Just got done typing this all in for an interview for Refutation.net. Enjoy!
i - Your role in SL seems to centre around a continuing art practice and the facilitation of other art works/galleries. How do you see the two progressing in terms of SL, or to say more succinctly, how do you think the art made and exhibited in SL will change?
I see more and more art that is centered on the experience; SL artists are innovating around the whole dynamic of how an observer experiences a piece of art (which could include things like architecture and more abstract large-scale "builds" in SL). One good example is AM Radio's new build called "The Space Between these Trees" on the Welsh Lakes sim. It's very much like a 2D painting turned live into 3D. You don't just stare at it for a moment and move on to the next painting on the wall, in his build you really *experience* it; you walk around, listening to the sound of your footsteps in the sand and the soundtrack playing, exploring and touching, interacting with things. It's not just something for your eyes, it's a more experiential way to evoke feelings in the visitors. And what I find very exciting is seeing more and more art that really involves and engages the observer in some way - by moving the observer inside the piece, or doing innovative things with 3D sound, or responding to touch in some interesting way, or changing/moving/responding when the observer interacts with a click, makes a sound, or moves. This is the kind of stuff you just can't get in RL, since with some simple scripting you can get your art to interact instead of just being static. I think this is the "big thing" that will make art in SL be recognized as something very special in the RL art world in the future. You can see more and more of this type of art popping up every day - as an example, here is a new interactive art experience from Dancoyote Antonelli that was blogged just today: http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2009/02/interactive-sculptures-respond-to-avatar-presence.html.
ii - Do you think that the audience base in SL is centered around the scripted craft based art or is there also a large community looking to exhibit other new media or real life work in a SL context?
Absolutely both. There is a lot of interest in innovative ways of creating art in SL, hence the rise of such groups as the NPIRL (Not Possible In Real Life) that brings these type of experiences and creations to a wider audience in SL and RL via Bettina Tizzy's NPIRL blog at http://npirl.blogspot.com/. But 2D art, photography, and 3D static sculpture is still VERY alive and well and may artists are successfully importing their 2D art into SL for people to enjoy, and building amazing sculptures using prims and scupties... that will never die!
iii - Or does perhaps the scripted art in SL becomes new media outdating RL contexts?
At some point in the near future there won't be any doubt about whether or not the kinds of innovative SL art I am seeing so much more of as being "serious" or not. There is simply too much amazing creativity going on for the RL art world to ignore for much longer. I don't think it will "outdate" RL art modes but it will be legitimized as a new type of art media. Groups such as the New Media Consortium (http://www.nmc.org) and their presence in SL have been instrumental in making that happen for a long time now. There is a place for all of these new types of media, but there is a challenge in getting it well recognized - people have to take the trouble to get into SL to experience this new wave of art, and I'm sure there is still just a very small percentage of RL artists that are even aware of SL's existance and that there truly is a thriving culture of art and innovation alive here in SL that they *really* should know about. Who knows, many of them may find SL to be just the perfect environment for challenging them to blossom with newfound creativity. SL is also largely about community and that type of interaction, inspiration, and collaboration with other artists makes wonderful things happen!
iv - Do you see a relationship with SL and real world art - Galleries in RL are now starting to produce galleries in SL - do you see it becoming a convergence or two separate entities, and what is the success of these?
Yes this has become more of a hot topic lately. Well-known artists such as Filthy Fluno have been innovating new ways to bridge the gulf between SL and RL, and having success. It is going to be a long process... there is no simple formula for how to bridge, or even what "bridging" means. For some, it means that SL exposure results in RL sales due to successful experiments in bringing awareness to an artist's RL body of work. For others it means a more direct experience, with interaction in a RL gallery with SL in some way. Right now, people are experimenting and trying new things to draw RL art lovers visiting an RL gallery into SL in interesting ways. It's a very exciting time!
In the same way that many SL musicians have successfully bridged part of that gap and moved their recognition from SL into RL, resulting in CD/MP3 sales etc., the art world needs to catch up in terms of how the two worlds connect, interact, and benefit each other. SL will always be a great place for someone that's not a well known artist to set up a gallery, show their art, get feedback and encouragement, try new things, meet fellow artists, and perhaps cause some breakthroughs in their RL art career as well. Art in SL is still growing, and still organizing as a community, and I see lots more RL bridging as an inevitable consequence.