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Second Chances: Depictions of “Nature” in Second Life joseph clark florida state university november 2008
Second Life? <ul><li>Utopian/dystopian fantasies </li></ul><ul><li>Real enough for suspension of disbelief </li></ul><ul><...
Virtual Worlds? <ul><li>Liminal spaces, real experiences </li></ul><ul><li>“ One phenomenal body” (Stewart & Nicholls, 200...
But it’s not  real . <ul><li>Virtual Tourism adds recreational element -> motivation -> a vehicle for change (after Turkle...
Limitations: Light and Vision <ul><li>Moving from Maya to Empiricism </li></ul><ul><li>Observation as Dominance (Patin, 19...
Touristic Hyperrealism, Pre-Computer
The Grand Tour: <ul><li>Nonessential travel as edification </li></ul><ul><li>Reconnection with nature, “The Wild”, the Sub...
Retro VR: English Gardens <ul><li>An “improved” version of Nature </li></ul><ul><li>A recollection of GT experiences </li>...
National(ist) Parks (Patin, 1992) A frame that comprises “the discourses of tourism, nationalism, romanticism, expansionis...
Thus Nature  Idealized, Hedonized, Commoditized <ul><li>Hovardas & Stamou (2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Turnhout, et al (2004) ...
And the Virtual, made Virtuous? <ul><li>Engaging effects of virtual tours (Utterson, 2003; Book, 2003) </li></ul><ul><li>A...
Or More Villainous? <ul><li>Sea World: </li></ul><ul><li>corporate </li></ul><ul><li>fantasy </li></ul><ul><li>veneer of c...
Machiavellian Museums? <ul><li>Mitman (1996) on the obsession with visual recreations of nature in museums, backgrounding ...
Nature in Computer Games <ul><li>Opel & Smith (2004) </li></ul><ul><li>decontextualized animals </li></ul><ul><li>commodit...
So: <ul><li>Do representations of Nature in SL reproduce hegemonic anthropocentric/ consumerist/ hedonistic notions? </li>...
Emergent Types: <ul><li>Pastoral Idylls more than Wilderness (Turnout, 2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Tropical Islands (Book, 200...
A Note on SL Biophysics <ul><li>Rain slakes no thirst </li></ul><ul><li>Wind and gravity, but no currents or tides </li></...
Nature Objects <ul><li>Large default library of plant life </li></ul><ul><li>Linden Plants a special category of prim </li...
Plant library
Splash aquatics store
Splash aquatics store
Splash aquatics store
Bora Bora atoll
Bora Bora atoll
Bora Bora atoll
Chi’s pond life
Chi’s pond life
Chi’s surf beach
Chi’s aquarium
Click here for disaster
Click here for disaster
Click here for disaster
Click here for disaster
Dams without damage
Dams without damage
Realistic reefs
Realistic reefs
Realistic reefs?
Realistic reefs?
Realistic reefs?
Realistic reefs
Cf. Capability Brown’s work at Blenheim Palace
waterfalls
and falls
and falls … from no basin
in fact, it’s just the basement
fishing for profit
fishing for profit
fishing for profit
fishing for profit
fishing for profit
fishing for profit?
sinkhole model
“ biocultural resources”
“ biocultural resources”
Center for Water Studies
ANWR
Calleta Infohub
Calleta Infohub
Conclusions <ul><li>SL Nature: For human use or edification </li></ul><ul><li>Can preserve, yet trivialize the voiceless (...
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Depictions of "Nature" in Second Life

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Depictions of "Nature" in Second Life

