Sunday, February 21, 2010

#4 "State of Formation" by Selavy Oh

If you were walking down the street in real life past a bronze sculpture, and it suddenly began to walk, talk, spin, replicate itself and do other highly unexpected things, you might run in circles and yell "magic!". In second life we would call it scripting. Selavy Oh is one of my favorite creators, much of the reason for this is due to her wonderful ability to use scripts in her builds. She creates things for second life rather than trying to recreate first life. She sees second life as a medium and constantly pushes what it is capable of.
When I view a piece of art in second life I tend to look at it from the vantage point of what did they do with the medium. Think of it this way. Imagine someone giving you an art studio packed with a wide range of tools to use. In one corner are welding tools and woodwork. There is clay for sculpture, paint and canvas, there are monitors and computers and a stage for performance. There are video cameras and robotics, poetry and at the very front door a pencil and paper to sketch out your preliminary ideas. If you walk into this studio, take the pencil and draw a picture, then declare yourself done, you are just using one small part of what the studio offers you. Finding the balance is what's difficult and Selavy does so perfectly.
Here is one example of what Selavy has done to push the capabilities of the medium. At one point in the machinima I walk out into the water. You will notice that the ground rises almost like a bridge for me. What has happened here is that Selavy has figured out a way to script the ground. She has convinced it to rise a certain amount just for the avatar. Linden Labs didn't supply this script, and its possible they didn't even know it could be done. Selavy created new rules to govern our virtual world. The ground is now a player. Another interesting technique used in her build was that when you sat in a chair on the platform your camera/view would be taken over and shown the build from a perspective that Selavy chose. You are wrenched away from your own comfortable view and are made to see things outside your "body". I really liked this as it was jarring and reinvigorated the build. It was almost a violation to take away ones comfort zone like that. It reduced the feeling of autonomy. And this forces the viewer to be a bit on edge knowing that they are not impervious to the build and merely a viewer like one would be in a first life gallery.
I should probably mention that I used my own sky setting called Bluniverse for the machinima. I know that when I build an environment I often do so under a specific sky setting which I have created myself. Custom skies drastically change the colours within a build and the resulting mood you are trying to convey. When viewing my own work under certain skies, i sometimes cringe because they wash away weeks of planning in the colour composition. So what i want to say is that if you hate the Bluniverse sky and the coldness it lends to the build then its not Selavy but rather me to blame for that.
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