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Bringing Gandhi to Second Life

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In 1930 Mohatmas Gandhi led the famous Salt March to Dandi, a 240-mile, 26-day walk to protest British colonial policy and gain local and international support for Indian self-rule. Gandhi organized the event to protest the 1882 Salt Act, which gave Britain a monopoly on the handling and production of salt and banned Indians from handling or selling the mineral themselves. What started out as a small, symbolic action became a national movement of peaceful civil disobedience that garnered support for Indian independence among Indians and international observers.

Seventy-eight years after this momentous march, artist Joseph DeLappe of New York City’s Eyebeam Studios is “recreating the event as a ‘walk’ across cyberspace to take place within the confines of Second Life using a specially converted treadmill.” DeLappe is walking all 240 miles of the march on a converted self-powered treadmill as part of his interactive performance art project. DeLappe’s treadmill holds a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, which enables visitors to keep up with his progress on a large video screen projection. DeLappe welcomes others to “walk along” with him in Second Life if they are so moved.

Louis Fischer, Gandhi’s biographer, claimed that Gandhi’s greatness “lay in doing what everyone could do but doesn’t.” DeLappe is trying to bring the power of Gandhi’s inspiring example of everyday heroism into the realm of the Internet and online gaming. Visit the Salt Satyagraha online blog for daily updates and information about DeLappe’s experiences as he follows Gandhi’s path in the virtual world.

Photos Courtesy of Joseph DeLappe

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