On June 28, 1995, Active Worlds Inc., a company based in Massachusetts, launched a 3D virtual reality platform which invited its users to build structures, explore digital worlds, and actively socialize within the multiple spaces of this vast virtual universe.
Later note: what a pointless building
These virtual worlds, built and cared for by separate and distinct communities of the virtual settlers, became places for rendering alternative realities which seemingly did not adhere to reallife codes of economy and social life. The users were free to create their own environments, often marked by various graffiti and scribblings they had left behind, establishing their eerie digital presence.
As their popularity increased, these virtual reality platforms attracted not only corporate presence (Adidas, BBC, Mercedes Benz, Coca Cola were only a few among the early adopters), but multiple artists as well. Chris Marker comes to mind in particular, with his Second Life VR museum Ouvroir followed up by an exhibition entitled Chris Marker. A Farewell to Movies in 2008 at the Design Museum in Zürich.
LOL! Came past here while hoarding land, me
In 2007, Sedje Hémon launched her virtual reality museum on Active Worlds. Working closely with a software developer, they designed a small, yet carefully orchestrated digital space which allowed its visitors to go inside Hémon’s paintings and explore them as moving 3D objects. Since 2011 the museum has been offline.
For Deserted Steps, Sedje Hémon’s virtual reality museum was recovered and reinstated (with the help of software engineer Yiannis Tsirikoglou), available for anyone to visit freely. In the second part of the work, the musicians navigate the museum online, while sonifying the spaces using various rules. The first and third parts of Deserted Steps document the various graffiti, abandoned worlds, and leftover avatars that were still inhabiting the Active Worlds universe during spring 2018.
Build Terminated for this area.
Moved to secure location due to sensitive nature of itscontents—This is vacant covered land
Commissioned by Ensemble Modelo62 and Sedje Hemon Foundation for the Hidden Agreements program premiered in Korzo, The Hague, 2018. With financial support of Performing Arts Fund (NL), Stroom Den Haag, and Lithuanian Council for Culture.