Autocartography: First Attempt

I’ve been working on a conference presentation for the Invent-L Conference, which will be taking place two weeks from tonight. My presentation will be about a new genre of electronic writing that I’ve invented called Autocartography. And part of my goal is to create some “machinima” movies in Second Life that experiment with video as a dense communication medium. An initial stab at this, rushed to make the NMConnect Media Arts Symposium which starts this weekend, can be found here: Autocartography: A Mystory. The subtitle, “Chora: Mayan Ruin”, invokes the work of my dissertation director Greg Ulmer, whose book Internet Invention: From Literacy to Electracy invents “choragraphy” as a genre of electronic writing. You see, by inventing new genres, I only follow in his footsteps. I hope to have two or three more of these finished before I leave for the conference on the 19th.

“Mayan Ruin” tries to capture the chaos of madness, which I experience shortly after a honeymoon to the Mayan peninsula where I toured ruins like the one in Second Life featured in the movie. The choice of music, “The Funeral of Amenhotep III” by Philip Glass, from his opera Akhnaten, is meant to create a striking and frightening mood. I found myself editing the movie to synchronize with shifts in the music. I also found that, while in the process of making the movie, I discovered a narrative thread emerging from the short, 30 second scenes that I was patching together. That is, it started to make sense, and the more I look at it, the more sense it makes (if *that* makes any sense!). I won’t say any more about that now lest I pre-empt all of the scholarly commentary that is sure to follow!

During the honeymoon, I was reading a book called The King and the Corpse by Heinrich Zimmer, a book along the lines of Joseph Campbell’s explanations of mythology. When I encountered the serpent statuary and its related symbolism at Chichenitza and considered this in relation to Old Testament myths of the Garden of Eden, I became a bit overexcited. I remember reading William Faulkner’s THE SOUND AND THE FURY on the way home to relax.

When I came across the Mayan Ruin in Second Life, all of these memories were resurrected, which makes it for me a “chora” or “sacred place.” I didn’t realize until after I began the filming that the name of this particular ruin, Xibalba, is the name for the Mayan Underworld.


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