Re: [-empyre-] [Missive 6] Alterity and dystopia in SL - a response to Dissidents in SL

Thanks, Patrick, for your long and complex reflection on SL dystopia. Although I myself am not a SL participant, I've learned a lot from this month's active discussion. Even though I remain very suspicious of the corporatist ethos underlying SL (and myself lack patience for the meta/meta displacements necessary for active participation in SL--I've just never found myself wanting to speak via avatars...), your post clearly suggests that the paradox of activism within SL is not that different from the paradox, say, of activism within the academy or museum and art worlds which themselves flourish on the economic model of corporatist culture. Such activism derives from and feeds on the rhizomatic slices of critical activity that develop within the fibres and pores of mainstream cultural production.

When Arthur and Marilouse Kroker and I were actively developing political new media projects for CTHEORY Multimidia (, for instance, we too depended on the corporatist infrastructure of my well-endowed University to launch and maintain issues of socio-political critique and praxis whose aim was to highlight cultural structures of alterity and dystopia ("Tech Flesh: The Promise and Perils of the Human Genome Project," "Wired Ruins: Digital Terror and Ethnic Paranoia," "NetNoise," etc.). The problem we face(d), however, was the difficulty of extending the reach of our project beyond the well received tenacles of CTHEORY (whose audience, although much larger, probably come close to mirroring the profile of -empyre- participants).

So I'm now wondering about how those of us invested in curatorial practice might develop better strategies to make these works more readily accessible to audiences who wouldn't be inclined to invest energy in mining SL or mining the few sites dedicated to, such Ctm, Turbulence,, or

Is there a model for this being developed in Second Life or does activist artwork just take place kind of on the margins?

Thanks for your thoughtful contributions.

Timothy Murray
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
Director of Graduate Studies in Film and Video
Curator, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell Library
285 Goldwin Smith Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York  14853

office: 607-255-4086

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