ve seen around.

    What does it mean, do you think, when someone habitually uses non-representative images for avatars? Or, rather, images that don’t represent their appearance, but are just some picture. Generally, that’s more used for message board avatars than these creator things, but people do make abstract/non-self Miis as well.

  2. Adam says:

    Finally! I’ve been checking your feed every day to see when you were going to continue this series.

    I finished Understanding Comics recently, and it was interesting how much of that book could replace “comics” with “videogames” and still be profound.

  3. librarian says:

    @jc – I tried to address “non-representative” avatars briefly in Part I—see faceless medieval hussy—but on the whole, I found myself almost completely unable to fully acknowledge them. I did concede that Faceless Medieval Hussy was, indeed, a caricature, “a grotesque misrepresentation of nothing at all, but in the absolute extreme.” I added that she is a ‘successful’ avatar insofar as she is distinctive and memorable. Avatars are essentially icons, and we use them as ‘branding,’ metaphorically and literally. The avatar is your brand identity.

    I only know my own internet tendencies, so I can only begin to guess at the purpose of “non-representative” avatars online. I use Faceless Medieval Hussy to comment on blogs and messageboards I wouldn’t ordinarily be caught dead on (hello, Perez Hilton!). Underneath the helmet, she actually has a troll’s face: Faceless Hussy is, literally, an Internet troll. Using that avatar excuses me from tact, allowing me to be more scathing than I would in polite conversation. And while she totally has boobs, I think she conversely conceals my gender—which is to say, the avatar could just as easily be a dude’s. Because that avatar is baseless, because it has nothing to do with my own visage (I hope), it willfully represents my own sense of anonymity and my desired lack of accountability. At worst, anonymity lets people be as cruel as they’d like; at best, it lets people say what they’d like, without any worry of repercussion.

    Elsewhere, and especially in the newsgroup, I’ve extolled the virtues of the “smaller, friendlier Internet” of the mid-to-late 90s, about virtual ‘identity’ that, once upon a time, could be very carefully constructed and controlled. Now the Internet is—to paint with broad strokes—unfriendlier, even uncivilized, even though it is paradoxically mostly tamed and charted. I’ve rigorously avoided bylines and signatures, especially in the newsgroup, because aliases encourage us to speak freely. Maybe what I really miss about the Internet is being able to have very little identity at all.

  4. I’m a big fan of avatar-making in general. It’s one of the things that originally attracted me to The Sims and later to Second Life. (I swear I was born a girl and someone just stuck gentlemanly appendages and facial hair to me when I wasn’t looking.)

    I have two ways that I go with avatars. First, I do the “me” avatar. If I’m making a male avatar, there is no way I can make myself make one that isn’t as close to me as possible. Ever since WWF Smackdown 2 on PS1 made an absolutely spot-on representation of not only me but all of my university flatmates too, I’ve always tried to recreate that “perfect Pete”. I succeed sometimes – in Fallout 3 I looked particularly fetching in a powdered wig – and other times I just get a reasonable approximation of myself.

    Interestingly, everyone I know has commented that my NXE avatar is spectacularly close to my real appearance. I pulled no punches, making myself short and sliding the “weight” slider up to full (something which a friend of mine who is just as chunkily built “forgot” to do, making him a skinny-looking wretch on NXE and a hulking man-mountain in reality.) And my avatar is all the better for it. It looks like me. I like that. Even my Second Life avatar, where I could potentially be anyone or anything, looks like an idealised version of what I’d like to look like if I could make my hair do anything than grow like a wet mop. Oh for real-life prim hair.

    My second approach to avatar-making is the “fantasy” avatar. Whenever I’m making an avatar that isn’t me, or an avatar that I can distance myself from in some way, I inevitably make a female avatar, and always, always always with bright red hair. There are two reasons for this. (The female avatar thing. I don’t know why I like bright red hair. Read into that what you will.) One is the predictably shallow response that I like looking at attractive female characters. I am a guy, after all. But the second reason is that I actually find myself… I don’t know, “identifying” with female characters a lot more at times. The way I think and feel about things generally is not stereotypically “male” so I find a female avatar sometimes just feels like a good “fit”. I also sometimes feel that the female avatar represents the kind of person I’d like to be – not a girl, but I always see my female avatars as confident and outspoken, which is the almost exact opposite of how I am in “real life”. The female thing accentuates this “difference”, I think.

    I hasten to add that I never use a female avatar to misrepresent myself… except that one time when the Squad decided to represent themselves as moody black-and-white images of hot girls and I was Jennifer Garner for a week. (Ahh, good times.)

