OCAD University

OCAD celebrates two years in Second Life

TORONTO, April 7, 2009—The Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) invites the public to attend an open house of its OCAD Campus on Second Life on Monday, April 20 from 12 noon to 5 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

Visitors will receive a 45-minute introduction to the OCAD Campus on Second Life, an interactive virtual world where users can socialize, connect and create using voice and text chat. OCAD’s Campus in Second Life is the virtual home of its Hybrid Media Lab and allows students in the university’s Integrated Media program to collaborate with artists around the world to create virtual artworks and installations.

  • Associate Professor Judith Doyle will discuss how Hybrid Lab develops virtual collaboration structures and studios.
  • Professor David McIntosh will present a unique, long-distance studio collaboration with the Amauta New Media Centre in Cuzco, Peru.
  • Ian Murray, an artist in Second Life, will discuss building, administration and virtual archives.

The tour will showcase and critique student installations in OCAD’s Integrated Media wing, located on Level 3 of the university’s Main Building at 100 McCaul Street. The critique will be simulcast live on Second Life for an international audience of artists and educators who will appear as avatars (i.e., online persona who will engage in discussion via live audio and chat).

The installations combine online media, live Web 2.0 data feeds, streamed media, programming, sensors and sculptural elements in innovative ways:

  • An environmental feed from a changing glacier drives a quiet engagement of lights and sound;
  • Unstable relations between real and virtual communities are explored in Second Life architectures and games; and
  • An installation expresses data mining of social networks.

Cultural tourism, virtual confession and the flow of labour and effort between physical and virtual worlds are among the themes represented. Students adapt Wii-motes, electronics, sensors and an array of devices to gather data that is manipulated with programming (Pure Data) to control or influence sculptural and projected environments.

Included in the exhibit is the popular Hoverboard Project by students Emily McLennan and Alyssa Tsang. The Hoverboard Project was featured in Nuit Blanche 2008 and is presently under development to be presented with the Ontario Science Centre.

Background: The OCAD Campus on Second Life

Integrated Media is an innovative digital and time-based program at OCAD that encourages an interdisciplinary exploration of media practices. Students are asked to question how they position themselves in the world in relation to technology. The program examines the role that technology plays in our culture and emphasizes our need for critical engagement. Students are exposed to a wide range of media practices that include film, video, robotics, electronics, performance, web, installation, interactivity, animation and audio.

The Hybrid Lab is engaged in many distance and virtual art education collaboration projects. These include research collaborations into external memory prosthetics and virtual communities with the Memory Link project at the Baycrest Centre in Toronto, including Associate Professors Judith Doyle and Martha Ladly at OCAD, and Dr. Brian Richards and Dr. Guy Proulx at Baycrest. Long-distance collaboration research partners include Professor Fei Jun at the Digital Media Lab at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing, China; the Container Project in Jamaica headed by Instructor Jim Ruxton; and the Amauta Media Arts Centre in Cuzco, Peru headed by Professor David McIntosh. OCAD has also worked with the Odyssey Art and Performance Simulation in Second Life.

Artist residences on the OCAD’s Campus in Second Life have included Lynne Heller (Nar Duel) and Alan Sondheim (Alan Dojiji). Presentations originating from the campus have been seen at Kunsthaus Santa Fé, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Paul Robeson Main Galllery of Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersy; Brown University; University of Toronto Art Centre and a number of other venues and educational institutions internationally. Presentations from Hybrid Lab have been featured in Toronto’s Nuit Blanche in 2007 and 2008.

Some 2009 OCAD Hybrid Media Lab projects will be featured in the upcoming Subtle Technologies Festival, running June 10 to 14, 2009 (www.subtletechnologies.com) which is being presented both in Toronto and on the OCAD Campus in Second Life.

About the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD)
The Ontario College of Art & Design (www.ocad.ca) is Canada’s “university of the imagination.” OCAD is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. The university is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinarity, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

- 30 -

For more information please contact:

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer, OCAD
416-977-6000 Ext. 327 (mobile: Ext.1327)

© OCAD University