straight up

This notion of the artwork as a territory for interaction, as a locus of communications for a community, echoes the Happenings of a previous generation. On-line role-playing games have become laboratories for exploring this form of interactivity. As the social theorist Sherry Turkle has pointed out, on-line communities, such as Multi-User Dungeons (MUD), "are a new genre of collaborative writing, with things in common with performance art, street theater, improvisation theater, Commedia dell'Arte, and script writing." Pavel Curtis created one of the earliest MUDs, LambdaMOO, in 1990 at Xerox PARC. Though it consisted only of text, its interactive quality, made possible through intricate storytelling devices via the Internet, gave participants the illusion of immersion in a virtual environment. Interaction in the on-line environment, Curtis claimed, creates a kind of social behavior which "in some ways it is a direct mirror of behavior in real life."

Throughout history, art has often been referred to as a mirror of life. But by building upon the concepts of association and collaboration, computer-based multimedia may well become more than a mirror of life. Already we have seen how multimedia blurs the boundaries between life and art, the personal and the mediated, the real and the virtual. The implications of these tendencies we are only now beginning to grasp.