The constructed architectural spaces of Second Life share a commonality with the exotic invisible cities of Italo Calvino. They are at once familiar yet completely otherworldly: inverted, fantastical, corrupted, baroque and barren, unexpected, startling and compellingly seductive. They are both our present and our future.
In September this year Dr Melinda Rackham, ANAT’s Director and 3D world author and theorist, was invited to join a 6 member international Jury assessing the Annual Second Life Architecture & Design Competition, a first of its kind, held at the 2007 Ars Electronica Festival in Austria.
The jury deliberated over the 126 submissions before a live audience at the Architekturforum Linz, while being simultaneously streamed into Second Life. Four outstanding projects, that took advantage of both the artistic and technical possibilities afforded by Second Life were selected as finalists:
– Berliner Tanja Meyle’s “Living Cloud”, is a semitransparent cloud that travels with her and provides privacy and sanctuary, a consistent need for an avatar in Second Life. The cloud surrounding her avatar Creatina Ferraris is not only a transportable house; its variability brings in an association with the idea that the house is just an extension of the body of the person who inhabits it.
– From San Francisco, DC Spensley creates “Full Immersion Hyperformalism” an usual and innovative user interface, constructed to allow an avatar to view a fine art exhibition. This structure is defined as “less a building than a spatial interface containing numerous abstracted and interactive possibilities”.
– Adam Nash’s “17 Unsung Songs” allows avatars to be physically immersed in interactive sound scapes, constructions that create a tension within their Australian parkland environment. Here audiovisual elements undergo spatial modification via avatar interaction giving rise to a new aesthetic and sensory spatial construct.
– Conceptually and technically innovative is “White Noise”, a work from Vienna based Max Moswitzer. This experiment in non-human architecture utilises the detritus of Second Life, freebie objects such as teddy bears and discarded skateboards, to construct a dazzling white snow-palace. This mishmashed building enfolds on multiple levels of detail and evokes the perfect domicile for the realm of Second Life.
The selected projects are presented online (www.sl-award.com) where the public are invited to vote for their favourite project. The winner receives a 1,000-euro grand prize, which will be awarded on 25 October 2007 at the prize ceremony, which includes discussions and a party at Zollverein, Essen, the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.
Dr Melinda Rackham comments, “ANAT is committed to enabling artists to work critically with emerging forms of practice, and the virtual terrains of Second Life are indicative of trends that will become important in future virtual 3D platforms”.
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