Art 2.1: Creating on the Social Web

Virtual Artists’ Immersive Discoveries in a Virtual 3D Frontier

Cao Fei: RMB City. "Art in the Twenty-First Century," production still, 2009. Season 5, Episode: "Fantasy." © Art21, Inc. 2009.

Cao Fei, RMB City. Art in the Twenty-First Century, production still, 2009. Season 5, Episode: Fantasy. © Art21, Inc. 2009.

William Saroyan wrote: The role of art is to make a world which can be inhabited.

Virtual art had its debut in a cave at Twin Rivers near Lusaka, Zambia, about 35,000 years ago, with two dimensional images of Stone Age man in his elemental environment, his world. Before it became synonymous with the digital realm, virtual meant existing in the mind, especially as a product of the imagination. Virtual can refer to things that mimic their “real” equivalents and it denotes work that is realized or carried out chiefly in an electronic medium. Virtual art goes beyond these definitions in Second Life. Second Life, or SL, is an online, virtual world where the use of 3D objects called prims creates the illusion of the third dimension on the two-dimensional surface of the computer’s screen. Observers become immersed, as 3D avatars that can freely move within a world that transcends physical constraints and traditional concepts of time and space. Virtual 3D art exists beyond the surface upon which it’s created, or the screen on which it’s displayed. Virtual 3D art exists in a world that is inhabited and where the viewer, embodied as an avatar, becomes immersed.

In other words, to truly experience immersive, virtual 3D art you have to go there.

I interviewed several artists who are early adopters of the online, virtual 3D world of Second Life. Second Life art ranges from scanned copies of public-domain works to primmed 3D paintings and complex kinetic sculptures that could only exist in perceptually immersive 3D space. These artists have already experienced varying degrees of success in “first life.” DanCoyote Antonelli (DC Spensley in material space) gave me a tour of his algorithmic, interactive, and immersive SL creations that purposefully reject anything that is inherently referential to the physical world.

DanCoyote Antonelli

DanCoyote Antonelli, details from Visions of Global Justice Installation. USC Annenberg School for Communication Network Culture Project, 2008. © All rights reserved.

DanCoyote Antonelli: My earliest work is four years old and embodies the conflict between modernism and post-modernism. What comes after postmodernism? Modernist Marvel, a tongue and cheek homage to modernist architecture, is actually a user interface that guides visitors through a number of algorithmic artworks from the early 2000s in QuickTime virtual reality that are mapped onto prims. Another site-specific work, entitled Hostile Space, explores the personal space of the avatar and demonstrates hyperformalism—a term derived from the combination of the words hyper (as in hypertext) and formalism (in the platonic sense) and is being used here to describe aesthetic self-expression without anthropomorphic, or representative context.

Simply put, virtual worlds offer many of the same benefits of physically visiting an art museum or gallery space, with the extra benefit of network transportability as well as the power of scripting aesthetic and conceptually compelling behaviors that are embedded in the environment.

Grapes of Math by DC Spensley (a.k.a. DanCoyote)

DanCoyote and several other artists working in Second Life contributed to Brooklyn is Watching, an art project that invited interaction between the two thriving art communities of SL and the Jack the Pelican Presents gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. DanCoyote’s Tower of Light was voted one of the top 5, and eventually won the People’s Choice award last August. This work allowed the artist to push and revise the fundamental constructs of space and time through the use and control of the avatar. It consisted of several textured or colored, flexible prims (flexies) that allowed avatars to move across and upwards through them in real time.

New Media Consortium’s Virtual Worlds program supports SL artists, including DanCoyote Antonelli, and helps educational organizations explore the potential of virtual spaces. While an NMC artist-in-residence, DC has been working with Monroe College, IBM, University of Delaware, and many others who are providing in-world space for artists.

Since 2006, IBM has maintained a presence in Second Life that showcases immersive installations of virtual art and architecture as examples of the cutting edge of what is possible in 3D virtual worlds. Bryn Oh recently exhibited her Rabbicorn build on the IBM exhibition land parcel (sim). Bryn Oh is the SL alter ego of a Toronto-based landscape painter who has established herself as a skillful installation artist in Second Life. Dusan Writer supports Bryn by giving her the sim “Immersiva” to work on for free, and she gave me a tour of a few of her more recent installations, Vessel’s Dream and Condos in Heaven.

Bryn Oh

Bryn Oh, Willow. Brooklyn is Watching Final 5 Show, installation detail, 2009. © All rights reserved.

Nettrice Gaskins: What is the difference between art that is created for the physical world, or real life (RL) and art that is created in Second Life? What is so revolutionary, yet so conventional about Second Life art? Is it the lack of boundaries or a feeling of transcendence that attracts SL artists? As the observer/viewer/participant, are you allowing yourself to embody a virtual 3D self to experience this art? Is it a fleeting moment or can this experience be brought into the first life?

