Re: [-empyre-] Invisble walls

Dear Jo,

your found your Turbulunce project and your comment on
"networked narrative environments" very interesting.
I want to add something to your comment "why it is not
possible to go through walls in SL?", because this
experience seems to summarize a lot about the
relationship between physical architecture and
"interactive media spaces".

The reason why it is not possible to go through walls
in SL seems to be the actual part of the narrative. It
is "the artificial obstacle" in an environment, which
is supposed to be "free" that actually creates the
story - maybe even more, than the iconography of the
stage-set. "It is there, but it shouldn`t be there".
One could maybe also reverse that: Things that are not
there, but should be there" - means: everything else
apart from the audiovisual representation of
architecture and that what constitutes the "space
between people". 

The narrative in physical architecture derives from
accumulated memory / history, that is connected to a
specific place. All those things, that give a certain
place a "meaning" (That is why people may ask, where
are you from?"). "Sometimes I feel like the needle of
a record player that sratches over the facades of
buildings...", experiencing the city like a flaneur
like in Walter Benjamins´"Passages". This experience
is based on knowlegde of the genius loci and ones´

In virtual places it is the accumulation of blogs or
chats. But apart from the communication via written or
spoken word, what role does the virtual representation
of architecture play to the narrative? Clearly most
visited sites become some sort of a place, although
they are merely "knots in a net".

If one accepts the fact that the essence of
architecture is the "space between people" and its
organisation (by physical or non-physical means), one
could easly perceive something like SL also as a kind
of architecture. We may even call this blog
"architecture" although it ironically is not happening
in SL and there is not even any visual architectural

I am wondering, what actually constitutes the
"narrative"? Is it someting like a "magical realism"
like Italo Calvino desicribed it in his novel
"Invisible Cities"? He described more or less cities
which he didn´t even visit...
The book explores imagination and the imaginable
through the descriptions of cities by the narrator,
Marco Polo. The book is framed as a conversation
between the aging and busy emperor Kublai Khan, who
constantly has merchants coming to describe the state
of his empire, and Polo. The majority of the book
consists of Polo's descriptions (1-3 pages each) of 55

But let`s return to the "artificial obstacle" of the
invisble wall in SL which is there and shouldn´t be
Your "wall-experience" reminded me of the movie "Wings
of Desire" by German film maker Wim Wenders, where an
angel is able to float through the walls and most
important through the Berlin wall. When the angel fell
in love he lost his supernatural powers and his
senses, and became a normal human. The first time the
(former) angel had to experience "pain"...
Wim Wenders once mentioned, that he always starts a
movie not with a storyboard or with some characters or
famous actors, but with a specific site. The genius
loci is crucial to his work. For "Wings of Desire" he
also didn´t have a storyboard. He just registered many
elements in the city of Berlin, that referred to
angels (sculpures, streetnames, etc.) and the sky was
the only connecting element between the East and the
West. And since he needed a figure that could
transcend between the divided city of Berlin he
decided to use an angel. The angel was able to fly,
telport (in SL-terms) but most important, the angel
could read peoples thoughts and feelings...
Wenders sold the rights for a remake in Hollywood,
only to see how this film whithout a story could be
produced.... Ironically "City of Angeles" sold 10
times better, than the original movie. 

SL at this stage is probably neither a genius loci nor
is it a "narrative" in itself - only an experience,
which like the "invisble wall" shows may not be an
obstacle but the trigger to a story. Wether that story
offers some sort of meaning we will see, when it
becomes physical...


--- Kathy Cleland <>

> >
> > And to those who hate all of the empty space: I
> have to say I find it very
> > therapeutic. I love flying around with only the
> sound of the wind to
> > accompany me.
> Yes, i totally agree! all those empty spaces ... and
> empty galleries as 
> well ;) ... I read an article in a Sydney newspaper
> that compared the 
> experience of exploring SL to wandering around a
> ghost town or an empty 
> theme park - that sums up the experience quite well
> i think.
> Most of my SL experiences (at least those where i
> log on without already 
> having planned to meet up with someone) are very
> solitary. And that 
> background SL wind just seems to underline the eerie
> ghostly experience 
> even more. Of course sometimes being alone is a
> blessing, for example 
> when you're getting changed and trying on new
> clothes (since i don't 
> have my own residence to go to), or when you've
> accidentally detached 
> all of your clothes and you're wandering around
> naked desperately 
> looking for something in your inventory to put on
> ...
> Even when you are in places with other avatars
> (shops for example) it 
> can still be a strangely solitary experience - other
> avatars often 
> completely ignore you or walk right through you
> (that's when they don't 
> proposition you .. or put you in a cage of course ;)
> kathy
> Turbulence wrote:
> > Hi Kathy,
> >
> > Thanks for this delightful post. I completely
> agree.
> >
> > I've been blogging about Second Life on
> networked_performance since 2004,
> > and our organization has commissioned some
> wonderful SL projects (including
> > the Ars Virtua residency program); however, I
> visit SL very sporadically. I
> > tend, then, to have to re-learn everything each
> time I return. I'm
> > constantly running into things and often talk to
> people with my back to
> > them. It's very awkward and somewhat frustrating.
> I also get very flustered
> > when people ask me where I'm from; initially, I
> wondered why on earth ask
> > the question because the answer will most likely
> be fiction. But, apparently
> > people DO want to know ones actual geographic
> location and tend to accept
> > what you tell them as fact.
> >
> > There are other things that don't make sense to
> me, for instance, why make
> > it so difficult to walk through things? Being
> forced to walk along a
> > designated path seems odd when one can easily fly.
> >
> > And to those who hate all of the empty space: I
> have to say I find it very
> > therapeutic. I love flying around with only the
> sound of the wind to
> > accompany me.
> >
> > Regards,
> > Jo
> >
> > Jo-Anne Green, Co-Director
> > New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc.:
> > New York: 917.548.7780 . Boston: 617.522.3856
> > Turbulence:
> > Networked_Performance Blog:
> > Networked_Music_Review:
> > Upgrade! Boston: 
> > New American Radio:
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
> >
> >
> >   
> -- 
> Lecturer, Digital Cultures Program
> S316, John Woolley Building A20
> University of Sydney
> phone: + 61 2 93514721
> mobile: 0411 474 551
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

Stephan Doesinger
Kaiserstr. 44
D-80801 München

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