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.