2D, 3D, Art & Science & Second Life

Cica Ghost @ LEA (moderate)

I made my first visit to the new round of LEA↑ installations yesterday and it was an “omg” moment (yes, even the Intrepid Explorer can be reduced to a 13 year old girl sometimes).

I want you to imagine landing in a village composed almost entirely of 2 dimensional line drawings. The world (sky & land) is white and the buildings, landscape, animals and people are composed of black lines. This is not like arriving in a static “picture”, however.

Cica Ghost @ LEA (moderate)

Almost everything around you is animated. The children play catch with their ball, the trees blow in the wind and the fish jump out of the water. Even the facial expressions on the people are changing as you watch them in their daily pursuits. It’s remarkable.

Update: I should add (or at least clarify), although Uccie does a much better job of it in the comments: These 2D constructs are set out in 3D space – the village occupies the sim. It’s just that most of it is composed of individual line drawings e.g., a girl, a tree, etc. They aren’t images on a prim or pictures hanging on a wall.:)

Cica Ghost↑ has created something which, by all logic and common sense, shouldn’t work for a number of reasons. This is a 3D world right? That’s how it manages to be immersive right? How else could we manage to feel like we’re experiencing something other than simply watching cartoons (the standard comment from those who have yet to actually visit)?

Cica Ghost @ LEA (moderate)

It all comes back to the brain. We’ve known for years that our minds cannot distinguish between “real” & “virtual” in terms of sensory input. The feelings and reactions we have to the experiences in the metaverse are no less valid or genuine for originating in cyberspace.

It turns out that the visual cues are also equivalent.

Now, I’m saying this based on my reading of this article↑, an examination of art from the perspective of neuroscience. If you can remember back to when your attention span was longer than the duration of a 30 second commercial I strongly recommend you read it – how art uses the physics of our brain.

Cica Ghost @ LEA (moderate)

Circles and dots are easily distinguishable as representations of faces or forms – but why? To summarize the relevant points for those who won’t bother looking at it themselves; the brain can recognize line drawings as people, etc., (and they are, even by children or the original audience for cave paintings) because it doesn’t experience the world in 3D. Think about that for a moment.

Second Life is a 2D representation of things on your screen but that, to your brain, is no different from the physical reality around you. If we can and do feel “immersed” in what is dismissed as “cartoons” it’s because there is little if any difference to the synapses and grey matter in our heads. When you add the visual extras from the physical world (such as shadows) they perform the same function as real life.

You don’t have to go off on the same thought tangent I did, but you should go visit this exhibit↑. It’s a fascinating exercise in form and dimension – a deliberate 2D depiction of life in a 3D world.

Cica Ghost @ LEA (moderate)
Leave a comment


  1. Seeing your pictures I immediately thought about Edwin A. Abbott’s classic “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” but found myself at a total loss when I actually arrived. It was as if Flatland exploded and started to become three-dimensional. Most elements are still 2-D but they spread out in 3-D space and others are fully 3-D. This makes the tableau seem even more alive than the simple motion imparted by the individual drawings. Simply stunning.

  2. Harvey

     /  September 19, 2012

    Thank you so much for writing about this – visiting last night was incredible!

  3. Reblogged this on Caledon: possessed of character and commented:
    Come closer. Don’t look around, just act naturally. Don’t comment, just listen. There is a place where paint and ink breathes and lives. I have walked a world like it before. I think you would like to dare such a thing as well.

    Be warned however. It is not like the pixels you are used to. I’m putting the path here in your pocket, no….don’t react now. Just nod and talk to me later.

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