The Performative Space in the Virtual World: A Consideration of the Meeting of Architecture and Performance in Second Life
This paper looks at how the culture of virtual communities like Second Life is changing the way in which audiences relate to art in real life. Traditions of authoring and reception have been challenged by the advent of digital interactivity and put into process a major re-envisioning of the paradigms surrounding artistic production. This paper will focus on the work of architect Peter Ireland and writer/theatre director Elizabeth Swift, who, working as Void Projects, have a twenty year history of collaborating on installation and performance projects in Europe and the US, as well as in virtual space. Recent work has used Second Life as a context for creating new environments which move away from real world models and manifest themselves as interactive structures, or narratives, which respond to avatar presence. The paper suggests that as virtual spaces become performative through the interactions of users, the roles of artists and audience have to be reconsidered. On one level the virtual spaces appear to lend more creative control to the user, on another the environment becomes an immutable framework where all interaction is anticipated and controlled and creativity limited. Using visual material and examples from Void Projects’s work the paper will examine some of the questions raised concerning the role of architecture and the performative space in virtual worlds and its implications for artistic production more generally.
Keywords: Virtual Worlds, Architecture, Performative, Narrative, Second Life
Ms Elizabeth Swift
Senior Lecturer, Drama and Performance, University of Worcester
Visiting Tutor, School of Architecture, Birmingham City University