Monday, October 13, 2014

Drik Magazine interview

     I had done an interview for Drik Magazine a while ago and forgot to mention it.  They are a Spanish publication and so, if you are fortunate enough to speak Spanish, which sadly I am not, then here is the translation.  There is also the English original here.  Some parts of the interview may seem familiar because I have used them in other interviews.  One thing that is a bit tiring with interviews is that often you come across the same questions over and over again.  It is not the fault of the interviewer as they are completely rational questions to ask, however, I often would spend a long time trying to answer the same question I had come across before in a different manner.  Then one day I told this to a friend and they said "What on earth are you talking about... keep a record of all your questions and all your responses and if you have answered a question once exactly the way you want to then why fool around,  just paste it in the new interview."  The thing is this is true because all the people who read the Drik magazine article will be reading my views for the first time.  You are probably reading this and saying "yes obviously Bryn you toolbox"  but what can I say I always thought I had to write something new or it was cheating.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Art @ Algorithms

     I have been sent some images of the Art & Algorithms festival and am quite impressed with their set up.  Gary Zabel and the other organizers have done a great job introducing the public to the potential of using virtual environments as a medium for art.  As you can see in the girls face above, she is captivated by her interaction with the virtual space, despite being in a public place and being photographed.  The ability to tune out competing distractions is a big challenge in creating immersion within the viewer.
Singularity of Kumiko
Singularity of Kumiko
It is a fragile state yet they have done a wonderful job in creating a space that allows the guests to become immersed in the medium.   In looking at her body language we can see that she leans forward, which is a sign that she is interested or captivated by the experience (as opposed to leaning backwards which suggests rejection).  We live in a world which is becoming further based on mass stimulus.  Advertising is everywhere, and with the advent of "targeted" advertising, which focuses on observing our online behaviour and what not, I for one, am beginning to see an almost disconnect in some of my friends.  Some of them find it near impossible to ignore an incoming text message, thanks to the Pavlovian ding they give out.  Everything is competing to catch our attention.  I have other friends from the "cable cutter" generation, those who have removed their TVs and simply watch the occasional thing on Netflicks, I have noticed in these a clarity in their attention.  When you talk to them they focus on you, whereas, some other friends of mine who are the facebook, tv, phone addict types, they seem to be developing a need for.. god whats the word?  A need for excessive stimulus?  As though they have become accustomed or trained to require a bombardment of stimulus, real time updates, reward systems and so on, to maintain focus.   I have friends who can't read books anymore... not enough stimulus.  Anyway, so having said all this, I am encouraged to see this girl engrossed in the experience, I may be wrong but it seems to me as though the virtual space and narratives such as the Singularity of Kumiko, are experiences closer to a book in regards to using ones imagination and interaction, than to more modern forms which supply stimulus rather than allowing the viewer to create, from their imagination, the environments of the mind.  So for example, a book is not really considered interactive, but isn't it?  In text we are told about characters and places, then under the blankets in bed at night by the lamp, we imagine what the characters look like, their accents or grand vistas.  We imagine all this based on simple text which, to me, seems more interactive than a movie which provides all the imagery, characters and even movement.  Movement in that we follow the camera wherever it decides to take us, as opposed to the freedom of movement in an open ended environment such as the virtual space provides.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Arts & Algorithms - Retrospective and Singularity of Kumiko on Immersiva

