Update, October 10th: JayJay Zifanwe has announced that the four core UWA regions will remain open through until July 2017. You can read more here.
I received a nudge about the University of Western Australia, which has enjoyed a long presence here in Second Life, operating multiple regions and becoming a stalwart supporter of virtual arts through its grand challenges and other competitions and opportunities offered to artists to present their work, as well a through support of machinima in physical world film challenges, such as those run by Screen My Shorts.
The news was actually broken over the weekend by Jayjay Zifanwe, who has spearheaded the UWA’s presence in Second Life since it started, and who has worked exceptionally hard with FreeWee Ling to promote and support artistic creativity within the broad cross-section of second life users and talent. In the post, Jayay states:
It is with a heavy heart, that I must inform you all, that 4 of the 5 UWA sims, will vanish into the binary night on the 9th of October 2016. The SIM that will remain for at least another year is the Uni of WA sim, which is our flagship sim housing Winthrop Clocktower and the Reflection Pond, The Sunken Gardens and The Somerville Theatre.
Everything on all [the] sims will remain as is for the next 2 weeks… do come back for a visit as many of the artworks going back 7 years are still at various locations. Once those 2 weeks are up, our curator, Freewee Ling will start to rationalise what is on the UWA sims, so that some items from all sims are brought onto the one remaining sim.
FreeWee adds to the blog post with a note to those artists who have works on display in the UWA regions. So if you are one of those artists, do please make sure you read the post in full. Of the four regions which the UWA is closing, three will be shutting down completely, and one will be changing hands.
The reasons for the region closures appear to be internal to the UWA, and not anything specifically directed towards virtual worlds and Second Life. At the end of 2015, the UWA did cut back on its direct support of artistic endeavours in SL through its patronage of the Grand 2D and 3D art challenges, again spearheaded by Jayjay and FreeWee. Since that time, arts have continued to be supported at the UWA through smaller, but no less attractive activities, such as a the current Immaterial contest, which I’ve been covering in this pages, and the entries for which can be seen at the UWA gallery.
If you have not visited the UWA regions, I urge you to do so before the four scheduled to be removed vanish. There is a stunning amount of art to see, much of it standing as a historic look back over artistic expression in Second Life, including the Grand Final winners from the various challenges, including Nish Mip’s Last Ocean, which forms a poignant opening to Jayjay’s post, As well as the art, there are campus facilities to explore.
Tutsy Navarathna’s “The Residents“, overall winner in the machinima category of the 2013 Project Sci-Fi challenge, sponsored by the UWA
For my part, I’d like to thank Jayjay and FreeWee for all of their hard work over the years in building the UWA environment in-world, and to those at the UWA itself, for their support of virtual spaces and digital arts.