Topics: College of Fine Arts, College of Communication Information and Media, Emerging Media

August 20, 2008

Imagine flying over a pyramid-shaped boat as a variety of tones from the engine combine to create a melody. That is just what visitors will get when they interact with the new virtual art collection created by Ball State University faculty in Second Life.

John Fillwalk, director of the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts and Animation (IDIAA) and associate professor of art, will participate in an Aug. 24 live reception in Second Life to unveil the new virtual art exhibits.

The New Media Consortium (NMC), an international not-for-profit consortium of more than 260 learning-focused organizations, asked Fillwalk and the IDIAA to transform an entire Second Life island with interactive virtual art. The collection, which will be up for a month, is part of a series of installations hosted by NMC throughout the year.

Fillwalk and Jesse Allison, Ball State faculty fellow and research specialist, worked for three months to create several interactive and user friendly exhibits that will be featured on the Second Life island of Ars Simulacra.

"The experience is compelling. And while the background technology is complex, visitors to the exhibit can easily engage with the art," Fillwalk said.

Visitors to the island can interact with exhibits, which incorporate video, sound and still photos via their avatars. One exhibit features a live connection to Flickr, a photo sharing Web site, that allows visitors to choose the subject matter and customize their viewing experience. 

Fillwalk says this collection of interactive artworks showcases and expands upon IDIAA's expertise in building virtual reality projects for simulation and visualization environments.

"We are positioning the business profile of IDIAA to work with external clients to build significant research, as well as showcase Ball State's emerging media prowess," he said.

Ball State has received national recognition for its work developing hands-on, experiential, project-based learning environments. Its virtualized film studio won the first Greenhouse Grant for Virtual Worlds and an award in the 2008 Campus Technology magazine Innovator competition.

By Jennifer Hillier