Thursday, May 21, 2009

4Jetpacks4



There has been some interest in the 4Jetpacks4 immersive performance here with Hamlet Au and NWN and here with Alpha Auer and NPIRL. I figured I should talk about it too. So here is what I was thinking when I made it.
Georg Jannick who has set up an impressive artist colony in second life called Caerleon asked me to do a chapter in an upcoming book on Immersion. My focus in second life is on immersion and I like to think of the movement towards this as Immersiva or as Alpha calls it Presence. The idea being to use the medium of second life to drag ones awareness away from real life for a period of time. To push second life into first life so to say. Much of what I try and do with Immersiva is centered around engaging the viewer. Using different techniques to draw ones attention into the things i make. With 4jetpacks4 I wanted to create a performance piece which would capture the viewer for at least a portion of the show.
I think full immersion is still off in the future with helmets and do dads to make it easier, but right now i can try and use other techniques to do this. Unfortunately, much of it involves trust on the opposite side of the computer. I ask people to minimize distractions for the show. If you look right now around your computer screen there are a multitude of things that can ruin immersion. For me there is a calculator beside my mouse which reminds me I have to do my taxes. Stress. I have a cat that likes to scratch the couch which is very distracting. However, I feel it is my duty to stop Loki from scratching it even though the couch is already fucked and I have given up on it. If in 4Jetpacks you are fleeing the tornado only to answer the phone then Immersion is broken. Any of these things can suck our attention away from an event in SL. Its our peripheral damn it. We need cones around our heads attached to the computer screen. Anyway, so this was the thought process behind the build.
A group of 10 avatars are brought to a science station for a tour. They were met by myself glyph Graves and Nonnatus Korhonnen (also played by Gattina Dumpling and Blued Food). We welcome them and explain that we are going to show them a revolutionary new breakthrough called reverse teleportation or "summoning". We can summon organisms from other places and have been able to study them. First of all though they had to put on a visitor pass. The visitor pass had a script inside it which allowed the tornado to pick them up. The next thing we did was to leave the group at the waiting area for 5 min as we prepared our stations for the tour. While we are gone they tend to look around and click on things. The main thing to find was a box on a shelf by a gramophone. When clicked the box fell and broke open revealing a message by Glyph Graves which pretty much said he felt it was unsafe and didn't think we had studied it all enough yet and that Bryn Oh was merely doing the tour to gain funding.
The idea was to get the group into thinking there was a back story but before they can dwell on it too much we come back. This leaves a residue of WTF. We come back and bring the group to the first area which is a wonderful build done by Glyph Graves. Glyph begins to talk about the organism shown in my machinima that takes me for a short ride. The idea of the talks by both Glyph and Nonn are to lull the participants. Relax them and give them time to cam around and see everything while also determining that the show is going to be more of a "hey look what we built" kind of show. Make them comfortable and expect a certain outcome. We move on to Nonn and he talks about his build. At the end of Nonn's talk I inform everyone that I will do a brief summoning to demonstrate how it works. And after the summoning of a cute little rain pixie we will see the grand finale which is a 10 story creature that can read our minds etc etc etc. The idea being to make the summoning of the pixie less of an event and the grand finale the real point of interest. There is no grand finale as the summoning of the rain pixie goes horribly wrong and I instead bring in a tornado. This is where the build gets a bit crazy. Each piece of the build has a number of scripts in it which are affected by the tornado. Some will be pulled off immediately, some are random, some will shake. The group of 10 visitors are then told to flee back to the waiting area and grab a jetpack to escape. Sadly there are 10 avs and only 4 jetpacks. Each group acted different, where some stood gawking at the tornado until i sucked them up while others fled or fell of railings. It was generally mayhem. On the way we teleported from stage to stage. Upon the arrival of the tornado the teleports ceased to function and everyone would have to run back to the visitor area. Fly was disabled. Each door on the way back would rise by typing "open" in chat. They would stay open for less and less time as you got closer to the waiting area creating more anxiety. Each door didn't open particularly fast so in many cases people would be plucked up by the tornado as they waited and looked back. All along the way i would slowly come behind them with the tornado tearing up the build. When they arrived back four people would get backpacks and fly off while the remaining survivors would have to watch the tornado slowly come and get them. I particularly liked this point as we would activate the gramophone to play an old surreal scratchy tune (from the beginning of Evo's machinima) while the tornado approached. I loved the atmosphere this created during the ensuing chaos.
This was my first collaborative project and while I was a bit nervous, as I am a bit of a control freak, it actually worked quite well. Nonnatus and Glyph were easy choices to create organisms as that is a focus for both of them in sl and they did fantastic jobs. Tryptofaa Sands as you know from my top 10 made the tornado. It was not made specifically for this build but he did make some nice adjustments for me which I greatly appreciated.

Now this machinima is ok.. was done before I got my spacenavigator. But the good news is that Evo Szuyuan made a better one. And here it is.

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