look art

From its humble beginnings in Second Life Ars Virtua has maintained a research arc that embraced the quality of simulation and the application of simulation to art and art practice, or perhaps culling art and art practice from within simulation. This has led us to a variety of activities and exhibitons from the early gallery shows to the conference, to the mixed reality events and the interventions and storytelling in MMOs. Our work has always been guided by a deep desire to find, cultivate, or make art within these burgeoning virtual spaces. More specifically we have found ourselves looking for native art within whatever medium or environment we happened to be in.

This search often takes place as an exploration, conversation and series of calls and commissions.

Our latest exploration is in the space of the Multi-User Dungeon. These text environments grew up around the role-playing games of Dungeons and Dragons(TM) of the mid 70's and early 80's. As such the MUD is a precursor to MMO's including World of Warcraft. From the historical perspective it is easy to see why we were interested in MUDs, but beyond the important historical relevance it is notable that the MUD environment is almost completely open at this point. Wizards, the so called builders within the MUD, are able to create anything they desire. Additionally the environments are generally free or open-source as well.

As a researcher and an artist I have been interested in the idea of immersion, and what it takes for a player to become fully immersed in an environment. The conversation seems to revolve around the quality of the environment as often as not, but I have found that the social connection and involvement in community are what creates the most native experience. In discarding nearly all visual references and relying on letters, text and communication this exhibition pushes that.

I do not expect this environment to "take off," but rather to sit at the corner of the internet with its doors open and to be a welcoming place where people can reminisce and consider the art that has been commissioned.

We realize that the experience of logging in to a server is somewhat alien to the contemporary art going internet crowd, so we have taken pains to make it as easy as possible. Detailed instructions are posted on the connect pages.


look art runs on a classic MUD setup, on a server that provides a multiplayer text environment.

the mud itself is a server (TinyMUX) administered by CADRE and the art was created by Wizards inside the system.


Ars Virtua’s research into virtual worlds (Second LifeWorld of Warcraft, others) and art created in and for these environments has led to a bit of nostalgia for the 1990s and a desire to re-explore MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) and current text-based environments. 3D graphic bells and whistles are not what make an environment interesting or socially compelling.