[iDC] Anyone using SL

Lynn Hershman lynn2 at well.com
Thu Jan 7 14:42:03 UTC 2010

I appreciate hearing about these iimportant projects.  Yet another  
chime, in that I wanted to re iterate this SL project and re- 
performance of Roberta and The Dante Hotel in 2006 , when there were  
about 75,000 SL members.  It still is performed continually as an  
installation: 2007 at the Museum of Fine Arts Montreal, 2009  at SF  
MOMA  2010 at S.F. Cameraworks.  Each time it is different, but  
mostly uses web cams to create a live exposure, and multiple viral  
ized avatars to underscore the blur.
Below are some thoughts about creating the first conceptual  
architecture for this work:

Second Thoughts on Second Life and Life Squared

The Life Squared project sprung out of the desire to reanimate my  
archive, located in the Special Collections Library at Stanford  
University, using Second Life.   I wanted to extend my archive into  
digital, accessible space, and worked with the Stanford Humanities  
Lab to achieve this goal.

There are profound philosophical implications to working within the  
territory of an animated social network that relies on a fictional  
history as its spine.

Among the ideas generated by this project was the fact that nothing  
is ever lost, it simply transforms to a new and perhaps more relevant  
form, enabling renewed interpretations.  What does life extension  
mean in this world that defies gravity?  Can/should avatars die?   
When I lost my avatar named Ssofft, I felt a profound sense of loss,  
similar to a death.  When she later revived, I was deeply relieved.   
I had embedded in her a unique experience and I was not ready to have  
her disappear. By putting the archive of my work in Second Life, I  
was able to transcend the original essence of the piece into a new,  
hybrid interactive and participatory structure. Converting the  
archive into a digital format of hybrid genre allows users of the  
content to dynamically revisit the past while simultaneously  
expanding the audience for this material.

For this exhibition (‘SFMOMA’), we created virtual replica rooms ‘in  
Second Life’  of every installation participating in the distributed  
network exhibition plus we included The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts,  
where the Life Squared installation originated in September of 2007.  
The following are thoughts that were written by a team of individuals  
working on this project at the Stanford Humanities Lab.  The other  
participants were Michael Shanks, Henry Lowood, Jeffrey Shanks,  
Henrik Bennetson, Henry Seligsman and Jeff Aldrich.

Implementing the technologies of online game communities and  
pervasive media will instigate a hybrid genre. Archives derived from  
past materials, but digitally relocated, become the content for a  
"meta-archive” that will facilitate deeper analysis, investigation  
and exploration of the original work. Using emerging and pervasive  
technology as part of the structure will be a pioneering method of  
engaging the archaeology of space, the plasticity of time and the  
multi-layered interpretations of embedded artifacts.

The Dante Hotel is an archaeological space through which people pass,  
leaving clues about their identities. As Lynn put it in an interview  
about the Dante Hotel project, "once someone has occupied a hotel  
room, we can find out who they were by what they've left behind."

So the project aims at nothing less than converting the archive into  
wholly new works that are created in a mixed reality architecture and  
environment. This means reshaping the archival experience as active,  
fragmented, exploratory, and personal.

The Dante Hotel* Part 1  1973 and Part 2  2006

San Francisco, California
June 2006 – ? (infinite, if possible)

The original Dante Hotel project began in 1972, as a collaboration  
with Eleanor Coppola.  Hershman and Coppola rented rooms in a rundown  
hotel located in the Italian neighborhood of San Francisco. The  
artists installed objects in the room, creating one of the first  
public art installations outside of a traditional gallery space in  
the United States. Hershman's room presented traces of a life -  
fragments or clues to an identity but also set specifically in the  
site. The work provided a strategic jumping off point in several  
respects: it opened themes that would continue as threads through  
Hershman's life as an artist; it began a life chronology reflected  
both in biography and the Stanford archives; it occupied a historical  
space in a specific time, which can be explored through historical  
and archaeological methods; and it reconfigured a public space as  
artistic space in ways that were stealthy and ambiguous.

The recent version of The Dante Hotel is an investigation of a  
simulated hotel room, in real life, in real time, that examines the  
context of its own location. It is set inside the user’s social space  
of Second Life.

Hershman’s statement for the Second Life project incorporates the  
following description:

  A new “bot” character will be created:

1) to use innovative technologies to investigate archives and develop  
new digital models for introducing new forms of active engagement  
with them

2) to create a new context for the investigation of contemporary art

3) to expand the audience for archives and contemporary art

4) to instigate a hybrid genre through which to rework cultural archives

In the 1972 version of The Dante Hotel, visitors would enter the  
Dante building, sign in at the desk, and receive keys to the rooms.  
Residents of this transient hotel became "curators" of the  
exhibition. The room, number forty-seven, re-created the ambience of  
presumed former inhabitants’ stay based on materials gathered from  
the neighborhood, including books, eyeglasses, cosmetics, and  
clothing, all clues to their possible identity. A radio broadcast of  
local news in counterpoint to the sound of audiotaped breathing was  
installed under the bed. Pink and yellow light bulbs draped shadows  
over two life-sized wax cast women in bed. Above them was wallpaper  
made of repeated photographs of the room itself.  The presence of  
these repeated photographs lends itself to the idea of replicated  
digital imagery that is available to be cloned and reused by Second  
Life’ visitors.

