Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

copenhagen-sl-sml1. As we’ve covered previously, there’s an enormous amount of activity going on in Second Life. There’s regular presentations as well as streaming of parts of the real-world COP15 event. Here’s where to check it out for yourself.

2. The Australia Council initiative, The Australian Centre of Virtual Art, has put a call-out for artists to participate in its 2010 virtual art lab. There will be a three-day intensive program in Melbourne for up to 10 Australian artists, with the remainder run virtually for the next 6-9 months. ACVA emphasise that: “SL artists are welcome, but we’re encouraging anyone working with networked art to apply”. Here’s where to do so.

3. Twinity has launched virtual London this week. If you have the Twinity application (still Windows only at this stage), you can check out London here.

4. Want some Christmas entertainment with a twist in Second Life?

Does your Christmas look less like Norman Rockwell and more like Norman Bates? Does your family put the “Diss” in “Dysfunctional”? Does your Uncle Fred use the Andy Williams’ Christmas Albums for target practice? Well, welcome home Buckaroo! The actors of the Avatar Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) invite you to “The Real Christmas Story”, starring Y.A.D.F. (your average dysfunctional family). These original Christmas stories will premiere on Friday, December 11, at 5 pm pst at the Dove Theater. Two other performances will be presented on Saturday, December 12 at 3 pm pst, and Sunday, December 13 at 2 pm pst.

Written by three members of the A.R.T., “The Real Christmas Story” presents three views of the pain and pleasure of the holiday season. Sodovan Torok, Kayden Oconnell and Rowan Shamroy have googled their internal computers and found stories that embrace the past, endure the present and anticipate the future. Scrooge may have survived the spirits, but Tiny Tim might need counseling after spending time with these ghosts.

5. Linden Lab have an interesting post on their blog outlining some of the emerging virtual worlds courses available at some universities and colleges.

Australia Council’s second virtual worlds art project: mellifera

During July last year we reported on the Australia Council’s second virtual worlds funding initiative, MMUVE IT! Thirty thousand dollars was provided to the successful applicants, Andrew Burrell and Trish Adams, and mellifera is the result.

The installation revolves around bees and the way they interact with their virtual eco-system. Like the previous project, Babelswarm, it’s a mixed reality event with an exhibition at the Gaffa Gallery, 1/7 Randle Street, Surry Hills in Sydney. The exhibition will run until April 21, 2009. The launch itself commences at 6pm today (16th April).


Why the bees? Andrew Burrell: “The European Honey Bee is an extremely complex creature, with an equally complex social structure making them ideal subjects to explore and question surrounding the functioning of networked and social structures in real and online environments.”

The Australia Council for the Arts has certainly demonstrated its commitment to virtual worlds as art spaces, and it’ll be interesting to see what future projects are funded. The original announcement of this project mentioned the use of VastPark in the final product – there’s no mention of it now, which is a shame. We’ve put the question to the Australia Council and will update this story once a response is received.

Check it out in-world or check the mellifera website

Foul Whisperings, Strange Matters

It’s been a great couple of weeks for interesting new Australian presences in Second Life. Last weekend, ‘Foul Whisperings, Strange Matters‘ launched. It’s a fascinating take on Shakespeare’s Macbeth character, a “timely use of pop culture as an adaptive bridge between classic texts and new media technology”.

The first five minutes of my wanderings around the build were reminiscent of the last Australia Council funded build I wandered around, Babelswarm. In this case, the New Media Consortium provided part of the funding as well. The similarity isn’t in relation to content, it’s the quality of the content. As Macduff says in the play: “The life o’ the building!”.

Three Australian collaborators were involved with the project: multimedia artist Kate Richards, theatre and film director Kerreen Ely Harper and Angela Thomas, a writer and educationalist.

For me, the power of the experience is that there’s plenty of room left for self-interpretation of the intent. Having studied Macbeth a (cough) few years ago, the strength of the themes from that work are strong. English teachers take note: this is an obvious boon for the student analysing Macbeth – the immersiveness and open interpretation provides one mighty playground for discussion of the play itself.

Foul whisperings are abroad: unnatural deeds
Do breed unnatural troubles: infected minds
To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets:
More needs she the divine than the physician.
God, God forgive us all! Look after her;
Remove from her the means of all annoyance,
And still keep eyes upon her. So, good night:
My mind she has mated, and amazed my sight.
I think, but dare not speak.

I think it’s fair to say that for most student, Shakespeare can be one of the more forbidding hurdles to overcome, and initiatives like this can only help lower those hurdles. Kudos to the creators, the NMC and to the Australia Council, who have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to virtual worlds as artistic platform.

Check it out in-world

Australia Council announces latest funding winners

The Australia Council have announced the winners of their MMUVE IT! project. The project had thirty thousand dollars up for grabs for a virtual world arts initiative.

The winners this time are visual artist Andrew Burrell from Sydney and artist and science researcher Trish Adams from Brisbane. The third real winner this time is startup virtual world platform VastPark, which will be the co-host of the final exhibition along with Second Life.

A previous Australia Council event in Second Life

The winning proposal involves “an inter-disciplinary artwork  exploring brainwave activity and body movement and its relationship to virtual environments in both Second Life, and the recently released Australian virtual platform, Vastparks* (sic) …. a human/computer interface system that explores the artistic possibilities of neuroscience studies. The system will allow viewers to interact with artificial life created in virtual worlds through sensor readings of bodily functions including physical gestures, breath, heartbeat or electrical brain and nervous system activity”.

Also involved will be Professor Mandyam Srinivasan, head of visual neuroscience at the Queensland Brain Institute of the University of Queensland (Trish Adams is currently an artist in residence there).

