Newseums – museum in Second Life

Posted by jerry on October 22nd, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology, Writing

What does the Newseum, Sistine Chapel and the Sydney Harbour Bridge have in common? They have simulacra in virtual world Second Life. For some the build raises the question of whether real life (RL) museums are a thing of the past. a Washington Post article poses the question:

Are museums in the bone-and-pigment business, reliquaries of the past? Are they in the theater business, telling stories through sensational lighting, presentations like stage sets and costumed interpretive actors? Are museums in the experience business, forced to reach for ever fancier gizmos and blockbusters to compete with the sports world and Disney for family time and money?

Perhaps they are all of these things and more. But then even the RL artworks within medieval or Renaissance religious architecture were about experiencing the virtual. Consider the perspective studies that appear to continue RL architecture into a fresco. Perhaps SL is a little bit like that.

Is it as good as the real thing? It depends on what the real thing is. The lovingly detailed Michaelangelo fresco copy in the virtual Sistine Chapel can be viewed as a real lovingly detailed Michaelangelo fresco copy in a virtual Sistine Chapel, while the one in the RL Sistine chapel is also real – yet partially virtual in virtue of its function as art, and overlaid with centuries of interpretation so that before you see the real one your concept of it is preconfigured before you get there. The difference being that in SL you can fly up to the ceiling for a closer look! The SL one is built here at vassar/165/91/24 (slurl).

The Newseum museum of news offers a parallel build in SL of the one currently being completed in Washington DC USA – or it will if they release it to the public (something they haven’t yet decided upon). So it is a virtual museum in several planes – in RL (still being built); in virtual form (as a build in SL) and in further virtual form (it doesn’t exist yet).

This is precisely the discussion evoked by Magritte’s famous painting: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not a pipe) – because of course it is not a pipe, but a representation of one.

magritte pipe

After that the distinctions just get a bit academic.

Thanks to Archinect for the link.


Comment by John

But it IS a pipe!

Posted on February 17, 2009 at 6:37 am

Comment by Laura

No it isn’t, it’s a painting of a pipe.

Posted on February 27, 2009 at 10:59 am

Comment by Pradeep

No! it is an image of a painting of a pipe. If you disagree I would still agree.

Posted on August 1, 2009 at 11:41 pm

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