Douglas Gayeton said to crowds both corporeal and digital that Fabricated Realities, the mixed-reality screening of his film, Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator: A Second Life Odyssey, was “surreal.” Not just because the simultaneous screening occurred at the Exploratorium in San Francisco and on Exploratorium Island in SL, but also because SL creator Phillip Rosedale was in the (real) audience. 40 people at the Exploratorium watched the film as well as projected views showing the same number of avatars, gathered in an amphitheater in SL for the screening and opportunity to dialogue with the filmmaker. The audience in SL enjoyed seeing the live scenes from their world streamed to the theater in real life, then back again into avatar space. After the screeniing, Doug spoke about his own odyssey making the film, collaborating with a SL resident who he’s never met IRL (in real life), and shared his insight about the continually changing virtual world medium.
This past year, we’ve been seeing more and more physical devices connected to objects and avatars in SL, adding further complexity to mixed reality and augmented reality environments for exhibits and installations.
Artists have often been at the forefront of interfacing the real and the virtual and in exploring the grey zones where these worlds meet. New media arist and sculptor Joe Delappe re-enacted Ghandi’s historic Salt March of 1930, a protest against the British tax on salt at the time. At a gallery in New York and in Second Life this past March and April, Joe walked 240 miles on a treadmill he connected to SL to control his avatar MGandhi Chakrabarti’s virtual world steps, recreating the march. As much a performance as an installation, his work demonstrates the interesting time displacement effects and physical connections that are possible when RL elements are combined with telepresence and virtual environments. We often think of things in a virtual sense as being instantenous, so it’s somewhat jarring to put something like the slower speed of a real person walking next to flying avatars. With a nod to the Slow Food and Slow Art movements, real/virtual connections like this might allow us to savor our virtual interactions a bit more.