4: (An early glimpse of the metaverse) Bringing the Body into Virtuality 1995–2000

Sue Thomas
14 min readJan 27, 2022

Chapter 4 of my 2005 PhD Thesis ‘A Journey of Integration’

LambdaMOO login screen

Note: Much of this chapter is about the now ancient text-based virtual world of LambdaMOO. Years ago I wrote a resource page on how to access it. Much of it is probably out of date now but it might help you get there if you want to try. LambdaMOO Resources.

Bringing the Body into Virtuality 1995–2000

In May 1995 I attended the second Virtual Futures Conference¹ at the University of Warwick, where I was introduced to networked virtuality through the medium of the text-based virtual environment LambdaMOO.

At a workshop organised by the Australian cyberfeminist performance artist Francesca da Rimini, aka GashGirl, I had my first experience of being inside the machine not as an isolated individual but as part of a community. The writing of Correspondence had been a very isolated experience but at this conference, for the first time, I met other artists who were interested in the same aspects of technology I had been working with for so long. Equally important, I was also introduced to the internet and its potential to connect not just one-on-one, but one-to-many, and many-to-many. I immediately began to experiment at LambdaMOO but it was some time before I became fluent enough to participate properly. I describe that period in Hello World:

My first real initiation at LambdaMOO, five months after I attended a workshop at the 1995 Warwick Virtual Futures conference, was probably one of the most intense and heady experiences of my life. Later that year, in September, I received an invitation to an online event organised by Australian cyberfeminists VNS Matrix. Spiral Space was a site specific project taking place at a number of sites including the YYZ Artists Outlet in Toronto, Canada; the virtual world of LambdaMOO; and anywhere in the world that people happened to be able to log on. The ‘background wallpaper’ for our interactions was created by artist/programmers collecting phrases used by participants as the performance proceeded and feeding them back into the space as randomised text. This backdrop made for a powerful texturing of our live interactions and somehow provoked us — the participants — to…

Sue Thomas

I write about life, nature and technology. Most recent: 'Nature & Wellbeing in the Digital Age'. Writing a novel 'The Fault in Reality'. www.suethomas.net UK