Jonathan Kinkley, who has just completed his Masters Thesis in Art History at University of Illinois at Chicago, ask if we could share his research. We're always happy to link to new work on virtual worlds.
The full paper is available here:
His thesis analyzes the visual culture of Second Life and explores the complex spaces that online social networks create. Jonathan explains:
In Second Life's Caledon, we get a glimpse what an online social formation looks like. It is a society based entirely on shared interests - a themed community built of a patchwork quilt of Victorian-era iconography. Elsewhere in SL, artists like Cao Fei (SL avatar China Tracy) are fascinated with this idea of creating a sense of place out of virtual space. Her RMB city isn't about China, it's about China-ness - an amalgam of all the icons, stereotypes, and archetypes past and present of China. This paper is about the types of spaces in SL and how and why they are created out of the iconography of visual culture.