We’ll catch up with at least one of the team behind the project in coming weeks – after the artistic success of Babelswarm, it’ll be interesting to see a further evolution of Australian virtual world-based arts.

Australia Council announces ‘MMUVE it!’

Hot on the heels of Babelswarm, the Australia Council has announced its next opportunity for virtual world artists: MMUVE it!

Like the previous funding, it’s available for three artists but this time the platform has been widened to any virtual world:

“With more than 73 million participants in MMUVE’s such as EverQuest, Second Life and World of Warcraft, and the recent introduction of motion-sensitive controllers such as the Nintendo Wiimote, there is great scope to develop innovative artworks in a highly networked environment that incorporates body movement and its relationship to real and virtual environments.”

There’s 30 thousand dollars on offer for development of “an inter-disciplinary artwork engaging the human body in a MMUVE of their choice.”

All the details are here.

The expectation of the successful applicants is that they ensure there’s cross-over between their virtual world creation and real world participation by the public – the Australia Council calls it “developing public exhibition opportunities”.

Applications close on May 16, 2008 and only Australian citizens or permanent residents need apply.

Babelswarm – Australia Council launches Second Life art project

An Australia Council project that was initially announced nearly a year ago, has come to fruition.

Babelswarm is the final product of writer Justin Clemens, visual artist Christopher Dodds and musician/artist Adam Nash and it’s being launched this evening at 5.30pm, Friday 11th April. It’s a simultaneous launch in Second Life and in Lismore, NSW at the Lismore Regional Gallery.

The Australia Council describes Babelswarm:

The installation, a metaphor for the Tower of Babel, uses voice recognition software that converts the spoken word of real and virtual participants into 3-D letterform images in an evolving tower of words. The artwork is a simultaneous installation in Second Life and in a real world gallery, where visitors can be involved directly in its creation via a computer interface.

Babelswarm installation

The Australia Council’s chairman, former QANTAS CEO James Strong, is upbeat about the use of Second Life for artists and the Australia Council’s support of such endeavours: “Virtual worlds like Second Life are fast becoming mainstream platforms for artistic interaction; we are keen to provide pathways for artists to continue to innovate in these rich digital environments. The Australia Council supports artist residencies in many places in the real world; it is only natural for us to help artists explore the creative possibilities of residencies in virtual worlds.”

The Lismore Regional Gallery is located at 131 Molesworth Street, Lismore, NSW. The exhibition will run until April 23, 2008. The Babelswarm blog has much more detail of the installation.

Check it out in-world

(Pictures: Babelswarm, 2008)

Australia Council announce grant winners

Sorry, a little slow on the uptake on this – on the 5th September the Australia Council announced who it would give a $20 000 grant to for artstic development in Second Life, something we covered a while back.

Congratulations to Christopher Dodds, Adam Nash and Justin Clemens. We’ll try to touch base with one or all to find out about any plans underway.

(Thanks to SL Insider who made me realise I’d missed this announcement)

Australia Council announces first in-world artists forum

The Australia Council certainly can’t be accused of not howing interest in Second Life as a means of artistic expression. Last week we reported on the ‘matchmaker’ service for artists and musicians working in Second Life. Now, in conjunction with the ABC they’ve announced an artist forum for the 12th July:

“The in-world event, to be moderated by ABC’s Sunday Arts reporter/producer Fenella Kernebone, is for the Australia Council’s inaugural Second Life artist residency.

In an open forum at 7pm (EST) on ABC Island, Paris-based artist and architect Brad Kligerman – one of the first artists in Second Life to complete an in-world residency – will present his work, discuss ideas and answer participants’ questions.

Brad, an architect and teacher, completed his 11-week residency with US-based Ars Virtua , a new media centre and gallery in Second Life, where he questioned the idea of materiality in the rendered environment and the nature of image.


Australia Council chief executive officer Kathy Keele said the partnership with the ABC was a great fit with the Australia Council’s Second Life initiative. ‘The ABC was the first Australian media organisation to establish a presence in Second Life and we are excited about working with them on this project.’

‘We hope that Australian artists gain valuable insight from Brad Kligerman’s successful art interventions in Second Life and that they will be inspired to create innovative works in-world that will place them at the forefront of this groundbreaking practice,’ Kathy Keele said.

The Australia Council has also set up an artist’s forum in Second Life for artists looking for other artists with whom to collaborate. The moderated artists forum can be found at ABC Island and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) Island, Esperance.”

Like any event, places are limited so drop an email to with your Second Life Avatar name. The event will be streamed live at a location to be announced and and a vodcast . A vodcast of the event will also be available on the ABC Sunday Arts website . Sunday Arts screens at 5.00pm on… Sundays.

For more information on Ars Virtua and Brad Kligerman visit

Australia Council offers matchmaker service for SL artists

Today we received a follow up comment from the folks at the Australia Council:

“Need artists to collaborate with for the Second Life Grant opportunity?

Australia Council for the Arts has set up an artist’s forum in Second Life for artists looking for other artists to collaborate with for its Second Life grant.

The “matchmaker” blog can be found at Alternatively you can access it through Second Life via the Australia Council Billboards on ABC Island and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) Island, Esperance.

For more information on the grant visit

Australia Council offers SL artist residency

The Australia Council (Inter-Arts office) are offering $20 000 for up to three people to facilitate a Second Life residency:

“The residency allows for a collaborative team of up to three people (including a writer, musician/sound artist and digital visual media practitioner) to develop inter-disciplinary artwork in Second Life.

Applications will only be accepted from teams who fulfil all the residency requirements, including having the necessary artform experience. Artists or writers who have professional experience in more than one of the required artform areas can include this as part of their submission.”


The full details here and you have until 27th July to apply.

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