I have been putting off writing this particular post for far too long. Even as I sit here on the virtual campus of UWA, I am feeling a strange mix of maudlin, grief and longing. This sentence clamours loudly in my mind, “The UWA presence in SL is scheduled to cease the end of July 2017.”(1) Such a little sentence with such huge ramifications.
Back in the beginning days of my time in world, I visited university campuses. I must have visited at least 20. Time after time, I wandered campuses that were abandoned and stuck in a time warp from the moment in time they were left behind. UWA was not that. It was vibrant and changing and it was close to home. Proof that Australia was not so countrified and far behind after all.
UWA launched itself into Second Life in mid 2009 and quickly became one of the most active universities in world (2). The campus itself is beautifully designed and based on the real life campus of UWA. Over its life span, it has been used for many purposes, both academic and community building. Their contribution to the Art world of Second Life is not to be underestimated. UWA have run many competitions and exhibitions for machinima artists and static artists alike and have been an incredible driving force in the building of an art community.
I was delighted to find them, but about a month after I rezzed into world, UWA announced that they were scaling back their presence from 5 sims to 1 (3, 4). In October of 2016, UWA, through the generosity of the Second Life community found themselves extending their presence for just a little bit longer (5)…through to July 2017 to be exact, but the time to say goodbye is almost here.
I have photos. Many photos actually. I took them all wanting to capture some of the incredible installations to show you all what I see. But they don’t do them justice. Not at all. Not one little bit. An installation is a work of art that is situational. You need to BE there and you need to walk around it and in it and watch the changes as time passes. You need to EXPERIENCE it. That is the beauty of installations as opposed to other genres. You are placed within and as a result become a part of this thought. The installations in world…I have never experienced anything like them. They are fantastical and thought provoking. And the installations and sculptures currently at UWA are no exception to this.
For me, it is a personal grief. I write about the ephemeral nature of this reality a lot and a part of me understands. I understand the pressures and the need for endings. I understand that real life intrudes. I try to distance myself and not become attached but the longer I am here in this space, the harder that becomes. So another part of me wants to throw myself down on the floor and cry and kick and wail that this isn’t fair. UWA has brought such light and vibrancy and credibility to artists of Second Life and what happens to all of that when they leave? Who takes over that job and how could they even START to be so meaningful in the lives of so many? What happens when the academics leave? When they stop believing and writing and educating in world? I don’t have answers, only questions. SO many questions buzzing around my head like a nest of angry wasps about to do battle. <sighs and looks out the window>
I find myself at a loss for how to finish this particular post. Mostly because, I think, I don’t want to finish it. I don’t want it to end and close the chapter on this part of my Second Life. So maybe I won’t. Maybe I will just leave it with these words from FreeWee Ling about the Last Hurrah event that is happening at UWA, because even as they depart, they STILL GIVE and THAT is generosity and grace done just right….
“Before that happens we want to have one more show! Starting immediately, we are accepting entries for the literal UWA show to end all shows. We are hoping all our old friends from the past seven years will want to be part of this last hurrah. But we also welcome entries from those who have never shown here before. It will be a regular exhibition, similar to the current IMMATERIAL show. No prizes. No judging. Just warm memories and hopes for a brighter tomorrow.”
So, dear reader…here is to a brighter tomorrow.
(1)The University of Western Australia (UWA) in Second Life: CALL FOR ENTRIES – TRANSFORMATIONS http://uwainsl.blogspot.com.au/2017/02/call-for-entries-transformations.html
(2) University of Western Australia Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Western_Australia
(3) The University of Western Australia (UWA) in Second Life: UWA’s LAST OCEAN – ONE SIM WILL REMAIN http://uwainsl.blogspot.com.au/2016/09/uwas-last-ocean-one-sim-will-remain.html
(4) New World Notes: Top University Greatly Curtailing Second Life Footprint – Western Australia One of last Major Schools Active in SL http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2016/09/nish-mip-sl-art-last-ocean-uwa-sim.html
(5) The University of Western Australia (UWA) in Second Life: UWA SIMS SAVED THROUGH 31ST JULY 2017!!! http://uwainsl.blogspot.com.au/2016/10/uwa-sims-saved-through-31st-july-2017.html