Thursday, November 10, 2005

Festival Site, Avalon

[Images Redacted]

Many of SL's event-driven builds such as Burning Life and the Relay for Life achieve added significance by virtue of their temporality. Once the event is over the structures and/or the sims themselves are blasted from existence. Part of what makes them out of the ordinary is the impetus to visit before they are gone to linger only in the mind's eye and become more ephemeral as time goes on. Contrast this with the myriad *ingo pads sitting forlorn until their next slot in the events schedule, ephemeral by nature of their transparent servitude to the programmed event itself, minimizing impositions by providing a level playing field for all participants.

The site of the Avalon Film Festival (Avalon 216,154) sits somewhere in between. Unlike the Relays for Burning Life etc. This build does not disappear once the event is over, and yet it is different from Tringo-poriums in that several of the spaces are closed to access once the festival is over. In this manner the build serves to heighten the significance of the event without dilution into the daily grind.

One of the larger components of the Avalon sim, it requires an increase in draw distance just to take it all in. This sprawling collection of plazas and pavilions threaded by a connecting circulation element provides a wide variety of potential circumstances in which to engage the content of the festival as well as fellow festival-goers, from small kiosk-like screens in transitional areas, to lounges intended for small gatherings, to the massive piazza and cerebro-esque dome that anchor each end of the site. Thus the playing field is decidedly uneven, giving the build the potential to significantly shape the nature of the event.

As much as I admire the builds and prefabs available in Avalon, in many cases their predominantly modular expression as rectangular boxes with rounded corners seem to feel on a purely intuitive level less like architecture and more like inhabitable graphic design. This influence is evident in the design of the festival site, but only as a jumping off point for a thoroughly varied articulation within this modularity that serves to nicely reinforce the basic intent of the spatial planning.

To this point many of my travels through SL have been solitary experiences, and I am sometimes tempted to question the value of 'social' or public spaces over and above simply using IM when so many of them sit vacant (and mostly lag-free). Here that temptation is quashed. In provoking me to reflect on the nature of film as a temporal medium and the nature of festival as a temporal interaction of avatars in relation to said medium, it could be suggested this build does as good a job of framing, amplifying and expressing an idea when sitting empty as it does when fully occupied. That, on a purely intuitive level, feels very much like architecture, not to mention a delightful imposition.


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