Joel Lederer

The Metaverse is Beautiful

New Jerusalem

Into the Park



The Metaverse is Beautiful

A recent inclusion to our environmental model has presented itself called the “metaverse”. Cell phones, email, the World Wide Web, multiplayer online gaming, etc, are all domains, which constitute our metaverse. Today, we interact with others in virtualized environments through the use of proxy representation – for example, screen names, icons, email addresses and 3d characters. These are examples of this new terrain. SecondLife is one such arena, which supports the networking of individuals (also known as “avatars”) for social interaction, commerce, education, gaming, artistic creation and performance. Virtual land parcels are sold to SecondLife residents who design, shape and build their own custom arenas. My screen-captured photographs document the landscapes and organic objects that were built as communal, natural, spaces for avatars.

I approached this project with the pioneering spirit of an explorer, wishing to return to civilization with a visual record from a new land. My challenge was to depict and represent this artificial world whose appearance was varied and in flux, a land whose elements are built from repeating instances, whose light, atmosphere and display are partially determined by me, the end user. How to portray a place whose textures and structures are created from, and based upon, illustration and icons from our visual history and memory? As this new, virtual landscape is constructed from real life imagery and facsimiles from the physical world, I was inspired to present a cohesive impression of this territory, which explored those ideas.

I employed a variety of established visual traditions, genres and syntaxes taken from the annals of picture making, the very history that influenced the character of the landscapes themselves. I collaged together modes of seeing, tropes and styles, composing and rendering my photographs to record what this land looked like, as well as reflect the thoughts of its creators and inhabitants.