Bryn Oh: In first life, I am an oil painter who uses different techniques to draw viewers into my paintings. I paint on large canvasses to block out peripheral vision and remove distractions that can hamper viewers’ ability to be drawn into the paintings. In this way they won’t notice the things surrounding the border of the canvas that can take the attention away from the art. I use chaotic brush strokes to cause anxiety in the viewer. My use of color affects the viewer’s emotions and physical temperature of the work. My oil paintings, in the end, are 2D. You can’t go inside them. You are separate. These techniques can draw the viewer into my paintings, but the spell can be easily broken by distractions outside the borders of the painting.

With Second Life, I can create a painting that you can enter. For example, I can build a blizzard that avatars can walk into and become lost and disoriented. Avatars could wander aimlessly in a whiteout and come across an abandoned car in the snow. Opening the glove box, they find a note that furthers the narrative. I call my style of art Immersiva. It’s where I create environments that allow viewers to forget their first life surroundings for a time. My SL art helps viewers to suspend their disbelief and transports their imagination to another place. The difference between my first life paintings and my virtual environments is that persistent immersion is more successful in Second Life.

I believe this to be the next frontier within the art stream and I think we are approaching a time when full Immersiva is achievable.

Imagine this: you come home from a long day at work. Your boss is annoying and you have bills to pay. On your desk is your perfect environment. A commissioned world specifically designed for you or created by you. You put on a headset and the real world is blocked out. You are transported to a hill overlooking a valley. You sit in long grass that sways in a gentle breeze. Perhaps there are physical fans that are triggered to mimic the virtual wind. Or a timed spray to release a grassy summer scent. It may include a customized lover or a digital child like Milo, a programmed one, or perhaps a real human who you share this with. The Dali’s, Bosch’s, and de La Tours of the future will all create Immersiva.

Vessel’s Dream by Bryn Oh

Bryn sees Second Life not as a space to bring 2D copies of her real life paintings, but rather as a space to create interactive and exploratory experiences that allow patrons to step into her visions and creative stories.
Pathfinder Linden of Linden Lab (maker of Second Life)

Many of Bryn Oh’s Second Life builds consist of several narrative 3D mini-installations which incorporate machinima to help tell the stories. Machinima, from machine cinema, is a technique that records the action in real-time interactive 3D environments, such as Second Life. Once immersed, viewers click on objects to find secret elements to help with the narrative. Occasionally, the movement of the avatar is restricted and the viewer must use his or her camera controls to discover new elements or scenes.

Bryn Oh: The idea is for people to accidentally discover these elements over time. It’s the excitement of discovery as well as finding a whole tiny world inside.

"Bicyclorama" by Maya Paris

Maya Paris, Bicyclorama. Bluestocking Interactive Art Gallery, installation detail, 2009. © All rights reserved.

Maya Paris’ gravity-defying SL art installations challenge what we know to be real in physical space. She commented that Second Life is “an extraordinary medium with great potential for work that is inter-disciplinary, interactive, and immersive. The building and scripting tools make it possible to combine sound, images, sculptural and architectural elements and performance in innovative ways.”

Art Kahos: A collaborative art project by a group of 12 international artists—including Maya Paris—in Second Life, organised by Pirats.

For Alizarin Goldflake (Martha Jane Bradford in first life), virtual art production in Second Life has changed the way she creates art, both in-world and in material space.

Alizarin Goldflake

Alizarin Goldflake, Come Go With Me, installation detail, 2009. © All rights reserved.

Alizarin Goldflake: Originally, my goal was to demonstrate that digital drawing could be used to create work that was equal in quality to work created with traditional media. Recently, however, the pixel has begun to emerge from behind the scenes and is not only integral to the process but also to the visual sparkle of the textures in the new drawings. I have been working in a direction that is entirely new for me, constructing digital collages out of sections of my digital drawings using a creative approach I discovered in Second Life. The method is similar to process art, in that the final image is not envisioned at the outset but emerges as a result of assembling, layering, and composing visual elements. New works incorporate machinima (video), live streaming, printed displays, photographs of SL work and SL-inspired collages on canvas, PowerPoint presentations, live demos, and a podcast interview.

Metempsyche’s Garden by Alizarin Goldflake

My virtual collaborator and real life mentor, Vu Sosa (Sharon Dunn) unpacks cultural, historical artifacts from her Virtual Cuban Journal as a 3D audio/visual installation, allowing visitors to interact and dialogue with each other in real time.

Vu Sosa

Vu Sosa, Virtual Cuban Journal, MassArt in Cuba, installation detail, 2009. © All rights reserved.

