Future Exhibition: Ars Virtua New Media Center II

[part I: WHAT? & WHY?]
part II:

HOW? « What can’t be seen, must be Shown »

Artists developing machines & spaces
–the representational devices capable of instilling desire–
engaging in-world creation to an emergent universal grammar, composing a unique material construct for these virtual territories.

Exhibition flow: The exhibition attempts to engage visiting avatars as project participants. By interacting with the installation infrastructure, they will actualize its content. The project proceeds in five steps :

  1. Teleports send visiting avatars to distant Second Life sims that contain functioning project infrastructure, the spaces and machines designed to extract in-world data. Three land-types are used in the project, each possessing unique characteristics to ensure a multiplicity of data, image and spatial types:pockets: small, dense, interstitial; scapes: landscapes, e-scapes, scape-lands, capable of producing social-spatial imagery; and, territories: from a boundless space into an oriented, sustainable Place.
  2. Avatars use HUDs to capture and send project data back to the gallery. The HUDs are provided throughout the gallery and worn by participating avatars. When visiting a distant project sim, the HUD facilitates data extraction by creating screenshots, then automatically sending the image data back to the Ars Virtua gallery. The HUDs are programmed to extract project data that is embedded in the captured image.The participating avatar uses the HUD to compose, frame and capture a point-of-view. Each POV contains unique data, meta-data and images, composing a unique representation of the project. The HUD employs data analysis algorithms to separate in-world data concerning the deep structure of distant sims, captured by the image, from the graphic information.
  3. Captured information and images are sent back to the gallery. Ornament is created from this data that serves as the spatial support for its content. The form and proportion of these objects are generated by an analysis of the captured data. Prims are auto-rezzed in the gallery space upon reception of the information sent by the avatar’s HUD. Ornament is composed by the subsequent images and data being mapped to these forms, which are then placed into the exhibition infrastructure –size, placement and shape of these objects are determined from the data being sent back to the gallery. A correspondence is made between where the data was taken and what it tells us about the distant territory and its placement in the gallery space.
  4. The avatar is provided with a return teleport to rejoin the exhibition space. In her brief absence, the exhibition has been transformed by this interaction; her choice of composition, POV and image determines the way in which this transformation has been carried out.
  5. Visitors moving through the gallery space, over, under and within its formal-textural construct, make critical connections between in-world conditions and deep structures of disparate SL environments that are represented.The spatial and informational content of the exhibit is composed by a synthesis of texture and form, space and text. Avatars trace a path through the exhibition space, composing content in their wake.

Creating a feedback loop involving avatars is a reflection of the necessity to create meaningful space through presence and participation. Foist into the role of the exhibit’s connective tissue, its agent, avatars relay subjective points-of-view from distant SL territories, assuming their role as an in-world medium, a conduit of information.

The tool employed by the avatar, that which ties together the diverse content of the exhibition media, is the Image.

continue reading about the exhibition’s GOALS, OBJECTS & REFERENCES


This exhibition attempts to:

  • offer a unique vision of what it means to work, build and create from deep within a synthetic environment;demonstrate how synthetic worlds can become credible platforms of artistic creation (and not just for diffusion);
  • demonstrate how and why to build in virtual environments according to the theoretical, critical and practical lines suggested by this project; and,
  • lay the conceptual, theoretical and semantic ground work for further discussion of these questions.
  • Show: the spaces, images, ideas and connections that were created by this project, and putting them into context concerning
    • the Ars Virtua residency program announcement;
    • the artist’s statement at the project’s execution;
    • the traction gained by carrying out the project in a residency setting;
  • Develop: a context for the establishment and diffusion of key project ideas…
    • an expanded vocabulary for discussing the ideas behind art and construction in synthetic environments;
    • an expanded formal vocabulary of spatial conception and construction for synthetic environments;
    • create responses to questions about art and space in synthetic environments concerning…
      • what is art in the metaverse?
      • what does it mean show art here?
      • what is a gallery in a virtual world?


Screenshot: capturing an image is perhaps the most accessible and utilized form of user created content in virtual environments. It is simple to do, capture options are available in the client interface, and their potential application and use is diverse: posting directly to a blog or a photo sharing site like Flickr, saving images to a disk to be enhanced with off-line software, mailing them directly from in-world, mashups & re-mixes, in-world messaging & screenshot comics… sharing, distributed from user to user, from object to object, from in-world to real-world, commented on, annotated & blogged. 3-d creation is a tiny fraction of this space.
Presence & participation: Like the narrator in the 3rd person, the camera is an agent of multiplicity, capable of representing a subjective or objective point-of-view –an all-knowing, all-seeing, omni-present immaterial device– and the basis of immersive space. The relationship between a point-of-view and an avatar, nature and connection of their interaction, makes visible the surrounding reality, allowing it to be decoded through a specific POV. Player controlled camera movement can be thought of as an adaptation of cinematic technique, where: –montage is a means of constructing reality, presence; –contextual cut is means of determining position, place, orientation; –meaning is derived from the relationship between blocks of images as they unfold in time.