    If I’m speaking as me, you’ll see something that looks like me or Phoenix Wright. If I’m “roleplaying” or somehow “not being me”, be that in an MMO or in a single-player game where I can design my own character, I’ll be a female character that I find appealing in some way.

  5. librarian says:

    Oh, gosh, Pete! Thank you for comparing notes with me—I find this whole thing just unspeakably interesting. I think, also, it’s an uncannily vulnerable thing, to discuss your avatars and their wherefores, so thank you for being a game participant.

    Thoughts, loosely joined:

    I’ve always heard about men masquerading as girls in MMOs and in games of that ilk, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve never quite understood it. What’s more, I recently logged into Second Life as a male, and for God knows what reasons, it caused me radical discomfort. I always game as a female, excepting the games where gender is not optional, and I always assumed it was because, too often, I’m meant to identify with male characters. But—here’s the thing—I have always thought of my girl avatars as spunky Nancy Drews, postapocalyptic Anne of Green Gableses, and Harriet the Spy types. So when you explain your love for outspoken redheaded tomboys, man, I get that. And for me, that’s revelatory, because that’s something I’ve just never wrapped my brain around before.

  6. ReelBusy says:

    Speaking of Scott McCloud art look at this UNDERSTANDING COMICS page for sale on eBay.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISA.....0123103901

    I have not seen one for sale in many years.

  7. Thanks, Jenn. This whole thing is a particularly interesting topic to me, too. I can spend hours on a good avatar, particularly if you have the kind of flexibility you have in something like Second Life.

    My wife Jane, conversely, who is an actual girl, has no time for it whatsoever. She made me make her Rock Band character because she couldn’t be bothered, though she did specifically request one pair of boots and was impressed with how good a likeness of her I made with Rock Band’s limited tools.

    She always jokes that I probably played with dolls as a kid. I actually didn’t. I didn’t even have any time for the boyish equivalent of Action Man/G.I. Joe but I did have an overactive imagination when it came to other toys like the awesomeness that was Manta Force (and its companion giant Battle Fortress… good times), and think I still do. It would certainly explain why I like to write so much.

  8. librarian says:

    She always jokes that I probably played with dolls as a kid.

    I think, even in mocking you, Jane is really making a very astute observation.

    In my earliest childhood, I didn’t actually love dolls, although I did play with doll-like action figures (see also this, this, and somewhat anomalously, this) and G.I. Joes. I didn’t only like glittery things, though; I liked fine details and a lot of joint articulation, too. Oh, yeah, and dollhouses. Then, between the ages of, say, 8 and 16, in my secret life, I played with paper dolls and toy theaters. I really liked spending the entire afternoon meticulously trimming tiny hats and canes and accessories out of paper with tiny embroidery scissors. It was painstaking, grueling stuff, and my hands would cramp.

    Of course it has occurred to me, in the middle of marathon Second Life afternoons—which are also bizarrely grueling—that I am really only playing with paper dolls, only now I call them “prims.”

    I actually continue to collect Blythe dolls, action figures, and other doo-dads I can’t really afford. I know I’m in danger of becoming an old lady who lives alone and collects dollhouses, but I don’t mind.

    All this said, I think it’s fair to guess that anyone who likes model airplanes or trains, or who is gaily terrified by these, or who makes statues out of LEGOs, or whatever his hobby, the real joy is in simulacrum, in admiring that perfect scale and detail when anything is reproduced, especially in miniature. So even though it is great fun to accuse you of secretly liking to play with dolls, the truth is, taking pleasure in the grueling process of customization really isn’t gendered at all.

  9. Yes, I think you’re right. I’ve always loved the ability to customize things. I have friends who have done to varying degrees too. During high school, we used Clickteam’s software “Klik and Play” and “The Games Factory” to produce all manner of weird games that only meant something to us, but we’d spend hours fine-tuning the characters, writing scripts and best of all, voice acting. I guess this is a similar kind of thing – producing our own “scale models” of games, in a way. I always used to, for example, find perfect arcade-style “biddly-bong” sounds for when people pressed “start” to join the game, because it allowed me to fantasize that I was actually making a real-life arcade game. Sad, huh. :)

    My enjoyment of Second Life and the avatar customization that entails, though, is bizarrely different from my real life. I never go clothes shopping in real life, for example. I’m still wearing freebie T-shirts that John got for me from various game companies while he worked here in the UK – I do a nice line in MDK (like, the original) T-shirts, for example. But in SL I’ll happily go out and spend a whole bunch of Lindens on a new outfit that I’d never consider wearing in real life. I guess it’s the freedom of expression involved, along with the fact I don’t like my RL appearance and think whatever I wear looks stupid, so I often don’t feel it really worth making a great deal of effort. Everyone feels free to wear what they like in SL and also can look however they’d like to see themselves, so it’s kind of infectious, I guess. No-one likes to be the one still wandering around with noob hair and no nipples. My RL hair, on the other hand, is definitely noob hair. :)

  10. librarian says:

    OK: tonight, just now, based on this very conversation, I had a nice long conversation about Second Life with my life partner Nik (he can’t understand my fascination with it) and simulacra. After, I could not wait to run it by you. So this is going to be a little disjointed.

