Interactive Urban Installations in Contested Virtual Spaces


Session Title:

  • Belfast Panels

Presentation Title:

  • Interactive Urban Installations in Contested Virtual Spaces




  • Panel Statement

    This panel discussion and urban exhibition project brings together three multi-user virtual environment projects, developed by members of the Situations and Collaborations between Second Life and Consensual Landscapes and Scenarios project team at the University of Salford and Liverpool John Moores University, within a site-specific Second Life environment designed and constructed for presentation in Belfast at ISEA2009. The installation exhibition touches on a number of the conference themes, specifically ‘interactive storytelling and memory building in post-conflict society’ and ‘citizenship and contested spaces’. The facade of the of the Belfast Waterfront building has been identified as the proposed urban projection screen, which forms the central focus of the installation and immediately references the city of Belfast and its painted murals that depict the recent social history. The project could equally be projected onto the end of many of these rows of terraced houses.

    Each of the three projects presented will be housed in a Second Life space that represents the virtual exhibition of contested space. The projects will deal with ironies and stereotypes in multi-user virtual environments such as border control, cultural identity, gender roles, digital consumption and virtual desire. Each project will also utilise alternative interactive functionality and techniques that will allow the participants to interact and direct projects by their presence and movements in the space immediately in front of the projection screen.

    If media art in the 1990’s was characterized by interaction, an increasing use of public platforms in both Urban and virtual contexts now positions media art work as an increasingly social and communicative act(ion). In this panel discussion the participating artists will investigate how the experience of tactility and physical experience makes both participants and the artists more vulnerable, yet also offers altered ways or generating affective experiences. This discourse will include the participants theoretical standpoint and creative practice such as Paul Sermon’s exposure of an identity paradox in Second Life, Charlotte Gould’s alternative aesthetic that questions the predominance of digital realism in multi user virtual environments and Peter Appleton’s exploration of poetic and gestural resonances which could contribute to the experience of emotion in virtual spaces.

    This panel discussion and Second Life installation will reflect on the surroundings of Belfast and will draw inspiration from the local history and community. Reliant on both user interaction and input; the audience will form an integral part of this project that aims to transcend borders and boundaries of culture and gender as interactive storytelling and memory building in post-conflict society.

    1. Paul Sermon (convener) – Peace Games
    2. Peter Appleton – In the Gloaming, in the Gloaming
    3. Charlotte Gould – Ludic Second Life Narrative