Vu Sosa: Because I investigate a variety of mixed-material formats, the Second Life platform provides archival solutions for a number of interdisciplinary studio/research projects related to cultural representation and digital heritage. SL serves as my digital photographic studio, high definition camera, multi-dimensional collage studio, and Spanish translation site. It is an immersive environment, offering new possibilities for interactivity and interdisciplinary juxtapositions. Visitors explore the Cuban images and new collaborations are formed. My SL journal is fluid and transforming as the dialogue changes.

The Second Life artists and art forms featured here clearly demonstrate what comes after postmodernism and are, arguably, an early phase of an artistic movement taking place in an artificial, interactive, computer-created “world.” These virtual artists are just a few of several who are discovering and reconceptualizing art in a virtual 3D frontier. We are seeing a fusion of forms, dimensions, Web-based platforms, and realities that is entirely new and still very much a part of the virtual art (time and space) continuum that promotes the growth of art practice in the 21st century.

Nettrice Gaskins is an artist and educator who bridges the actual and virtual worlds and explores how these realities can have a transformative impact on people’s lives and experiences when it can be fully implemented and realized. Her purpose is to bring together people, concepts, modalities, media, and worlds through art. Follow Nettrice’s blogs to explore writings on new media art and art in the classroom.


  1. Helfe Ihnen says:

    As a curator of ‘Odyssey Arts and Performance Simulator” I am very happy about this article. Art in Second Life can be very interesting: On Odyssey we have had Eva and Franco Mattes, Gazira Babeli and much others. Currently we show Media Arts Professor Joseph DeLappe performing a 9 month (!) piece about Gandhi in Jail, Italian Artist Marco Cadioli/Marco Manray with photographs from virtual Berlin in VW Twinity – placed in Google AdWords, british artist Andrew MacLachlan/Dekka Raymaker with a huge installation and from Dec 4 Chicago artist Patrick Lichty/Man Michinaga and US artist Liz Solo.
    Step by /

  2. So great to see an article like this on such respected Second Life artists. Second Life offers a means of progressive artistic expression never before available. We come from all over the world to share, I myself am Aboriginal Australian. Second Life allows me a type freedom in my art not available to me in “real life”. Well done!

  3. Sowa Mai says:

    Wonderful article, thank you. Its gratifying to see two of the Caerleon group of artists mentioned here. A hotbed of creativity Caerleon hosted and paid for by Georg Janick (Gary Zabel) has provided quiet a few of us with a place to experiment and advance virtual art through the Virtual Art Initiative.

    Virtual Art Initiative maintains four sims in Second Life: Caerleon Isle, an artists collaborative space; New Caerleon, an experimental university; and Caerleon Art Collective and Caerleon Art Collective 2, both artists colonies.

    Thirty-five artists, musicians, writers, programmers, and scholars reside on the four sims, engaging in both individual and collaborative work. Two of our artists are working on the sims through major grant funding, one receiving a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and the other from the Australia Council for the Arts. The Caerleon sims include an active art school where accomplished Second Life artists lecture on theory and give practical workshops in technique, a science fiction museum that pursues the connection between that genre of literature and the development of virtual worlds, and philosophy classes and installations that reflect about the relationship between reality and simulation. The sims have hosted in-world readings, lectures, classes, and debates on a wide variety of topics as well as creating cross-world connections with such “real world” events as the first Eduverse Symposium in Amsterdam, February 27, 2008, the Toronto Virtual Art Symposium, March 27 to 29, 2008, and The William Monroe Trotter Institute’s celebration of Black History Month at the Harbor Gallery, University of Massachusetts at Boston, February 26, 2009. University courses have been conducted on the Sims for “real world” credit, while new forms of networked education are also being explored there.

    The residents of the Caerleon sims are currently involved in an 8 month project of collaborative exploration of the fundamental dimensions that make the art of virtual worlds a unique aesthetic medium. Each of these dimensions – immersion, interaction, ambiguity of identity, environmental fluidity, artificial agency, and globally networked collaboration – is being explored in a collaboration of artists under the direction of a project leader lasting approximately six weeks. The collaborations are being thoroughly documented in images, text, and machinima film, and will generate work that will be exhibited in the “real world” Harbor Gallery at the University of Massachusetts at Boston in April 2010.

  4. Palixia says:

    I t is first in the museum of insects that I came across Brynn Oh ‘s virtual sculptures in Second Life and I was rapidly drawn into a whole new atmosphere, my avatar walking along the mechanical bugs and scanning their minute details.
    Not only it has a visual impact but I think Brynn Oh brilliantly manages to use sound in her story telling, making it anachronistic a times, the future coexisting along with the past.
    I especially enjoy the narrative aspect of Immersiva, which has all of tale we are invited to live.
    In that regard the ” Rabbicorn   story ” is a must see for all dreamers…

  5. The level of innovation by these artists simply blows me away. Thanks for an outstanding overview, Nettrice!

  6. Nur Ophuls says:

    Support for artists in SL is important and unfortunately necessary. Artists need land and the prims to create and show their work.