Condos in Heaven
Annas Many Murders
     In Titusville, Florida, opens a digital arts festival entitled Arts & Algorithms.  It will run from October 3-12, 2014 and is sponsored by everything from Galleries, Universities to NASA.  Dr. Gary Zabel contacted me quite some time ago to be involved in the festival and, speaking to him recently, he informs me that the entire organizing committee is very enthusiastic about what they have seen.   I have contributed two elements to the festival in the form of a region housing a retrospective of my work from 2007-2014 on LEA 9 (graciously provided by the LEA to the organizers) and my region Immersiva.  The retrospective was quite a challenging endeavour for two reasons.  The first being that all my early work from 2007 and later have all been unlinked and the prims had migrated.  I suppose that was a result of various changes over the years to SL, but yikes what a pain to reassemble things.  When I say prims migrated I mean,
World Expo and Orrey from "My Avatar and Me" movie
Rabbicorn Story
for example in the image above, that the head of the man might appear a foot over from his neck, and the boys elbow might be in a different spot etc.  All things to move back to their original spot, but when its lots of them it gets tiresome as you can imagine.  Linden Lab should really offer a service either as a perk of being a premium member or as an added charge, which allows builders to make a copy of their work which can then be loaded again at a later date.  Essentially a region rollback that the user can do themselves or schedule.  A region rollback is generally when your region has become all messed up and you ask Linden Lab to restore it to how it was on a previous date. A saved version of your region at a particular time.   But for example, the Singularity of Kumiko is an elaborate build.  After I delete it in a month or two, I doubt I will ever put it out again as the time and effort needed to reassemble it manually is quite daunting to think about.  Now imagine if I could set up Immersiva so that each week I could have a different build appear.  The first week of October is The Daughter of Gears, second week is Rabbicorn story, third Standby, then Annas Many Murder, Virginia Alone, Imogen and the pigeons and so on.  Second life needs content for the users, imagine the incredible amount of content that could suddenly appear for people in SL if sim owners could all do this.  Also, there are many regions that have been the same for years.  Builders sometimes create works which are very hard to let go of, especially when you know you will never bring it back if you delete it.  Offering this type of
Daughter of Gears
service would allow builders to keep creating new regions rather than sitting on a successful design for years.  Ideally, tier wouldn't be so stupidly expensive and people could keep one build and then on another region build something new, but I don't expect region prices to drop until the next SL comes out.  Anyway, back on topic.
Singularity of Kumiko
     The retrospective shows glimpses into what my full region narratives were like, machinima for each can be seen by clicking the titles.   They will be shown at the Art & Algorithms event on a screen and will allow visitors to the exhibit to navigate using an avatar.  On a second screen will be the full narrative of the Singularity of Kumiko on my region Immersiva.  So the guest will also get the opportunity to navigate the full immersive
Singularity of Kumiko
Nuit Blanche
Vogue Magazine
experience of a build as well.  This, to me, was very important as the immersive experience is what my work is really all about rather than individual pieces.  They have just now sent me an image of what the viewing stations for my artwork will look like and they are pretty impressive. I will post images later when they send me some.  Apparently they are not on the market yet, these viewing stations, but they kind of remind me of those robots in Star Wars that roll around everywhere then transform into a scorpion type bad guy.  Here are a few images of things that I don't think are mentioned in the retrospective but still part of Bryn Oh's history.  The first to the left is an image of Immersiva being shown on a monitor for Nuit Blanche, a worldwide art festival that goes from 7pm to 7am.  A huge fun all night thing.  They exhibited my machinima on all the subway monitors across the entire city of Toronto in a loop.  It was a surreal feeling being out that night waiting for trains and seeing my artwork on the monitors.  Hundreds of people on the platform watching them and not knowing it was me who created them, seeing as I am anonymous and nobody does know except a few friends.  The other image I am fond of is the Vogue magazine one which had me in an article.  It was just so completely strange, I mean really how on earth could I be in Vogue? So bizarre.
     In closing of this erratic blog post I will mention that there is another LEA region with more artists exhibiting at the event, but I don't have any information on it yet. I am not actually even sure if it will be public as they were concerned with lag.  I was looking on my radar and there are 18 bots there! For information on this one please contact Pixels Sideways.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

An interview with Mikati Slade

Mikati Slade

     Mikati is an artist whose work is very recognizable.  It is a sophisticated 8-bit cone of candyfloss, and she is herself a sweet person.  I find her work fun and playful, often lifting my
spirits with her bright colour palette.  The work reminds me of games such as Super Mario with
a soundtrack by Crystal Castles perhaps.
Hope you enjoy the interview.

Mikati Slade
Bryn Oh: Where are you from?  And who are the most renowned artists from your country in your opinion?
Mikati Slade:  I am from Japan. I think Yoko Ono is the most renowned artist who's from Japan. I saw her work titled "Freight Train" at an exhibition in my town a long time ago. It featured a real freight train with a lot of bullet holes. At night, all the bullet holes illuminated with light coming from inside the train. The theme was quite serious, but also beautiful at the same time.

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?
Mikati Slade:  One of the unique things about virtual worlds is the various cultures that form in them. Art, fashion, music, and other creative and social pursuits give rise to different cultures. This makes virtual worlds quite a bit different from other online game products. And this is the point that I try to explain to people who are unfamiliar with virtual worlds.

Mikati Slade - Kuru Kuru World
Takashi Murakami
Bryn Oh: Who are a few of your favorite artists and why?
Mikati Slade:  In virtual world, Bryn Oh (Canada) made works of great importance in the art history of virtual worlds. Her works gave me some of the inspiration for "KURU KURU WORLD" (2011, MiC: Museums of Rome Capital) which I consider as my best work so far.  Merlino Mayo's (Italy) solid sculptures always remind me of that special Italian beauty. I learned a lot from him and he's also opened many doors for me in Second Life's art world.  SaveMe Oh (Netherlands) is the real "avant-garde" art-performer in virtual world art. She is always trying to create real happenings and get real reactions from people.  Lastly, Maya Paris (UK) and Simotron Aquila (Italy) are among my favorite artists too.

