Second Life Art

Some thoughts on using Second Life as a medium for making my project …


1 - I already know my way around the building tools and am making good progress with scripting in LSL. It will be possible to produce work of a highly finished standard within the timescale.

2 - Lots of the work is done for me, in the sense that there is geography, some weather features and a day cycle built-in (as well as some very pretty skies)

3 - There is a very active arts community in SL with a good publicity machine in place. I have some good experience in this area through curating the PgUp exhibition. Building in SL would expose my work to an international audience, including some eminent arts professionals and academics. For people who are not already in Second Life, it is free to create an account.

4 - The building tools in Second Life, while very basic, do allow for very dynamic parametric changes to be made. I wouldn't need to model everything beforehand. I could make creatures that are scripted to evolve and change in realtime.

5 - I can stream video into Second Life


1 - Lag and instability … at times, the Second Life grid slows to a crawl and becomes very buggy. In terms of live, user-created content, it is operating at the edge of what is technically possible and so occasionally falls over.

2 - The building tools are very primitive. Although there are things like sculpties, particle systems and lighting that I can use to create visual interest, modelling itself remains quite crude.

3 - prim count - the number of primitives that a given parcel of land supports is quite low. This means that either I would need to rent (or beg) a large plot of land or that my creatures could not be very complex in appearance.

4 - public perception - we've had a bad deal from the mainstream press lately, who seem determined to portray the whole of Second Life as a nefarious den of iniquity (bits of it are).

A few examples of artists working in Second Life …

Gazira Babeli

Gaz' of the Desert

"In this desert - the "portable set" of Gaz' of the Desert, which also appeared in U AreHere -, amid dawns and sunsets of overwhelming beauty, Gazira retreats, like Simeon the Stylite (the hermit who gave rise to that singular ascetic practice of spending a spiritual retreat seated atop a column) [14] to take on the temptations of the devil, interpreted in the film by the stunning Chi5 Shenzhou. Perched on her column in the driving rain, Gazira holds out for as long as she can, but in the end she is forced to give in. Only then are we catapulted into the anodyne setting of a call center (the office of U AreHere), where between calls Gazira appears to be busy putting together her story: imprisoned in the "world in a valise" she has chosen to live in, in her own surreal reality."

from Gaz', Queen of the Desert
Domenico Quaranta, April 2007

Avatar on Canvas


"… The avatars sitting on these chairs were thus suddenly wildly deformed, and their terror and embarrassment betrayed the - entirely irrational - attachment that residents have to their virtual bodies, held to be sacred and inviolable exactly like our physical bodies. The logic behind the "fake Bacon" makes the game more predictable but no less radical: like a deforming mirror, Avatar on Canvas cuts the illusory link that forms between the subject and his or her "second" image, the Second Life avatar. I am not my avatar and I can't see myself in it any longer."

Domenico Quaranta, "Gazira Babeli", fpeditions 2008

Juria Yoshikawa

Juria makes light and sound installations, often incorporating attachments and animations for avatars to become part of the work.

Gnossienne Groggy Deep


This doesn't do justice to Juria's immersive light and sound installations but it it shows a good range of her/his work, and I love the soundtrack…

Adam Ramona

Adam Ramona makes interactive sound installations incorporating immersive environments and some AI/A-life elements.

"A tour around East of Odyssey exploring Adam Ramona's 17 Unsong Songs, a major solo installation of immersive interactive audiovisual sculptures for Second Life, presented by the Odyssey Art Simulator"

including the incredibly annoying Song #7: Moaning Columns of Longing - step into the installation and you will produce your own moaning column, which will send you love messages which get progressively more poorly, desperate and suicidal over a period of days unless you come back to "touch" your column every hour. Other pieces of note in this exhibition include Song#4: Mitosis - a fleshy plant-like creature that reproduces if you fondle it enough and Song #13: Drumandala, which is the best in-world drum machine I have ever come across.

Avatar Orchestra Metaverse

AOM are an experimental orchestra who specialise in making music inworld (rather than streaming). They are involved in a lot of mixed reality (real life/Second Life) performances.

Orchestral Investigations #9
a beautiful machinima made by Evo Szuyuan
Shintaro Miyazaki aka Maximillian Nakamura (SL name) played with avatar orchestra fellows in SL a mixed reality concerts at wien modern 2007 (24th of November).

"W.N.K. is not only a song I made for AOM but also a proof of concept that loop-based/rhythm-oriented music can be arranged/performed/mixed live in SL. Hence the dance/Drum'nBass loops. I simply wanted to see if they play back in sync in laggy live situations. These drum-loops are taken from the web or were freebies from synthesizer magazines; of course I processed them and did not use them unedited. The other loops were (like the rest of the samples used here) created from my library of field-recordings: There are, for examples the heating of a flat I once lived in for a while, a metal lid covering the public water-systems at the place we go to for flying kites and riding sleigh, the mouse-clicks of my old Atari and so on."

I can tell you from experience that this piece sounds MUCH better if you are there live with the sound balls zooming around you.

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