Ethan Miller

Unless otherwise noted, all work licensed under : Creative Commons License


April, 2006

The Symboler was part of "The Real" - A show at Ars Virtua located within the virtual online world Second Life.

Given the endless possibilities that a virtual space makes possible - it's interesting to consider why there are so many conventions carried over from meatspace. Why are we operating within such a narrow scope? We could be mountains, or pulses of light in the virtual - we shouldn't even have to exist in a single place at a time.

One obvious answer is that we know how to read these conventions. Just like real life - a body(avatar) dressed a certain way represent a certain semiotic. It facilitates communication; we know how to read bodies.

And yet, so many of the means of communication that we take for granted in meatspace are lost in Second Life. There's no spontaneous body language. No facial expression to speak of. Certainly dressing your avatar, or designing animations offers more expressive potential, but how far can that go? Is that really all that we should expect from the virtual?

The Symboler is an attempt to address this question with a complimentary visual communication system. Based on the text messages you create while in Second Life, the Symboler recognizes no distinctions between text, code, and form.

As designed, it takes the shape of a small wearable rectangle. The forms materialized above the owners head are based on a simple 3x3x3 cube, and are completely customizable. It is hoped that the owner of the piece will adjust the vocabulary and the forms associated with them to best suit their personality, it requires very minor adjustments to the code.

The shape of the wearable piece is also free to modify.



  • avatar wearing symboler