Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An interview with Selavy Oh

Selavy Oh

Previous interviews
Alpha Auer
Mikati Slade
Glyph Graves
Blotto Epsilon and Cutea Benelli
Nessuno Myoo


Bryn Oh: Where are you from?  And who are the most renowned artists from your country in your opinion?

Selavy Oh: Germany. Artists: Albrecht Dürer, Caspar David Friedrich, Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter.

Bryn Oh:  Often the average person outside SL  is perplexed with virtual worlds in general.  When people unfamiliar with the virtual ask you what you do how do you explain it?

Selavy Oh:  I don’t explain. I offer them to demonstrate it.


Bryn Oh:  Who are a few of your favorite artists and why?

Gerhard Richter
Selavy Oh:  This would be a long list. So here you go, no specific order for the names:

Robert Morris. Bruce Nauman. Joseph Kosuth. Sol LeWitt. Gregor Schneider. Pippilotti Rist. Alva Noto. Fiona Banner. Allan Kaprow. … and of course Rrose Selavy

Caspar David Friedrich

Bryn Oh:  Whose artwork do you personally dislike the most and why?

Selavy Oh:  The late Salvador Dali. Because he started out as a very promising artist (just look at his fabulous collaboration with Bunuel in 'un chien andalou‘ and 'l’age d’or‘) and then quickly turned into kitsch.


Bryn Oh:  Which of your own works are you most proud of?  Do you feel any failed and if so do you now know why?

Sol LeWitt
Selavy Oh:  Which ones I’m proud of? I think the ones that were challenges for me. Like the first big works using Second Life, I was unknown in the community, a beginner with this medium, but still I succeeded and achieved some works I can be, well, proud of.

The failures. Well, many have failed in one or the other aspect. An example: I had two big installations at the LEA sims, one in DC Spensley’s show and one for a show by Lori Landay. The work was called "the rules“. I had put a lot of work into it, a lot of thinking, coding, conceptual ideas. But it was pretty much a failure. The idea didn’t come across. Too complex, the beauty of its inner logic was apparently not accessible to the visitors, the installation seemed uncommunicative, demure. For example, nobody noticed that both installations were connected. It’s in a way ironical, because the topic of the piece was that we constantly try to understand the rules governing the world around us, but even when they are plain and simple, we have a really hard time to recognize them. But: I’m still proud of this one, even though it was a failure.

Gregor Schneider
Bryn Oh:  Do you have a method when creating? If so how does it often progress?  For example do you sketch or write out ideas first for weeks or do you perhaps just jump directly into the project with little planning and adapt as you go?

Selavy Oh:  First I do research. I try to get as much information as possible about the topic, the
 
location, the size limits, duration of the show, etc. I make notes, sometimes I draw, or take pictures. I might look up something on the internet. All that is like loading a battery. And then I take a shower. Taking a shower is my method to unleash the hounds of creativity. Very often though one shower isn’t enough.
  
Bryn Oh:  What are you currently reading, listening to or looking at to inspire your work?

Selavy Oh:  Some examples: reading a couple of philosophical articles about time machines, a text by Roland Barthes, looking at an old exhibition catalogue, watching the six hour long screening of Matthew Barney’s „The River of Fundament“, talking to members of an artists research laboratory, email conversations with a close friend. Trying to be open, like an antenna, open for receiving those signals "from the labyrinth beyond time and space".
  
Bryn Oh:  Does your work have an overall theme and if so what might that be?  If not please describe how you tend to pick your topics.  

Selavy Oh:  Yes, there is indeed such a theme. But I don’t disclose it. It is important as a guideline for me to create, but not for the reception of my work. An artist should not give the interpretation of the work - except if the interpretation is part of the work.


Bryn Oh:  Have you ever had to deal with negative publicity or a disappointing rejection of your artwork?  How do you deal with it?

Selavy Oh:  Negative publicity fortunately has been quite rare for me. But if my work is completely ignored, then that tells a lot. Of course, I had several rejections of proposals for funding or to get into a show. That’s ok, it’s part of the game. Perhaps I was lucky so far, perhaps I simply ignored other disappointments.
  
Bryn Oh:  Would you like to take a stab at explaining what defines virtual art? 

Selavy Oh:  I don’t like the term "virtual art" at all. It’s a misnomer. What we create is real art. Our material is mostly virtual or immaterial. And that’s already a defining term: you can’t touch it with your bare hands.
  
Bryn Oh:  What would you say makes virtual creations unique over other art forms?

Selavy Oh:  That you can touch it with your mouse. Joke aside, one unique feature is the possibility for non-destructive interactivity. Even if thousand visitors engage with our work there is no need for restoration. Of course you can also say: the unique feature is that virtual things don’t age. But that’s not completely true, they age differently. It’s not a continuous process, but rather instantaneous: at some point, our work will be gone, because the last piece of hardware to display it will have died.
  
