Virtual Tupperware etc,

Pose chair at Pose Paradise

Pose Paradise in Second Life. Chair with couples’ animation poses.

I like to explore and showcase the creative work of Second Life™ artists. These are often incredibly talented people working within this almost abstract space. Their work is misunderstood or simply dismissed by the ‘real world’ art scene. It is ironic to think about how photography itself was not accepted as ‘art’ until around the 1980s (finally getting an exhibition in 1989 when the Royal Academy in London reviewed the medium’s past 150 years).It is interesting to peer into the future and try and see how the virtual art of virtual worlds will eventually be regarded. (Will it take 150 years as well?) I wonder how a retrospective exhibition might one day exhibit the work of Madcow Cosmos, Jopsy Pendragon and Flea Bussy?

The art installations found in Second Life are making clear statements about themselves, that is they are self consciously created works exploring imagery in an imaginative fashion. But there is enormous creativity in the work that goes into creating the more ordinary human avatars and their clothing, buildings, furniture and plants. I suspect that most virtual object creators are not looking at any big picture. They are building and designing for the sheer fun of it, for the Lindens they might earn, for the challenge of making their ideas manifest in the 3D world.

Botha sun lounge furniture

Botha sun lounge furniture, Botha Architects Group

When I was at art school I studied graphic design and then photography. Many graphic designers and photographers were often very matter of fact about their work, they did not see themselves as ‘artists’ (I even recall designers calling anyone who produced art for self expression a ‘basket-weaver’.) The culture was one where self expression was seen as mildly embarrassing at the very least! I guess the people who work in this fashion pride themselves on being artisans, workers making what is needed and necessary? Gradually, over time the work of the less self-aware, or self-questioning creator can sometimes become recognized as being part of a movement, or style.

Learned journals are written about salt and pepper pots, London Underground posters and Tupperware etc. We enjoy looking at the things that were made to serve some simple function in the past. Seeing these design objects in this new light can to be very evocative of times gone by. That is, mundane items carry rich cultural information.

Abiss Interior modern furniture, office chairs

Office chairs at Abiss Interior’s Main Store

Of course, many designers are conscious of where their work fits within the larger landscape of design and culture. But I am suggesting that many designers do not examine what they are doing, or why they are doing it, and where their work belongs in the great scheme of things. Responding to fashion trends, they are immersed in the current of their culture without any external perspective. And this same attitude applies to much of the work being created in Second Life. It is being created for entertainment with no greater ambition than selling it for a few Lindens or managing to make people smile. It is just intriguing to consider the implications of all this creative (yet ostensibly frivolous) expression!

Ramos Designs Furniture

Couch at Ramos Designs

Maybe Second Life needs a museum of 3D design solutions? A place that showcases the best sculpties, the best tables and chairs of Second Life, the funniest arm wrestling scripts etc? But then, the fascination of virtual worlds lies in not only how well and quickly we can manifest our ideas, it also revels in how quickly we can discard and forget them!

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