Monday, May 14, 2007

Second Life Art on the Radio on the Internet

Robert Minsky of Second Life Art Magazine takes Kurt Andersen (host of public radio's Studio 360) on a tour of art in Second Life. The story seems to focus on the commercial aspects of Second Life art. Click here to listen.

"It's not a computer game. Second Life is an online virtual world designed and controlled by its inhabitants. In some ways it’s just like “real” life: full of buying, selling, entertainment and sex. But the high-power graphic tools that make Second Life possible also make it a great place to design visual art and sculpture. Second Life resident Richard Minsky takes Kurt on a tour of the new virtual masterpieces."--from the web description

Thursday, May 10, 2007

First To Second to First and Back Again and a Tribute To Jasper Johns

Hey all!

I just installed a new piece in OSMOSA entitled "First To Second to First and Back Again". It is comprised of 3 paintings and a "sculpture". The paintings show an avatar in Second Life gazing at a piece called "Koppie Alleen" by Lloyd Christensen displayed in the Mysterio Gallery in Second Life, a painting of the piece when I "brought"/"appropriated" it out of second life and into first life by means of digital print on canvas (entitled "Koppie Alleen No Copy/No Mod"), and then a piture of a student in first life gazing at the "Koppie Alleen No Copy/No Mod" and a student exhibition at Brown University.

I then put a glass case over all the paintings texturized with a picture of an avatar gazing at all three.

Is this a new form of appropriation? When I brought the painting out of second life and into first, is it the same painting or different- and vice versa? Let me know!

I also put in a new piece entitled "Tribute to Jasper Johns" using open source scripting code I got off another piece in the museum "Experiment in motion" by Daedalus Young. Sit on the American Flag for the full experience: enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Response to Marc Garrett

Over on the New Media Curating list serv, Marc Garrett of had some tough questions about OSMOSA and artistic practices in Second Life. Below is our response. You can read Marc's original email here.

-Deborah, Kiera, and Davis


Dear Marc,

Thank you for your questions regarding the proprietary nature of SL and the metaverse's appeal to artists. Are you aware that Linden Labs recently announced that it is making the software for Second Life open source ( This is a pertinent development given that many of your comments were aimed at the non-open source nature of Second Life rather than the specificities of our project. It is, however, unclear when exactly Linden Labs will make their software open source. Furthermore, we agree that it is important to think about the challenges and possibilities of creative practice within a propriety system.

You wondered, “How much an influence is the SL brand and profile behind the decision making of this project.” Were it not for SL’s high profile, our project would not be enjoying the kind of success that it is. OSMOSA relies on public participation and discourse, and a major way this is being achieved is from the attention of bloggers (Mark Wallace of in particular). Furthermore, had we chosen a lower profile alternative to SL, it is doubtful that we would have received much response outside of communities heavily involved in metaverses. Second Life’s recent mass popularity means that this is a project we can talk about with our friends—not some class assignment that never sees the light of day. Lastly, were it not for the controversy SL invites, we would not be having this list serv exchange—the kind of exchange that is integral to our stated project goal of “reimagin[ing] definitions of art, artist, curator, museum, culture, and open source.”

You argued that SL is “a business that accumulates more publicity for its brand, as the energies of those participating within it become more appropriated, mediated and consumed.” Must all creative practices in SL reduce us to publicity robots? Your argument suggests an underlying belief that artistic practices cannot exist within a propriety system--as if art and commerce can be kept separate.

Our previous list serv email read, “We are enabling a community of people who are interested in producing, transforming, and sharing work within this [public] domain.” In response, you wrote, “This is an honorable notion, but why in SL? Wouldn’t it be more critically engaged if it was outside of such a hierarchy?” Our project is an attempt to get outside of another kind of hierarchy--the hierarchy of the museum and its regulation of cultural production. In this effort, it is inevitable that we will find ourselves in a whole new set of hierarchies. The qustion, then, is this: what space is there for subversion within the SL hierarchy (before it goes open source)?

We could not disagree more with this statement: “So the lesson for the students is that they do not need to build their own communites and independent, creative infrastructures because it is better to rely on structures that already exist.” OSMOSA is as DIY as any project that uses existing technologies. The lesson for students is that such technologies provide an exciting opportunity to take theoretical concepts from the classroom and put them into practice in the world outside of Brown.

We ask that you visit OSMOSA and see for yourself the extent to which “SL itself either limit[s] or offer[s] flexibility when creating an art project” (to quote your second email). Also, be sure to visit the OSMOSA blog— It is an effort to collaborative construct institutional history and thus anyone can post (login and password are listed in the first entry).

