Archive for May, 2007


Drawing in Second Life?

May 27, 2007

I have been poking around looking at how Second Life might be used by educational institutions.

Second Life provides a unique and flexible environment for educators interested in distance learning, computer-supported cooperative work, simulation, new media studies, and corporate training.

Second Life provides an opportunity to use simulation in a safe environment to enhance experiential learning, allowing individuals to practice skills, try new ideas, and learn from their mistakes.

The Sim Teach Wiki houses a list of Institutions and Organizations in Second Life

My impressions so far? It would be a good vehicle for distance education but I think it would very much depend on the subject taught. Imparting some practical skills such as those imparted at an art school would still have to be done via video and some skills will always be difficult to convey. For instance any skill that requires attaining the right ‘feel’ such as turning pot in clay. I can see the environment being useful for computer arts and new media students, aspects of new media arts theory, and other areas such as photomedia could use it. Workshops such a wood, ceramics, and glass I do not know enough about the processes involved in developing skills so I have a huge question mark s to how useful the environment would be to them.

One activity I found that is of interest is that almost without realising it I started to draw avatars. I could have taken screenshots but since I was taking notes and my visual journal was at hand I found I was making quick sketches of what I saw, then unconsciously moved to sketch avatars rather than objects. This was more as a note taking device as I am interested in how people choose to represent themselves. In doing so, I realised there were skills to be acquired observing this world. This virtual world is full of stylised and idealised manikins that walk, sit, dance, jump and fly I bet I am the only person in second life that does mind the much complained of lag!

I am great believer in drawing from life and I am not suggesting that SL could provide a substitute but many skills such as body proportion and correct placement of eyes, ears etc could be taught. Avatars could be designed to be ‘normal’ body shapes and used in distance education. Not an ideal drawing class but possible. I can imagine most drawing lecturers turning pale at the idea, because drawing from life is important, so I am in two minds about the idea, as it could produce many lifeless dead drawings, yet not willing to toss it away totally.


Aussie Second Life News

May 25, 2007

The Australian Council for the Arts is offering an artistic residency and grant of up to $20,000 to collaborative artists to create a project in Second Life . It is open to Australian artists who are interested in developing their ideas in this virtual world. Details are on the Australian Council for the Arts in the Inter-Arts: Grants: Second Life Artist Residency section of the site.

The Second Life artist residency is an initiative of the Literature Board, Music Board and Inter-Arts Office of the Australia Council.
The residency is ‘in-world’ and requires artists and writers to explore the possibilities of inter-disciplinary literary, music/sound art and digital visual media practices.
The successful team will develop new artistic in-world practices and comment on the social and cultural layers that have evolved in Second Life.
Key requirements of the project are a clear strategy for harnessing both in-world and ‘real life’ audiences and developing public exhibition opportunities for the artwork in Australia.


The Australian has run a story that points to the tricky issue of recreating iconic buildings and sacred sites one commercial websites. In this case concerns have been raised that virtual representation of Uluru and the opera house in Second Life could be a breach of copyright. Designers of the BigPond site The Pond have a barrier to stop people walking or flying over Uluru as it is a sacred site for the traditional owners but tribal elders are considering implications of the site being used in games and virtual world.

Source:Telstra hit over virtual Uluru by Simon Canning of The Australian

Another story is that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s private island was bombed by an as yet unidentified attacker. Features that were vandalised include the Amphitheatre, the Ecohouse, media pods, Dreamtime Cove and the Sandbox.

Source: ABC’s Second Life presence vandalised


Art and Art spaces in Second Life

May 21, 2007

Angela Thomas has done a brief round up of Art and art spaces in Second Life . I don’t have time this morning to expand on this but wanted to point my students to it. Angela’s criteria?

1) art that utilises the affordances of the Second Life platform – such as the use of prims to make 3D sculptures, or installations which use animation or audio;
2) art that allows interaction, so that it only becomes complete when you participate in some way with it


MIT5 Media in Transition conference podcasts

May 6, 2007

Podcasts of the plenary sessions at the MIT5 the fifth Media in Transition conference are now available as well as abstracts and papers.

This conference was simulcast in, Second Life. Although there were apparently technical issues that caused some problems when I read about this event in Second Life, it made me sit up and take notice. Up until a few evenings ago I had not really paid much attention to this ‘world’ but it is an interesting place. Unfortunately I missed the conference in Second Life but I am certainly going to keep an eye on what is happening there.

I was particularly interested in the first session of the conference Folk Cultures and Digital Cultures

Digital visionaries such as Yochai Benkler have described the emergence of a new networked culture in which participants with differing intentions and professional credentials co-exist and cooperate in a complex media ecology. Are we witnessing the appearance of a new or revitalized folk culture? Are there older traditions and practices from print culture or oral societies that resemble these emerging digital practices? What sort of amateur or grassroots creativity have been studied or documented by literary scholars, anthropologists, and students of folklore? How were creativity and collaboration understood in earlier cultures? Are there lessons or cautions for digital culture in the near or distant past?