I Was an Artist in my Second Life
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I Was an Artist in my Second Life

Picture courtesy of Ontario College of Art and Design.

Looking for cheap gallery space? Try Second Life. On Monday, the Ontario College of Art and Design celebrated the second anniversary of its Second Life campus in the interactive web world created by its members that you can explore using the avatar you create in your image (or what you wish was your image). The interactive space is the virtual home to their Hybrid Media Lab and allows students in the Integrated Media Program to collaborate with other artists virtually.
During an open house on Monday, OCAD’s administrative avatar OCADLand Minotaur (manned by artist Ian Murray) gave a tour of the digital campus, which includes a library, conference spaces, galleries, faculty offices, and auditoriums. The introduction of the campus and student works presentations were simulcast live on the streaming video screen at the OCAD Campus on Second Life, allowing people from around the world to view the critiques.
This new type of gallery space has allowed for collaborations with projects in Beijing and Jamaica and for artists in residence to easily present their work. One of the global collaborations was with the Amauta New Media Centre in Cuzco, Peru. The participants were posed the question, “How do you remember and forget things simultaneously?” and developed visual interpretations in the Second Life campus. After facing an internal war in the 1980s and 1990s, Peru is now struggling with the common post-war debate: “Should we forget about this tragic moment in Peruvian history or should we continue to remember to prevent it from happening again?” This theme permeated the students’ work, and contributors in Peru were diverse, including a documentary film maker, punk musicians, a sociology professor, a software engineer, and a performance artist.
OCAD student Goly Farrokhkish uses Second Life as a forum to broadcast her documentary thesis, Coloured Laughter, and recruit people to share their stories. The documentary is a mosaic of stories about culture shock, including a story told by a woman of Polish descent who wouldn’t befriend children who parted their hair to the left because that was the way that Hitler parted his hair. In the auditorium Farrokhkish and her partner Edison Osorio built, avatars can watch the film on one screen, link to her website on another, and provide feedback on the guestbook screen.
Some 2009 OCAD Hybrid Media Lab projects will be featured in the Subtle Technologies Festival, from June 10 to 14, which is being presented both in Toronto and—of course—in Second Life.