The University of Western Australia in Second LifeI have been putting off writing this particular post for far too long. Even as I sit here on the virtual campus of UWA, I am feeling a strange mix of maudlin, grief and longing. This sentence clamours loudly in my mind, “The UWA presence in SL is scheduled to cease the end of July 2017.”(1) Such a little sentence with such huge ramifications.Back in the beginning days of my time in world, I visited university campuses. I must have visited at least 20. Time after time, I wandered campuses that were abandoned and stuck in a time warp from the moment in time they were left behind. UWA was not that. It was vibrant and changing and it was close to home. Proof that Australia was not so countrified and far behind after all.UWA launched itself into Second Life in mid 2009 and quickly became one of the most active universities in world (2). The campus itself is beautifully designed and based on the real life campus of UWA. Over its life span, it has been used for many purposes, both academic and community building. Their contribution to the Art world of Second Life is not to be underestimated. UWA have run many competitions and exhibitions for machinima artists and static artists alike and have been an incredible driving force in the building of an art community.
I was delighted to find them, but about a month after I rezzed into world, UWA announced that they were scaling back their presence from 5 sims to 1 (3, 4). In October of 2016, UWA, through the generosity of the Second Life community found themselves extending their presence for just a little bit longer (5)…through to July 2017 to be exact, but the time to say goodbye is almost here.I have photos. Many photos actually. I took them all wanting to capture some of the incredible installations to show you all what I see. But they don’t do them justice. Not at all. Not one little bit. An installation is a work of art that is situational. You need to BE there and you need to walk around it and in it and watch the changes as time passes. You need to EXPERIENCE it. That is the beauty of installations as opposed to other genres. You are placed within and as a result become a part of this thought. The installations in world…I have never experienced anything like them. They are fantastical and thought provoking. And the installations and sculptures currently at UWA are no exception to this…..