The Freedom Project

On Sunday September 1st, the University of Western Australia, in association with Virtual Ability Inc., and the Centre for ME/CFS and Other Invisible Illnesses announced the launch of The Freedom Project: A 2D/3D Art and Film Event.

The Freedom Project FINAL 26 Aug, 2013

This is not a competition per se. Rather this is an opportunity for artists suffering from a disability or chronic illness, or associated with those suffering from either, to demonstrate how virtual life has enabled them to engage in activities and interact with others in ways which may not be possible in the real world.

As such, the organisers are inviting artists and film makers from all over the world who self-identify as having a disability or a chronic illness, to create an artwork or a film/machinima on the theme of ‘Freedom’, showing how virtual worlds have in some way helped them or those around them.

Films and artwork can be submitted any time between the 1st of September 2013 and the 28th of February 2014. Artwork should have no more than 200 prims, and films should be around 3-5 minutes (although no hard limits on film length will be enforced). Artwork will go on display immediately at the UWA Virtual Gallery, and films will be put on the UWA Second Life Blog.

Submissions do not have to be created in isolation or alone; they can be collaborative, so long as the project leader or primary driving force behind the creation is clear. The extent of collaboration and assistance by others should be detailed in the submission note card, and credit given as appropriate.

Submitted pieces will be displayed at the UWA gallery and blog through until the end of the project, when a number will be selected by a panel to appear in a special journal marking the project, which will be made available in print and on the web.

It is hoped that the journal, along with all the artwork, machinima, and stories, will inspire others, and will demonstrate how virtual worlds can be used to help some people who may have had difficulties finding other means of expression to believe in themselves more, or to connect with others. Those artists selected to appear in the journal will each receive a copy, and machinima selections will be represented as stills and a link to their on-line presence. In addition, ten pieces submitted to the project will be selected by the panel to each receive L$10,000.

The Freedom Project organising committee (l-to-r): Gentle Heron, FreeWee Ling, Dianne Elton & Jayjay (Photo: V.Lennoire, courtesy UWA)
The Freedom Project organising committee (l-to-r): Gentle Heron, FreeWee Ling, Dianne Elton & Jayjay (Photo: V.Lennoire, courtesy UWA)

Commenting on the project during the launch on September 1st, Dianne Elton, representing the Centre for ME/CFS and Other Invisible Illnesses said:

The Freedom Art Project invites people with illness and disabilities not only to showcase their art, but to share how SL may perhaps provide opportunities not available to them in real life. In my own case, being housebound, SL has extended my social world exponentially.  I now have many friends right around the world. No longer able to attend art galleries, I was delighted to find I could come to UWA and enjoy stunning innovative art without leaving my bed. My illness has taken away many activities I used to do in real life but as I don’t have to leave my bed, I can do things in SL including attending and facilitating bookclubs. meditation and guided relaxation sessions and I can even go dancing with hubby!

This is how SL gives me “freedom”. Freedom to be active within the limitations of my health. Freedom to interact with others from the confines of my house. I am really looking forward to seeing the artworks produced for this event and to learning how sl might give others “FREEDOM”. 

Key Details for Entering the Project

  • Artwork and film entries should reflect the theme ‘Freedom’, and should attempt to show how the virtual world has helped or how it could help
  • This event is open to all who identify as having a disability or a chronic illness (of any nature)
  • A maximum of 2 entries per artist for the art event with a 200 prim limit per artwork
  • A maximum of 3 entries per artist for film/machinima (preferred length between 3-5 minutes)
  • Entries will be received beginning 1 September 2013 until 28 February 2014. (Note that the earlier work is submitted, the longer it will be on view.)
  • Artists are additional invited to add, in 100-300 words, how the virtual world has assisted them and/or those around them, has helped create community, or has helped them to transcend difficulties and challenges real life has posed. This is an optional aspect of the project, but the organisers hope all artists opting to participate will provide such a description.

Entries should be placed Place the artwork in the receiver (drop box) for the Freedom Project at the UWA Art Challenge platform, along with a completed Artist’s Notecard form.  (No perms required, but copy is appreciated if possible.) If you have problems with the receiver, you may give artwork directly to FreeWee Ling or Jayjay Zifanwe along with the note card.

For the complete set of rules and technical requirements for the project, please refer to the UWA blog post announcing the project.

About Virtual Ability and the Centre for ME/CFS and Other Invisible Illnesses

Virtual Ability

Many disabilities in the real world can be a barrier to entry into the digital as well. People may have difficulties in dealing with the keyboard due to illness or disability; others many be reliant upon voice recognition software, and so on. Virtual Ability, Inc. helps people with these kind of challenges get into and become successful in virtual worlds like Second Life.

From an individual skills assessment undertaken during a unique intake process, Virtual Ability inc., are able to refer clients for help with assistive hardware and software as appropriate, and provide customised training and orientation. Once clients are in-world, Virtual Ability Inc., helps them integrate into the virtual society, and provides an ongoing community of support.  The community offers members information, encouragement, training, companionship, referrals to other online resources and groups, ways to contribute back to the community, and ways to have fun.

The organisation runs a number of in-world centres, which can be read about on their website.

The Centre for ME/CFS and Other Invisible Illnesses

The Centre for ME/CFS and Other Invisible Illnesses provides resources, support and guided relaxation sessions, for people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gulf War Syndrome, and other invisible illnesses.  They host general and research discussions once a week on Mondays at 18:00 SLT, and guided relaxation sessions every day, twice a day, at 08:00 and 20:00 SLT, in the Centre to help people manage their illness.  This Centre is open to all, and all are welcome, including anyone with an illness, their families and carers to meet here and help each other. The Centre is located in Curtin University in Second Life.

Related Links

With thanks to Jay Jay Zifanwe.

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