#1. Place in Query: Metaverse as a place

Now, the SL Metaverse is stock-full of digital spaces that match Augé’s points! (And that’s also an interesting thing on its own…) So I want to showcase the place that I know best in SL: the Confederation of Democratic Simulators (CDS), one of the oldest communities in SL. The CDS is a political simulation that explores the fact that SL contains territory that has a determinate value and private property. So, the CDS citizens have real stakes: there is a complex, democratically elected government to take decisions that truly affect their interests: private land in the CDS becomes cheaper or dearer… in which areas of the territory can you open your virtual business… and many others. Political discussion can become as fierce as in RL! I also suggest that you visit the CDS in SL, as mere websites cannot possibly convey the complexity of the experience. Many things have happened in almost 20 years, there are epochs in its history (Before/After the Ulrikaquake… etc): so there we have Augé’s three components in the CDS’s virtual space: identity, relationship/community, narrative/history.

The oldest region of the CDS is the Neufreistadt simulator, which was originally modelled as a post-modern aesthetic experiment depicting a Bavarian town in the early 20th century (the concept has obviously evolved somewhat in almost 20 years)… this means that fachwerken coexist in the tiny urban centre with architecture of a more recent language — it’s impossible to miss the huge mass of the MoCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art, which at the moment is one of the oldest buildings in the CDS territory. The MoCA is a very interesting build on its own, and I always liked the tension that it brings to the smaller-scale urban fabric surrounding it.

I am starting a project for the NFS city centre, and this is the core of Query: Metaverse as a Place. In the following posts I will elaborate a bit more on its causes and conditions — for the moment, I’ll just say that its purpose is to very deliberately use the methodologies of architecture project as a means to explore the Query. Now, it’s not that previous work wasn’t methodological! But often there was no time to commit to formally produce results other than the digital object and its communication. This time around, I am committing that all stages will result in production (maybe in not a very regular schedule). And here’s #1: Place.

So, this panel is showing some representative views of the Neufreistadt urban fabric, zooming down to the MoCA surroundings. Left to right, from top left:

  1. A general view of the city centre. Some landmarks can be seen such as Kirche, the Schloss and the Bridge. The Bridge actually was the first building I did for the CDS, right after the Ulrikaquake, when the previous bridge was destroyed. My intention was to make a play with the then-existing Kirche buttress arches, only deliberately using metal instead of stone and a more thread-like expression of those geometries.
  2. The Marktplatz. This is where you arrive when you teleport (TP) in. It is a general hub for the sim, and some 15 years ago you could be sure to TP in and meet people at the Platz, looking forward to greet and have a chat with visitors. Traditional big time community events such as Oktoberfest and Christmas Market take place there. The MoCA is the large-scale build right of centre.
  3. Looking from the city walls to the MoCA. This pic shows well the tension of the different scales. The fachwerken around the MoCA are housing and some small-scale commerce. The MoCA blank façade wall is a particularly fine texture.
  4. The MoCA’s Gordon Matta-Clarke-style entrance in Talenstrasse, showing the current exhibits. It has a somewhat shaky calendar, but I do not believe it was ever empty in almost 20 years. Outside artists and citizens have been featured alike, such as:
  5. CDS citizen Lilith Ivory’s Ghetto Laundrette — a fine depiction of the dread of existence! SL allowed for its scenography to exist, so this is a valid exploration of the virtual medium in artistic creation; likewise for the kinetic works in the other MoCA exhibit, Things that Move.
  6. And finally, 6, the memorial for Kendra Bancroft, one of the CDS founders, who sadly passed away in 2008. Kendra held the total original aesthetical concept for the NFS sim. It is very fitting for the Metaverse as Place that we can remember her by with an installation in the place.

Next post: #2. Site. More results and some thinking aloud about light and sky, mass and void, walking about and the freedom of the camera.