Sunday, 18 November 2007

Al Deals With Dealey Plaza

On November 22nd, 1963, John F Kennedy was assassinated as his motorcade drove through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. With the anniversary looming it perhaps should come as no surprise to hear that a recreation of the Plaza has been constructed in the virtual world of Second Life. The work has been carried out by Avatar Promotions, a build company of indeterminate address, but located in the US. Apparently, according to this page of their website, this is NOT a model of the Plaza as it stood in 1963, but rather as it stood in August 2007. A historical version will be produced in due course.

Be that as it may, you can still observe the President's open topped limo as it drives through. In fact, if the mood takes you, you are free to sit in the limo - though aside from learning when the shots were fired, you will not be subjected to any unforeseen unpleasantness. You can visit the location in the book depository from which Lee Harvey Oswald apparently fired the fatal shots, although getting any kind of view out of the window will prove something of a challenge. Alternatively, you can position yourself on the infamous "grassy knoll" from which person or persons unknown may have carried out the assassination on behalf of any of about a dozen secretive, murky organisations. Here are some snaps - though don't expect "the full Zapruder."

The Grassy Knoll and the Book Depository:

The use of Second Life as a 3D visualisation tool has been noted before, and this sim is another example. I don't see it as a faithfully accurate reproduction, but more as an aid to understanding. The immersive 3D experience definitely delivers a "sense of place" that you simply cannot get when poring over maps and photographs. In this regard, it is an interesting idea.

Where I have a problem is the way in which Avatar Promotions are using the sim, which after all attempts to recapture one of the most traumatic days in American 20th Century history, as a vehicle for self-promotion and funding. For example, if you so wish, you could opt to rent office space here - an idea I find quite bizarre. Would I really want to be holding a meeting that is interrupted every minute or so by the sound of 3 shots ringing out from across the Plaza? Or as a visitor, would I find it entirely appropriate to find, say, a saucy clothing store occupying a prominent site on the Plaza?

I do understand that the builders need to get something back for their efforts - but I'm afraid it looked rather too crassly commercial to me. A few tweaks in the direction of a little more subtlety could have achieved as much, without seeming so brazen.

If you are interested - and again I find this in frankly dubious taste - you can apply to attend a special event, by invitation only, on November 22nd: "An enactment of the assassination."


Jason Baird said...

This was the best place in Dallas to be built. No other place has so much depth and can take advantage of things such as "being there" in 3D and communicating with other people in the same space. It is a place that you can keep coming back to. It is a huge tourist attraction, so people do want to be there.

As of right now there is absolutely no money being made off Dealey Plaza in SL and I continue to put money into developing it, so being crassly commercial is something that needs to be attempted. If you have any ideas, let me know.

Jason Baird
SIM owner of Dealey Plaza Dallas

Evie Hammond said...

WE got in there last night and had a fucking blast.