    I hope articles like this stimulate the regular avatars of SL to help provide that support.

  7. soror Nishi says:

    Until you have seen the full possibilities that Virtual Worlds offer it is difficult to realise how truely revolutionary they are…..once you have….well…. you will never leave…

  8. Gary Kohime says:

    Nettrice, Awesome post you have here. You obviously have a firm grasp on what’s taking place on the edge of artistic expression. Furthermore, Bryn, DanCoyote, Alizarin, et. al. are most certainly forerunners in this evolution. For the first time in human history can a ‘painting’ be canvased that can be ‘lived’. This will, and is having a major impact on the entire artistic community, whether or not its virtual or real.

    An added comment on Bryn’s work; is that her canvas, in SL, does in fact combine narrative. This is a huge step beyond what’s been done before. This is just one factor in her creations, she is so leading edge it will and is very important to watch her create. She is a master to follow.

    Please continue to post on this new art form. Thanks for the post.

  9. As one of the founding members of the virtual arts community Studio Genre, I am VERY happy to see the artists of Second Life getting the attention they deserve. The immersive world has set so many of my peers free to create in an unrestricted manner in a way never thought possible.
    There is so much yet to be expressed here. I look forward to seeing what develops in the future!

  10. It is so nice to see SL artwork getting some serious feedback and recognition.
    Above all, it is wonderful to see Miss Bryn Oh’s artwork up. Immersiva is one of the most detailed and narrative places in all of SL. Her work is magical and alive. It brings to life all the loose ends in our brains. The wonderful rusty gears and lonely robots. Her machinimas are always magical to watch and take me to another place 😀 Anyhow. Lovely article 😀

  11. Thank you so much Nettrice for continuing to bring Second Life and virtual worlds into the real life art world. Art 21 has been an amazing media for sharing second life artists. The articles on China Tracy and Machinima within Second life were really great. There is so much art to explore within the platform that second life offers including art created solely using the tools of second life to 2D art brought in by artists to art that mixes reality and blurs the line. I am loving being an artist here myself and just want to say thank you for sharing what we do!!

  12. Nettrice says:

    You’re very welcome, Gracie! I’ve been to one of your shows. I wish I had more words to add more artists who are doing cool things in SL.

  13. Natsuki Morigi says:

    Thank you for a well researched and written post on the diverse art in Second Life.

  14. Wonderful article Nettrice! I love that you wrote:

    “In other words, to truly experience immersive, virtual 3D art you have to go there.”

    I’m a big believer in Strong Avatar Identity (cf Strong AI, Strong Anthropic Principle, etc) And while I, like everyone, am excited to see SL works of art presented in RL galleries, museums, and projects like yours, I do believe as you state, that the work is best appreciated “in-world” and correspondingly, that the ultimate validation of this work is not that MOMA does a show or ArtForum an article, but that the validation comes through the work being viable, meaningful, and compelling in it’s own, rather capacious, world.

    I find myself overwhelmingly inspired in this virtual world. I began exploring the themes of Identity and Individuality long before entering SL, but I find it to be such an ideal environment for considering and expressing my research.

    Thank you for showcasing these compelling contemporary artists and this inspiring expressive platform.

  15. Nettrice Gaskins says:

    Thank you, Sowa Mai. I wish I had more words to include more artists, collectives, and projects in SL but this is definitely a beginning. It was at Caerleon where I first met Maya Paris and experienced one of her installations.

  16. Nettrice Gaskins says:

    Thanks everyone! I appreciate all these comments and the information being shared. I am teaching an immersive 3D art and design class for and I get to see through the eyes of young people what it’s like to create in virtual 3D space for the very first time. Through investigation, immersion, interaction, and creativity in SL we are discovering a new, critical language for virtual art.

    For example I see DC’s hyperformalism as both distinctive and very different from “metaplasticity”, a conceptual state of the 21st century mind and art process in perceptually immersive 3D space.

    Plasticity, or plastic reality is the synthesis of virtual and real art — bending the rules of how we define reality and how artists create images/objects.

  17. I am fairly new to Second Life ( a little less than a year) but not to the internet and the myriad possibilities for the artist to create amazing works. When I discovered Second Life I knew I belonged here and I was correct. My year long adventure has been full of exciting possibilites and awesome adventures. I have been in more than 25 (virtual) shows in Second Life already, and a few of them are and were very large. It would not be possible in real life (a nod to Bettina Tizzy) to create some of the artistic expressions I have made here. For the Second Life 6th Birthday celebration I had a spaceship made for me that I used to dump close to 40 of my real life paintngs out of, falling to the ground. This was lauded in an article by Voodoo Buwan in the September ’09 issue of Rez Magazine.

