Installation explores themes of Second Life
Time: April 4, 2009
Venue: 20/21 Gallery Conversation Wall & Process Space
An upcoming exhibition at the Spencer Museum of Art invites viewers to consider how art and virtual worlds overlap and enhance one another. Alternate Realities, opening April 4 on the 20/21 Gallery Conversation Wall, will present images that address avatars, social networking and constructed realities. Visitors can also access the Spencer’s Second Life ® Island at a computer station in the gallery’s Process Space.
“We’re exploring the ways that we can combine different learning styles and new technology like Second Life® to create an engaging museum experience,” Jessica Johnson, IMLS Grant Project Coordinator says.
Second Life ® is an online virtual world where participants create avatars to interact with others. On the Spencer’s Second Life ® Island, visitors can learn more about current exhibitions Climate Change at the Poles and Trees & Other Ramifications: Branches in Nature and Culture at the real-life Spencer by watching videos exploring climate change, listening to a traditional Inuit story, and viewing replicas of Patrick Dougherty’s tree-branch sculptures. Johnson says incorporating Second Life directly into the gallery space provides viewers with another perspective on the issues Climate Change at the Poles and Trees & Other Ramifications: Branches in Nature and Culture present.
Alternate Realities incorporates works primarily from the Spencer’s collection to explore ideas from Second Life®, such as avatars and social networking, but also includes borrowed works such as the Qi of RMB City—a video filmed entirely in Second Life by Chinese artist Cao Fei. The piece follows Guangzhou-based artist Huang He (Second Life: Master Q) as she investigates how one would apply feng shui, the ancient Chinese spatial methodology, to an entirely virtual space. With interactive installations and performances Huang He creates her own modern mythology and explores ways to manipulate the qi (invisible energy flow) of RMB City and the digital realm. Cao Fei’s video goes one step further to experiment with the notion of performance, ritual, spectacle and narrative involving this project upon the greater stage of RMB City.
“I hope it helps people learn something new about art and about themselves in ways they might not have contemplated or expected,” Johnson says.
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