A virtual/physical artwork examining the underlying technological frameworks that comprise today's shared virtual environments.
Deconstructed Metaverse is a new media art installation that creatively dissects the fundamental digital systems, network infrastructures and ubiquitous technologies surrounding the current generation of 3D shared virtual environments like the commercial platform Second Life and its open source equivalent OpenSimulator. The work is an artistic play on the concept of a 'system on a chip', and consists of a seemingly boundless virtual realm that is wholly contained within a single physical memory die linked to an aesthetic arrangement of micro-computer electronics. This working configuration of hardware and software components constitutes a functioning server infrastructure that hosts a full 256m2 simulator of publically accessible virtual land connected to OSGrid - the oldest and currently largest grid based upon the OpenSimulator platform.
The artistically dissected 'server' is arranged as a sculptural artefact within a physical gallery space and is displayed alongside digital portals and interactive kiosks that allow visitors to observe and intermix with avatar denizens of the 'living' online world. The virtual realm's modernist aesthetics and structural designs are directly derived from the architecture of the gallery space, thus creating uncanny connections and similarities to its physical counterpart. Conversely, the real world installation is completed by an all-encompassing digital mural consisting of an idealised 360° panoramic snapshot of the actual virtual landscape. However, upon closer inspection, the scenic view reveals itself to be formed from a textual weave of XML data that precisely delineates the atmospherics of the observed scene, and reveals how the basis of all such virtual manifestations are intrinsically generated exclusively from code.
Virtual: 5 September - 30 October 2012, Deconstructed Metaverse, OSGrid: Explore the virtual environment located within the open source metaverse OSGrid by following these simple instructions: DM_virtual-participation-guide_v1.0.
Physical: 5 September - 30 October 2012, Nottingham Playhouse, UK: Visit the physical installation as part of the Dual exhibition at the Nottingham Playhouse.
Drew Baker [ OpenSimulator modelling and programming ] . Erik Fleming [ OpenSimulator development and administration ]
Clare Harris & Jennifer Ross (The Cutting Room) [ curation ] . Emma Puente [ media production ] . Jasper Gilbert & Andy Bartlett (Nottingham Playhouse) [ production ] . David Steele [ consultation ] . David Willey (Type Creative) [ sponsorship ]
Deconstructed Metaverse v1.0 is a 2012 commission by The Cutting Room in partnership with Nottingham Playhouse with funds from National Lottery through Arts Council England and generous support from the Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London and Type Creative, PLC.
Virtual: Windows/Mac computer system with Firestorm Viewer virtual worlds browser and stereo audio. A high-specification CPU/GPU, colour display with ≥1024x768 resolution and high-speed Internet connection are recommended.
Physical: Modular virtual/physical installations using: high-specification computer systems capable of real-time high definition 3D rendering; multi/single channel high definition video systems (screen-based and projection); 2.1 audio systems; and HCI devices for user interaction.