SPP - Interactive art

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The Schome Park Programme - Interactive art


This activity was inspired by a piece of interative art on the main grid of Second Life, created by a virtual world artist known inworld as Daruma Picnic. Daruma recorded the voices of a group of a capella singers as a series of soundbites, so each .wav was a sung arrangement of maybe three or four notes lasting for as many seconds. These sounds were then added one at a time to a group of plain coloured slim blocks, roughly two thirds of the height of an average avatar and set to phantom so that an avatar could walk through them. As the avatar walks through each block the corresponding .wav file is triggered and the sound plays. By placing the blocks close together the art is set up to enable several sounds to be triggered at once as one or more avatar walks through them.

With due acknowledgement to Daruma for the original inspiration and for providing consent for Schome to use the concept, the interactive art was extended into SP in a series of workshops where participants created a block, added a picture of their avatar, uploaded their own sound and edited a provided script to release the sound on impact. These blocks were grouped together in the Japanese Garden for all the in-world community to interact with.

Interactive art 1.jpg

Evidence of learning/benefits

Interactive art 2.jpg The goal of the project was to produce a collaborative piece of interactive art comprising multiple individual works, so students needed to proceed at a similar pace through the building steps. This required team working and supporting each other. The majority of the interactive art group were at the same US location and participated as part of a regular real world class, so they needed to balance input from the in-world instructor against teacher support in the classroom (the teacher was also acting as learner and participant in-world). Students had to think about how they wanted to present themselves with the combination of in-world (avatar snapshot) and real world (sound) deliverables, for example some changed their outfit before taking the photo, some used their voices naturally or by modifying the tone, pitch, speed etc to say words or short phrases, one recorded a scale on a piano, another made a sound like a sheep, another used a long drawn out squeal like a balloon losing air. Following completion of the project, students were required to justify the continued long term presence of the art in the location at the Japanese Garden – there was no opposition and the project was generally well received by the Schommunity.

Within this activity students also learned or practised the following practical skills:

  • How to use the building and editing tools to create a large, flat, oval, semi transparent coloured block and set this object to phantom
  • How to take an inworld snapshot of their avatar, saved to their hard drive, and to upload this as a texture
  • How to manipulate a texture to appear on specific faces of a block and in the required orientation
  • How to record and upload a sound in the require file size and format
  • How to add a script to an object and simple editing of that script
  • How to move an object to the required location


Regardless of whether a snapshot is created in Second Life or another media, an in-world user still has to pay ten Linden dollars to upload the image as a texture. All participants in the project were therefore given ten dollars, but some uploaded the wrong picture or wanted to create an alternative and requested more money. A relatively informal system of staff providing small amounts of Linden dollars to anyone needing to upload pictures in-world has remained unchanged since early in Phase 1 when students first started experimenting with the use of textures in their building. Providing such small sums for the interactive art project was not in itself a problem, but highlights the issue as a point for scalability in the longer term.

Although all the in-world skills were taught and supported during the activity sessions, there was a need for students to have the ability to record and upload a sound. The largely American group were supported in this by the teacher in their well equipped real world media room, and fortunately other participants who joined in to the activity were skilled enough to complete the task by themselves. However, the infinite variety of hardware and software combinations possible for members of the Schommunity would present a challenge to anyone facilitating a group requiring support in the equivalent real world aspects of any similar activity.

The final art piece is made up of a number of individual pieces, each owned (in the literal sense) by their creator. According to the permissions hierarchy in-world, this means that the installation can’t be archived or moved as one piece and would need each individual to still be active in the project, or willing to return temporarily, in order to take any action with the installation. With hindsight this could have been predicted and mitigated for by asking each participant to provide an ownership copy to the leading member of staff.

Key lessons learned

The interactive art project was generally successful and worked well. It took advantage of the medium to create something genuinely original and personal to the Schommunity that left a footprint for each of the participants. A particularly nice aspect to the piece is that there is no finite limit to its completion and any member of the Schommunity can extend it by adding their own block. Schome art.jpg

NB. Contrary to what the history might indicate, the original version of this was written by Elsa. PeterT just cut and pasted it in here from the original wordprocessed version.

The Schome Park Programme - Interactive art