Yesterday yielded an interesting session with Drew and Mike on a Virtual world Sim - 'Second Life' (SL). Here your a 'version 2.0' of yourself, an alter ego, an avatar for creation, and within this realm, have seemingly limitless potential.
To be honest at first glance this seemed too 'dungeons and dragons' for me. A little too immersive for my liking, maybe even megalomanic.
Firstly, i dont want to be one of these people who pass judgement before embracing someones passion, and secondly there is a reason why SL has such a strong online community. It didn't take Drew long to demonstrate its potential as an environment where you can build and test new installations, recreate existing buildings, and interpret ruined/destroyed/lost landmarks into how they may have looked at that period. For me where things got interesting was where you can use media to enhance the virtual environment to the point where you can interpret pretty much any art based event/activity in that space.
Heres an example of a concert performed by the Liverpool philharmonic orchestra streamed through second life. This played out to 80 avatars that subscribed to the performance..
The experience offered a remote audience to experience the concert and even share conversation with the composer and conductor after performance in a way only possible through interactive media. It also showcased the hall in a cultural heritage light through a modestly accurate representation of the building inside and out.
So What Next?
This environment seems like a good starting point when looking at producing a collaborative work.
The Virtual world is simply a place where i personally have not explored in any way when working with technologies, and its a good opportunity to push myself right out a comfort zone and start working with new forms of interactive media. Creating some sort of build in Second Life (or another virtual environment) seems far enough away from what we know as a group to be a steep and rewarding learning process (scripting/broadcasting/3D modelling). However within it there are opportunities to utilise the skills held collectively in terms of audio/visual media creation and manipulation.
Digital artworks explore relationships between reality, in what is a physical space, and what is virtual. Should we be concerned with the translation or mapping of a physical environment into a virtual one, or exploiting the qualities and freedom of the virtual space to produce work that is unique to that environment. Architecturally a virtual location may be more responsive in terms of interaction between you and that space, but will it evoke the same emotive responses as similar art in a physical space.
food for thought....