THE NETHER REALM
By Michael Takeo Magruder, with Drew Baker and Erik Fleming
Curation and dramaturgy by Sarah Grochala
First produced by Headlong at the Royal Court Theatre, London (2014)
The Nether Realm is a living virtual world created by the visual artist Michael Takeo Magruder and inspired by Jennifer Haley’s play, The Nether. The artwork explores the ways in which virtual environments can be the product of our activities in real life and considers the idea that the moral character of these online public spaces is ultimately dependent on how we create and interact with them.
The realm is linked in real time to the Twitter hashtag #TheNether. Every time the hashtag is used on Twitter, new life is breathed into the world. When the hashtag is not in use the world slowly starts to decay.
Tweeting the keyword ‘sunlight’ (or other similar words) along with #TheNether generates an instant effect and instils additional life into the realm.
Visitors to the Royal Court Theatre in summer 2014 were able to view the artwork through a series of digital portals installed throughout the building and to enter the world as an avatar using an interactive kiosk located in the Balcony Bar.
The Nether Realm can be entered online. The world is located in the public virtual space OSgrid. Using a virtual worlds browser such as Firestorm, you can access and explore the world as an avatar. Simple instructions for how to do this can be found here. Instructions for how to personalise your avatar can be found here.
Produced by Headlong, with support from the Royal Court Theatre (2014).
Supported by the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London.