Re: [-empyre-] Lambda Moo vs graphical spaces

a lot of my current performance work is situated in the 2D cyberformance environment UpStage, which is not a virtual world, it's an online "stage"; frequently when i'm explaining it to people, they start talking about SL and ask why i don't perform there (usually they haven't experienced SL themselves, only read about it). one friend recently suggested that i should put UpStage "into" SL. when i explain the differences (which are many) the next question often is do i think UpStage is "better" than SL ... obviously it's not better or worse, just very different.

UpStage is based a lot on concepts from The Palace, in combination with video conferencing & text chat; i find the simplicity of such environments liberating & so far my recent (limited) experiences in SL have confirmed my initial feelings when checking it out a couple of years ago that it didn't have great appeal for me as a creative environment. however, i'm finding it really interesting to see what artists are doing in SL now, & having this discussion. it's great to see the breadth of digital/virtual mediums that are evolving - & also to acknowledge the forebears such as MOOs & Palace (& other earlier networked environments). yay for desktop theater : )

i only managed to join a very short bit of the field recordings performance in SL yesterday & found it interesting; but i was expecting there to be some sort of visual component as well (i suppose because it was taking place in an audiovisual environment ... ). it was a bit like being at a mass meditation, with everyone sitting around silently. things greatly improved after i learned how to turn the audio on ; ) yes i am still a newbie! i also discovered the out-of-body experience, moving my perspective further away from my avatar, & even looking at my avatar's face - which connects back to someone else's post about why have avatars at all. why indeed ... i found myself multitasking while listening to the soundscape, & wondering what was the advantage of presenting something like this in SL rather than an audio webcast which would be more accessible ... i'm curious as to where the sounds were gathered from - with SL or outside? and how much of the mixing was done live, how much prerecorded?

btw - re not being able to walk thru walls, has anyone else ever walked thru/into the ground - sinking into a subterranean virtual solidity? this happened to me several times last year, haven't noticed it recently so maybe it was a bug that's been fixed.

h : )

I think arguments about which virtual worlds are 'better' or 'worse' is a bit of a waste of energy and misses the point. It is clear that different virtual spaces have very different affordances and constraints and I think that is a more productive discussion and way of analysing different virtual spaces. What can we do in these different spaces? What are their unique affordances? And constraints?

In many ways the text-based space of LambdaMoo provided a greater level of freedom than virtual worlds like Second Life-in LambdaMoo your visual identity and your actions were only limited by your imagination (and your powers of textual description!) In SL, avatars and their actions are now represented visually, a powerful new affordance but one which also has its own constraints as we are now limited by what it is possible for us to visually represent within the technical constraints of the SL environment.
The distinctive characteristics and aesthetics of different virtual spaces are defined as much by their constraints as their affordances and for me the most interesting artists are those that are exploring these space-specific aesthetics.

One of my favourite online performances was Desktop Theater's (Adriene Jenik and Lisa Brenneis) virtual version of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot in The Palace ( way back in 1997. The performance exploited the aesthetic and technical constraints of The Palace environment. The main characters were played by 2D smiley faces (the default avatars for guests in The Palace) and the simplistic smiley face avatars with their limited range of colours and expressions underlined the emotional emptiness and inarticulateness of the characters they represented. The lag between responses as performers typed in their lines of dialogue also echoed the play's theme of waiting and created moments of poetic pathos and quirky humour. A wonderful work - documentaion as availaber at:


helen varley jamieson: creative catalyst

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