Towering art gets Second Life

Creators of Babelswarm (l-r) Adam Nash, Justin Clemens and Christopher Dobbs launch their virtual artwork at Lismore Regional Gallery. Right: Babelswarm in action.

So you think art is something that hangs on the wall, do you? Or sits in the corner where dinner guests can admire it?

Wrong. Welcome to the 21st century.

Babelswarm is an interdisciplinary artwork that resides in Second Life, an internet-based virtual world. The artwork combines the possibilities of literary, musical and aural art within the virtual world.

Clear? No?

Lets ask one of the creators of Babelswarm, Justine Clemens, who was at the opening of the virtual artwork at Lismore Regional Gallery last Friday, to describe his creation.

Well, we bought an island in Second Life. We shaped the island we dug a huge hole. We turned our island into a barren land with a gigantic pit, Justin said, sipping his red wine.

So when you visit the island (via the computer) you can speak or type in some words and then those words drop from the sky into the pit. The letters separate as they hit the pile of dead letters. They try to find the other letters in their word for a while then they die and join all the other dead letters.

These dead letters create a tower reaching to the sky, like the Biblical tower of Babel.

So thats it?

Oh, sometimes you can see fractions of words that form in the tower just through happenstance, Justin said. And wandered off for more wine.

Adam Nash, Christopher Dobbs and Justin received the first ever Australia Council grant to work within Second Life. They got $20,000 for their artistic pioneering.

You can check out Babelswarm at the Lismore Regional Gallery until April 23.

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