Avatars; Altars Amalgamate for Day of the Dead Celebration

Science fiction and tradition will fuse to form a unique and global experience for UTEP Miners during the 5th annual Smithsonian-UTEP Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Festival.

UTEP organizers have scheduled a number of events from 10:30 a.m. through 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, in the plaza outside the Undergraduate Learning Center (UGLC). They include live music and a real-time creation of ceremonial altars by artists from the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts. Many more activities will take place in Second Life, a virtual world inhabited by two-dimensional computer generated representations used in computer games and Internet forums known as avatars. The annual celebration will re-launch several Second Life sites originally created for the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum to promote Hispanic culture. The sites are a placitamarketplace, a cemetery filled with notable Mexicans and Hispanics, and the Meso-American Ballcourt of the Sun, where avatars can play one of the earliest team sports known to man – tachtli. 

Last year’s Día de Los Muertos Second Life events attracted more than 18,000 avatars from around the United States and other countries to the Smithsonian site.

Second Life “lands” will provide valuable learning material about Latino culture for academic and ethnographic research, said Janet Hill, an Academic Technologies multimedia specialist who was UTEP’s point person for the data transfer that involved 1,200 pieces of digital content.

Media Note: One of the Second Life highlights will be a Meso-American “tachtli” (pronounced tash-klee) ballgame, a combination of soccer and basketball, which will pit teams of avatars from UTEP and the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum against each other in the Ballcourt of the Sun at noon. The game should last about 30 minutes and will be shared live in the UGLC courtyard.


WHAT: Día de los Muertos

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1 (Noon – viewing of virtual tachtli ballgame)

WHERE: Undergraduate Learning Center plaza