Some time ago I have read an interesting article. There was written: “The world has forgotten that we often become our truest selves – for better or for worse – when we take off the masks that we are required to wear to interact with the world. That is what Second Life is for many of us – an escape into our truest selves. A place to bare our souls. A place to safely explore those dark hallways and sharp edges and overcome them. A place to question everything. A place where the intangible helps us to become more real.”
This has inspired me, to think more about masks. What are masks? Is our own skin or our name a mask? What does give us identity?
In many religious and cultural traditions the taking on of a new name is symbolic of entering into a new place in life. When I came into Second Life some years ago, this really was a new place in my life. It has brought me so many experiences, I never would have found in my real life.
“When a Balinese actor holds a new mask in his right hand, gazing upon it, turning it this way and that, making it move to a silent music, he is assessing the potential life of the mask and searching for the meeting place between himself and the life inherent in its otherness. If he is successful, then a bonding takes place that will allow him to let the potential life flow through his own body. If he finds that place of congruence between his physical and spiritual resources and the potential life of the mask, then a living amalgam is created: a character, a persona. This amalgam is at best unstable- based as it must be upon paradox, ambiguity, and illusion- but “it” moves, “it” speaks, “it” breaths, “it” is perceived- by the performer and by the audience- as having an organic integrity. If the performer fails to find this field of paradox, ambiguity, and illusion, then the mask will retain its separateness: whatever its worth as an object, a “work” of art, it will at best function as a decoration, a costume element.”
Todd Henry writes: “Many of us move through life wearing someone else’s clothes. We produce someone else’s art. We make someone else’s music. We write someone else’s words. We replay someone else’s arguments. We don’t have the courage and the conviction to stand on our own and speak our own thoughts and craft our own work. We don’t have the courage to say “I don’t know” and to make it up as we go. We are wearing a mask. The pressure to wear a mask is palpable in western society. We value celebrity and success and, as a result, we ascribe worth to people based upon how “received” their work is or how “popular” it is.“
A persona is a social role or a character played by an actor. This is an Italian word that derives from the Latin for a kind of mask made to resonate with the voice of the actor (per sonare meaning “to sound through”). The Latin word probably derived from the Etruscan word “phersu”. Its meaning in the latter Roman period changed to indicate a “character” of a theatrical performance.
per sonare – I have created many skins and also worn them always for some time. The interesting part for me was, that every skin has had a special character and has brought me special feelings, thoughts and experiences. My avatars in virtual worlds gives me the possibility to show new sides of me, which I like to express.
But sure -in virtual worlds you can wear also masks. Here comes a little collection of masked avatar faces, which I have made with iClone. Thanks Bob, that I could use your photos for this.