The Nether Realm - a living virtual world at the Royal Court

The Nether Realm is a living virtual world inspired by Jennifer Haley’s new play, The Nether. The artwork explores the ways in which virtual environments can be the product of our activities in real life and considers the idea that the moral character of these online public spaces is ultimately dependent on how we create and interact with them.


The realm is linked in real time to the Twitter hashtag #TheNether. Every time the hashtag is used on Twitter, new life is breathed into the world. When the hashtag is not in use the world slowly starts to decay.

Tweeting the keyword ‘sunlight’ (or other similar words) along with #TheNether generates an instant effect and instils additional life into the realm.

Visitors to the Royal Court Theatre can view the artwork through a series of digital portals installed throughout the building and can enter the world as an avatar using an interactive kiosk located in the Balcony Bar

The Nether Realm can also be entered online. The world is located in the public virtual space OSgrid. Using a virtual worlds browser such as Firestorm, you can access and explore the world as an avatar. Simple instructions for how to do this can be found here. Instructions for how to personalise your avatar can be found here.

The Nether Realm was created by the visual artist Michael Takeo Magruder, who works with digital and new media including real-time data, immersive environments, mobile devices and virtual worlds.In the last 15 years, his projects have been showcased in over 250 exhibitions in 30 countries, including Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid; the Courtauld Institute of Art, London; EAST International, Norwich; Eastside Projects, Birmingham; FACT, Liverpool; Georges Pompidou Center, Paris; SESI’ Cultural Centre, São Paulo; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; and Trans-Media-Akademie, Hellerau. In 2010, Michael was selected to represent the UK at Manifesta 8: the European Biennial of Contemporary Art and several of his most well-known digital artworks were added to the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art at Cornell University.

Produced by Headlong, with support from the Royal Court Theatre, 2014.
Supported by the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London.

For more information on The Nether click here.