In Life Squared, visitors enter the hotel when they click on a blue  
box that signs them into the project, and then click on a red box  
that gives them a key to open the hotel door.  The space is a remix  
now of original photographs, from the archive of The Dante Hotel,  
with virtual avatars trespassing, changing things and leaving their  
trail.  Instead of a desk clerk, there is a “bot” guide named Dante,  
who guides visitors to the room.   Further details can be found by  
visiting the link to the Stanford Humanities Lab Site: http:// 

In the original Dante Hotel piece, Eleanor Coppola kept her room open  
for one week. Coppola hired a friend, Tony Dingman, to live in the  
private space of room forty-three and be available to be watched  
whenever visitors came to the exhibit. Polaroid shots of the objects  
in the room and the subtle changes made through time were taped to  
the wall.

My room was intended to stay open permanently, twenty-four hours a  
day, gathering dust and being perpetually reconstructed by the flux  
and changes that occurred naturally through viewers’ interaction. The  
Second Life experience is basically the same, but reframed to the  
installation space of a screen.

The floor of the Second Life building is designed on top of the  
actual floor plan retrieved from City Hall, an apt ground work for  
the piece.

In 1973, nine months after our rooms opened to the public, a man  
named Owen Moore visited the rooms at 3:00 a.m. Viewing the room in  
the dead of night, he thought the wax bodies were corpses and phoned  
the police. The authorities took all the elements— including the wax  
cast heads—to central headquarters (an apt name, in this case) where  
they still remain to be claimed, an apt closure to the piece.  I have  
written to the police station to find the remains.  The remains of  
the Second Life piece will be determined by the stability of the  

Hundreds of people visited The Dante Hotel, checked in at the desk  
and received a key to trespass the room at will. In fact, The San  
Francisco Chronicle ranked it one of the Ten Most Important Art  
Exhibitions in 1972, just after Watercolors by John Marin at the  
Palace of Fine Arts.  Lets hope hundreds of thousands of people  
trespass L2. But can you call it that, since trespassing is part of  
the instigating idea of the piece?

Second Life is owned by Linden Labs, which is located less than a  
mile from the Dante hotel.    Henrik Bennetson, the Project Director  
for this project rode past the hotel daily and took photographs of  
what it has become.

The Dante Hotel was among the first site-specific art works in the  
United States. In fact, the term “site-specific” for this genre of  
art did not yet exist. Like Duchamp's ideas of readymades, The Dante  
Hotel functioned as a "found environment”. The Dante Hotel became one  
of the first “alternative spaces” or “public site-specific art”  
artwork produced in the United States.

NOTE: The project was conceived in 1971, during my exhibition in the  
University Art Museum in Berkeley where I simulated the space of a  
hotel room.  I used found materials, (including blood and sheets) as  
well as wax figures and audio tapes.  The museum would have preferred  
an exhibition of delicate pencil drawings. When I refused to exchange  
the drawings for the installation, the curators prematurely closed my  
exhibit, saying that "audio tapes" were media, (with a small ‘m’),  
not art, and should not be shown in an Art Museum.  I realized that  
instead of bringing the hotel room to the museum, it might be more  
appropriate to bring the museum exhibition to a real hotel room.

  Note: Portions of this text were drawn from an outline written by  
Michael Shanks, Henry Lowood and myself as we were planning for this  

On Jan 6, 2010, at 8:23 AM, Alan Sondheim wrote:

> Just to chime in here - I've worked in SL for several years now;  
> this has
> included an installation in the artists space Odyssey. You can find  
> out
> more about Odyssey at http://odysseyart.ning.com/ which is a fairly  
> active
> site. I've written extensively on virtuality - this was gathered by a
> small theory-oriented press - The Accidental Artist: Fort/Da -
> http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/the-accidental-artist/ 
> 4965130
> http://stores.lulu.com/publicdomaininc . SL provides an incredibly  
> supple
> environment for art-making (including choreography, installation,  
> perform-
> ance, etc.). There are two main cultural uses that should be mentioned
> here - sex, which is rampant (and the programming is highly- 
> creative; I've
> never understood why it's not considered an artform), and  
> 'standard' two-
> and three-dimensional artworks which are in a great number of  
> galleries
> all over SL. I'm surprised that Gazira Babeli's work hasn't been  
> mentioned
> - s/he's one of the most astute artists I've seen in any world,  
> creating
> performances/objects/installations that do things with great  
> 'somatic' and
> theoretical import.
> - Alan
> ==
> email archive: http://sondheim.rupamsunyata.org/
> webpage http://www.alansondheim.org sondheimat gmail.com, panix.com
> ==
> _______________________________________________
> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity  
> (distributedcreativity.org)
> iDC at mailman.thing.net
> https://mailman.thing.net/mailman/listinfo/idc
> List Archive:
> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
> iDC Photo Stream:
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/idcnetwork/
> RSS feed:
> http://rss.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc
> iDC Chat on Facebook:
> http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2457237647
> Share relevant URLs on Del.icio.us by adding the tag iDCref

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/attachments/20100107/84d7b556/attachment-0001.htm 

More information about the iDC mailing list