Home made Virtual Soup, developed by artist Avital Meshi to connect Second Life avatars and Real-Life puppeteers. The meeting was held at St. Columba Catholic School, Second Life during soup time. The artist set up the meeting by visiting the Second Life boarding school multiple times where she talked with Miss Sarah Sandalwood, the editor of O’Hare’s Gap. Together, Miss Tali (Avital Meshi’s Second Life avatar) and Miss Sarah Sandalwood “opened a mystical portal between” both worlds. The meeting was a wonderful real-time experience where realities collided. The artist invited her “school family” to enjoy soup with Second Life students of St. Columba, and they all experienced a “moment of communal fellowship.”
The artist chose St. Columbia after visiting the site various times and joining the community for soup. The boarding school discussed their lives during soup time, and Avital was intrigued that even though the users were playing a role within the school, there was a strong, genuine, real bond they all shared over soup.
The artist wanted the Home made Virtual Soup meeting to be an extension of St. Columba’s dining room in Second Life. She dressed up her table with the red tablecloth, white placemats and dishes, making an “almost exact” replica of the table in Second Life. The soup prepared for the guests in Real-Life was St. Columba’s super secret yellow cream-based recipe (butternut squash).
Once the meeting started the Real-Life guests spoke directly to the Second Life avatars who would respond with a text. A screen on the wall in St. Columba’s dining room showed the Real-Life guests and the Second Life avatars were screened on a wall in the artists “almost replica” room.
Avital Meshi has done multiple projects involving Second Life. She started studying Second Life to research virtual worlds and how people form relationships and family bonds in them. She has questioned role-playing and identity, exploring the different identities players assume and act out. She has used virtual reality as an artistic medium to create a space for Second Life avatars role-playing to interact with Real-Life personalities colliding various realities. Avital’s work in Home made Virtual Soup has explored ideas on “networked communication” and how it “has shaped behavior and consciousness within and beyond the realm of what is conventionally defined as art.”