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Virtual worlds

Virtual worlds are synchronous, persistent network of people interacting in a physically coherent spatial environment, represented as avatars, facilitated by networked computers.

  • Synchronous communication permits real-time sharing of information or objects, and introduces temporality as a common thread in the community’s experience of that space. When applied to Mixed Reality, the temporal framework can be construed as organizing “physical and virtual space in personal, asynchronous time and physical and virtual space in group oriented, synchronous time.” ⁠
  • Persistence attests to the system’s transcendent autonomy beyond any one user; the space, avatars and objects that occupy that space continue to exist regardless of the presence or absence of its users. Like a physical world public space, the systems in and of the space (environment, ecology, economy) exist, “cannot be paused.”⁠
  • Avatars are the spatial embodiment of virtual world network participants. They are, in fact, more than a simple digital representation endowed with movement and voice, and have three composing elements : an agent, the client’s presence within a simulator; an avatar, the visual representation of an agent; and a camera, through which an agent sees the world.

These 3 elements permit me to simultaneously perceive, interact and communicate in spatial, natural and social environments. But taken together, these otherwise local, simple and omni-functioning elements have one essential, global ambition: to represent Me, and to make tangible my point of view. It is thanks to the fundamental engagement between agent (individual) and simulator (context), that I exist.

The body in a virtual world is the result of the tension between the individual agent and the world’s simulator; where, if we substitute the term simulator (or sim) with territory, then “I” am defined by the tension between the sensory limits of my virtual world agent and the territories that I occupy at any given moment. My agent becomes both my reactive and receptive nervous system to capture external stimuli, and my connection to the consensual, communal spaces of this virtual territory.

  • Networked Computation : Virtual worlds can be characterized by how data and communication are facilitated through networked computers”⁠ for the management of data concerning the objects, environments, interactions, and transactions that unfold in persistent 3-dimensional space. These computational capacities also track the conversations, social connections and networks of people allowing them instant communication across national and geographical boundaries and form the memory of that community. It is this territory (via the simulator) that lets me possess the essential cultural capacities of memory (of ideas and things, shared and individual), media (think, make and do; ideas, material, action) and space (personnel and public).

The tension between these elements, the divine and the material, the image and the real, that both inhabit the body, give rise to the rituals, codes, artistic and spatial expressions that permeate and define a culture.



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