  1. 1. Second Chances: Depictions of “Nature” in Second Life joseph clark florida state university november 2008
  2. 2. Second Life? <ul><li>Utopian/dystopian fantasies </li></ul><ul><li>Real enough for suspension of disbelief </li></ul><ul><li>User-generated content </li></ul>
  3. 3. Virtual Worlds? <ul><li>Liminal spaces, real experiences </li></ul><ul><li>“ One phenomenal body” (Stewart & Nicholls, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Key idea: only one of many virtualities in our lives </li></ul>
  4. 4. But it’s not real . <ul><li>Virtual Tourism adds recreational element -> motivation -> a vehicle for change (after Turkle) </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual experiences can in fact “facilitate an enhanced and more authentic relationship with actuality” (Stewart & Nichols). </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual spaces “encourage movement, exploration, and engagement even as they promote escape” (Book) </li></ul><ul><li>Even “real” parks, preserves, forests are constructed, filtered, thus “virtual” (Patin) </li></ul><ul><li>Science itself is an abstraction, thus virtual </li></ul><ul><li>“ Virtual” = “not actual”? or “indistinguishable from”? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Limitations: Light and Vision <ul><li>Moving from Maya to Empiricism </li></ul><ul><li>Observation as Dominance (Patin, 1999) </li></ul><ul><li>Tourists gazing on The Other (Urry, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>...but visual valorization perhaps only a temporary phenomenon (Book, 2003) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Touristic Hyperrealism, Pre-Computer
  7. 7. The Grand Tour: <ul><li>Nonessential travel as edification </li></ul><ul><li>Reconnection with nature, “The Wild”, the Sublime (Stewart & Nicholls, 2002) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Retro VR: English Gardens <ul><li>An “improved” version of Nature </li></ul><ul><li>A recollection of GT experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Organized as Views </li></ul><ul><li>Real yet Unreal </li></ul><ul><li>“ Englishness” </li></ul>
  9. 9. National(ist) Parks (Patin, 1992) A frame that comprises “the discourses of tourism, nationalism, romanticism, expansionism, and religion” (DeLuca, 1992)
  10. 10. Thus Nature Idealized, Hedonized, Commoditized <ul><li>Hovardas & Stamou (2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Turnhout, et al (2004) </li></ul>
  11. 11. And the Virtual, made Virtuous? <ul><li>Engaging effects of virtual tours (Utterson, 2003; Book, 2003) </li></ul><ul><li>Attachment to virtual tours (Book, 2003) </li></ul><ul><li>Preservation via virtual tour (Krug, n.d.) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Or More Villainous? <ul><li>Sea World: </li></ul><ul><li>corporate </li></ul><ul><li>fantasy </li></ul><ul><li>veneer of concern </li></ul><ul><li>consumption of images </li></ul><ul><li>anthropocentric visions </li></ul><ul><li>Davis, </li></ul><ul><li>Spectacular Nature , 1997 </li></ul>
  13. 13. Machiavellian Museums? <ul><li>Mitman (1996) on the obsession with visual recreations of nature in museums, backgrounding the human role, reflecting the growing importance of the camera: “an omnipresent and omniscient Being: invisible, yet ever watchful, ready at any moment to intervene and impose divine justice. They had become the divine arbiter, ensuring the police of nature.&quot; </li></ul>
  14. 14. Nature in Computer Games <ul><li>Opel & Smith (2004) </li></ul><ul><li>decontextualized animals </li></ul><ul><li>commodity culture </li></ul><ul><li>animals as customer attractions </li></ul><ul><li>Jones (2006) on SL </li></ul>
  15. 15. So: <ul><li>Do representations of Nature in SL reproduce hegemonic anthropocentric/ consumerist/ hedonistic notions? </li></ul><ul><li>Focused on aquatic environments </li></ul><ul><li>Convenience and snowball sampling (keyword searches, lists and guides, talking with avatars, scanning maps) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Emergent Types: <ul><li>Pastoral Idylls more than Wilderness (Turnout, 2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Tropical Islands (Book, 2003) </li></ul><ul><li>Critical / Ironic </li></ul><ul><li>“ Realistic” / Educational </li></ul><ul><li>“ Stark abyssal plains” (Robertshaw, 2006) </li></ul>
  17. 17. A Note on SL Biophysics <ul><li>Rain slakes no thirst </li></ul><ul><li>Wind and gravity, but no currents or tides </li></ul><ul><li>Night/day rhythms </li></ul><ul><li>Terraforming </li></ul>
  18. 18. Nature Objects <ul><li>Large default library of plant life </li></ul><ul><li>Linden Plants a special category of prim </li></ul><ul><li>The three-prim plant (Honjo, Lim & Meruta 1999) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Plant library
  20. 20. Splash aquatics store
  21. 21. Splash aquatics store
  22. 22. Splash aquatics store
  23. 23. Bora Bora atoll
  24. 24. Bora Bora atoll
  25. 25. Bora Bora atoll
  26. 26. Chi’s pond life
  27. 27. Chi’s pond life
  28. 28. Chi’s surf beach
  29. 29. Chi’s aquarium
  30. 30. Click here for disaster
  31. 31. Click here for disaster
  32. 32. Click here for disaster
  33. 33. Click here for disaster
  34. 34. Dams without damage
  35. 35. Dams without damage
  36. 36. Realistic reefs
  37. 37. Realistic reefs
  38. 38. Realistic reefs?
  39. 39. Realistic reefs?
  40. 40. Realistic reefs?
  41. 41. Realistic reefs
  42. 42. Cf. Capability Brown’s work at Blenheim Palace
  43. 43. waterfalls
  44. 44. and falls
  45. 45. and falls … from no basin
  46. 46. in fact, it’s just the basement
  47. 47. fishing for profit
  48. 48. fishing for profit
  49. 49. fishing for profit
  50. 50. fishing for profit
  51. 51. fishing for profit
  52. 52. fishing for profit?
  53. 53. sinkhole model
  54. 54. “ biocultural resources”
  55. 55. “ biocultural resources”
  56. 56. Center for Water Studies
  57. 57. ANWR
  58. 58. Calleta Infohub
  59. 59. Calleta Infohub
  60. 60. Conclusions <ul><li>SL Nature: For human use or edification </li></ul><ul><li>Can preserve, yet trivialize the voiceless (O'Neill, 2001) or extrahuman (Latour, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Can convince while misleading (Orland, et al, 2001; Lange, 2001) </li></ul><ul><li>Can resist, a la Greenpeace (DeLuca, 1999) </li></ul><ul><li>Future: (auto)ethnographies of builders? </li></ul>

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