An unusual worldwide collaboration is taking place to commemorate this Remembrance Day, involving high-tech TV crews in Australia, a production team spread across the United States, and interviewers and folk singers in the UK.
They are coming together to create an internet video production about the launch of an exciting new project from Oxford University’s First World War Poetry Digital Archive (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/), which draws together the resources and expertise of the University along with the possibilities for immersion and interactivity offered by the virtual world of Second Life.
Designing Worlds is a new type of TV show, created within a ‘virtual world’, and shown to an enthusiastic audience that either watches live “in-world”, or follows the show on the web. It is one of a number of weekly programmes created by Treet.TV, a production company based in Australia, who are lifting the possibilities of ‘new’ media to remarkable levels.
Designing Worlds will this week be focusing on a very special – and timely – project. The First World War Poetry Digital Archive and the Learning Technologies Group at the University of Oxford have collaborated to bring a wealth of First World War poetry and information together in an environment that allows this powerful material to be explored and experienced in a radically new way.
The First World War Poetry Digital Archive has imported a range of digitised archival materials from the major poets of the First World War (including poetry manuscripts, letters and diaries) along with contextual primary source materials, into the Second Life environment. These have been located within a presentation modelled to represent areas of the Western Front, 1914 – 1918.
“The aim of the initiative is to place the poetry of the Great War in context,” explains Stuart Lee, Lecturer in English at the University of Oxford. “It allows the visitors to the exhibition to visualise archival materials in an environment that fosters deeper understanding. Visitors also have the opportunity to take advantage of the social and interactive aspects that the environment offers.”
The materials have been supplemented with new interpretative content and a spectrum of interactive tools and tutorials, streaming video and audio effects to create a vivid immersive experience that is, according to visitors, deeply moving.
In the programme, Designing Worlds presenters Saffia Widdershins (in real life Pauline Woolley) and Elrik Merlin (in real life Richard Elen) will trace the route followed by so many soldiers, from the bewildering brutalisation of the training camps through to the grim realities of the trenches and finally to the horror of No Man’s Land.
The poignant closing sequence of the show will be accompanied by the haunting music of the folk trio Coope, Boyes and Simpson, noted for bringing to life songs associated with the First World War, who have been pleased to be involved in this unusual project.
“This is a remarkable environment,” says Pauline Woolley, “with an important story to tell. We hope that we are able to bring it to people in a unique way.”
“It’s a very powerful presentation,” says Richard Elen. “It really brings home the potential of virtual environments for education. We have only begun to scratch the surface of what this kind of presentation can offer. Involving, immersive experiences like this – in which the visitor can interact with information within the recreation, add their own contributions and experience “accidental learning” – are just a part of the wealth of educational capabilities that virtual worlds can offer. This is perhaps one of the most advanced projects of its kind, and Oxford University is at the forefront of exploring these new worlds.”
The programme on the First World War Poetry Digital Archive’s exhibition in Second Life will be aired live at 22:00 GMT (2pm Second Life Time) on the Treet TV live channel, http://streams.treet.tv/live.mov. Thereafter it will be available on the Treet Archive web site at http://archive.treet.tv/programs/meta-makeover
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About Designing Worlds
Designing Worlds is a TV show featuring design and designers in virtual worlds. It has presented shows on the works of artists in 3-D environments, ranging from the Second Life re-creation of the world-famous Dresden Art Museum to the work of individual artists, such as Glyph Graves’ IBM-sponsored exhibition; designers creating virtual homes and communities – with some stunningly beautiful results; special projects such as a vivid imagining of the Middle Passage – the transportation of Africans to the Americas – and the creation of ‘camp Darfur’, which highlights the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Sudan; and discussion shows that highlight issues of intellectual property rights in these new virtual environments. And there are also fun shows where the hosts, Saffia Widdershins and Elrik Merlin, explore virtual world phenomena such as fireworks and fishing!
Designing Worlds is a co-production of Prim Perfect Publications and Treet.TV
Treet TV is an entertainment network that serves virtual worlds viewers and producers. Established in March 2007, Treet TV uses a collaborative production model which has resulted in more than 3000 hours of broadcast quality content, all targeting the emerging phenomenon of virtual living.
Shows are broadcast live to audiences inworld on Treet TV-enabled television screens, as well as live on the world wide web. Large-scale live events in the past include the Transformers press event, Philip Rosedale’s Second Life 6th Birthday Opening Ceremony and the Best Practices in Education conference. Popular shows include Metanomics, The First Question, Fabulous Fashion and Tonight Live! with Paisley Beebe.
About Prim Perfect Publications
Prim Perfect Publications is the company behind a number of world publications and the Designing Worlds TV programme. The company also produces Prim Perfect magazine, the virtual worlds magazine for homes and gardens, and The Primgraph, the magazine for steampunk and vintage regions within the Second Life environment, which hosts the popular web comic, The Quest for the Golden Prim.