Second Life: Performing the Real in Digital Arts

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Second Life is an online simulation environment for digital artistic expressions to emerge at the cutting edge of originality, and newness. In a simulation environment real life forms as artistic expression are adapted as well as transformed. In Second Life, interactive art works as well as avatar interactivity heighten digital sculpture and installations’ effect. In this respect avatars are artistic creations themselves painting Second Life’s ever expanding canvass with their diverse colors and shapes rendering it a unique global performance. Thus digital arts adaptations undergoing a creative transformation from real life to a simulation environment open venue for their aesthetic and ontological reevaluation. Therefore in this study Second Life’s art scene will be analyzed: from real life artistic adaptations to transformative interactive art presentations along with their commercial as well as non-commercial aspects. In this respect Second Life’s reintroduction of the California based annual art event “Burning Man,” renamed as “Burning Life” is a global stand against art works’ commercialization. That is, all artistic creations which are erected, and displayed during the real life art festival receive an equally festive ovation in their demolition. Thus Second Life in the same spirit recreates the annual real life art event in its simulation platform. While the actual event of creative destruction opens space for the following years’ art presentations, the techniques of simulation in Second Life also enable for the preservation as well as reinvention of these digital art works for future displays, as in the festive event called: “Afterburn ART project.” In this respect, “Burning Man” festival in Second Life is not only an adaptation from real life, but also a creative transformation, a performance enabled by means of digital techniques and avatar interactivity generating a variety of shapes and meanings in their absence and presences.


Keywords: Second Life, Performance, Burning Life Festival, Afterburn ART project, Simulation, Avatar, Digital Art, Installation, Interactive,
Stream: Media Arts Practices: Television, Multimedia, Digital, Online and Other New Media
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , , , , Second Life: Performing the Real in Digital Arts


Dr. Leman Giresunlu

Assistant Professor Doctor, American Culture and Literature, Dokuz Eylül University
Izmir, Turkey

Leman Giresunlu teaches American Culture and Literature at Dokuz Eylül University. Her teaching interests involve American Studies methods and theory, women’s writing, critical theory, American travel literature, popular culture, and Cybercultures. She has degrees from Ege University, Michigan State University, and Bowling Green State University. Her current research involves the aspects of “virtuality” in her article in progress in “Henry James’ Romantic Promises: The Golden Bowl and the Virtual” presented at Henry James’ Europe: Cultural (re)appropriations and transtextual relations at The American University of Paris 3-5 April 2009; the aspects of “virtuality” in the Second Life simulation environment. Her recent publications consist of “Cyborg Goddesses: the Mainframe Revisited” At the Interface/Probing the Boundaries 56 in Ricardo, Francisco J. (Ed.) Cyberculture and New Media. (Amsterdam/New York, NY, 2009), Leman Giresunlu “Blogging as Cyber-Autobiography”, Melikoglu, Koray (Ed.) Life Writing: Contemporary Autobiography, Biography, and Travel Writing, Ibidem, 2007 Proceedings.

Ref: A09P0755