Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lobby Cam part three

July 26th

     While I was out in the fields today, strangely, my mind kept returning to the lobby camera.  I imagined the bustling life there perhaps with a person to match each strand of wheat in my field.  I went home, made dinner and found the lobby channel.   She walked in almost immediately, opened her mailbox and peered inside.  From the table she picked up her letters and started to read them.  She is slight, small and almost homely.  I can see a flicker of a smile flow across her face like the wind waves across my wheat as she reads.  Who is she?  What does she do?  Does she live alone?  I bet she has cats.  Enough to give her an uncomfortable sleep as they lay claims to different parts of her bed.  As I was daydreaming she suddenly left.  "Bye Fern" I murmured out loud.  I decided to name her Fern after the thin,  graceful yet resilient plants who suffered the wind gusts by my barn.   I watched the silent lobby for a moment and hesitated, then I saved the channel into my "favorites".

   One of the topics behind this narrative is the way in which we project personalities, morals and other attributes onto individuals whom we come across through watching the various media we interact with on a regular basis.  So that ranges from reality shows which give the impression we can safely watch others anonymously then are expected to offer an opinion, an opinion that counts through voting etc, on who or what they are based on the contrived editing which accompanies that shows particular narrative.  There are many variations of this scenario but I chose to use a security camera and a girl who the main character comes to feel he knows.

August 3rd

     A week has gone by and I find myself watching the lobby channel more often.  I am curious if perhaps Fern goes out later at night or ever comes home with a friend, but I never see her outside my dinner time.  It is 6pm and I am eating my dinner, but I think she is just getting home from work.  People in cities finish work around 5pm don't they?   
     I saw her drop a piece of paper as she picked up her letters from the table.  A long slip of paper with some red on the end.  Big letters T.T.C  emblazoned at the top.. what is that?

For the unnamed man the arrival of Fern has invigorated him in some manner that is unexpected even to himself.    The peculiarity of the situation mingled with an alluring young lady create a mystery for him to consider during the routine of his quiet life.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Lobby Cam part two

     The viewer walks into a field of wheat that blows around them sometimes vigorously while others quiet and gentle.  It feels almost like a sea undulating and pulsing with a high contrast to the viewer standing still and the old rusted truck in the field.  One of the themes I like to work with is the idea of technological triumphs in the human race being forgotten, decaying with nature slowly and inexorably reclaiming them then incorporatating those objects into its own environment.  The previous use or function of our achievements being forgotten.   The old rusted truck is one such object.  To the birds it is just a convenient island in the sea of wheat to land upon.  One such bird enjoying the view from the open door is a red winged blackbird.  Throughout the build are field recordings of this bird which you can hear mixed with the drone of crickets and the wind.  What I wanted to do was create an immersive environment which would also work well with my occulus rift which I have been testing.  When I stand in the field with the virtual reality headset on then it really does become a rather charming immersive space.   Sadly I am a bit too far ahead testing this new technology as so few have the headset yet, and Lobby Cam will be deleted before the headsets arrive over the next several months.

After walking a bit the visitor will find a new diary entry.  I built this work so that it didn't matter what order you found the pages on the sim they would always reveal the next page in the diary.  The pages themselves blow around randomly but always stay within a fairly small radius so they can be found in general areas.   The next page is for July 24th.

July 24th

Fern on the Lobby Security Camera
I came in from the fields today, made dinner and sat down to watch TV as I am accustomed to doing.  A funny thing happened though.  I was flipping through the TV channels and came to one I had never seen.  It was channel R46 and I don't think it was even there before.  Anyway, all it showed was an empty lobby for an apartment building.  I realized it was a lobby security camera because as I was watching a young lady came into the picture and checked her mail within a wall of little red metal mailboxes.  My view was from up in a corner looking down on her, she read some mail from a table, opened a door then disappeared from view.  After she left I watched for a little bit and it seemed as though the lobby almost returned to a frozen state of waiting.   

Complete stillness only moments before brought to life by the presence of this young lady.

The unnamed author of these diary entries is a toy maker and his diary contains little images he collects of things which inspire him or reflect his current state of mind in regards to the diary entries they accompany.   The next entry.

