11 February 2007

Photographs from Second Life

NEW YORK, NY – jen bekman is pleased to present Photographs from the New World, an exhibition of new work by James Deavin.

The exhibition will be on view from November 1 – December 9, 2006, at jen bekman, located at 6 Spring Street, between Elizabeth and Bowery, New York, 10012.

Photographs from the New World documents user-generated landscapes in the online, virtual world Second Life.


In technical terms, Second Life is best understood as a three dimensional virtual interface through which to create and explore visual and sonic information. In layperson’s terms, Second Life is an interface with which to explore a new world. What interests me as an artist is how this new world — which could conceivably be filled with any object, perspective or conceptual model — remains dominated by metaphors from one of the oldest worlds in art history: Dutch still life painting.

Marshall McLuhan once famously opined that the message of any medium wasn’t its content, but rather its influence over culture. Second Life programmers believe that most users don’t yet understand the full potential of the environment in which they are currently gaming, chatting, shagging and so forth. As a result, the way most of us use and think about Second Life is “a little like renting out the London Symphony orchestra to play a few bars of happy birthday” (to quote Steven Johnson on a different topic). This will change over time, and perhaps one way to understand these photographs is as a piece of Second Life history, markers of a time when people were still viewing the new world through the eyes of the old.

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