This exhibition concerns the experimental research and subsequent project carried out in the synthetic world Second Life.
It proposes to briefly transform the Ars Virtua New Media Center, ensconced within this virtual world, into a highly accelerated cultural engine capable of generating places, images and ideas that can radicalize our thinking about time & space, while identifying strategies of artistic production implicit to these environments:
A project that construes its physical, material context
–the local and global qualities inherent to a synthetic space–
as both content and form, expressive media and meaning.
This approach stands in direct contrast to in-world projects of another kind –those using virtual worlds as simply another node in a communication strategy for the diffusion of targeted information; or, –objects and architectures that base their expressive material vocabulary on a chain of references to real world environments.
In either case, the work that is produced in this manner was conceived by and for another media, another time, place & space –call it the 1st generation builders syndrome. Ostensibly unconcerned with maintaining a connection to its incipient creative, constructive substance, it represents an approach where the work becomes disconnected from its essential expressive force –its terroir.
This project attempts to find another creative and productive scenario: by interrogating the physical and material extents of specific synthetic territories, measuring them with machines made by and for this purpose, then technically and intuitively coming to an understanding of their findings, we are fabricating a dense, expressive, synthetic representation, and establishing the material basis of a new spatial order.
This project recognizes synthetic space not for its faculties of communication, but rather for its potential as a representational, sensational medium.
As an interactive model of the artistic process, the exhibition functions on two levels:
- constructing a built environment within the virtual exhibition space to effectuate a synthesis of the project’s texts & spaces, images & ideas, representing the project’s broad range of interests; and,
- engaging Ars Virtua visitors to become participants in the project’s gallery manifestation, becoming an integral part of the dynamic creative process.
This dual scenario attempts to create a viable cultural context, a feedback loop with avatars as an integral link in the on-going process of information exchange, layering a meaningful exhibition scenario onto an appropriately organized material space.
The exhibition attempts to engage visiting avatars as project participants. By interacting with the installation infrastructure, they will actualize its content. The project proceeds in five steps : Teleporation, Image HUDs, Ornamentation, Transformation, Synthesizers…
A decapitation between an object’s referential semantic state and its material precedent accounts for the Victorian-castle-suburban-split-level-shopping-mall aesthetic that dominates the built landscape of Second Life. This incoherence between in-world building and design to the determinant environment from which it emanates, can be accounted for by the relative inexperience we have in building these places. Arriving here from the real world, a place where our direct contact with materials show us that they resist, builders are constructing in virtual worlds without this sensation; trying to build in a virtual world like we would in the real world, but here, we only have primitive blocks of immaterial materiality. The result is an essential disconnection between the graphic, architectural or artistic production and its context, leading to a commodification of virtual objects.
My grandparents, the tired, the poor and the hungary of Old Europe, immigrated to America between the 1880’s and the early 1920’s. Arriving on America’s shores with little more than the clothes on their backs and their ability to get to work re-building their lives, and in the case of my family, literally building America. Crafts and tradesmen, they constructed the inner cities, then the suburbs their adopted country’s eastern seaboard. In addition, they brought with them the mental images of the land they left behind, the thousands of years of culture and architecture that perhaps their ancestor’s constructed, and that somehow they felt still capable of replicating so as to succeed in their trade. And build they did –though based on these mental images. But like all cognitive representations, filtered by emotion, memory and time, they lacked the erudition and technical precision necessary to reproduce, no less innovate on the patterns, materials and models of Florence, Dublin or Warsaw. Thus Little Italy & Chinatown sprung up in place of Venice & Shanghai…
When a prim is stretched in a synthetic world, we are incapable of perceiving or feeling its resistance. Resistance is the essence of materiality, sensation is the means through which we comprehend its properties. A synthetic world’s physical laws, apprehended through direct sensational contact with material objects, are the rules that determine the behavior of objects, avatars and their interaction, and exist to imbue them with coherence. We are cut-off and numb to the expression of material sensation that emanates from synthetic environments.