Expression Therapy

A comment from Sol overnight about the therapeutic benefits of virtual worlds reminded me of the benefits found in art therapy.Way back in my final year of high school, my art research topic was “expression”. I studied the Expressionists and interviewed Art Therapists from psychiatric institutions who use art as a means of helping individuals deal with emotion.
Later I studied the ability of capturing a “sublime” moment on canvas and in animation. As you can see, I love the use of art and new media to delve into the psyche, the potential for the visual to encapsulate emotion and provoke response. At one point I wanted to become an Art therapist myself.

Virtual worlds offer amazing potential to provoke this kind of emotional response. I wonder if this aspect has really been exploited yet? As Pranab Sharma pointed out in a recent post, user-generated content is a compelling interaction in virtual worlds like Secondlife.

Could virtual worlds offer an opportunity for people to deal with emotion in a traumatic situation? If we taught people getting psychiatric care how to use Secondlife, not just from a collaborative aspect (which I believe is happening already) but from a more tactile, physical, visual response. Imagine an exhibition in secondlife of object created by people who have trouble expressing themselves in the real world.

It also makes me wonder how much people under-estimate user generated content as a significant emotionally engaging interaction between the user and their virtual experience.
Landscape art has a long way to go in secondlife. I don’t quite understand why art galleries in secondlife tend to be two dimensional. The abstract landscapes I have seen (such as that by Spillebeen Mayo) are far more engaging -compelling in a virtual world due to scale and design.

One day I would love to visit a virtual abstract landscape created by a community of people who were able to process emotions in the creative process. I think the outcome could issue a challenge to levels of creativity found in virtual worlds and maybe even help individuals in society a little :)