Always In Season Island
Producer: Jacqueline Olive
Always in Season Island is a Second Life (SL) project that accompanies the documentary Always in Season, which features rare intimate accounts from relatives of lynching victims and spectators and their descendants along with lynching postcards and photographs to examine the effects of nearly a century of this form of racial terrorism on Americans today.
While lynching is a painful part of American history, much can be gained by frankly exploring this form of racial terrorism and carefully uncovering the lessons of lynching lost to denial and misinformation. More than three hundred universities around the world teach courses or conduct research in the media-rich, virtual world of SL where students and educators regularly come together in virtual spaces called Simulators (SIMs) or islands to meet others, study and train, and learn about social issues. Always in Season Island offers a role-playing platform in a facilitated environment for university students to examine the choices and circumstances that brought tens of thousands of men, women, and children out to watch lynchings across the United States.
The setting of the SIM is based in part on the August 7, 1930 lynching that occurred in Marion, Indiana where more than 10,000 people came to watch the torture and murder of two African American men, Abe Smith and Thomas Shipp, and 16-year old James Cameron who narrowly escaped. While Always in Season Island approximates the tenor of the mobs crowds that gathered to participate in lynchings, our SIM will not use gratuitous violence and the actual murders will not be seen. However, by assuming the role of key people involved in the lynching, completing tasks and responding to prompts that can encourage or stop the lynching, interacting with multimedia displays, visiting websites that explore related issues of violence while still in SL, and sharing their experiences with others inside and outside of SL using Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube — visitors will gain a personal sense of the extent of human loss caused by lynching and understand how this history informs their lives an relates to the dehumanization and violence happening today.
While the SIM will initially launch with university students incorporating their feedback along with input from an advisory board of academicians, psychologists, and SL experts— Always in Season Island will eventually open to the broader public. An exciting partnership with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (NCCHR) that owns the Without Sanctuary exhibit of lynching photographs and postcards means that the virtual world experience of Always in Season Island will be integrated into the actual visitation experience at NCCHR so when hundreds of thousands of visitors see the permanent collection of lynching photographs and postcards at the Center in Atlanta, the constant stream of visitors will get to further their experience and enrich their understanding of the multiple perspectives, roles, and circumstances of people involved in lynchings by experiencing Always in Season Island. To help people ultimately move beyond conversations to taking decisive action in their own communities, Always in Season Island will provide education modules, machinima videos, brochures and other tools that visitors can effectively use to prevent dehumanization and group violence.
During a 10-day residency with the Bay Area Video Coalition Producers Institute for New Media Technologies in June, a prototype of Always in Season Island was completed.