Constructing the virtual as a social form
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
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New technologies always produce new toys, and the toys become commodities that gain profit. The most pervasive and profitable technological toys of the contemporary world, videogames and virtual worlds, have become social and cultural spaces for hundreds of millions of humans, while immediate urban space- an offline space-- is losing its value as a dominant center and source of meaning, identity and ideology. As the virtual is an inevitable product, transmitter, and constructor of contemporary culture, how it is designed becomes a critical question. Rule-of-thumb neoliberal logic grounds almost every online virtual graphic environment: the logic of exquisite self-craft and appropriation of space: a promise of total control over self and over what is one's own. It is manifested through uniquely designed avatar skins and clothes; virtual pets and gardening tools; real estate speculation, urban development and terraforming patterns. Yet there is a mismatch between the logic and the purpose of these virtual environments, which is a collective, and the presence among others, unencumbered with immediate contexts and limitations. This thesis theorizes on self-craft and space-craft protocols and their manifestations found in the virtual world Second Life, where every single artifact of the space is produced by its residents. A child of the Silicon Valley techno-utopianism, Second Life is an expressive space with no collective history, decay or memory: Manhattan towers, medieval castles and gingerbread houses generate a landscape of expressive hysteria. It is also a call to reimagine the rhetoric of the virtual social space and an experiment that seeks to identify alternative set of social and algorithmic protocols that enable different possibilities of self- and space-craft. Utilizing the affordances of the malleable virtual context, the experiment seeks to discover alternative narratives for the social space.
This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Thesis: S.M. in Architecture Studies (Urbanism), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, 2019Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 91-97).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology