The figure on the roof of a Hilton Hotel in Chicago is Hercules Randall, my avatar in Second Life, the virtual world that I’ve been avoiding serious involvement in. Until now. Under the pretext of preparing for a talk I’ll give next week in Lancaster, PA, on how the future of technology will affect art fairs, I have fallen far down the rabbit hole of this virtual world in the past few days. I went looking for arts-related activity in Second Life and found an island named Artropolis which has artist studios and an exhibition hall where digital artworks are being shown at the
same time that their “real” counterparts are hanging at the Hilton in Chicago, site of the Second Life Community Convention this weekend. On Artropolis, I met Esch Snoats, one of the creators of Artropolis, and Gracie Kendal, an artist with a studio there. Esch is going to meet me in SL at the start of my talk on August 29th at the National Association of Independent Artists (NAIA) meeting of art fair directors. If all goes well, I’ll introduce the audience to Hercules Randall standing on the roof, and Herc will then fly down into the first floor of the hotel to meet Esch and talk to him about his art and what this all might mean for art fairs in the world as we know it. I’ve been practicing flying and other moves, because I want this all to look easy and plausible to the art fair directors.
It’s really fun, I have to admit, even as I understand how ridiculous it sounds when I try to explain Second Life to civilians, as I did at supper tonight with my parents, who are 78 and 80. What floored my wife was when I admitted I had spent about $2 in hard money (500 Linden dollars) to buy a new blue suit for Hercules, so he’ll look sharp for the NAIA.
I’m not going to linger long in Second Life at the Lancaster presentation, but I thought it would be a fun way to kick off my hour of technological speculation and tips. I don’t really expect to jump all the way into SL obsession once my NAIA gig is completed. But I’m having a ball in the meantime, and I’m gaining understanding why so many people on Twitter and elsewhere go in and out of Second Life as if it’s just another way of being in the 21st Century. I’m learning that you cannot understand these new phenomena–social media, podcasting, Web 2.0, whatever–from the outside. You have to jump in and play, and even learn to fly, in order to appreciate the possibilities.