Second Life is an environment of unusual creativity and self
expression. But the ability for limitless content creation alone is
not the reason for the boom in Second Life’s creative class.
A trip to
Dancing Ink Productions' "The Imagination Age" island revealed that, for many Second Life residents, the
true beauty of art comes when it merges with purpose in engaging and
often unexpected ways.
Pixels and Policy looks at the skillful
blending of work and art at The Imagination Age, and opted to explore
the trend further.
A Virtual Office and Art Room
The Imagination Age constitutes not only the
Second Life presence of Dancing Ink Productions, but a bold new idea on
how to do business in the Metaverse. Meetings with and presentations to
real-world groups are often conducted only a few steps from soaring
mountain peaks and hundred-food statues of Buddha.
The sound of
running water emanates from a grotto designed both as a space for quiet
contemplation and as a housing for Dancing Ink’s philosophical model,
the Johari window.
The Imagination Age isolates nothing. It is a realm where conference
areas sit next to glistening time machines, and avant-garde art
installations serve to explain the philosophy of the organization.
Using Art to Explain Business
first thing one perceives when visiting The Imagination Age is the
sheer amount of truly beautiful art installations spread across the
island. It would be a mistake to regard The Imagination Age as merely
an upscale virtual art gallery, though, as each piece was commissioned
by outside parties and serves as a unique way of looking at the
evolution of human consciousness, creativity, and collaboration.
of the installations are interactive. They ask users to reflect on how
their interaction is changing the artistic experience with each piece,
to consider how the user’s perception of the art changes as the
installation responds to their presence.
One piece in
particular displays the collaborative potential of human creativity.
The “Flickr Gettr II” is a tower of light surrounded by pulsing purple
squares, beautiful enough in itself, but when the user enters a word
into the Flickr Gettr, its purple squares transform into a collage of
photographs related to the submitted word.
piece, created by Mencius Watts and Taggert Alsop, is a beautiful way
to display photos from Flickr, and the Flickr Gettr invites one to
think about how these photos are floating about in an open space,
placed in the ether of the virtual world by millions of collaborative
minds unknown to each other.
As art alone, the Flickr Gettr deserves
accolades, but its true charm comes from showing through user
participation the kind of thinking Dancing Ink Productions tries to
There are other examples. The U.K.-based group PROBOSCIS
commissioned the creation of 27 “STORYCUBES,” interactive blocks that
allow everyone who interacts with them to add parts to a community
story. The cubes span the physical and virtual worlds, in addition to
an “augmented reality cube” that implements webcam technology to
straddle the line between the physical and virtual spheres.
Why the Culture of Collaboration Works
so thought-provoking about the interactive art installations at The
Imagination Age is how effortlessly they prove – without words or
PowerPoint slides – how important and engaging large-scale creative
collaboration can be.
The STORYCUBES project moves beyond the
content creation capabilities of Second Life by bringing interactive
art into the real world. Without a drawn-out lecture on the subject,
Dancing Ink Productions succeeds in acknowledging the creative roles of
both the real and the virtual, and carves out a space for each to
receive equal attention.
As companies move online in ever
greater numbers and employees find their workspace shifting to the
virtual landscape, both companies and employees will be forced to look
at the old models of “doing business” in a new way. Consumers will
expect engagement in addition to marketing, and the interactive art
projects at The Imagination Age invite the user to think and create
while receiving the message of the piece.
As a study of the evolution of understanding and collaboration in a
shared space, these installations provide priceless points of
reference. Dancing Ink can watch users interact with art to fine-tune
future installations and contracted pieces, continually refining and
improving their ability to respond to evolving ideas of what virtual
From the perspective of an individual still
adjusting to the many ways business is transforming in the Metaverse,
The Imagination Age appears to represent what is best about the
possibility of working and creating in virtual space.
Rita J. King’s
philosophical paradise represents a merging of art and work in a way
that redefines both without cheapening either. It aims to build an
entirely new paradigm for collaborative creativity.
The Imagination Age succeeds.