Skip to content

Bryn Mawr: First, Second Life

You’re invited to participate in this project! Watch the slideshow below and answer any or all of the questions following. My own thoughts are the first comment.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

In case the above is not working, here is a link to the slideshow.

1. How do Bryn Mawr First Life and Second Life look or feel similar? What differentiates them?

2. Does anything feel “wrong” when you see these photos? Does it make you uncomfortable in any way?

3. Do you notice the person or the spaces first when you look at the photos? Do you think you would have related the photos to each other more or less easily if one person had been male and the other female?

4. Knowing that pieces of Bryn Mawr exist in Second Life, do you think about those representations when you see the real-life spaces? Do you ever feel like you’re in-game (any game) when you’re not?

(Thanks to Hillary and Guinevere and anyone else in this class who created BMC in Second Life!)

10 Responses
  1. Hannah Mueller permalink
    April 22, 2009

    1. Some of these pictures look more similar to the Second Life screenshots than others. The comparison of the two shots in TGH with the banners on the left side and the window at the back looks closest. What makes them look ‘close’ are the similar set-ups of the shots, colors, space (architecture, windows, banners) and sense of space, and placement of my and my avatar’s bodies. The basic dissimilarities in the look some of the shots are the ange and “camera” placement, some differences between how the SL and real life Bryn Mawrs are actually laid out, colors, and how my avatar and I do not look the same in various ways. (I wanted to superimpose a photo of R2D2 on the RL photo but couldn’t figure out how to do so; he’s part of an adjacent university’s CS department).

    The most noticeable similarity is that of the spaces and relative, if imperfect, placement of the avatar or myself in those spaces. I think the online and offline spaces feel similar because they are both named “Bryn Mawr” and are recognizable–emotionally recognizable for those of us who live here. They feel different, perhaps, because the emotional element of recognition does not transfer onto the computer-generated spaces.

    2. The juxtaposition of the photos makes me feel most uncomfortable when they are most similar, as in the TGH shots with the banners, and in the cloisters shot. When we talked in this class about robots, we mentioned Freud’s definition of the uncanny. When I appear most similar to my avatar, I do feel to a certain extent as though I have an uncanny doppelgänger. What probably accentuates this eerie feeling is that I am always facing away from the camera, so that even my RL self seems “other” than me. I set it up this way only because, if there is a way to view your avatar from the front in SL, I couldn’t figure it out!

    3. I notice the person first in the RL shots because I know that it is me. In the SL shots I usually notice the surroundings first. This shows me that I identify with an image of my own body much more strongly than I do with an image of a computer-generated body representing me; but, they are both only representations. If I had made my avatar male, I do not think I would have had such a feeling of uncanniness looking at the juxtapositions. This shows me that when I see a representation of a male body, I think of it as “other,” which in turn shows me that I identify as female quite strongly.

    4. Yes! Since exploring the Second-Life Bryn Mawr, I often think of it when I see TGH and Taylor. It gives new meaning to the phrase “Virtual Bryn Mawr.” I do sometimes feel like I’m living inside a computer game if I’ve recently immersed myself in one. After playing second life for over an hour when I first logged on, the next day I saw a small sign for “Taft Garden” that I had never noticed before and had a sudden disorienting feeling that I was in Second Life, probably because there are so many signs in the game. It seems that, for me at least, immersing myself in an online world can spark an almost out-of-body (more like other-body) experience in RL.

    While the picture was being taken, I felt more conscious of my own body than anything else, so I did not actually feel as if I were in a game.

  2. April 23, 2009

    Hannah–it’s not playing for me. 🙁

  3. Hannah Mueller permalink
    April 23, 2009

    Sorry about that! Sometimes it works for me, sometimes not… I added a link to the show below the box.

  4. April 23, 2009

    I can see it now! Very nice.

  5. Michelle Bennett permalink
    April 25, 2009

    Your question #4 was especially thought-provoking for me. I think I had a lot of trouble matching the online spaces depicted with the photos you took, not because the graphics weren’t good enough (they’re great!) but because I never thought of Bryn Mawr as an online space, or as a space that could be rendered in animated form. Nor do I imagine I’m in a video game when I’m walking around campus. But, like you, I think having seen these images will definitely affect my future perceptions, however subtle, when I’m walking around campus. I’m still having a little trouble understanding the gendered angle of the project, but I see what you’re saying about identifying with one representation more than another. I’ll have to think more about this…Thanks!

  6. Sugar Spice permalink
    April 25, 2009

    Hannah, this is really great. I found myself trying to figure out where on campus your avatar was before the picture changed.
    Good job!

  7. Anne Dalke permalink*
    April 25, 2009

    I’m laughing, Hannah, in memory of our discussions, last spring, about Bryn Mawr being a movie set. Your project highlights, for me, what a “staging area” we live and work in here; seeing the second life sets interspersed with the “real life” ones made the latter seem unreal (“uncanny,” in your terms).

    Both the RL and SL versions had only one figure in them–where’s everyone else? And where am in, in relation to you or the avatar? My primary experience, in both cases, was the wierd one of feeling like a voyeur, watching you watching…whatever it was you were looking at.

  8. Aline permalink
    April 25, 2009

    Wow! Bryn Mawr as reality and as a virtual world made me think. It brought to mind what my friend Sarah said in my project that this reality can be like a virtual world. She implied in our conversation that the only thing that separated the two was a computer screen. In a way the whole thing was unnerving, but it really got me thinking about the two different Bryn Mawr worlds. Some people live in both of them. I wonder what this says about technology encroaching on reality. Perhaps, your presentation represents a synthesis of the two worlds.

  9. Solomon Lutze permalink
    April 26, 2009

    Reminds me of my experience playing the MYST games, a bit? I’d play, and say “Oh, wow, this is really pretty!” and I’d get done, and go look at the real world and say “Oh, wow, this looks like MYST.” Hmmm.

  10. Alexandra Funk permalink
    April 26, 2009

    Soooooo cool! haha I just read Anne’s comment about the movie set conversations we had last spring. I totally forgot about those! I really wish we had brought it up sooner, it feels so relevant to the discussions we’ve been have about all of our different worlds.

    As I was moving through your pictures, in my head I was trying to keep straight the comparisons. I found myself thinking first-second life first-second life for all the pairs. I didn’t realize until the end I was thinking it backwards! This made me wonder, what someone, who has never seen BMC in RL, would expect Bryn Mawr to be like. It reminds me of what it’s like to read a book after you’ve already seen the movie.

Comments are closed.