 July 25th

I came in from the fields today, made dinner and sat down to watch TV.  The news was of a war torn Ukraine, ISIS and Ebola.  As I was watching I remembered the Lobby camera channel and switched over to see it during the commercials.  It was the same empty room, almost like a photograph.  I don't really know what I was expecting or even why I went there.  Just as I was about to go back to watch the news she appeared.  The girl from yesterday.  She wore a grey sweater and some leggingsTo me a cosmopolitan office look of some sort, though I am certainly no expert on that considering where I live.  She went to her mailbox, opened it and peered inside to find nothing.  She picked up her mail from a table and began to read a letter.  I watched as her mouth moved from a frown to a cute smile.  She laughed and it lit up her eyes.  

 There is nothing so pretty as an unwatched girl.   

     She put down her letter and disappeared  into the building. 

I watched for a few moments longer then went back to the news.  A story on the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane shot down over Ukraine.  298 dead and everyone pointing fingers.  I turned it off.  How could I possibly get reception from a security camera to my TV?  I thought they were local or something.  There is not an apartment building within 200 kilometers to where I live.  

 Is she even in the same country as me?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lobby Cam part one

     Before I begin with Lobby Cam I just want to say that yesterday Madpea did their annual auction of Second Life people and their skills to a cause which helps to build Schools in Kenya.  I would like to thank Cassie Parker who donated 15,000 on top of the winning bid for me of 45,000 for a total of 60,000.  The overall event was able to raise enough money for the school so congratulations to all involved.  If you are looking for a good book to read then there is one I have read with parallels related to the need for schools in the refugee camps in kenya called What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng by Dave Eggers.  It is a true story about the lost boys of Sudan who walked endlessly to find shelter from the civil war.

     When you arrive to Lobby Cam you will find yourself inside an art gallery.   On the walls are a variety of oil paintings which I have done over the years and if you look around you will also find a train ticket departing from Saskatoon to Toronto.   There is a person in the gallery looking at the paintings and her name is Fern.  This scene at the start is actually the optimal ending for this story.  It is where the main
character travels to Toronto to have an art exhibit hosted by the mysterious woman who he names Fern.  This room means nothing unless the visitor goes through the story and writes an appropriate letter to Fern which convinces her to offer him an exhibit at her gallery.  And it also requires that person to come again another day to the exhibit and realize that the scene is related to that, as it is natural to forget this first room after leaving it to experience the rest of the story.  To everyone else this gallery setting is the starting point where they obtain a hud to experience the narrative for Lobby Cam.  It illustrates the notion of the evolution of immersion from the painting to the virtual space. 
     Walking down a hallway the visitor will come to an oil painting of a Saskatchewan grain silo with its accompanying railway.  In front of this is a rich field of wheat painted in cadmium yellows, oranges and reds as only an oil painting can truly achieve.  Sorry acrylic painters but your acrylic emulsion binders sadly don't allow for the full range of pigments and their spectrum to show compared to what linseed or safflower oils permit.  I wont rant about that, but I bet you didn't know that artists get snarky with each other over the paints they use.  I am not saying acrylic painters are necessarily bad people, I think that goes without saying, but I do think in general they are morally questionable types, and perhaps if you cross referenced crimes
committed by artists worldwide then I suspect the vast majority would be done by acrylic painters.  Just saying.
     Anyway, if you walk closer to this painting on the wall you will see if break apart and float away revealing the paintings location as a 3D virtual space.  Almost immediately you will discover a torn page on the ground which, when touched, adds a page to the hud which is a recreation of a man's diary.   The
diary itself lays outside the converted grain silo in a torn mess as though someone, in frustration, wanted to be rid of it.  The first page in the diary reads...

July 20th

A European couple came today.  They were quite friendly and it took me a while to realize they had journeyed to see the toys.  It has been so long since people have come now that the train no longer runs this route.

     As we were talking I saw myself through their eyes, how I must appear to them.  A middle aged man living alone in a remote converted grain silo.  To the side a weathered and disused Cafe echoing of better times.  An eccentric who builds toys that nobody comes to see.  I couldn't tell if they pitied me or found me interesting.

Turning over the page (by clicking on the July 20th entry) reveals another entry on the back written a few days later.

July 23rd

Today was much like the others.  I tended my fields and watched the wheat move like waves in the wind, the red winged blackbirds singing and the crickets chirping.  I don't know why I keep this diary really, I seem to write the same thing over and over.  It's routine I guess, as it all is.

This is the introduction to the story and with each page found the narrative begins to unfold.