I had one of the strangest experiences of my online life last Friday evening in the bar of the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle, and while I’m still not sure what it means I enjoyed it, in a odd sort of way.
It came at the end of a conference on the future of cinemas and other artistic venues in a digital world, while we were enjoying a DJ set from Captain Buck Rogers. The music we were listening to was being streamed live into the virtual world of Second Life, and being played out in replica of the renowned Baltic Mill gallery, situated on a newly-opened virtual Tyneside island developed by a local company, Vector 76.
Avatars from around the world were dancing to the music we could hear, while we watched them projected onto the wall of the cinema bar, so I got out my laptop, logged in to Second Life and made my way to the virtual Baltic, where I joined in the dancing.
I could see my avatar moving around on the screen of my computer, but I was also clearly visible among the crowd projected onto the wall, dancing like every teenager’s embarrassing dad in cyberspace while drinking a deliciously cold beer in the real world.