The Google Virtual Wave Biennial

It has been a while since I’ve written about Google Wave, Virtual Worlds, or for that matter the Whitney Biennial. However, since attending the Biennial with two of my daughters, I’ve been kicking around the idea for this blog post mashing up ideas from Google Wave, Virtual Worlds and the Whitney Biennial.

One of the things that jumped out at me as I looked at paintings in the Whitney was how different we approach the visual from the written. With the written word, we typically start at the beginning and follow read the material sequentially. As I’ve written about before, some people get bent out of shape when emails are not sequential, but the most important content is posted at the top of a reply, instead of at the bottom or interspersed in the email.

Google Wave was set up, in part, to address some of that and material is added at various appropriate points throughout the wave. To address the chronological sequence, Google Wave gives you the ability to playback a wave over time so you can see where the content fits, not only on the page, but in the time stream. Material is arranged in an order created by the artist. At the Whitney, it is typically shown over and over again, and people may walk in at the middle and only watch part of it, or may watch the end, followed by the beginning. Yet there is still a sequential aspect. The same applies to music.

While Google Wave does have the ability to add rich media content, it is predominantly text based and there does not seem to be much of intermixing sequential audio and sequential video content with the static text content. Likewise, the various pieces of content are not arranged spatially as they would be in a painting.

One way to expand the use of Google Wave for artistic expression would be to look at better interoperability with virtual worlds like Second Life or OpenSim. Imagine, for a moment, a virtual world where people could interact and not only add three dimensional models, but pictures, text, and music in a Google Wave style where you can playback the modifications in the order in which they were added.

To add to the spatial component, the scene could be presented more like a painting with the video, audio, or text being played back when the user moves the mouse over the content, so the viewer could start at whatever point and have more control over the experience.

It may be possible to do some of this already with virtual worlds, but I haven’t seen any good examples of this. With a system like that, some interesting installations could take place in a Google Virtual Wave Biennial. What do you think?

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