'Gulliver' by Ub Yifu at The Burning Life Festival (2009)

Second Life Gulliver at The Burning Life Festival


Galleries of art abound in Second Life and while much of the work on display is two dimensional and often imported from first life there is also a very particular art of Second Life. One struggles however for a language to describe this work, based as it is on constructions and amalgamations of linked primitive Platonic solids (Prims) with a surface pattern created in a third party graphics programme such as Photoshop or GIMP.

Familiarity with more traditional computer gaming enables us to use expessions like 'resolution detail' or 'shader effect' but these are technical terms not aesthetic ones and when we add to this the use of programming scripts written in the Linden Scripting Language (LSL), particularly for the generation of particle effects used in the simulation of water, fire and complex optical transitions, we are clearly beyond the more traditional languages of technique and aesthetics based on material considerations.

In the nineteenth century photography presented a similar difficulty for the visual arts which theorists like Benjamin struggled to articulate in terms of 'patina' and 'mechanical reproduction'. In the twenty first century the arts of the metaverse require not only additons to the language but also new paradigms as to what art might encompass.