Babelswarm — by Justin Clemens (Writer), Christopher Dodds (Artist/Designer), and Adam Nash (Musician/3-D Real-Time Artist) :: Opened April 11, 2008 :: Lismore Regional Gallery, 131 Molesworth Street, Lismore NSW 2480 + Second Life.
Socrates: What a lucky morning this is turning out to be! I was looking for one virtue and have found a whole swarm of them. — Plato, Meno
In September 2007, the Australia Council for the Arts announced the recipients of its $20,000 artists residency in the 3-D online virtual world of Second Life. Dodds, Nash, and Clemens were awarded the grant to develop an inter-disciplinary artwork which explores the possibilities of literary, music / sound art and real-time 3-D arts practices within the virtual world. The artwork is a simultaneous installation in Second Life and in a real world gallery, where gallery visitors can be directly involved in its creation via a computer interface.
[Image: left to right: Adam Nash (aka Adam Ramona), Christopher Dodds (aka Mashup Islander), and Justin Clemens (aka S1 Gausman)]
BabelSwarm, a metaphor for the Tower of Babel, uses voice recognition software that converts the spoken word of real and virtual world participants into 3-D letterform images in an evolving tower of words. The letterforms generate relationships with each other through a combination of visual and sonic manifestations, fragments of narrative, environmental / user awareness capabilities and through interaction with existing data generated within Second Life itself such as the virtual winds, sunrises and sunsets. According to Justin Clemens, Second Life is an already burgeoning platform for today’s art. ‘Every era has a form that exemplifies it: in Shakespeare’s time, it was the theatre; today, it’s Second Life. It’s a question of trying to meet the new challenges of a new time - and the new spaces that it generates, ”Second Life epitomises the innovations of contemporary technology and culture: an entirely virtual world that has entirely real effects,” Justin said.
According to artist Christopher Dodds, Second Life is a step in the right direction for Australia contemporary arts practice. “It is encouraging to see the Australia Council recognising virtual worlds as legitimate environments for artistic practice, and while we thought our idea was solid, we knew the grant would receive a lot of attention and some pretty spectacular applications,” Christopher said.
Read more here [PDF] and here.
To gain access to Babelswarm you need to register an avatar name, download the Second Life application software, and then log-in to see the virtual world. This can be done in three easy steps:
1. Go to http://secondlife.com/ and follow the “Get Started” link. This will allow you to register an avatar name, download the application and then log into Second Life.
2. New users go to an instructional island where they can learn to walk, fly talk etc.
3. When ready, click on (or paste into a web browser) the following link: http://slurl.com/secondlife/ACVA/119/180/295/ Follow the instructions and your avatar will arrive in the Babelswarm foyer.
Read Bettina Tizzy’s interview with Adam Nash here.