Machinima Report

Friday, August 17, 2007


We know we need land, a conference would require expansion and we’d promised a short stay on KULA2 (who have been beyond generous...and patient) I know that my colleagues at the Institute for Multimedia Literacy (IML) at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts have just procured an island and I approach them about installing Gitmo, and the upcoming conference/simulcast there. Professor Steve Anderson and Director of the IML, Professor Holly Willis give us permission and we begin the process of porting Camp X-Ray to IML Island.

Now, IML Island isn’t like other islands because Professors Anderson and Willis have done their homework on classrooms in Second Life and have observed that conventional, brick and mortar, rows of desks types of classrooms don’t really make sense in an environment where students can, say, fly. They vow to invent a classroom for the disembodied by making it reconfigurable, and since this is a school of cinema(tic arts) the island becomes a mecca of immersive cinema; in fact it is constructed not of (virtual) “land” but projection screens. Thus, the entire IML island takes the form of a cube formed of screens. The better to drown/immerse you my dear...

Nonny and I meet IML’s builder, Bjorn Ziggy Littlefield-Palmer to coordinate the move with Buhbuhcuh. We decide on the roof – the interior is too cramped, and for the prison installation to be effective, it helps to be desolate, out of the sight of neighboring buildings. I’m there when Buhbuhcuh starts porting the Camp. It is an odd process – he raises his hands and gestures, and.....the buildings appear. It is strangely beautiful.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

From doldrums to deadline

It’s the summer doldrums in LA, Nonny has just moved back to her home town, I’m in the process of leaving it. Everything is in flux and our project is going nowhere. We’ve been interviewed by New Scientist and Der Spiegel, but our “Letters of Inquiry” to get funding are coming back empty.

I’d discovered the Seton Hall Law School October 2006 Guantánamo Teach-In, a conference involving over 200 law schools and decide to contact them. I make a cold call to Professor Mark Denbeaux who chaired the earlier conference. He calls back almost immediately. I ask whether Seton Hall Law School would be interested in holding their conference, if they were having one this year, in our virtual Guantánamo in Second Life. He replies, “I’m 64 years old, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about but it sounds good,” and then informs us that this year’s event isn’t in October, but on Constitution Day, September 17th which is......we start calculating.....less than a month away.

We take a deep breath and say, We’ve got a deadline, we’ll do it!