    In Second Life, I am basically committed to finding/making/purchasing the things my “real-life avatar” relies on. That includes eyeglasses, bubble skirts, realistic skin, nice eyeballs, t-shirts, and hair. The closer I can approximate my real-life identity, the better. Of course, sometimes I end up with things I could never wear—vicarious living!—but at heart, those are the things my real life self desires. Like, I really want to be able to rollerskate everywhere.

    Nik and I talked about the main hobby that we share: collecting vinyl toys. We agreed that we preferred toys based on real-life painters’ 2D works. This has everything to do with our appreciation of artifice and simulacra: we both like things based on real-life things. In loving the synthetic, obviously, we first love the “analog,” and then its analog.

    Consider other digital media. The work usually begins as an approximation of its analog self, and as it comes into its own, becomes a different beast. Word processing software began as “digital typewriting”; now it can do almost anything. Electronic music? Electronica was first based on “synthesizers,” instruments that artificially impersonate other, analog instruments, but the music, over time, took on its own form. Vinyl toys? Many collectors begin by collecting 3D, semi-mass produced versions of their favorite paintings. The Internet itself began as a way of reproducing real-life, already-published texts, but it found ways of connecting those texts with hyperlinks, and later, HTML supported pictures. Even Facebook began as the digital analog of a college facebook (which is to say, the little stapled book full of photographs many college freshmen receive during their university orientation). In recent years, VOIP and cell phones have each become their own respective creatures, but at the outset, they were ways to approximate analog phones. Simulacra.

    In a lot of ways, I think I’m opposing what you’ve just said, though. Have I? You’ve intimated that your own Second Life deviates from your real life so that SL is, for you, no analog. Or, you choose avatars that are not necessarily analogous to your real-life self. But maybe I am not opposing your point at all: maybe SL, like all digital media, begins as grounded in Real Life, then finally takes off when people realize their broader liberties. Like with music.

    The third and final part of “Avatars” actually focuses on Second Life and other social media, so I don’t want to delve too far. But I think we’re approaching some subject matter that I hadn’t planned to address, and again, that’s really interesting.

  11. No, I’m actually right there with you on that one. I made my SL avi to resemble me reasonably closely in proportion (though he’s a bit taller than me). Then came the skin, which I didn’t skimp on and as such have remained with the same skin ever since I picked it up – partly because it resembles an idealised form of me quite closely. As time went on and I discovered things like prim hair, though, I started to use my avi as an extension of me, the things I wanted to try in real life but wouldn’t know how to ask for, where to get or what to do… or if they would look good.

    Take the hair. I really like my avi’s hair. Maybe it would even look good on real me. But the fact I, embarrassingly, don’t really know how to ask for that cut in a barbers stymies this whole plan. I can’t walk in and just buy a Brandon Rico Dipped Red and wear it on my skull, after all. Get crap hair in RL and you can’t easily get rid of it. In SL, you can just right-click and detach.

    SL is kind of an analog for me. I feel similar things when I’m in SL that I do when I’m in RL. I’m shy in new situations, sitting on the boundaries of a group until I feel comfortable enough to contribute. I’m open and honest once I do start talking. I like a hug. The differences are in those things that I’d maybe like to do in RL, like buying funky clothes and hairstyles, but don’t feel I can, or don’t feel entirely comfortable doing. I’ve met people and visited places in SL that I wouldn’t have dreamed of in RL for all manner of reasons.

    So yes… for me, much as you’d like to be able to rollerskate everywhere, I have somewhat less lofty goals from my virtual existence. I find SL to be a nice “escape” from the things I maybe don’t like so much about myself.

    I actually haven’t been on the grid for ages. But discussing it like this always makes me want to start up again!

    Thanks for the awesome discussion, by the way. :)

  12. Jon Conley says:

    Interesting, indeed. Though, the description of ‘shopping for body parts’ in SL gives me visions of a post-nuclear, cyberpunk dystopia…

    Allow me to steer this ship – temporarily – into the territory of in-game character creation.

