Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Discover the Spencer’s Second Life Island

Second Life

How to Visit our Island

Want to visit our island? Create an avatar, download the Second Life® viewer and get started!

a Petrovsky flux

blotto Epsilon and Cutea Benelli, a remarkable cromulent [blotto's edit] scripter/builder/designer team, have installed their organic architecture on the Museum's Second Life island. a Petrovsky flux is a cluster of devices that grow, assembling themselves from modular units, only to blow apart and rebuild themselves. Each time they rebuild differently so the overall flux is, as the name implies, constantly changing. There is much to explore here! In addition to the mighty Petrovsky Flux itself, a few of the many things you might encounter are: lost flower, tv mountain, terrace cafe, and the all ears pavillon.

Visitors to a Petrovsky flux can also explore the inside of the organic architecture, and they also receive a free "noggin protector"—a miniature version of the flux that is worn on the head to protect against falling debris.

The project takes its name in part from a previous project, the Bogon flux, and in part from the “Petrovsky lacuna,” named for Russian mathematician Ivan Petrovsky.

blotto summed up the impulse for the Bogon flux in the now defunct blog, Not Possible In Real Life: "The organic architecture idea had been rattling around in my head for a while, like buckshot in a rusted tuna can." That idea is now out of the tuna can and is being explored by hundreds of visitors. A KU student, Lysanias Septimus, encountered in the shadows of a Petrovsky flux, commented “wow / mind=blown.”

If you have a Second Life browser you can visit a Petrovsky flux on the Spencer’s island at this slurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Spencer%20Art%20Museum/56/36/21


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More about the Project

The Spencer’s island (search “Spencer Art” in-world) is an exploratory, fluid space. In September 2008, through the generosity of a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Spencer purchased an island in the online, virtual world of Second Life. The grant has allowed us to investigate the potential applications of SL in an art-museum setting, and we are finding that it presents a spectrum of possibilities. We have focused on Second Life as an educational tool, extending from two real life exhibitions, Trees & Other Ramifications, and Climate Change at the Poles. In this incarnation, trans-disciplinary artist Stacey Fox created an environment where visitors could interact with a variety of concepts introduced in the real life exhibitions. We are currently focusing on a configuration in which we work with various digital artists and encourage audience interaction and participation. The Museum’s island is designed to change, so visit often to see what’s new.

As we explore Second Life’s place in our Museum, questions bubble up, including:

  • How can a work of art created and seen in a virtual environment be meaningful in a real-world museum?
  • How can such work be shared in a real-life museum?
  • How does the Museum catalog and document such a work?
  • Is Second Life a viable medium for the arts?

What is Second Life®?

Second Life is a digital continent teeming with people, experiences and opportunity. Launched publicly in 2006 by the California-based company Linden Lab, by September 2009, Second Life residents had spent a total of more than one billion hours in world, attending classes, networking with others, attending art openings and live concerts, and buying and selling virtual objects and services, as well as many other activities. Residents access the digital world from over 100 different countries, logging in with a virtual persona called an avatar.

Once logged in, residents can attend a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theater, acted by other residents from all parts of the real world; take an airplane ride through the center of a hurricane at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) island; build a house or go on a shopping spree.

Second Life has an in-world economy, where residents create goods and services and are able to sell them for Linden dollars, the in-world currency. Those Linden dollars can be exchanged at LindeX, the official Linden dollar exchange, for real world money. In February 2010, over 26.8 million cash transactions took place, with almost 600 of those being over $1,900 USD.

In 2006, more than 60 schools and educational organizations set up shop in Second Life. These entities are holding distance learning classes (imagine arriving at your English 101 class while still lying in bed), practicing speaking a foreign-language with native speakers and many other innovative learning practices. Harvard Law School, Stanford University and Princeton University each have a Second Life presence.


This project was made possible by the generous support of:

Institute of Museum & Library Services