The New Cultural Form: Perfection versus Mortality in Games and Simulation at Rensselaer
Willy Nilly’s Surf Shack offers a cure for the idealized virtual world of Second Life. The online shop, a project of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Associate Professor of Arts Ben Chang and collaborators, endows otherwise flawless avatars with real-world foils like clumsiness. A project allowing avatars to visibly age over time is in the works.
The shop is one of several projects Chang uses to explore humanity in technology. Chang, an electronic artist and recently appointed co-director of the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences program at Rensselaer, sees the dialogue between perfection and mortality as an important influence in the growing world of games and simulation.
“There’s this transcendence that technology promises us. At its extreme is the notion of immortality that — with artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual reality — you could download your consciousness and take yourself out of the limitations of the physical body,” said Chang. “But at the same time, that’s what makes us human: our frailty and our mortality.”
— Link @ Rensselaer