     I learned the basis of visual creation by drawing the works of ancient Greek and Rome sculptors.
In the real, atom world, I find the works of Leonardo da Vinci (Italy) to be full of information and a sort of "universe" in their own right.  I consider Takashi Murakami (Japan) to be the best Japanese contemporary pop artist. He succeeded in joining Japanese pop culture with the western art context of virtual worlds.

Bryn Oh: Whose artwork do you personally dislike the most and why?
Mikati Slade:  No comment! @_@

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?
Mikati Slade:  I am most proud of KURU KURU WORLD. It exhibited first at MiC: Museums of Rome Capital in 2011, and then at LEA: Linden Endowment for the Arts in 2012 (as part of PICO PICO LIFE). It was themed on the cyclical nature of human civilization. It consisted of six large areas that featured Japanese pop 8-bit pixel-style buildings. More than 50,000 people visited the two exhibits. It was a big break for me. In addition, it was the first time I ever used multiple separated areas to tell a story and I learned a lot from this.  I am also proud of BUDS (2011). This was one of my earlier works. It was themed on the Fukushima disaster of March 2011 in Japan. I made the artwork a month after the disaster. At the moment, the situation was still desperate, so I tried to express some hope for the future through it. The artwork featured bud leaves and children as symbols for a new tomorrow.
I do not feel as if any of my works failed, at least not in a big way :) I am always critical of my own past works and try to improve the next time around.

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?
Mikati Slade:  At the beginning, I try to visualize the visitors' probable view frames. What would they see when they visit and explore my artwork? This determines the scale of the artwork and the placement of its most important parts. After that, basically I start to build it right away. I care for the physical in my artwork very much and I receive good feedback when I can interact with the structure and touch its various parts. Second Life is great for seeing and experiencing the artwork while it is being worked on.

Bryn Oh:  What are you currently reading, listening to or looking at to inspire your work?
SL9B Cake stage

Mikati Slade:  Recently I enjoyed reading "Otaku: Japan's Database Animals" by Japanese philosopher Hiroki Azuma. The book is about Japan's otaku culture in the postmodern age - how the otaku simply play with elements from their "cultural database" without being interested in telling a bigger story. "DAICON IV Opening Animation" (1983, Japan) is one of the most important sources of material for the otaku.

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.  
Mikati Slade:  The overall theme of my work is simply "positive energy for life". Our world and life is merciless and disappointing many times. So I try to cheer everyone's life around the world with my 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?
Mikati Slade:  Basically I had not :D The virtual world is an international place and we have people from many different cultures in here. So I have always cared to communicate with them through my art using simple and direct ways.
image by Paulina60 Loon
Bryn Oh:  Would you like to take a stab at explaining what defines virtual art?
Mikati Slade:  Ok. Virtual art is art that is made for and exhibited in a virtual world. The virtual world is a new medium for art. And it differs in many ways from other mediums. For example, in a virtual world, the concept of gravity is an optional one. You may choose to ignore it. This means that virtual worlds could offer unique contexts for object shaping. Virtual world artists can use these unique contexts to develop new artistic expressions.

Bryn Oh:  What would you say makes virtual creations unique over other art forms?
Mikati Slade:  Two reasons. First, this is a virtual world. Making and viewing art here is highly immersive. It is easy to be drawn into and absorbed by the art. Second, anyone around the world may view it. Where they live doesn't matter; there are no nations here.

image by Mexi Lane
Marcel Duchamp - The Fountain
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?
Mikati Slade:  Marcel Duchamp is one of the
image by Torley Linden
biggest artists of the twentieth century. His work opened up new possibilities and started a new trend in art. Duchamp's art was regarded as something that was very different from classic art. But, really, the two are not that different. Classic painters used dye on a canvas, Duchamp used regular objects. The materials were different, but art is more than just the materials used. Observation (which leads to the acts of "choosing" and "placing" of the materials) is of the utmost importance in art. Artists have to learn through observation what will work or not, which approach will be most effective. Duchamp and other great artists were masters at that. Observation gives rise to "signs" and "meaning", the "conceptual". Duchamp's art was conceptual. Really, though, all art, both before and after Duchamp, is conceptual as it is borne out of observation. Observation is at the root of all art.