    Currently I have I am the sole decorater of a place owned by Arkansas State University called the ASU Sky Garden I have placed all of the falling paintings from SL6B in the air, along with many pieces of art on the ground. As I am learning to build here, I realize the possibilities are endless. As an artist, I am thrlled and honored to be part of this talented group. Please come get my Box of God v.2.7. They are free. Be part of the future of art…

  18. Thank you Nettrice for your attention and perceptions regarding virtual art; I loved the reference to cave paintings! This is a new medium and is evolving new means of communication in art and should be taken seriously. Bryn and Ali’s pieces are magnificent environments that whisper stories from inside them, adding narrative to visual and spacial works. I do not consider SL my “second life” but only an extention and tool of my life. I am proud of all the Caerleon artists and the many others who are exploring this new frontier and universe.

  19. DC Spensley says:


    Thanks for the cool digital ink and many thanks to Art21 for recognizing a writer and educator of your talent and insight!

    Regarding Hyperformalism vs. metaplasticity…

    Hyperformalism like Immersiva, refers to a particular direction of practice within the virtual world. Whereas Immersiva (IMHO) is poetic and similar to a literary “magical realism” what I would refer to as Narrative Realism specific to SL, Hyperformalism spans new media art to include non-figurative abstractions that contain both formal elements and “hyper” elements that liberate the artworks (and the viewer) from the constraints of material space. (other non-SL Hyperformalists might include Sol Lewitt, Marcos Novac, Casey Reas)

    Hyperformalism prefers to explore what is now possible in the new set of virtual conditions. Marshall McLuhan once said: “We walk backwards into the future.” Hyperformalism faces forward and does not look back.

    I might hazard a guess that metaplasticity is a critical quality that both Immersiva and Hyperformalism both contain and that while metaplasticity is a neutral and descriptive term, Immersiva and Hyperformalism (the dominant forms of virtual site specificity) are both specific nouns.


    DanCoyote (DC Spensley)
    [email protected]

  20. Pascale Illyar says:

    I am heartened to see more exposure for artists who are creating work within virtual space, and, in this article, within Second Life. For anyone reading this who has not had the opportunity to see these and other pieces first-hand, I hope you will. Time moves fast in Second Life. What was built there yesterday vanishes or is greatly altered tomorrow, so it’s advisable not to put off visiting.

    Possibilities for creating and for seeing art that Second Life offers and unique ways in which the viewer is engaged and empowered to collaborate in the works can be profound. There are pieces whose precision, perceived scale, use of motion, sound, light and physics would be nearly impossible to create in real space. Other artists, especially Bryn Oh, are stretching the limits of the medium (and even subverting it) to spin time-based narratives that plumb issues of identity, mortality, what it is to be human and express and transform oneself through technology. Within what one could assume might be a shallow, cold or impersonal space, the work one finds is often startlingly reflexive, personal and moving.

    Like other commenters mention, and like any art installation in physical space, the work requires a place to house it and costs real money to rent space on the Linden Lab servers. It is not a free publishing platform. In a time where money is tight, many artists are finding it untenable to balance real-life needs and sustain working in virtual space when hosts for their builds are few, the duration of residencies short and an interest in art within the existing virtual community limited. If more people who value art venture into virtual space and encourage and support this work, we might yet see it prosper.

  21. Isabella Alphaville says:

    Bravo for drawing attention to the most interesting art to be seen in decades!

    Second Life affords an opportunity for incredibly gifted artists to create ground-breaking and magical works of great power. Both the poetry and the fantasy to be found in their pieces is truly astonishing.

    Please continue to enjoy and to review these breath-taking jewels of unbridled imagination.

  22. Bryn Oh says:

    Wonderful post Nettrice. Its a very exciting time as a metaverse artist and I think you have really captured the enthusiasm with which Second Life artists are working. What’s wonderful is that there are plenty of artists such as AM Radio, Glyph Graves, Blotto Epsilon, Cutea Benelli, four Yip and many others who are interchangeable to those of us mentioned above. That’s the sheer strength of art in Second Life right now and it will only get stronger.

  23. Stella Merlin says:

    Many thanks for a timely and informative post on immersive 3-D art in SL. While I am familiar with the captivating work of Bryn Oh and DanCoyote, you brought several other artists to my attention. Please continue to follow and write about this exciting new art form!

