Recalling a Starry Night in Second Life

Several years ago, I was pointed towards a You Tube video showing the creation of a scene in Second Life. The video was posted by Sharefestival, but was originally produced by Robbie Dingo.

Watch the World, made far back in 2008, poses the question “Ever looked at your favourite painting and wished you could wander inside, to look at it from different perspectives?”, and takes us on a time-lapse journey through the in-world recreation of what is perhaps Vincent van Gogh’s most celebrated work, The Starry Night.

The Starry Night is one of many the artist created depicting the view from the window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. It is the only noturne he produced in the series and was painted a little over a year before his death. In it we see the pre-dawn countryside visible from the artist’s bedroom, but with a styled village of Saint-Rémy – which was not visible directly from van Gogh’s room – added in the middle distance. It’s a poignant painting, and one which inspired American singer-songwriter to compose the equally poignant Vincent.

The Starry Night, part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City
The Starry Night (889) by Vincent van Gogh, part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City

In the video, we are taken on a journey with Robbie as he recreated The Starry Night in Second Life, offering visitors the opportunity to enter van Gogh’s world and visit his village. It’s a wonderful video, hauntingly framed by McLean’s lament, and it is one I’m often drawn back to time and again, so much so, that I had convinced myself I’d already blogged directly about it.

Sadly, the build itself has long since passed from Second Life, but as I’ve not dedicated a post to the video, and again found myself watching it recently, I thought I’d rectify the latter and write about it now. It’s a timeless piece, and a beautiful demonstration of how Second Life can be used to present a new perspective on art.

Robbie also offers a Revisited video on the piece, in which he shows footage not used in the original cut:

5 thoughts on “Recalling a Starry Night in Second Life

  1. I found the ‘Watch The World” YouTube about a year after joining Second Life, and then haunted it for years. For me it encapsulated what Second Life could be capable of. Of us being inside art not just merely passive onlookers.
    It lodged ideas in my head, one of which eventually hatched and became Hestium. Maybe one day other ideas might be fulfilled too.
    Robbie’s store was a treat back then……….I’d often haul some friends there for an impromptu jam session on the musical instruments he created and sold. I have much to thank Robbie Dingo for.
    Happy days.

    I hope your post will encourage new viewers to the video, and that it inspires them as it did me.


    1. 🙂

      The video remains a favourite of mine, and I cannot believe I hadn’t blogged in detail on it, rather then merely convincing myself I had – not that having done so once wouldn’t have prevented me from doing so again, simply because of the hope it might inspire those who haven’t come across it, as you say!

      Sadly, I didn’t get to visit Bobbie’s store, although I do keep an eye on his YouTube channel.


  2. Thank you Inara for this “walk down memory lane”. I had never seen the video but I recall vividly seeing the actual build. I visited it several times, Those visits hammered home in my mind what I came to call the “Magic of SecondLife”. That’s the reason I stayed and the main reason I am still there. This magic is what so many new residents fail to see and understand. Hopefully I can continue creating some of my own “Magic” for a long time yet to come.


    1. “Hopefully I can continue creating some of my own “Magic” for a long time yet to come.”

      – So say we all! 🙂 .


  3. I have visited that video often over the years and feel that it best captures what creativity in SL is all about. I first saw it at the SL Community Convention in Chicago as part of a presentation about SL giving people a license to create, something society almost discourages these days.


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