Little Bee Visits Kuru Kuru World from Little Bee on Vimeo.
Mikati Slade is a digital artist based in Japan. Studied classical sculpture and drawing at an art university in Tokyo. Earlier work includes illustration and graphic design on print media. Later work includes digital sculpture installations in the popular online virtual world of Second Life. Currently preparing to open a sim in Second Life.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Flappy emerges

 My little caterpillar friend emerged as a Monarch Butterfly.  I wonder what it must be like when they first come out.  The enter their pupa as a long slow moving caterpillar with many tiny little legs then seal themselves up and turn into a goo.  The goo reassembles itself into a completely new shape with long thin legs and with wings that, after just a few minutes of flying, have taken it further than it ever roamed as a caterpillar.  I wonder if they remember their previous life as a
caterpillar and marvel at the new long legs and then discover an instinctual urge to fly, or more likely I guess, they simply emerge knowing.  As a Monarch butterfly they now will live a few weeks and will fly as far south as they can before continuing a new generation, which will follow the same steps over and over until reaching Mexico a remarkable 3000 Kilometers away (1864 Miles for the Americans reading).
On the map to the right I live around where the upper red 2 is.   Chompy/Hangy who I shall now refer to as Flappy snuck out of his pupa and was hanging when I came to check up on him so I did miss that spot where he somehow gets out of the pupa.  Maybe they bite their way out, so I found him or her hanging off the empty pupa shell drying her damp wings.  She stayed like this for the entire night and was there the next morning.  She sat on my finger for a bit warming up and then I put her on a nice sunny leaf and when I came back from making coffee she had already started her journey to Mexico.  Good luck Flappy you can do it!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bryn Oh retrospective 2007-2014

    Starting in October there will be a full region retrospective of my work which I am setting up for a digital festival called Arts & Algorithms  running in first life from October 3-12, 2014 in Titusville, FL.  The event will also have an avatar stationed on Immersiva for the guests to use to navigate the Singularity of Kumiko.
     I have never done a retrospective of my work before so this will somehow encompass the years from 2007-2014 ... approximately 100k of work on a 15k sim (feels headache beginning).  So what I thought was to see if anyone had some favorites which they would like rezzed or perhaps portions rezzed.  Check the list, and depending on how old your av is, then you will perhaps remember some and wish to see them again or maybe there are some you missed.  Let me know in world if you have any you think I should include or leave a comment after this post.

     I have listed my works in order and have not included the smaller ones or single sculptures.  So for example the ones listed below tend to be more elaborate narratives, where I also did stand alone sculptures that didn't have, hmm, I guess duration to them.. you just looked at them as an aesthetic piece, and those I have not listed here.  Oh and I just uploaded Condos in Heaven for this retrospective as it, well my whole Blip TV account, was deleted by them without warning.  Thank you Blip arseholes.  The machinima is from 2008, so a bit dated, but I still like it.  I am fond of it as it was one of my first conceptual works with an immersive feel to it.

So if there are ones below you would like me to include let me know and I will try to fit them in.  Each has a link to its respective machinima if you need a reminder which they were.

Gashlycrumb Tinies (2008)
Condos in Heaven (2008) 
7 Backspaces (2009)
Angler Girl (2009)
Daughter of Gears (2009)
Vessel's Dream (2009)
4Jetpacks4 (2009)
Willow (2009)
The Rabbicorn Story (2009)
26 Tines (2010)
The World Expo Shanghai regions 1 (No Light) 2 (No Colour) 3 (No Sound) (2010)
Lady Carmagnolle (2010)
Format (2010)
Mayfly (2010)
Avatar Games (2011)
Rusted Gears (2011)
Box (2011)
Anna's Many Murders (2011)
The Path (2011)
Gretchen and Teddy (2011)
Family Unit (2012)
Further Along the Path (2012)
The Cube Project (2012)
Standby (2012)
Virginia Alone (2012)
Imogen and the Pigeons (2013)
Dance of Death (2013)
The Singularity of Kumiko (2014)
Golden Age of the Russian Avant Garde (2014)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hangy the pupa

     I know many of you have been rolling about sleeplessly in bed at night wondering how Chompy is doing.  Well, he has now turned into a Pupa or is it Chrysalis? anyway he is now vigorously changing into a Monarch butterfly.  He is turning into something completely different so I was thinking he deserves a new name.  I decided to name him Hangy the pupa.  I am pretty happy as I was able to get a picture of Hangy at a stage half between the caterpillar and the pupa which I have never been able to see before.  But I still missed the part just before the green hanging bit below.  It happens pretty quickly, so if you are not paying attention then they can suddenly be a pupa.  Oh well next time I will catch it, though I guess I could always Google it but I don't really want to.  In fact, now that I think of it, Google is the most anti climatic way to discover things.  I mean it is useful naturally to find out whatever you want in a moment, but instant gratification of that sort really takes the wonder out of finding things for yourself.  The internet is the Coles notes of life.  Ah Coles notes are just Canadian.. ok then the Cliffs notes of life.
     One of the most amazing things to me (besides the metamorphosis that happens inside the pupa) is the pure gold spots you can see on the pupa itself.  The pictures just cant do them justice, but they are more vibrant and beautiful than actual gold.  So if I recall correctly then it will be a few weeks before Hangy is ready to emerge as a butterfly.  Below is bug I saw which looks like a character from a Batman movie or something.

Definitely a villain though.  Look at him the sneaky little bugger.