between snapshots and avatars

3 December, 2008


The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research has a call for papers on the theme:
Pedagogy, Education and Innovation in Virtual Worlds. Together with my collaborators Ming Nie and Matthew Wheeler from Leicester University’s Beyond Distance Research Alliance we are submitting a draft for a paper titled Between snapshots and avatars: using visual methodologies for fieldwork in Second Life. Here’s the abstract:

For a Digital Photography degree, Second Life presents a unique teaching & learning environment. It is one of the most photographed 3-D Multi User Virtual Environments, with snapshots (digital images) of its residents and locations circulating abundantly online and in the media. Crucially, in addition to offering its own photographic tools, it is a rich social space with many possibilities for art-based photographic research.
However, in spite of the large educators community now working in SL and the increasing number of universities extending their presences in-world, pedagogical frameworks to bring art and media students for fieldwork in SL are still relatively rare and educators wanting to explore creative approaches may find themselves in a situation similar to other ‘newbies’: with a dressed up avatar…but nowhere to go!
This paper addresses this issue with the discussion of a case study that fostered collaborative learning in a SL photography-based research project.
We delineate the use of photographic tools to both capture and display images and describe the activities used for situated field/ethnographic work.
We interviewed students and tutors who participated in activities in SL. We observed their in-world training and teaching sessions, and we analyzed the chat log recorded from each in-world session. This experiment demonstrates a good example of how to use SL for supporting group discussion and interaction through the development of interactive objects.

The results revealed students’ identity perceptions through avatars and how this presence had an impact on group discussion and negotiation. The results also show the potential of SL for researching into subcultures and promoting students to consider broader ethical issues when conducing photo-based field work in SL.
The paper presents a reflective approach to practice-based research and debates the wider potential of immersive virtual worlds for digital media in relation to research into subcultures.


Learners in the Co-creation of Knowledge (LICK) 2008

26 October, 2008

Metamorphosis by aga wierzbicka

Digital photography at the London South Bank University has been active in the area of photo publishing and in the research of social media applications -from blogs to print on demand online companies -to support self-publishing. The resuts of some of this work are being presented this week at Learners in the Co-creation of Knowledge (LICK) 2008, the symposium in emerging pedagogies and technologies hosted by the Napier university, in Edinburgh. Paula Roush and Ruth Brown present: Social networking and authentic engagement: students as produsers. Full programme here:

second life explorations

26 October, 2008

In previous weeks participants had the opportunity to actively engage in several tasks. These included exploring Second Life, capturing images of its communities, and participating in the construction of their personalised StoryCubes. The aim for that last SL-tivity was for participants to further explore and debate the wider potential of immersive virtual worlds for digital media and digital photography in relation to research into subcultures.

virtual storycubes

16 October, 2008

This week we adapted the StoryCubes methodology used by proboscis in their  face to face workshops, to work in Second Life

In Second Life we can use StoryCubes as poetic and playful devices for displaying snaps in three dimensions, allowing us to reveal different perspectives and make new connections and associations. We can use them as a group to build a collective photo-narrative out of our individual snapshots around second life, and can come to a shared narrative that allow us to see new perspectives.

peepshow exhibition

17 September, 2008

In partnership with the Lisbon-based Voyeur Project View gallery, da gallery -the digital art gallery at the London South Bank University- will be transformed into a digital peepshow for two weeks from September 25th.
Today peep show is mostly associated with the entertainment industry, but the beginnings of the peep show mechanism can be traced back to the work of Leon Battista Alberti (1437) and Filippo Brunelleschi (1418-20), Renaissance painters that started using the device of a box with an “eye” to present miniature scenes painted and /or built in perspective, as well as to Martin Engelbrecht (1730), author of peepshow miniature theatres for children, and Edison (1896), who launched the kinetoscope peep show, the first machine to bridge photography, film and peep show.

The project, an initiative of Rodrigo Vilhena with Paula Roush and the participants in the Photographic Art project of the Digital Photography program at the London South Bank University, is developed with a focus on screen-based work engaging with the themes of voyeurism, peep show, surveillance, and the gaze. Whilst the exhibition in the Voyeur Project View in Lisbon is shown in a series of display mechanisms purposefully built to simulate a peepshow effect, the exhibition in the da gallery in London will screen the video works as a running program.


Kate Anthony, Helene Ohman, Karel Polt, Sindy Pussa, Aga Wierzbicka, Shea Rico, Paul Lincoln, Daniel Neves, Georgi Manolov, Alastair Sanchez, Jasmine Blatt, Thomas Evans, MJ Gumayagay, Liz Aspden, Natalie Cheung, Nicola Goodban, Jessica Kril, Nicola Penfold, Parveen Sahota, Lee Slaymaker, Mark Westlake.

Exhibition spaces
Voyeur Project View
Opening: Thursday, 18th 10pm-midnight
Show runs until october 19 2008
Address:Travessa do Convento de Jesus 12a -16a, Lisbon 1200-126

da gallery, the digital art gallery at the London South Bank University
103 Borough Road, London SE1 0AA.
Opening: Thursday, 25th 6p-9pm
Show runs until october 10th 2008

part of the in-struhk-shuhn programme: facebook event page

moose at lsbu

15 September, 2008

This is a paid opportunity for 2nd year digital photography students to participate in the project MOOSE and learn more about photographic practices in Second Life.

Moose or The MOdelling Of Secondlife Environments at the London South Bank University (lsbu) is a cutting-edge research study exploring the concepts and tools of photographic representation within the medium of online 3-D Multi User Virtual Environments (3-D MUVEs).
The 3-D MUVE chosen for the MOOSE project is Second Life. The University of Leicester has recently opened up its Media Zoo island in Second Life. The Zoo space is a pleasant and creative environment specifically set up for enabling small group work for students and staff.
You will learn about the latest media tools in immersive virtual worlds (Second Life), extend your digital photography practice, create new images for portfolio and gain insight into online research that might be useful for future research/dissertation project.


The time and commitment to attend three 2-hour group sessions in the media lab and participate in two individual interviews (first one up to 30 minutes, second one up to an hour).

Both group sessions and interviews take place at LSBU (Faraday wing, Southwark campus.)

Total time commitment expected from you: up to 8 hours over the month of October


Group media lab sessions
3 sessions of 2 hours each, of photographic practice in SL
wednesday 8th Oct, 2-4pm
wednesday 15th Oct 2-4pm
wednesday 22nd Oct 2-4pm

Individual interviews
Two individual interviews, before and after working in SL (to arrange at your convenience
The week of 15th October Mon-Fri am or pm
The week of the 29th October Mon-Fri am or pm

Training/ Support /Interview
The core staff group consists of Matthew Wheeler and Ming Nie from the University of Leicester, and Paula Roush from the London South Bank University.

Contact Paula to register interest as soon as possible as places are limited

iphone terror plot

30 June, 2007

The multimedia section of Wired magazine runs a great gallery of images titled A Tale of Two Cities London Bomb Plot, NYC Iphone Launch, jusxtaposing images of last friday”s symultaneous events. Will tech anxiety one day get color coded as well? Like red alert for when Iphone gets to London in six months time? Can’t wait.