Alongside a conscious effort to give more emphasis to local Singapore writing, performance and the visual arts, the four year old emerging arts festival, Lit Up Singapore broke new ground by going online with a group called Virtual Writers, Inc. Led by the group’s founder and moderator Andrea Pring (aka Harriet Gausman in her online avatar form), Lit Up set them the challenge of writing on this year’s festival theme – Occupied Art.
It was a modest experiment working with an innovative online group and expanded the reach of the real life Singapore festival into the virtual world and vice versa.
“It was a good way to connect two literary cultures,” said participating writer Singh Albatros (also known as Chris Mooney-Singh) who is a member of the Second Life® writing community as well as co-founder along with Savinder Kaur of the Singapore-based festival.
In fact, all of the writers participating meet daily in 3D avatar form with other members on Second Life® to write twice a day a for 15 minute ‘dash’ — poetry, flash fiction. Some also use the community group to work sequentially on novels and other long works. Many then post their writing on the Virtual Writers, Inc. website, along with those choosing to participate at home rather than attend in Second Life®, as a record of each day’s efforts. This year, upon invitation, they submitted a small body of work, which was mounted and displayed as part of the Lit Up Singapore Art Installation alongside Singapore photography, videos, multi-media and paintings at the Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre between 25-29 July 2012.
Savinder Kaur, the Lit Up, Singapore Executive Director said it was fascinating to see how the five Virtual Writers added new international perspectives to the Lit Up theme when placed alongside the contributions of local writers who were driven by their local South East Asian concerns and issues. Some chose to write in their own names, while others enjoyed the anonymity of using their avatar ‘pseudonyms.’ This year’s guest Virtual Writers were Queen Bluestar, Lizzie Gudkov, Franja Russell, Singh Albatros and Andrea Pring herself.
“The development of writing groups using virtual world platforms and ability to link up internationally is definitely something worthy of further exploration next year,” Ms Kaur said.
“This was a cutting edge experiment that Lit Up Singapore presented in collaboration with Virtual Writers, Inc. With so much of writing going on in digital forms these days, it’s time we acknowledge this growing area of participation in the arts,” she added.
Check out the video to see some of the work presented during the festival.