look art


About the Exhibit

From its humble beginnings in Second Life Ars Virtua has maintained a research arc that embraced the quality of simulation and the application of simulation to art and art practice, or perhaps cultivating of art and art practice within simulation. This has led us to a variety of activities and exhibitions from online gallery shows to a conference, mixed reality events, interventions and storytelling in MMOs. Our work has always been guided by a deep desire to find, cultivate, or make art within these burgeoning virtual spaces. More specifically we have found ourselves looking for native art within whatever medium or environment we happened to be in.

This search often takes place as an exploration, conversation and series of calls and commissions.

Our latest exploration is in the space of the Multi-User Dungeon. These text environments grew up around the role-playing games of Dungeons and Dragons(TM) of the mid 70's and early 80's. As such the MUD is a precursor to MMO's including World of Warcraft. From the historical perspective it is easy to see why we were interested in MUDs, but beyond the important historical relevance it is notable that the MUD environment is almost completely open at this point. Wizards, the so called builders within the MUD, are able to create anything they are able to describe. Additionally many of the environments are free or open-source at this time.

We have an interest in the idea of immersion, and what it takes for a player to become fully immersed in an environment. The conversation seems to revolve around the quality of the environment as often as not, but have found that a social connection and involvement in community are what creates the most compelling, long lasting experience. By discarding nearly all visual references and relying on ASCII characters, this exhibition questions art and experience.

We do not expect this environment to be wildly popular but rather to sit in a corner of the internet with its doors open and to be a welcoming place where people can reminisce and consider the art that has been commissioned. As usual we plan to run several events in the space in an attempt to activate the world and give visitors a social experience in addition to the art experience presented and shall be posting regular gallery hours for those interested in visiting.

We realize that the experience of logging in to a server is somewhat alien to the contemporary art going internet crowd, so we have taken pains to make it as easy as possible. Detailed instructions are posted on the connect pages.

Special thanks to the artists: Thomas Asmuth, Alejo Duque, Christopher Poff, and to Jo and Helen of Turbulence.

James Morgan/Rubaiyat Shatner
Director Ars Virtua


look art runs on a classic MUD setup, on a server that provides a multi-player text environment.

the mud itself is a server (TinyMUX) administered by CADRE and the art was created by Wizards inside the system.