All the best,
Deborah Abramson, Kiera Feldman, and Davis Jung

Monday, May 7, 2007

Wall of doors

If you haven't seen it, check out the new side wall of the museum!


Somebody threw the pig sculptures out the front door!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Appropriation=Vandalism?! (Part 2)

Dialogue! Alright! Click for a bigger picture.

Deborah had appropriated the Manet painting, then various OSMOSA visitors modified it, and then there was a response on the 3PointD blog ( Deborah quoted that response in the top right ('vandalism'). And now someone responded below.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The OSMOSA Blog... a little too open for my liking:

On another note, I'm not sure allowing everyone and anyone to be an administrator of this blog is a good idea. It's only a matter of time before a griefer comes along and deletes all the posts everyone's worked so hard on. Perhaps using a different platform, such as a wiki or a forum, would be a better idea. Thoughts?

Theory Shaw

Deleting a crucial component to open-design:

Taken from the ‘about OSMOSA project”:

"Anyone can add, modify, or remove art from OSMOSA. Likewise, anyone can add, modify, or remove elements of the OSMOSA building."

…and taken from a billboard on site:

"2. Anyone can add, edit, or remove* art from OSMOSA. Any art that you contribute to OSMOSA must allow copying and modification. *To remove art from the space, move it to the storage area under the building."

It appears that OSMOSA is intending for contributors to delete/remove other fellow contributor’s prims/objects. As an open source project I believe this is a crucial necessity, but as it's currently set up, no one can delete anything within the OSMOSA project, since none of the prims/objects, that contributors offer to the project, are set to a particular group (such as the OSMOSA group). Unfortunately moving them down into the 'storage area', as a way of removing them, is not a viable option either, since the parcel will quickly max out on the number of prims it can hold.

In order to archive a prim/object(s) and not have it count against the number of prims a parcel can support, you'd have to save the prim/object(s) within another prim. Since this is not the most user-friendly procedure, I'd recommend posting step by step archiving instructions on site.

The SL group, ‘RL Architects in Second Life’ is conducting a similar experiment called Wikitecture 2.0, to determine just how feasible a collaborative approach in design might be for the architectural profession. We ask our contributors after they are done building for the day to archive their work at an ‘Archiving Kiosk’ on site. The archiving instructions, here, could potentially be used as a starting point for informing the archiving procedures for the OSMOSA project.

I really feel if this is project is truly going open-source, you have to allow the individual contributors the power to modify in all capacities, which includes deleting.

Theory Shaw

Can "open source" exist in Second Life?

This is a comment Mark Tribe (Professor at Brown University) left earlier: I posted "Open-Source Museum Opens in Second Life" from 3pointD to the New Media Curating list, and Andreas Broeckmann replied: "can anybody who is closer to this project explain how its 'open source' aspect relates to the license agreement that people admit to before getting busy in SL? can there be something 'open source' (as in _source_) in SL?" Whaddya say?

This is our response ("our" being OSMOSA founders Deborah Abramson, Kiera Feldman, and Davis Jung):

Dear Andreas,

Thank you for your question about how the open source aspects of OSMOSA relate to the Second Life Terms of Service.

We are aware of the limitations (or potential for limitations via interference) placed by Linden Labs over all aspects of Second Life. For example, see item 4.2 from the Terms of Service: "you may not modify, adapt, reverse engineer (except as otherwise permitted by applicable law), decompile or attempt to discover the source code of the Linden Software" ( Item 3.2 also limits the open source nature of the project, in that Linden maintains the non-exclusive, sublicensable right to exercise the copyright of content in our accounts. We understand the implications of such terms of service and bear witness to the gravity of working within a system essentially owned and controlled by another entity.

We are neither interested in nor capable of working with the source code of software within SL. Rather, we are fostering open source culture, meaning technology-enabled practices like appropriation, remixing, mash-ups, and collage that challenge traditional ideas of authorship. Given the Terms of Service, can there be a public domain within SL? We find that, within the limited world of SL, there is a public domain of sorts. This is the domain of objects that have been set to be copyable, modifiable, and free (not for sale). We are enabling a community of people who are interested in producing, transforming, and sharing work within this domain.

We chose Second Life as a platform for our project because no equivalent environment exists. SL is a simple interface in which to create content – factors crucial to a student project such as this one. More importantly, SL already engages a large and vibrant community.

We believe that we can adhere to the spirit of open source within this system. We have adopted the Open Source Definition as a metaphor for cultural production. For example, item two of the definition states, "The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code" ( If we think of a work of art as the coded object, then what is the source code? In open source cultural practices such as appropriation and remixing, the source code is the original work that is being transformed. In SL, we are able to provide not just a copy of the original work, but the original itself, endlessly replicable and always/never original.