POV, global multiplicity actualized by the camera view, objective / subjective perspective, exploited in this exhibition as its means of active engagement –avatars capture their POV as a screenshot, re-composing the project’s formal and informational representation.
Though the exhibition is not solely dependent on visitor participation (the basic content will already have been set-up in the gallery space for the exhibit’s opening) it serves to give the architecture meaning by establishing a clear dialectic between the space’s material form, and that which occurs in it. The architectural spaces of the gallery attain meaning through the way they are being occupied, or, in an architectural parlance, their usages. The singular characteristics of a space –its atmosphere– is determined by the organization of its materials, forms, circulation, mass… and the creation of a dialectic with the activities conducive to this material organization. Visitor participation, the movement of information, avatars and objects through this space, becomes the basis of this usage; it is the active role in its physical and social usage. This participation demonstrates the necessary connection between space and usage in synthetic worlds, and how dynamically composed space can continually adapt to the evolution of how it is being used.
Ornament: The objects in the Ars Virtua gallery are a synthesis of primitive SL objects, their placement and organization in the gallery space and the information, text & images mapped to them. They are hyper-connected info-objects –forms project text, from textures emerge data… The relative placement of objects in the gallery implies in-world location, the passage over, under, through or around the exhibition ornament makes visible the territory’s material forces… These objects are fabricated by and for the project, to represent it as an intense expression of its essential material organization. Materiality, in this context, includes not only the physical properties of the objects (as wood, steel or glass…) but also as time, organization, economy, usage and sensation. This synthesis produces a new type of in-world material aggregate, capable of both inert structural and organizational functions, but also interactive cultural expression –this is referred to as ornament. Independent of their surface expression or appearance, these forms are constructed to organize the exhibition space and determine how to circulate within it, and serve as a support for the exhibition’s content –the images and text that show what was done. Ornament is made from prims, partitions and textures that are composed and recomposed, accumulated and extracted, so as to represent the project’s spaces and machines, ideas and data. Moving through the gallery space forges connections between ideas and images, text and space.

Scapes: builds on distant in-world parcels, dense space on small plots of land, machines placed throughout the SL territories to measure its extents, will be accessible from the gallery.

Device: a HUD that facilitates capturing screenshots of these Scapes is available in the gallery. It permits framing a point-of-view, determining its compositional characteristics and the extent of the information that is captured. This device will then analyze the metadata contained in the image and send it back to the gallery, from another time and place, to become part of the exhibition ornamentation shown in the gallery. The exhibition’s content will be auto-composed by participants based on their experiences with the project’s machines and spaces.


Sensation: When a prim is stretched in a synthetic world, we are incapable of perceiving or feeling its resistance. Resistance is the essence of materiality, sensation is the means through which we comprehend its properties. A synthetic world’s physical laws, apprehended through direct sensational contact with material objects, are the rules that determine the behavior of objects, avatars and their interaction, and exist to imbue them with coherence. We are cut-off and numb to the expression of material sensation that emanates from synthetic environments.
Deep Structure: In common usage, the term is often used as a synonym for universal grammar — the constraints which Noam Chomsky claims govern the overall forms of linguistic expression available to the human species.
Universal grammar is a theory of linguistics postulating principles of grammar shared by all languages, thought to be innate to humans. It attempts to explain language acquisition in general, not describe specific languages. This theory does not claim that all human languages have the same grammar, or that all humans are “programmed” with a structure that underlies all surface expressions of each and every specific human language.
Terroir: « A sense of place », the specific qualities of the geography, topology or materiality of a territory that bestow individuality upon that which emanates from it. The sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the manufacture of the product. A French term derived from the development of its agri- & viti- cultures, and ensconced in the idea of that country’s culture of territoriality.

One Response to “Future Exhibition: Ars Virtua New Media Center II”

  1. Metaverse Territories » What Can’t Be Seen, Must Be Shown, pt. 2 Says:

    […] The title of this post was inspired by my work as an artist in Second Life, and the thinking behind what it actually means to exhibit or show art in virtual space. The text was recently written in response to a journalist’s question concerning the role of emergence in my work: […]

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