This time I talked to Miso Susanowa who is one of my best friends and one of the most excellent people I have met on the internet – or well, ever, really.
Miso and I got to know each other a couple of months after I joined InWorldz. She’s a fascinating person and I love to sit down with her – usually by the fire on Midsommar which is where this interview took place – and chat for hours.
Miso rezzed in InWorldz 5 years and a month ago, making her one of the grid’s oldest residents. She saw the grid’s pre-caffeine morning face and it didn’t turn her off!
Leanna Caerndow: So, who are you? Who is Miso, the artist?
Miso Susanowa: Oh god hahaha.
Miso Susanowa: A listener, first… and a seer. I think all artists are… caught in the details of life. Kids do a lot of art when they’re young, but gradually other stuff takes over. The ones who continue… do it because they HAVE to. It’s a kind of compulsion. You do it whether you get paid or not.
Getting paid is not why you do it. Who am I? Just an artist. And a social commenter. [Miso used to blog here (http://gomiso.blogspot.ca/) and although she hasn’t updated her blog recently, her posts are still well worth reading.]
Leanna Caerndow: Why VWs and specifically IW?
Miso Susanowa: Virtual Worlds are a very interesting canvas to work in. I’ve always loved computers, and actually got into them at first to make music. I kinda had to learn how they worked to do that.
I’ve been a part of many virtual realities since… well, the first “worlds” were just text… built in your mind by words. So I’ve always been part of the virtual worlds scene, starting at about 1983. I was in several precursors to Second Life, and then in Second Life for a long time.
So why InWorldz? Some of my friends came here 🙂 and I liked having a workspace where I wasn’t interrupted a lot when I was working. I work slow. I have to go round and round and round a piece being done to see it from many angles.
So InWorldz was quiet; there were some artist friends working here, a few other friends and space.
But I am not anti-SL either! I think the more worlds, the better. The first 3D virtual worlds crashed and burned in 1999.
At that time… I was in the gaming community because I could make stuff, models, ships and so on.
It was the only 3D going, so I went there. It had good communities around it; many interesting people.
Leanna Caerndow: Aha! So, would you say you got into 3D creation because of gaming?
Miso Susanowa: Nope, the other way round. When all the VWs crashed in 1999, I went to games that allowed mods to be built.
I’ve always been a gamer. But only after the VWs, in which I got training/studies in making 3D objects, could I go do that in the game world. So I made spaceships and giant robots 😀
Leanna Caerndow: You’ve taught, too, right?
Miso Susanowa: Yes, I used to teach girls 8-14 on a website I made, “My So-Called Virtual Life.” Every Saturday morning for like 3 years.
I also used to help out on woman.net with technical problems & theory. I liked seeing more female voices on the internet, so I wanted to bolster that.
Leanna Caerndow: The obligatory question.,…what inspires you?
Miso Susanowa: Well… the first thing is sound. I am always listening. Like right now, late summer, the insect choruses at night are fantastic! So I stand there and listen, for like an hour. I’ve kinda got my description down to TEXTURE. The texture and layers of sound; the texture of paint, the canvas, the water… I am a terrible fine artist. Drawing; can’t do it. But texture… I can swim in those waters 24/7. Even in my “real world” pieces, it’s all about texture, layers and layers of it. I got into computer art because I couldn’t draw! Most of my early paintings were more sculpted paint than representational.
Leanna Caerndow: I pestered you into bringing your temple of sound to IW. [The Temple of the Radiant Moon] What made you create it in the first place?
Miso Susanowa: Funny enough… my 512m in SL was next to a place that had repeating sound loops. No one was ever there but these little bits of sound would escape and drive me crazy.
I had a little house… and I made the first Tone Sphere, the “Earth” one, to cover up those other sounds! lol [You can get the earth Tone Sphere for free at Miso’s shop and at the Temple.]
Then I got interested in bringing some of my sound work into SL. I’ve worked on “sacred music” for a long time, since I was in my teens. So I knew what frequencies I wanted… and then, the Temple just… came. It took over the house.So I set it up not only for others to use, and myself, but as a big open experiment.
How did people react to it? Did they feel anything? What did they feel? and so on.
Again, computers helped me because I could make precise, Pythogorean frequencies, intervals.
Leanna Caerndow: So how did people react?
Miso Susanowa: Well, I just started getting notecards and IMs from people who went there. I don’t even know how they found it; in fact, I’d always ask them how they did! So I put up instructions in the Temple on the use of the Spheres. One of the biggest “healing groups” in SL used to send their people there, until I just made a set of the Spheres for them.
Leanna Caerndow: The chakra tones?
