Friday, November 17, 2006


[Images Redacted]

Following a discussion of the very public and didactic First Second Life Church of Elvis comes a quiet place of repose and solitude that by comparison lacks any apparent function or purpose. Yet it is this very ambiguity that offers up a portal to the possibilities and provocations inherent in 'THE DUDE's Pad', located in the Second Life region of Stinson (view on map | direct teleport).

Largely devoid of the iconography or signifiers of traditional residential construction, THE DUDE's Pad could be considered more of a pavilion than a house, a small living room connected to both the visual qualities of the surrounding context and also the broader opportunities inherent in a virtual environment.

Set into the side of a small escarpment, the build (much like the Single Maltz Residence reviewed long long ago) is a study in how to integrate with the landscape. Unlike many prefab houses in Second Life usually created to maximize versatility and potential sales volumes, subsequent copies of this structure might look rather strange in any other location. In this case the ephemerality of the Second Life landscape (i.e. the ability to be easily transformed) also heightens the attributes inherent in such a response.

In general, sharp angles and forms are juxtaposed with a warmth of materials to frame and enhance the organic-ness of the surroundings, making this a serene and tranquil stopping point. Unconcerned as many houses in Second Life are with hermetically sealing itself off from the rest of the world, it reveals itself as a continuous flow of space from outside to inside where one circulates along a series of ramps from the upper sitting area to a small outdoor garden space below. There are no doors or windows, and the space is largely devoid of objects. There is no kitchen, plasma screen or security system. The focus is outward, to the trees and the terrain, and one might suggest also inward to the self, as setting the stage for quite contemplation.

Structurally, the residence seizes the opportunity to express itself in a manner that is easily understandable and yet in also counterintuitive to what we might expect in 'real' space. This paradox leads to a ready apprehension of the rules that would be broken if it were to encounter the persistent belligerence of gravity. Specifically, the reading of the main supports seems to fluctuate somewhere between a column or a truss, with its attached semi-transparent panels sheltering mesh walls and tension cables that do a seemingly heroic job of helping to support the ramp system. The net result one might suggest is to subtly enhance an overall sense of place in a world that exists without physical laws.

Yet, with a name like 'THE DUDE's Pad, it ultimately fails to live up to certain expectations, like a bowling lane, or a fridge stocked with milk and Kahlua. There is a rug, but it doesn't tie the room together, nor does it look particularly peed upon. Sigh. Then again, perhaps I've been quietly contemplating a bit too much now, and should get out for some air. Or a drink.


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