  24. Nettrice Gaskins says:

    @ DC: Thanks for expanding…I was hoping you would comment! These terms (hyperformalism, immersiva, etc.) are part of an new lexicon arising from immersive 3D artistic form and content. Metaplasticity describes a process, an underlying mechanism important in memory and learning while immersed in virtual 3D space.

  25. Nettrice Gaskins says:

    Thanks for adding to the list, Bryn. Glyph Graves’ “Total Wind Sculpture” blew me away when I visited BiW last summer. I kept returning to experience it:

  26. SaveMe Oh says:

    As a walking artwork myself I would also like an article about SaveMe Oh, the most famous avatar of Secondlife and I would also ask some exposure for the dramaqueens, the stand-up comedians, the performance artists and the chat-artists who help the selfacclaimed artists to stay humble and guide us through the boring moments of our secondlife. The overexposure for the primtrowers is sometimes a little too much. (ofcourse with the exception of members of the OH family like myself, Selavy and Bryn)
    Anyway Nettrice, you also owned yourself a SaveMe Oh Award, please tell me where to send it.

  27. Many thanks to Nettrice for her insightful introduction to the art of Second Life and to all you other commenters for taking the time to celebrate this vibrant world of virtual art. Making art here is an unparalleled experience because of the wealth of possibilities made available on the platform. In real life, it would take an MIT team of twelve to build the kind of installation that a single avatar can put together in an afternoon. Plus it definitely puts a new perspective on things to be able to view art by flying around and through it! I am so glad this new medium is finally getting the attention it deserves. Thank you art:21!! Thank you PBS!!

  28. Nettrice Gaskins says:

    Oh me, OH MY! I think the avatar as an art form would make for an interesting part two. In SL I’m Nettrice Beattie but I can wear a SaveMe Oh Award. 🙂

  29. SaveMe Oh says:

    Nettrice, the SaveMe Oh Award is on its way.

  30. White Lebed says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful article, Nettrice!

    I do hope you will continue writing about virtual arts. The art scene of Second Life is so rich with talent and creativity! Those who are familiar with it take it for granted and tend to forget how unusual and unique this new art world is. It takes special skill to bring this world to the outside viewers and explain it. I believe you have this rare skill.
    Please, consider making it a series of articles.
    Best wishes 🙂

  31. Humility is the reason Bryn makes art and other people shamelessly need to self promote ;p

  32. As founders of CARP (Cybernetic Art Research Projects), where we work with so many professional audio and visual Artists, Engineers, Architects, Scriptwriters and Programmers on the Metaverse (read SL), is the collaboration between all of them a great development when it comes to creating.

    Artists always look for opportunities to find new ways to create. The metaverse is one of the most important spaces to experiment on.
    Not only the new technology is a challenge but also the possibility to develop a total new ART.

    As soon as artists discovered the playground where it becomes possible to create in 3D and experiment with all kind of forms and show that to the world, many took the opportunity with both hands and started pioneering on this new beautiful space.

    What also is important is the working together of artists en science.
    Where in real life an artist creates mostly “alone”, on SL working with scriptwriters becomes common. Creaters do not always have the knowledge of writing scripts as well and when you have made a beautiful scuplture and it just stands there and “does” nothing is not very interesting. With scripts that let rotate, change texture, fade or move the whole becomes way more depht and powerfull. This way creating is a great joy not only for the artist but also for the viewer that can “fly” inside a creation and become part of it.

    Architects use the metaverse to build the most incredible buildings where you can walk in, look around and get the idea you really are there.
    Scriptwriters and programmers can experiment and work with the ideas a artist has to develop new knowledge and technology to make things “happen”.

    In SL the CARP group starteted a whole new way of Theatre making. In teams was worked on several projects like THE WALL, THE RINGS and METROPOLIS. Performences and shows where the audience participates, flies around in seats equipped with camera’s to have a better view, and every new show that is created the knowledge learned from the shows before is used to grow and develop even more stuning effects that are not possible in RL.

    Also the projects of V-JAZZ (Virtual Jazz) EMOTICON and AMOTICON where programms were written to let artists and musicians work Live together at the same moment and improvise together with music and forms was a big development where audience and artists together create a “happening” that never is the same.

    And the end is not to see…here on SL the creaters of all kinds and each with their own skills are the Avant Garde of this New Art, they free the road and write Art history.

    Josina Burgess/Josina den Burger
    Velazquez Bonetto/Lazlo Ordoeg

  33. oops, Velazques Bonetto is László Ördögh Diabolus

  34. I am not an artist, but I appreciate art, graphic art particularly, and computer graphics most. There are many many things to engage the mind and pass the time on the platform of Second Life® but enjoying beautiful (and sometimes mind-boggling) 3-D graphics created by extremely talented artists is top of the list.

