Virtual Art Initiative (an associate member organization of the nonprofit company, Media Working Group, Inc.) is an organization of artists, writers, musicians, and scholars who are using the immersive and interactive digital media of such virtual worlds as Second Life to develop new forms of artistic content. Virtual worlds are computer generated three-dimensional environments that allow people from around the globe to interact with one another through “avatars” (digital bodies) and shape their environments, both individually and collectively, by using graphical and programming tools. Those involved in the Initiative believe that virtual worlds are like photography, cinema, video, electronic music, and so on in that they provide the opportunity, in the form of a new technology, for radically innovative forms of aesthetic expression. Most of our work is done on the Second Life virtual world grid, though some of us have worked in other virtual worlds as well, such as VastPark and OpenSim.
Many of our members have established careers in so-called “real world” fields, including painting, photography, film, installation art, illustration, computer game design, community media, music, journalism, computer programing, computer systems engineering, science fiction, psychology, evolutionary biology, and philosophy. They include citizens of the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, England, Canada, the Netherlands, Argentina, Australia, India, and South Korea.
Though they reside in areas that span the globe, our members have used the networked technology of virtual worlds to discuss, teach, learn, and collaborate across their national borders. Our artists have exhibited work in such venues as Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest; Swedish National Museum, Stockholm; Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA; Boston Center for the Arts; DeCordova Museum, Lincoln MA; Clark Gallery, Lincoln, MA; Butler Museum of American Art, Ohio; Maison folie de Lille Moulins, Lille, France; Kunsthaus Dresden, Dresden; Compactspace, Berlin; XEXE Gallery, Toronto; Coop Gallery, Toronto; Broome Street Gallery, New York; West Harlem Art Fund, New York; Uptown Gallery, New York; Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York; Robert Miller Gallery, New York; Mariners Gallery, Cornwall, England; Galeria ZOO, Warsaw; Kulturbrauerei, Berlin; Festival of Creativity, Florence; Rome Film Fest; Ithaca Video Festival (US tour); Boston Cyberarts Festival; European Machinima Festival; Center for African American Archival Preservation, Atlanta; and Ars Electronica (partial list).
Our artists have received funding from National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship, Whitney Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, American Film Institute, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Black Programming Consortium, Australia Council on the Arts, Massachusetts Artist Fellowship, New Hampshire Artist Fellowship, Maine Alliance for Arts Education, and Maine Community Foundation.
Member artists, writers, and scholars (Second Life avatar name first, real life name second, if revealed):