This qualitative research considers the suitability of importing a Modernist aesthetic framework onto an avatar’s visual design in Second Life. This thesis explores whether the “archaic” Modernist concept of “medium specificity” can still be creatively expressed within the Post-Modern context of digitally plastic “multi-media” environments. This research focuses on avatar artefacts as a means to better understand Second Life’s distinct design properties. The researcher assumed the participant-observer role of a “Modern Art-Critic” in order to personify the Modernist discourse through avatar interaction. Specific activities included a case-study (which included a workshop and subsequent focus group), expert interviews and the textual analysis of avatar designs. Based on these activities, the thesis articulates seven higher level findings. These findings illustrate Modernist issues involving abstraction and representation. The results also indicate that the participants attributed more “narrative” associations towards their “abstract” avatars than initially hypothesized.
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Thesis advisor: Bizzocchi, James
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