    Strictly speaking, though, ALL of SL is graphic art, is it not? What compels me to want to be there is the place itself. The ground, the architecture, the sky, even the people are the artistic (sometimes wonderful, sometimes horrid) creations of those who inhabit it.

    Just as the architectural community recognized Scopes Cleaver and others for their work in Second Life, it’s great to see the efforts of the artists in SL get the wider recognition they deserve.

    More, please!

  35. Vax Sirnah says:

    It’s good to see that the aesthetics capable in Immersive Virtual Environments is getting some recognition. The possibilities for immersive art are few and far between and Second Life excellent place for that sort of exploration.

  36. azdel slade says:

    As a mixed reality performance artist myself, its great to see more coverage of Second Life. Thanks!

  37. Pingback: My Art 2.1 Guest Blog Spot « SL Art HUD Blog Thingie:

  38. azdel slade says:

    Hi, again, great article. Its good to hear some of my fellow SL artists’ ideas about using this platform.

    Although, it seems like your article, like many about Second Life, focuses on more traditional modes of art replicated in second life, like sculpture or installation art. While the aspect of immersion is an important difference, I think you’re leaving out a lot of work done with performance.

    My own work has focused on using Second Life as an online public space and a space for performance art, as has the work of people like Second Front. Specifically, my collaboration with Echolalia Azalee (Elle Mehrmand in RL), entitled Mixed Relations, has focused on finding ways of engaging Mixed Reality Performance more deeply, finding ways of bridging physical and virtual space, mixing them and blurring the lines between them. This builds on my previous work with motion capture and long term immersion in Second Life (365 hours straight) called Becoming Dragon []. Our current work uses diy biometrics, including heart rate monitors and temperature sensors, to bridge our physical bodies with our virtual avatars, creating Avatars with Organs, in a sense. We’ve also focused on the question of erotic performance in Second Life, partly based on our interest in the history of performance art, but also as a way of looking at how virtual worlds like Second Life demonstrate a proliferation of sexualities beyond any restrictive forumlations of LGBT. We find Second Life to be a very rich space for exploring the potentials of queer genders and sexualities. You can see and read more about our work here:


    More information at and

  39. Nettrice Gaskins says:

    Azdel Slade: You make a great point in that the featured art is primarily installation-based but I think it’s important to note that DanCoyote Antonelli (DC Spensley) is the founder of ZeroG SkyDancers ( ZeroG SkyDancers can be categorized as performance art as it uses virtual 3D space “in a cross between water ballet and aerial acrobatics, in ways that would not be possible in the physical world.”

    There was only so much I could fit in a single post! There will be a follow up in the near future. Thank you for sharing your unique perspective and providing more information for readers to investigate.

  40. Nettrice Gaskins says:

    In my mind “graphic art” is two dimensional and encompasses design, image development and editing. In perceptually immersive 3D space we can experience the merging of 2D, 3D, and 4D (time-based) forms. In addition to the graphic/visual elements SL art can incorporate sound, animation/video, and movement. Separately each of these forms has its own set of principles but what happens when these form merge?

  41. Pingback: Blogalogue, Part 2: About ETeam | Art21 Blog

  42. “with the extra benefit of network transportability as well as the power of scripting aesthetic and conceptually compelling etc”…I have a documented 4 Part/Way Power discussed within the pages of “A Kinetic Person’s Power”(Creative Non-Fiction)By: Kenneth Adrian Ellis. View my Professional Author Display Video @ , Search: Kenneth A. Ellis, then after that check out my on-line Press Release @ I hold a Certificate Of Copyright from the Library Of Congress for video footage on which I perform my kinesis! God Bless for allowing this posting!

  43. Nalates says:

    Thanks for covering the SL art. Interesting.

  44. Nazz Lane says:

    Excellent write up, and no surprise to those of us who’ve been both viewing and covering the arts in the metaverse with your selections. Each of the artists you’ve featured bring their unique perspective into the Metavers of Second Life and we are indeed lucky to have them there.

  45. Gatz says:

    SecondLife is a wonderful and unique environment for creativity and expression, and it’s great to see it recognized here. After three years, I am still perpetually awed at the quality and variety of the creations which range from immersive visual art, music, scale models, performance art, to whatever a creative mind can conjure without any limitations.

    While many have found critical and financial success from their work, some of the most wonderful discoveries are simple concepts by ordinary people, who would otherwise have no outlet for creative expression.

  46. Alfred M Ajami says:

    It has been a long march up from the early 80’s, when a number of articles appeared in Dr. Dobb’s Journal suggesting that immersive art in virtual worlds would become accessible if not common to the daily experience. The “creations” in the social web, as described in this art21 blog post, stand out as triumphant examples of how rapidly technological literacy has spread to its present stage of adoption. An even more encouraging prospect lies in the emergence, from within these creations, of a new aesthetic sensibility that will be democratized and internationalized via the electrosphere. As a scientist, and collaborator with artists in both First and Second Life, I plan to stay tuned in. Thanks for the write-up.