    I almost always role-played as my literal character (the qualities I assumed I had); and if allowed, a reflection of my physical self. If the game didn’t allow me to create an avatar that I felt represented myself, then I would begrudgingly spend hours trying to create a new identity. I remember the first time I started playing ‘KoTOR’, I struggled for over an hour, just picking the right name from the generator. I remember becoming extremely upset when the game generated ‘Han Skywalker’ for me.

    ‘Really? That’s the best we can do?’

    I remember thinking to myself, ‘These devs should’ve made a ‘dropbox’ feature, where you can pick a few names that you don’t mind, and come back to them later.’ I hated the finality of creating someone else, and not being able to change anything. I studied every randomly generated name for at least ten minutes. What if, later in the game, my character’s name doesn’t fit in with the cast of the game? What if he’s like the one kid who came to high school in a halloween costume, when nobody else did?

    My character in the game, I had decided, was going to be a tragic Sith Lord; who, despite his good intentions, would ultimately be seduced by the Dark Side (again). But what if his name just didn’t sound neutral enough for that story to work? What if his name sounds heroic, but he’s decisively evil? That won’t work at all!

    His name was Jacob (or was it with a ‘k’?) Charr. That felt right to me. Moreso than ‘Han Skywalker’.

    I never really felt the need to become another person entirely, because I feel that we have the ability to sort of ‘reinvent’ ourselves every few years. People change. Game characters (sometimes) change.

    The person I am today is not the person someone may have met a few years ago . Any friends from a prior life are just that. To me, that is much more interesting. And I like to play my games like that, as well.

    But it wasn’t always like that. I remember being introduced to ‘D&D’, as a child. I was always the kind of kid that would be scribbling epic space battles (in real-time scribble wars) on legal pads. I’d draw the path of a missile, and then erase sections of spacecraft and draw in the damage (the childhood drawing equivalent of ‘Battlestar Galactica). When given the chance to design my own character for ‘D&D’, the conversation went a bit like this:

    ‘Can my character have spiked armor? You know, kind of like Shredder?’ -little me

    ‘Sure.’ -older neighbor

    ‘Can he use it as a weapon? You know, kind of like Shredder?’ -lm

    ‘If you want, yeah. Just say what you want to do, and roll.’ -on

    ‘Can his bones be adamantium, like Wolverine?’ -lm

    ‘Why not.’ -on

    ‘This is the best game, ever.’ -lm

    I’m pretty sure that character’s name was ‘Erik The Redd: The Barbarian’. He was a large Norseman with a braided beard, a Viking helmet and a cape. He carried a large hammer and a shotgun. Or was it that one of his arms was a shotgun? Or were both arms weapons?

    He was also a ninja. And he wore Shredder’s armor. I illustrated his likeness onto a piece of college-ruled notebook paper, and I felt he was an unstoppable force in this universe. My brother was a dwarf. I made a ‘to scale’ drawing of his dwarf to my abomination, so that everyone in the room might appreciate his largeness.

    ‘Erik The Redd: The Barbarian’ was the hero. He was the hero the party deserved. He would lead us to victory.

    He died, three minutes into the game, in failing to disable a ‘poisonous gas trap’ laid out by the DM, because I had only given him ‘asskicking skill points’. Or was it because his arms were made of shotgun and hammer?

    I promptly tore up the character and renounced ‘D&D’ for the rest of my life.

    ‘This is the worst game, ever!’ -lm

    But back to the topic of…whatever it is we were exploring…

    So all of these new means of communication certainly alleviate many boundaries. And I respect that. For some people, this is a wonderful opportunity to express themselves (without the fear of judgement). I simply find that my behavior is heading more into the opposite direction. Not just in avatars, characters and identity, but in art as well.

    For example, in the younger days of the internet, I preferred to be anonymous within a group of rather anonymous friends. I enjoyed creating abstract and ‘rule-breaking’ pieces of music to share with a community of people with somewhat ‘acquired tastes’.

    Digital content creation was always so interesting to me, because I did not have any boundaries. I would create the most unlistenable and terrible pieces of (what I called) music, simply because the option was there. These pieces could not be performed by anything besides a computer, and I wanted it to be that way.

    These days, I find that any work I create digitally reflects reality. I strive to mimic reality, so much to the point where I want the line to blur. I can no longer appreciate not having those restraints. Instead, I prefer to try and constrain myself to the mold, set in place by so many others before me. And to me, that’s more of a challenge. Adjusting.

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