Cantata Park (2006)

bell garden

Cantata Park was an immersive audiovisual sculpture for Second Life by Christopher Dodds (design) and Adam Nash (scripting and audio) in 2006.

The sculpture is made from 256 individual nodes in a 16 x 16 grid. Each node is embedded with a single word, triggered by a participant’s movement through the work. Each participant creates a random narrative, assembled on-the-fly, and in real-time.

Cantata Park explores the notion of a “cut-up narrative”. By disassembling and reassembling a passage of text, the participant is free to extract unseen meaning from an existing text. The cut-up technique was popularised by Beat poets in the 1950’s-70’s as a method to “break the linearity” of written language, with William S. Burroughs using it extensively in his works. Burroughs believed non-pictorial languages contained a virus. By using non-linear writing techniques he believed the true meaning of language could be exposed, and the spoken word used as a weapon.

Cantata Park uses a passage of 256 words from Burroughs The Electronic Revolution (1971) and transfers the cut-up technique into a real-time 3D environment.

The work explores the possibilities of metaverse art, limitations of Second Life’s construction tools and scripting language, and the ability to appreciate conceptual art by proxy of an avatar.

Cantata Park was produced in December 2006 by Christopher Dodds and Adam Nash