Miso Susanowa: Yes. There’s actually two sets of sacred sounds; ones attuned to the chakras as a standard notation, and another which is mathematically pure intervals.
You can now find a lot of them on You Tube, but I was doing work like that in the 70s as a teen. Also, kinda invented “ambient” music – there were some electronic composers I listened to and was inspired by.
Long before Brian Eno. It was all “academic” sound explorers.
So those tomes are in the Temple, along with another set of frequencies called the Solfeggio Tones.
And I am always interested in people using them and their experience with them.
Leanna Caerndow: What is the inspiration for your singing flowers?
Miso Susanowa: I have synesthesia. Colors and shapes seem to make sounds in my brain. When I go out to the woods, after awhile, I start hearing music of a sort. I can pay attention to it, or not, but it responds to light, shape and texture.So the Flowers were an attempt to bring people into my own real-world experiences.
Also, the Flowers are done to compliment each other tonally; only 3 are not but they were special requests. So if you spread the Flowers out, their loops will compliment each other and can even generate overtones in their overlap.
Leanna Caerndow: I never tried that. I put a flower in a certain area that “fits” to me
Miso Susanowa: I want to make a set with proximity sensors.
[Picture above: The Alchemist’s Table is an incredible piece of art and of course it comes with a lot of different sounds. The symbols on the table aren’t just there for decoration, they are buttons to toggle the different sounds. ]
Leanna Caerndow: You record and mix the sounds yourself, right?
A lot of them, yes. I have insane libraries of sound. I started recording sounds when I was 8.
My Dad had a small, portable reel-to-reel machine. So I’d cart it all over, everywhere; recording thunderstorms, or storm drains burbling, or insects, or church bells…then I’d to tape tricks, like make them backwards, or make one sound melt into another.
Computers… I made up “sampling” when I was 8 or 9; cutting together televisionm, outdoor sounds, movies…It’s much much better now on a computer.
Like I said, I got into computers to make music & art. I am NOT a Computer Science major or anything.
Leanna Caerndow: Yes but you learned the fundamentals
Miso Susanowa: Yep. And I can still cut tape precisely. But what that all DID for me was sharpen my ears.
I can turn a piece of music in my mind and… run it backwards… or remove all the instruments from my attention but the bass or drum…
First, it was just me and a computer, making music. But then I did discover the net. And more than anyplace I’ve ever physically lived, I view the net as my home.
Miso Susanowa: My Dad hated me stealing the tape recorder lol But I kept it in better condition than he did! That’s also where I learned to futz with machines… so computers were a natural for me.
I wired up our piano one time and my mom caught me doing it. She was all “you’re going to break it!” and I was all “I know what I’m doing!”
Leanna Caerndow: Hahahaha how old were you?
Miso Susanowa: Um… 14?
Leanna Caerndow: What do you enjoy most about being in InWorldz these days?
Miso Susanowa: Tranq and Jim [Tranquility Dexler, InWorldz founder and Jim Tarber, InWorldz developer] have done an awful lot of work; others too. It’s so different from SL in that you feel able to connect to the “Gods” here.
All of the great people behind Inworldz, so different. People tell me that in early SL, the Lindens were approachable. But not for a long time, mostly.
So, it is the people in InWorldz that have me coming here more than SL. Although I am for every single world, or expansion or venue. I was crushed in 1999 by the ending of the first worlds. So I want to see the tech spread out so that can’t happen again.
Leanna Caerndow: what do you do when you’re inworld?
Miso Susanowa: Mmm when I’m inworld I… stare at prims 😀 and talk to fairehs.
Leanna Caerndow: LOL
Miso Susanowa: I’m involved in the Community Library, as you know. I contribute some book links, and will be doing a kind-of history of virtual communities there.
I just did a 24-volume set of women science fiction pioneers there.
Alexina and Prax are just great people. [The Community Library founders.]
Leanna Caerndow: They are!
Miso Susanowa: So even though I got practically BLACKMAILED by a faireh to work with them…
Leanna Caerndow: I did not blackmail you! 😮
Miso Susanowa: Actually, I appreciate it lots *hugs shyly*
That was a bit of an unusual interview but to my defence I have to say it’s hard to stay on track when I’m talking to Miso. As I said earlier, she’s a fascinating character who has a lot to tell and often when we chat I’m perfectly happy to just listen.
Both the Garden of Sound and the Temple of the Radiant Moon are located on Midsommar. Miso’s shop offers wonderful ambient sounds – crickets, birds, gentle rivers, stormy seas, wind, and whales – and some of her other artwork like paintings, fractals, and sculptures.
The Temple is always open for visitors to enjoy the sounds and meditate.
Miso also makes machinima – here is “Big Winter”, filmed mostly in InWorldz.