There’s a tiny scene in the movie "Six Degrees of Separation" when one of the characters is getting a guided tour of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Her guide takes her up to the ceiling where the staff are doing some renovation work on the famous fresco by Michaelangelo. "Hit it, it’s only a fresco," her guide says, if I recall correctly. "Really?" she replies, incredulously. "Hit it!" She then gingerly raises her hand to the centuries old fresco, slaps God’s hand gently, and then starts giggling. It’s a great little moment.
I was reminded of this scene when I visited the recreation of the Sistine Chapel (teleport SLURL) created by Vassar College in Second Life.
If you’ve ever been to the real Sistine Chapel, there’s very little spirituality to be found, at least not as a regular tourist in Rome. It’s a cramped, crowded little room full of ugly American and European tourists like yourself jostling each other and squinting to read guidebooks in the dim lighting. Frantic Italian guards rush around slapping down cameras — no photos in chapel are permitted. It’s claustrophic and somewhat anticlimactic after a day in the grandiose grounds of the Vatican.
The virtual world version of the Chapel is a pale simalcrum of the real thing. Everything is too crisp, too new, too well lit. But your avatar can fly around in the space, and get a long look at the beautiful frescos and the tapestries, created from photos of the real thing. There are no Italian guards telling you not to take pictures.
My avatar Rik Riel touched the hand of God, and I giggled.