Thursday, June 11, 2009

Religion In 'New' Places

(There is a link from the image in slide 10 to a short video)

This presentation discusses a selection of examples of what I term ‘rhetorical holiness’ created using Second Life (SL), a multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) on the internet. Second Life is a three dimensional persistent space made up of thousands of islands (called sims). In SL a person is represented by an avatar, a body which they manipulate in the environment. The avatar can travel around the huge space of SL in real time visiting themed sites, buying and selling virtual commodities and participating in social and cultural events with others. The shared online three dimensional spaces of SL include religiously themed sites where the holy is one of the main defining criteria of interaction. The sites in SL that I have examined are the Buddhist island of “Bodhi Sim: Land of Buddhadharma - a Second Life fansite” and two mosques built in SL; the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and the Cordoba Mosque. Finally the Koinonia Congregational Church of Second Life is a Christian church which operates entirely in SL. For the purposes of this presentation, these sites are examined for the use of symbols from three established religious contexts that have been re-deployed in the virtual environment. The purpose of such an exercise is to identify a system of rhetoric within a larger literacy for such three dimensional virtual environments.

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