Marcel Duchamp
Bryn Oh:  Centuries ago there was no such thing as an "artist" just craftsmen, as time progressed superior technical ability and creativity created the elite "Master" artist whose work stood recognized above all others.  In 1917 Marcel Duchamp submitted a work entitled "Fountain" to the Society of Independent artists.    He stated "... He (the artist) CHOSE it. He took an article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new thought for that object"  He wanted to shift the focus away from technical craft to more of an aesthetic intellectual interpretation.  Some say that because of him almost everything is considered art today.  From an elephant painting with its trunk, a Banksy, a child's drawing to someone vomiting paint onto a canvas.  What is your perspective on this?

Selavy Oh:  Duchamp also said: "All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualification and thus adds his contribution to the creative act."

This means that it is not enough to declare something as being a work of art. The artist may intend to create an artwork, but may fail. In Duchamp’s words: "What I have in mind is that art may be bad, good or indifferent, but, whatever adjective is used, we must call it art, and bad art is still art in the same way that a bad emotion is still an emotion."


Thus, Duchamp liberated art by allowing it to be created outside academic or other conventions. But at the same time he shifted part of the contribution to the creative act from the artist to the spectator. Because of this paradigmatic shift, my perspective is that Duchamp is responsible for a lot of bad art.


Selavy Oh - Conformational Change from Ux Hax on Vimeo.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Imogen and the pigeons machinima - fixed dialogue

     Yeah so.. I.. um forgot to put in some dialogue in the previous render of the machinima.  I have
looked around for someone to blame other than myself but it is difficult to find a scapegoat when nobody else is involved.  What I expect happened, though it sounds a bit far fetched, is that my cat perhaps walked over my keyboard when I was not looking, and through a complex and near moonwalk type of shuffle my cat Loki must have somehow erased the dialogue then jumped down to have a snooze before I returned to notice.  I really can't imagine any other scenario.  Anyway here is the fixed version of the machinima if you have a burning desire to watch it again.  And if you have linked or embedded the previous one somewhere, and it is not too much trouble, please delete that.  One of my personality quirks is to be bothered by people seeing an artwork of mine that is not the "final" artwork that I am happy with.  For example seeing a Flickr photo of my work where half of it didn't rez or something.    Anyway I will stop talking now.. here it is.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hozier surprise choir

     I just wanted to share this video I discovered.  One of my favorite songs right now is called "Take me to church" by a relatively new artist named Hozier.  He was saying the other day that he had imagined his career as being one where he would spend ten years or so slogging away at little clubs and if he was lucky to make a living out of making music.  So imagine his surprise when so early in his career he has had such a huge hit.  So this footage is of him in Paris at a small club doing his hit song during a show.  He begins take me to church and not too many seem to know the song in the audience but what is awesome is... a choir came to his show and stood in the front row.  They are clearly fans and sang the choir portions that were in the studio version. A choir is too big to take on tour so he must normally just have this quieter version.  It is priceless seeing him smiling when they suddenly start singing along with him.



and this is the original if you want to hear the studio version with the choir.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Occulus Rift at Sundance film festival

At Sundance film festival the first movie for use with the Occulus Rift was premiered.  The creation by Story Studio, an in house production company from Occulus itself.  Created by Saschka Unseld who also did the Pixar short The Blue Umbrella.  From everything I have read the movie itself blew everyone away.  The way people describe it is actually the way we have been describing narrative in our virtual world for a while now.  They talk about the freedom of movement, the feeling of being in a story rather than passively observing one being told.  The idea of the active participant.  This is likely the first of many new things created for VR that is part game part movie (though I think this is not particularly interactive yet)  Oculus Story Studio plans to release four more VR experiences this year including Bullfighter, which seems to focus on adrenaline, then a comedy about a hedgehog with a balloon fascination called Henry, and  Dear Angelica.  There is a video below which introduces Story Studio.

Thanks to Blotto Epsilon for linking me

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Imogen and the pigeons - machinima




 Last year I received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council to create a machinima, among other things, for Imogen and the pigeons from which the Singularity of Kumiko is the prequel.  I would like to thank Jenna Stillman and Loreen Legion for lending their talents in voice and for Loreen, the ambient music score.  Many experienced the Singularity of Kumiko and were surprised at the ending which showed Kumiko to be the daughter of Imogen.  The story of what happened to Kumiko describes the events which broke Imogen, placing her within the institution.  Many others no doubt had no idea who Imogen was, if that was you and you would like to know how she connected to the Singularity of Kumiko then I have listed a series of blog posts I had done explaining the story for Imogen and the pigeons and all its little parts.  Some posts explain rooms and compositional elements
flying chair
while others just post poems and such.

http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/03/imogen-and-pigeons-some-musings-on.html

http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/04/imogen-and-pigeons-part-one.html

http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/04/imogen-and-pigeons-rapist.html

Poem rooms
http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/04/chalk-fingers.html
http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/04/imogen-junipers-room.html
http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/04/ginger-float_10.html
http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/04/elliot-amber.html

http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/04/the-safe-room.html

http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/04/imogen.html

http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/04/imogen-wall-walking.html

http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/04/wings-and-adverts.html

http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/04/imogen-beauty-salon-and-fridge-drawings.html

http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/04/imogen-to-fall-and-become-aware.html

http://brynoh.blogspot.ca/2013/05/imogen-and-pigeons-zeroes-and-ones.html

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bryn Oh art Calendar

Bryn Oh Calendar 2015
A while ago I was contacted by Art Blue in order to create a bunch of Bryn Oh Calendars featuring
my art work.  Jami Mills, Ziki Questi and Art created a really beautiful calendar and I have just received 10 in the mail.  Art produced the calendar for a specific purpose, hundreds were sent out to various museums and galleries across the United States and Europe with a simple message for the curators.  I will post it below.

