Not Quite Abandoned Worlds between Chaos and Death

Under the surface there are numbers
Under the surface there are numbers

Is Second Life as dead as disco? what about opera?

After mainstream media has stopped paying attention and after it has become public domain knowledge that real life wealth can be as imaginary as anything, business opportunities seem to be rare the most open of 3D digital worlds: Gambling has been banned a long time ago, sex is about to be banned too and the real estate bubble has burst before it did in american suburbs. Like in other abandoned spaces, interesting things seem to happen after the gold rushers (artists, pimps, wannabe real estate agents, etc.) have left.

A while ago I got to see a 5 minute clip made with Second Life that will be part of Johanna Dombois‘ production of Richard Wagner’s Opera cycle “Der Ring”. It’s the very beginning of the cycle, that starts on the ground of the Rhine river. My expectation was low, but it was well thought through, beautiful and made perfect sense.

Dombois pointed out that the synthetic world of second life represents the idea that Wotan creates a world that develops beyond his control. I liked that the clip contains visualizations of behind the scene statistics of SL and even scrolling code of DOS/Windows startup screen. All of that is well timed with the music, which is extremely pleasurable and amusing at the same time, because one imagines how the audience will be put in a state of uncertainty wether they are seeing the production or wether something went wrong. The clip is a good example of using contemporary imagery and experience for story telling. After all a good part of our daily experience happens inside of synthetic world (sometimes with cool, most of the time with poor graphics). That the ring story is based on old tales that got recycled into high culture and became so loaded with pathos and tons of associations, including the Bayreuth soap opera, that one is almost disgusted picking it up, even adds to it. I want to see the whole thing!