The Future of Virtual Subjectivity (2012)

On the meteor, where we have only a tear's trickle of water, we found some data, fragments of a past even more distant than the sun. Just some images, really, and scraps of text. The sun, the flower, the ripple, the garden, the snow. A poem that speaks to our experience here on the gloom meteor, my own desert place that I call home. But then of course I toggle into the virtual, and my eyes drink in the water, my skin sears with the heat of the sun, I am enveloped by the petals of the flower, and I turn my face and part my lips to taste the falling snow.

This virtual installation of 3D interactive art made and experienced in a virtual world imagines a future in which the experiences of nature are primarily virtual ones. Not simulations of environments, though; they are shards of experience, dramatized by yoga poses and parts of images, the subjective experiences of nature not objective recreations of realities.

Full Description

The installation has several components. There is the meteor dome, where the narrator lives, and where we see the video and text as well as how the images from the past are incorporated into interior design. Outside the dome are the sculptures which approximate what the meteor people experience when they toggle into the virtual, one each for the sun, the flower, the garden, the snow, and the ripple. The sculptures have pose balls in them, and trigger an animation or pose for the avatar.

The video documents the installation, both in its original form at the meteor, and then at Fiteiro Cultural, an art project in both Second Life and the actual world.

Work metadata

  • Year Created: 2012
  • Submitted to ArtBase: Wednesday Feb 22nd, 2012
  • Original Url:
  • Work Credits:
    • Lori Landay, primary creator
    • Stacey Fox, composer, pianist
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Artist Statement

The narrative around the pieces in this installation, made for the sixth birthday celebration of Second Life in response to the theme, The Future of Virtual Worlds, and set on a meteor far from the sun, evolved out of my experience building at the installation site. The virtual landscape in which I was installing was gloomy and barren. I imagined what role virtual worlds would have for the poor, stuck meteor people. My own vision of the future is much more optimistic, and although I see the compensatory function of virtual worlds (and popular culture in general) as an important one, I have also come to see the act of toggling, or switching, between different modes of subjectivity that will become more prevalent as augmented reality forms proliferate to be just as interesting.

I incorporated this into my narrative, into what virtual experiences the meteor people might choose, and pondered this as I built each of the sculptures that represent their virtual worlds, which are immersive experiences in the nature they do not have, shaped by a nostalgia for what they cannot possibly remember because it was never theirs, but which is very much theirs through the virtual simulations.

Avatars visiting the installation could fly between the sculptures, or click from poseball to poseball.

Peony Envy This sculpty uses an image from an online bulb and plant catalog, Dutch Gardens, what I call "flower porn." The poseball contains a yoga pose from the Massachusetts General Hospital/Mind-Body Institute Study on teaching people the Relaxation Response in Second Life. It was by participating in that study that I first connected with nature in the virtual world, and made my first friendships.

Desert Place This piece was really the turning point of the build for me, when some combination of the meteor gloom and unforeseen emotional upheaval reminded me of the Robert Frost poem, "Desert Places." It makes use of an experiment I've been playing with: using friends' rez dates for the numbers in particle scripts to make different colors and effects.

Burst The texture for this one is a photograph taken by NASA of the sun: and the sound is a recording of the solar wind made by Voyager 1 and available at: Thanks for that sound, Sage Duncan! The solar flare particle burst is based on Misprint Thursday's rez date, and she did in fact illuminate my process with her help, in equal parts of practical, creative, and humorous.

WaterView Standing at the apex of the build, this clickable offers a vantage point from which to view the installation as well as the surrounding builds. The texture on the outside is a photograph of the Boston Public Garden, verdant and watery, but is transparent from within. The poseball contains another yoga pose from the Mind/Body class.

Memory as Misappropriation The title of this piece is historian George Lipsitz's phrase for how people take television shows and other texts from the past and substitute them for memories and nostalgia because they give us a convenient past that we like. This sums up the relationship to the past that the meteor people have forged visually and experientially through their use of the images and other fragments from the ancient disc, not really memories, but then they become them, virtual immersive experiences they have that are so different from their meteor lives, but are interwoven seamlessly in them, in their dreams, in the very fabric of the their minds' eyes, down to the cushions of the chairs on which they recline.

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