Debate @ Media Art Café Berlijn, Enschede , NL
June 12 > 15:00 – 17:00 hrs CEST ( = SL 4 am- 6 am PDT)
Our life and our relations are increasingly influenced by online social networks and virtual environments. In particular, multi-user virtual worlds like Second Life, World of Warcraft and Half Life are starting to occupy an increasingly dominant part of many people’s lives, but actually maintaining a second life parallel to their so-called real life is still reserved for the few.As a consequence, the media and public imagination harbor a number of misconceptions about how the use of virtual worlds might impact our lives as well as an often stereotypical portrayal of why someone might choose to live parts of their lives in a computer-mediated environment.
What is it really that makes some people spend hours daily in a virtual world? What are the conditions for finding virtual worlds rewarding and enjoyable? What kinds of experiences motivate people to live a second life? Is it about experimenting with that which is physically or ethically forbidden in their normal life, to play around, to meet others, to do business, or collaborative scientific or artistic work? What is the effect of a virtual life on the real, and the other way around? Will the popularity of virtual worlds increase further in the future?
We will explore such questions in the form of a panel, with 5 people around the table who have experience with Second Life as scientist, artist, philosopher, computer technologist or educator. The panelists will introduce themselves by showing different examples. Then the moderated discussion will start, with the opportunity for the audience to comment, ask questions or share (or even show) their own experiences.
Piet Hut is Professor of Astrophysics and Interdisciplinary Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, USA. His work in astrophysics is focused mainly on stellar dynamics. He founded a virtual institute, MICA, the Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics, with a presence in the virtual worlds of Qwaq Forums, Second Life, and OpenSim. MICA is unique in being the first grass roots organization of professional scientists in Second Life. Current MICA activities include: professional journal club talks; popular astrophysics talks by professional astrophysicists for the general public; daily “coffee-time” gatherings where professional and amateur astronomers mingle; and lab-like experiments with OpenSim, where the physics engine is used to let stars fall to each other, rather than to the ground.
Anton Eliëns is coordinator of multimedia @ VU University Amsterdam and involved in setting up the Creative Technology curriculum where he leads the New Media track. His current activities focus on the application of game technology in serious applications and the development of serious games for education and business training.
Johnny Hartz Søraker is a PhD Research Fellow at the Department of Philosophy, University of Twente. Currently, he is doing research on the philosophy and ethics of virtual worlds as part of an International research group on “Evaluating the Cultural Quality of New Media”. He received his MA degree (Cand. Philol.) in Philosophy from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, then working on philosophy of mind and AI. Since then he has published and lectured extensively on philosophy of technology, philosophy and ethics of virtual worlds in particular.
Viola van Alphen is Multi Media Artist, Curator, Organiser, Business Consultant, Nerd and Managing director of the yearly festival GOGBOT (Art, Media, Technology, Music) and PLANETART, organization for the multi media art that organizes festivals and innovative cross media presentations. During Transmediale Berlin, international festival for Digital Culture, several international artists (i.e. the Australian bionic performance artists Stelarc) chose to participate choosing the medium of Second Life. Art is not only about showing beautiful pictures and crafts, but about philosophy, criticism, hacking and innovation. The past is a kind of future already happened…
Zsófia Ruttkay as a mathematician and computer scientist has been working in Artificial Intelligence, recently on creating engaging communicative behaviour for Virtual Humans. She has been fascinated by the new interaction, communication and expression forms the computer technology is offering – in her view giving rise to a new ideal of the Renaissance Man in the 21st century. She has been the driving person for the design and development of the new, interdisciplinary education Creative Technology at UT.