  47. Nettrice Gaskins says:

    I very much appreciate your comment about the new aesthetic sensibility (virtual). In “Deconstructing Installation Art” (2006) Graham Coulter-Smith wrote a short passage on virtual reality that until that point in time consisted of “expanded sculpture” with material limitations. He imagined installation moving beyond passive viewing to “investigate immersive and narratological effects via digital media”. I think we can agree that this new aesthetic is intentionally non-material and can really only be experienced in-world.

  48. Alfred M. Ajami says:

    Nettrice, I take your point. First an observation, and then permit me to push back on the second clause of your closing sentence.

    If we take the Coulter-Smith forecast as normative, then the medium’s evolution, just shy of five years, is astounding.

    As to the assertion “can really only be experienced in-world”, let me ask you to imagine applications for technology already at hand that will bring the “in-world” experience of the virtual world out into the, shall we call it, actual world.

    It is now possible, albeit in a temporarily primitive way, to create a personal, Imax-like environment for 3-D video and hence for full-motion virtual art. Put together penta-prisms, beam splitters, digital light projectors and hemispheric mirror surfaces and digital art can be personalized, as well as shared with others off-line. For a hint on how this can be done, you can imagine the virtualization of 3D and 4D art within some variation of Luc Courchesne’s panoscope (, in spatially immersive displays ( or in any one of the enveloping projection environments pioneered by Paul Bourke (

    I submit that for virtual, immersive art to fully take root, it must cross over and hold its own within the same space and in front of the same audiences, public and power-elite, that currently only experience legacy art (if any art at all). That is the premise that I have adopted as a starting point for working the technology, and it provides a practical, common ground for scientists and artists to collaborate on.

  49. Nettrice Gaskins says:

    Alfred, this issue has been bandied about and debated, both in-world and in real life for a while now. Can the “in-world” experience be brought out into the actual world? Of course and it’s already happening. Several SL artists have done Mixed Reality shows and Brooklyn Is Watching, a show I mentioned in my write-up, is an example. The debate rests on the purpose and intent of the artist and the form of art he or she creates in virtual 3D space. Some works are clearly, intentionally meant to be experienced in Second Life, for example, and any attempts to bring the work into material space would somehow lessen the impact or experience of being immersed in the work (as an avatar).

    Plasticity or the synthesis of virtual and real art bends the rules of how we define reality and how artists create images/objects. One of the qualities of immersive 3D art that would be difficult to re-create or simulate in material space is flight. DC’s Tower of Light is hundreds of meters tall. SL artists are encouraged to push and revise the fundamental constructs of plasticity through the use and control of the avatar. The plasticity of the brain replaces real life action with avatar movement to create real feelings of flying or falling while in virtual 3D space.

    Of course this experience could be simulated using various devices but some might ask: What is the point of doing that in material space? Wouldn’t it take more time and resources (money) than in virtual 3D space?

  50. Semaj says:

    Caught up as I am in the inner/outer workings of my daily responsibilities (job, family, yada, yada) the world of art touches me primarily as a commercial product. That said, a year ago at an educational conference I slipped into an avatar to explore this world’s realms. Bryn Oh’s “Immersiva” was my first “here it is” moment of SL. I’ve imprinted to these builds, movies, stories, poems, creatures, etc, like a gosling to its mother. The initial fervor of my “SL” experience has subsided somewhat but this place leaves frequent traces, thought tags, idea streams, and reveries in waking ruminations as much as they do in dream. Though more discoveries are here, the artistry of Bryn Oh is some of the most thoughtful and compelling work I’ve seen/experienced in any medium of expression.

    Immersiva is immense in minuscule and monumental wonders that grow ripe in both heart and mind. The transcendent majesty of art, of the imagination, of creation, has always managed to shake us free from the rigorous and stupefying dogmas of daily physical existence. Art (movies, books, paintings, immersive virtual worlds) does awaken emotional centers and pathways that allow us to more fully embrace, rejoice, cry, and laugh on our earth bound sojourn.

    If you spend any time in SL, it doesn’t take long to surmise that for many this worlds possibilities are merely reflective, one cult of cookie cutter personality replaced for another, but since falling here in this amazing land of abandoned machines, exquisite nano-bugs, mannequin soul-mates, rare Rabbicorns, and poignant stories, the collective scent of imagination and expression has borne me, set me afloat as a spore on the wind, alive again with mystery and hope in the transformative possibilities of expression and communion. Thank you for bringing the light/darkness of these lands to the world out there and keep it up.

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