In addition to being a forum for open source art, the structure of OSMOSA is also open source. Curating and architectural design are open: any SL participant can alter the museum building, the selection of works included, the text describing these works, and the arrangement of these works within this space. Just as Wikipedia is an open source encyclopedia, so OSMOSA is an open source museum. The crucial difference is that Wikipedia is built on open source wiki software, while OSMOSA operates within a proprietary system. We acknowlege that Linden Labs has the ultimate authority over the source code of SL as software. As such, the museum is limited but functional as an open source project. Importantly, OSMOSA contributes to the SL version of the public domain and invites new conceptions of art, culture, artist, curator, museum, and open source.

We look forward to further engagement with these issues. Our ideas about open source art and culture are evolving through dialog such as this.

Thanks again for your interest,
Deborah Abramson
Kiera Feldman
Davis Jung

Appropriation = Vandalism?!

OSMOSA Architecture

Looks like artist Dancoyote will be transforming the museum architecture soon. We're really excited about this and the discussion that we have begun with him about SL architecture, in general.

Here's the transcript of Dancoyote giving me his thoughts about where to go with the OSMOSA architecture (used with Dancoyote's permission):

[13:43] You: Hi dancoyote!
[13:43] Dancoyote Antonelli: heyas!
[13:43] You: what's up?
[13:43] Dancoyote Antonelli: what's going on!
[13:44] You: just checking up on what's happened in OSMOSA. Are you working on anything? I'm busy IMing people who have the wrong permissions on their work!
[13:44] Dancoyote Antonelli: very good!
[13:44] You: We're working on an archive strategy right now.
[13:44] You: it's kind of chaotic in here right now!
[13:44] Dancoyote Antonelli: I was a little demoralized by the closes source bent of most of the stuff

