Monday, January 19, 2009


The unique way that fiction conflates with reality in SL, due to the choice of many SL designers to mimic FL (this is Philip Rosedale's interest as well [1]),provides opportunities for narratives that comment on FL.

The narratives in SL can be interactive and collaborative: participants in SL are often receptive to being pulled into a discussion or interaction. This opens up the possibility to pull participants into constructed situations, both short ones and longer narratives that involve collaboration or planning. In addition, selected FL narrative forms can be used as starting points for SL narratives and combined with SL medium-specific forms and content. Several of these possibilities are described below.

Video documentary: Daniel Small

Narrative in the form of a video journal or documentary is one of the easiest ways to make SL accessible to FL audiences. A compelling example is Daniel Small's video and photo documentaries. His narratives expose the seamy underbelly of SL, listening in on conversations such as a SL participant saying,"It kind of begs the question in the context of why are there still black people?" (Study of Racialism, context of conversation here)

Image: video still from Anarchist Castle

Surreal narratives emerge when Daniel combines SL's mapping of fictional world onto real world with SL's transgression of real world boundaries. In Opening of World Bank (World Bank in SL) a SL participant spontaneously leapt into the air and executed a prolonged series of graceful arabesques, a trapeze dancer without a trapeze.

Images: video stills from Opening of World Bank

To this surrealistic scenario, Daniel rachets up the degree of wackiness by adding new forms of mischief to already questionable situations in SL, forms that are medium-specific to SL such as flooding the server with requests for objects and slowing it down.

One object is the smiley, turning the ubiquitous internet emoticon on its head into a large, physically-obtrusive 3D object that is used en masse to fill up a SL space and render it temporarily non-functional (see image above). Other objects include bees (see image in the Outline of topics post), explosions (see image above), 2D Richard Simmons (see image on left), a caricature of the flattened, more impoverished vision of reality in SL whose spaces are predominated by suburban sprawl and shopping malls. (Image on left: courtesy of Daniel Small)

Other topics

Topics to be discussed are narratives from constructing metaphorical objects, from situations that engage or provoke, collaborative situations, exquisite corpse games, and narrative installations.

[1] Philip Rosedale. Panel with Chris Bratton and Lynn Hershman on 11.07.08 at SFAI.

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