SEEK: Salford Environment for Expertise and Knowledge

August 2009

Urban Intersections - An interactive urban installations in contested virtual spaces

Sermon, P & Gould, C & Appleton, P 2009, 'Urban Intersections - An interactive urban installations in contested virtual spaces', exhibited at: ISEA 2009 Waterfront Building , Belfast , UK, from 26/08/2009 to 29/08/2009.


This urban exhibition project brings together three multi-user virtual environment projects, developed by members of the Situations and Collaborations between Second Life and Consensual Landscapes and Scenarios project team at the University of Salford and Liverpool John Moores University, within a site-specific Second Life environment designed and constructed for presentation in Belfast at ISEA2009. The installation exhibition touches on a number of the conference themes, specifically 'interactive storytelling and memory building in post-conflict society' and 'citizenship and contested spaces'. The facade of the of the Belfast Waterfront building has been identified as the proposed urban projection screen, which forms the central focus of the installation and immediately references the city of Belfast and its painted murals that depict the recent social history. The project could equally be projected onto the end of many of these rows of terraced houses. Each of the three projects presented will be housed in a Second Life space that represents the virtual exhibition of contested space. The projects will deal with ironies and stereotypes in multi-user virtual environments such as boarder control, cultural identity, gender roles, digital consumption and virtual desire. Each project will also utilise alternative interactive functionality and techniques that will allow the participants to interact and direct projects by their presence and movements in the space immediately in front of the projection screen. Interfaces will include live video streaming and motion capture techniques as illustrated in diagrams and models at the bottom of this web page. If media art in the 1990s was characterized by interaction, an increasing use of public platforms in both urban and virtual contexts now positions media art work as an increasingly social and communicative act(ion). In this panel discussion the participating artists will investigate how the experience of tactility and physical experience makes both participants and the artists more vulnerable, yet also offers altered ways for generating affective experiences. This discourse will include the participants theoretical standpoint and creative practice such as Paul Sermon¿s exposure of an identity paradox in Second Life, Charlotte Gould¿s alternative aesthetic that questions the predominance of digital realism in multi user virtual environments and Peter Appleton¿s exploration of poetic and gestural resonances which could contribute to the experience of emotion in virtual spaces. This panel discussion and Second Life installation will reflect on the surroundings of Belfast and will draw inspiration from the local history and community. Reliant on both user interaction and input; the audience will form an integral part of this project that aims to transcend borders and boundaries of culture and gender as interactive storytelling and memory building in post-conflict society. A live narrative unfolds on the wall of the Waterfront Building as two sides come together from first and Second Life. Through motion tracking the participant in first life leads the camera view through the second life space and their movements are tracked in a designated area just below the screen. These physical coordinates are mapped from the first life installation into Second Life.


Project web site:


SEEK Members

External Authors

Peter Appleton

Publication Details

Exhibited Name
ISEA 2009 Waterfront Building

Belfast , UK

From 26/08/2009 to 29/08/2009.