[13:45] Dancoyote Antonelli: you gguys really need to get rid of this silly architecture
[13:45] You: you mean the permissions were wrong?
[13:45] Dancoyote Antonelli: yes
[13:45] Dancoyote Antonelli: most of the work here is not OS by any stretch
[13:45] Dancoyote Antonelli: not editable
[13:45] You: yeah. people have been very nice when I've asked them to change them, though.
[13:45] You: I wish there was a way to enforce the permissions automatically.
[13:46] You: what would you suggest for architecture? you mean that it's disordered?
[13:46] Dancoyote Antonelli: there is only one way to do it
[13:46] Dancoyote Antonelli: no
[13:46] Dancoyote Antonelli: that is not relevant to SL
[13:46] Dancoyote Antonelli: enclosures
[13:46] Dancoyote Antonelli: and old school walls
[13:46] You: ah.
[13:46] Dancoyote Antonelli: architecture in SL is UI
[13:46] Dancoyote Antonelli: user interface
[13:47] Dancoyote Antonelli: no more need to stack rocks to keep the bugs out
[13:47] You: but people are still putting up work that references flat walls (pictures), and it's nice to be able to organize spaces.
[13:47] Dancoyote Antonelli: that is the only reason
[13:47] Dancoyote Antonelli: one can create space
[13:47] Dancoyote Antonelli: without oldschool wasted prims
[13:48] Dancoyote Antonelli: have you seen my stealth architcture here?
[13:48] You: I'm not sure.
[13:48] Dancoyote Antonelli: the glass pads?
[13:48] You: i'm intrigued, though.
[13:48] Dancoyote Antonelli: the first thing I did in SL
[13:48] Dancoyote Antonelli: was realize that archtecture was all wrong
[13:48] Dancoyote Antonelli: for showing art
[13:48] You: ah.
[13:49] Fau Ferdinand is Offline
[13:49] Dancoyote Antonelli: be brave!
[13:49] Dancoyote Antonelli: be bold!
[13:49] You: you know, I just saw a picture of one of the museums in Brazil that displayed their classical art collection on glass panels. Was thinking about that mode.
[13:49] Dancoyote Antonelli: be progressive
[13:49] Dancoyote Antonelli: NO!
[13:49] Dancoyote Antonelli: dont emulate RL
[13:49] Dancoyote Antonelli: that is called remediation
[13:49] Dancoyote Antonelli: and it is very retrogressive
[13:50] Dancoyote Antonelli: (sorry dont mean to be rude!)
[13:50] Dancoyote Antonelli: (Im just passionate about thhis subject)
[13:50] Dancoyote Antonelli: I will make you an offer
[13:50] You: ?
[13:50] Dancoyote Antonelli: if you save prims by deleting all this useless architecture
[13:50] Dancoyote Antonelli: I will install stealth architecture
[13:50] Fau Ferdinand is Online
[13:50] Theory Shaw is Offline
[13:50] You: Interesting!
[13:51] Dancoyote Antonelli: open ource
[13:51] Dancoyote Antonelli: source
[13:51] Dancoyote Antonelli: 100% copy, edit
[13:51] You: That sounds fascinating.
[13:51] Dancoyote Antonelli: but this way will only lead to confusion
[13:51] Dancoyote Antonelli: and is wating a ton of prims
[13:51] Dancoyote Antonelli: that could be art
[13:52] You: Can you direct me to some of your other stealth architecture? I think we'd be really into that idea, and I can talk to Jinsae Davis about fixing whatever permissions are still out of wack that might prevent you from doing this.
[13:53] Dancoyote Antonelli: there is some above here
[13:53] Dancoyote Antonelli: at about 100 meters
[13:53] You: oh, I've seen that.
[13:55] You: these are the structures you mean, I assume?
[13:55] Dancoyote Antonelli: ok so one feature of this apprroach is
[13:55] Dancoyote Antonelli: that you cannot see it from below
[13:55] Dancoyote Antonelli: so it doesnt obscure the view
[13:55] Dancoyote Antonelli: hence stealth
[13:55] You: got it!
[13:55] Dancoyote Antonelli: another is that it is modular
[13:56] Dancoyote Antonelli: and can be expanded
[13:56] Theory Shaw is Online
[13:56] Dancoyote Antonelli: rationally
[13:56] Dancoyote Antonelli: as needed
[13:56] Dancoyote Antonelli: it is also very flexible in terms of size
[13:56] You: I think it's great.
[13:56] Dancoyote Antonelli: it is designed tot use the volume of space
[13:56] Dancoyote Antonelli: not just groundside
[13:57] Dancoyote Antonelli: which is silly
[13:57] Dancoyote Antonelli: we can fly in SL
[13:57] Dancoyote Antonelli: FYI
[13:57] You: right.
[13:58] You: We love this approach. I'll talk to Jinsae and we'll get back to you ASAP. Thanks for your thoughts and contributions about this.
[13:58] Dancoyote Antonelli: yw
[13:59] Dancoyote Antonelli: thanks for being receptive to the message
[13:59] You: Would you mind if we pasted the chat history of this on the OSMOSA blog? We want to preserve these dialogs. No problem if not!
[13:59] Dancoyote Antonelli: no problem
[13:59] You: Great!
[13:59] You: Thank you!
[13:59] Dancoyote Antonelli: my theoretical work in SL
[13:59] Dancoyote Antonelli: is all open source
[13:59] You: : )
[13:59] Dancoyote Antonelli: the artworks I make in other places are IP
[14:00] Dancoyote Antonelli: and closed source
[14:00] Dancoyote Antonelli: but phiolsophy
[14:00] Dancoyote Antonelli: is open
[14:00] You: yes!
[14:00] Dancoyote Antonelli: ok
[14:00] Dancoyote Antonelli: well keep in touch
[14:00] Dancoyote Antonelli: [we've suppressed Dancoyote's email...]
[14:00] Dancoyote Antonelli: jiin has my email too
[14:00] You: I'm glad I ran into you. I will be in touch soon. Best!
[14:00] Dancoyote Antonelli: ciao!
[14:00] You: ciao!

We love our initial architectural model of the repurposed factory and the resulting building that Loyalist College created. It said "museum" clearly and oriented all visitors to the traditional museum model. Also, I think, the idea of an abandoned factory in SL was funny.

That said, we had hoped that the architecture would be radically transformed. We're happy to say that the transformation is in progress!

- Deborah

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

OSMOSA: Welcome to the Blog

Started by students at Brown University in April, 2007, OSMOSA is the Open Source Museum of Open Source Art. Here, "open source," means that the museum is entirely in the public domain. Anyone can add, modify, or remove art from OSMOSA. Likewise, anyone can add, modify, or remove elements of the OSMOSA building. The goal of OSMOSA is to reimagine definitions of art, artist, curator, museum, culture, and open source. This project is underway in a virtual reality called Second Life.

The OSMOSA blog is also open source. Please post responsibly. This blog is a way to document the dialogues that OSMOSA enables. OSMOSA is a community, and our history must be constructed collaboratively.

Login: osmosa.osmosa
Password: osmosa

Posting suggestions: before and after pictures, documentation of added/edited artwork, explanation for changes made to OSMOSA artwork or structure, artist statements, documentation of artwork moved to the Archive Room (which is currently located below the building)