IDIA Lab is the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts at Ball State University, a public coeducational research university in Muncie, Indiana. In 2011, IDIA Lab built a large-scale recreation of the 1915 Panama – Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, within the virtual world called Blue Mars. Unfortunately, Blue Mars never took off as a successful virtual world, and in 2017 IDIA Lab was granted rights to Blue Mars’ virtual world technology from Avatar Reality, the company behind Blue Mars. IDIA Lab then decided to move its stunning historical recreation of the San Francisco Panama – Pacific Exposition over to Sansar, where you can visit it here.
Expect to do a lot of walking (or teleporting)…. it’s a delightful summer day and the birds are chirping…. and the experience is HUGE! There are teleporters scattered around the site that promise to take you quickly to various areas, but I discovered that they did not work. I tried several times to use one and failed each time. Oh well.
However, there is still much to see here. The architecture is on a monumental scale, befitting the world’s fair celebration of the opening of the Panama Canal, but also San Francisco’s recovery from the devastating earthquake of 1906. I understand that some of the architecture you see here was later torn down, so it now only exists in its virtual state.
IDIA Lab: 1915 San Francisco World’s Fair is an example of how a virtual experience can be repurposed and republished as the technology of virtual worlds evolves. I originally enjoyed it tremendously when it was in Blue Mars, and I’m so glad it’s here in Sansar.