Immersive Digital Art
Bryn Oh

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Digital art might not fit into any particular category of your institution just now, nor might it be a key target of your collection, but in a few years it might be different.  40 years ago when I was in high school, I made my first steps into this field, so I know the history.  I had only  a computer driven pencil, a plotter as it is now called.  Now we live in the Metaverse - "just in a few years' time we will all meet there", says George Bloom, director at CBS Digital.

Enjoy this first calendar of Bryn Oh, a virtual artist and pioneer in this field.  Please store it; keep it in your archives for the future.  That's all we are asking.  Many works that artists created with computers 40, 50, 60 years ago are now lost, and few have been preserved well enough to present to the public.

We offer you the opportunity to download the prints as raw screenshots [png files] in a 6,016 x 6,016 pixel format for exhibition purposes.  Send us an email with a full imprint and I would be happy to send you the links to download.  You may print and reproduce them after receiving a confirmation from our foundation.  There are no costs involved; we simply wish to ensure they are presented with the highest quality.

Jami Mills, editor of rez magazine, will be happy to send you some text for publication that is suited to the prints.

Yours sincerly
Reiner Schneeberger
Director Stiftung Kunstinformatik

Daughter of gears oil painting 30x40

Art has proved to be quite the patron as he has also purchased both my Daughter of Gears oil painting and "Mask" an oil painting I did of my avatar.

     I have now 9 calendars which I was not sure what do with.  I have decided to sell them as a way to create income to help pay tier for my virtual region Immersiva.  To be upfront, it costs me $300 USD a month to keep Immersiva and the money raised would go exclusively towards paying tier and whatever costs are associated with mailing out the calendar.  So if you have enjoyed my work over the years and would like something physical to remember it by, would
Mask oil painting 30x40
like to be a patron or simply to donate then feel free to contact me for a calendar.  You are welcome to donate as much as you like naturally, but a minimum of $100 USD is fine for the calendar in lindens, paypal or whatever.  I can also sign it, just let me know if you would like that.

I would like to thank Art Blue, Jami Mills and Ziki questi among others for their selfless and generous desire to preserve my artwork.  It is a great deal of time and effort not to mention expense to create these calendars and they do so because they feel the art created in virtual environments are important and worth preserving.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Video games as contemporary art - Endless Forest

     A while ago I discovered Tale of Tales a small company or studio run by Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn out of Belgium.  Together they create unique ways to think about experiences that we would classify as video games.  The first one I discovered, quite by accident, and explored with my friend ColeMarie Soleil was called Endless Forest.   In a previous post I talked about how I have been trying out video games that get ratings of around 90% or so to see why they are so popular, Endless Forest didn't get rated by anyone and is the bane of teenage boys from what I can see online.  Despite this I quite like the idea of it.  Some video games I have come to see as contemporary works of art whose focus is on interaction, immersion and usually narrative.  Many of the best ones I have come across have been open ended too.. meaning that you can pretty much go wherever you wish without following a linear path as we are accustomed to do in cinema and other forms of art.  In the good experiences we are active participants rather than passive observers, and that, as you already know if you follow my blog, is the type of art experiences I attempt to create in the virtual world of Second Life.
     The vast majority of video games I come across involve some type of violence and most try to include at least one exploding head.  The developers tend to follow a well trodden successful path for the majority of players, so when I see a new way of thinking it always intrigues me.  It is a brave thing to take a chance on something which completely goes against the current trends of success.  That is what Tale of Tales tends to do with most of their work.  In endless forest there is no goal.  You arrive to a forest as a baby deer or foal.  Above your head is a unique glowing symbol which is you, and what others recognize you by.  You will come across other deer and will realize quite quickly that there is no way to communicate with them.  There is no typing out text to one another but instead you have a variety of ways to communicate with
body language.  Shake your head, rear up onto your back legs and so on.  It is a community embracing the absence of normal communication, and then what happens in that environment.  It was interesting to me how simplified the language became and how simplistic the pleasures became.  From wandering around to comfortably laying close to another deer.  I remember over time a little doe began to follow me around and get genuinely excited when we would bump into each other in the forest.  It was both bizarre and adorable at once.
   Now I am not suggesting this is a game you would play for months on end, but rather an experience to have, to think about, then move on from.  Many would no doubt find it stupid, boring and odd yet I do quite enjoy odd so that is why I am including it.  It is a uniquely strange and beautiful experience at a vastly slower pace than a large game developer would dare attempt and I respect them for thinking of then creating it.  It is original as well as a different way to use the medium, so if you would also like to try it then you can download it here.  The Endless Forest