Mark Wallace at 3pointD blogs eloquently about a new World Trade Center sim in Second Life that I just finished visiting this evening (teleport SLURL). Unlike previous memorials, which have sought to create virtual versions of the actual towers, this memorial simply and powerful records the names of all the victims of the 9/11 attacks, very similar to the Vietnam Memorial by Maya Ying Lin. Rain falls from the sky, thunder rumbles, your heart breaks all over again.
This is what virtual worlds can do.
Nearby the walls of remembrance is another set of walls bearing what appear to be thousands of pictures of those lost. You almost don't want the faces to rez completely -- you can barely stand to look at the pictures of people's weddings, graduations, vacations by the shore, and other symbols of lives cut off too short.
While I was there other avatars started teleporting in every few
minutes, which undoubtedly will continue over the weekend and up
through September 11. Avatars chatted solemnly and respectfully,
clearly moved by the display.
Some of the organizers were on hand to greet people as they arrived. They told me that this will be a permanent presence in-world, which is a contrast to the very temporary builds from previous years. They plan on holding a memorial event tomorrow, September 9, from 5:46-10:28AM PST, the exact time when the towers fell. I asked them why they weren't holding the event on the actual day of September 11. They replied that they felt that many avatars would not be able to attend since this is a workday.
The SL World Trade Center is a powerful demonstration of the difference between virtual worlds and other media -- this sense of presence, togetherness, even intimacy. On the radio I can hear the families of the victims read out the names of their lost loved ones. On television I can watch politicians give speeches and news anchors commentate. On the web I can read about the lives of the victims, the history, and the future plans for the site.
But only via the medium of Second Life can I be in the (simulated) presence of others who are feeling similar emotions as I am, talk with people from all over the world who were touched by the attacks. I can leave a virtual candle or flower at the site. With voicechat, I could read out some of the names of the victims, and hear the voices of others doing the same.
This is not a substitute for being there, or being with your loved ones in real space. But it's (ironically) much more "human" than any other media out there.
Other SL Commemorative Events / Sites planned:
- September 11, 10AM PST: A re-creation of the World Trade Center towers designed by CS Kappler will be dedicated at Celestial Requiem NYC (teleport SLURL.)
- On September 11, Kristatos sim (teleport SLURL) will be remember 9/11 all day with music, drawings, paintings, statues and much more. Artists perfoming include Hugh Dench, Fable Sinatra, Ictus Belford, ezcape Hax, Grateful Stryker and Edward Lowell.