As Second Life’s tenth birthday celebrations get under way, it’s a time for all of us residents to celebrate our cherished virtual home and to stop and take stock of what SL means for us as individuals. No matter how old or young you are in SL years, Second Life means something unique to every single one of us. Whether it’s a place to freely express your creativity, a chance to explore exotic destinations that would be impossible to visit in real life or simply a platform for chat with people from across the world; Second Life remains unrivalled in terms of magical online experiences.
By: Persia Bravin
So this tenth birthday is a good time to reflect. It’s a moment for close personal scrutiny and a bit of honest soul searching about what it is that exactly makes us log in whenever real life allows. The theme of this year’s birthday event is ‘Looking Forward, Looking Back’ and wandering around the numerous sims you can see how the builders and contributors this year have taken that theme and created jaw dropping installations that befit a decade of Second Life.
Of the hundreds of artworks and installations that are on display, perhaps the most profound and thought provoking of all isn’t a gigantic mesh built dazzler, but a small display featuring a bottle laying on its side and some scattered transparent and colourful prims. At first glance, Dizzy Banjo’s ‘Message in a Bottle’ might not invite a closer inspection in the same way that some of the more showy builds do, but then, looks can be deceiving.
As a long term resident of Second Life, Dizzy Banjo has been creating sound based installations for years. Five years ago, he created the first ‘Message in a Bottle’ exhibit at SL5B and invited residents to send him their voice recordings of what SL meant for them. In 2013, he’s replicated that project again and merged voice clips from residents past and future. As you walk into the bottle, the light changes and you are completely surrounded in darkness. Out of the gloom, ethereal voices whisper their individual and very personal messages and the whole exhibit is deeply moving – and strangely – emotionally reassuring.
In his real life, Dizzy Banjo is Robert Thomas; a London based interactive music composer and someone who found his current employment all thanks to his Second Life work. He has a lot emotionally invested in SL and this build reinforces the fact that so many of us also have a real emotional connection to this virtual world. As you stand and listen to the voices speak their personal messages, the one uniting factor is that each person who lent their feelings and voice as part of this project has a deep and very real fondness for SL, and I defy any visitor to this installation not to be somehow moved by its intensity.
What Dizzy has managed to capture here with this build is the very DNA of Second Life itself: simple prims and people. Everything that has ever been created inworld over the last decade is based on those two basic things. As technology has advanced, as new innovations have hit the grid and as we become more and more familiar with an ever expanding array of SL techy tools, it can be easy to forget that in essence, Second Life is made of people and prims. Those two elements are the building blocks of Second Life – and always will be.