Instant Copies

March 8th, 2009 - September 20th, 2009

Categories: Multimedia, VR Art


Instant Copies is a virtual world immersive environment that plays with the anachronistic concept of xerographic copy machines in a virtual milieu. Invented in 1942 by American inventor Chester Carlson, xerography (electrophotography) combines photography with a dry printing process using light and electricity to charge a surface to attract toner particles creating a facsimile image. Carlson’s initial invention was cumbersome, but was developed into a marketable pushbutton machine by Halide (later renamed Xerox) in 1960. Carlson’s xerography machine was the solution for instant reproduction of documents without liquids or odorous chemicals associated with photography.

Instant Copies has as its central feature several interactive virtual copy machines that actually work. Any image dropped onto a copy machine is instantly mapped into a paper-like object. Copies fall out of the machine and onto the floor, making a temporary mess and then disappear with a timed disintegration script. Two cyberzine machines function as exquisite corpse devices, allowing users to add to and change a preexisting zine like objects.

The Instant Copies environment is a showcase for copier art and zines that flourished in the late 80’s and early 90’s. This will includes various counterculture and underground press groups, alternative art publishing and artist books, artist magazines, assembling magazines, punk zines, mail art and the DIY movement. The Instant Copies environment will also include information about and links to relevant sources on the subject of the science of the xerographic process, the biography of Chester Carlson. This information is in the form of interactive exhibit and magazine-like virtual objects mounted in the virtual space.

An opening for the Instant Copies space was advertised with xerographic flyers and in virtual communities. You can visit Instant Copies in Second Life at I Am Columbia sim.