Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Path - Opening October 14th

     I am excited to announce the opening date for a new project called "The Path".  It will be October 14th.  The LEA will be opening a set of sims with each being curated by a member of the LEA.  I was given the opportunity to do something with one sim and decided on creating a collaborative narrative based off of the principle of the exquisite corpse sometimes used by the Surrealists.  If you can imagine this was the group who are believed to have worked together on one.  Yves Tanguy, Marcel Duchamp, Jacques Prévert, Benjamin Péret, Pierre Reverdy, André BretonMax Morise, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Simone Collinet, Tristan Tzara, Georges Hugnet, René Char, Paul and Nusch Éluard.  Essentially each chosen artist adds to a composition in sequence.   I invited eight artists whose work I admire, some have worked in SL for ages and are well known, while others less so but equally talented.  Each artist was invited to stand on a coloured box and once all were ready I rezzed a chart which listed the sequence of scenes in a narrative by colour.  Not sure if the Surrealists cared about the random start but it seemed like a good idea.  So if red was first on the chart then the artist standing on the red cube would begin the narrative.  The artist who goes first begins a story.  Imagine something like this  "There once was a darling little girl named Gretchen.  One day while playing in her room she heard heavy steps coming up the stairs to just outside her door.  She quietly got up and peeked through the keyhole and saw..."  Then artist one passes that off to the next artist in the sequence who reads it and continues the story.  Artist two then passes it off to artist number three and so on.  We have all been working hard for a month now and most are still busily crafting their scene.  We did a walk through last night and the variety was wonderful.  I really think this may be something people talk about for a long time.  I personally couldn't pick my favorite scene last night as each excelled in some area or another.  And that to me is a very good sign.

These are the artists involved with the Path, as well as the order.

I have put a link to each name so you can read an interview or see something each has done at one point or another.  It really is an all star cast and I want to thank all for working so hard on this project when I know they are quite busy with other things.  After the build opens we will invite machinima artists to tell the story as they see fit and show those works here as well.

1-bryn oh
2-colin Fizgig
3-marcus inkpen
4-desdemona enfield / douglas story
5-Maya paris
6-claudia222 jewell
7-scottius polke
8-Rose borchovski

I will also be making some very important announcements in regards to the LEA.  We have negotiated with Linden Labs and have achieved something that will give art organizations and artists new opportunities.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Vogue Article and Musei in Comune di Roma opening

     I have a few things to mention today. One is a print article where Bryn Oh, Rose Borchovski the UWA and others are talked about in Vogue Magazine, while the other is an opening of mine tomorrow at a real life / SL museum in Rome called MiC Musei in Comune di Roma.
Interview with MiC

      If you wish to take out the grace and beauty of a language then Google translate it. Sadly the Vogue article below is a bit confusing after the translation but you will get the idea of its focus. It is commendable that Simona Lamonaca came into SL and did a responsible job of reporting unlike the many others who strive for sensationalism.  Below is a much better translation kindly done by Opensource Obscure.

"In its earliest years, Second Life has been talked about and hyped as the bleeding edge of communication and business on the Net; many perceived (and marketed) it as a promised land, which would allow anybody to create fabulous parallel lifes just inside their computer.
Then, like a modern Ferdinandea island, the virtual archipelago seemed to have sunk right after its volcanic rise. Awareness about Second Life faded. Just yet another trend? Actually, those who think this world is dead are wrong. After the hype, Second Life simply became what it meant to be: an inter-disciplinary platform for experimentation. Here, art is one of the most vibrant experiences.
All over the world, institutions are leveraging on Second Life as a medium, buying virtual islands called 'sims' to promote and host art research: UWA (University of Western Australian), ArtSpace UTSA (University of Texas), and Spencer Museum of Art (University of Kansas).
This is happening in Italy too.
Mind (Milan network for design, 2010) is a successful Italian master course hosted by the Academy of Brera (Politecnico di Milano, Milan) to spread innovative skills in the planning of artistic events. The project includes Second Life, where it is based in Imparafacile Island (http://imparafacile.ning.com)
Mic is the one-year-old virtual space of the Capitoline Museums Network in Rome (http://museiincomuneroma.wordpress.com). Research in Mic is developed across a dual channel: virtualization of ongoing exhibitions in Roman museums (currently featured: Leonardo and Michelangelo), and promotion of purely virtual installations which include video projections at Macro Museum. An ongoing example is the highly anticipated exhibition by Canadian artist Bryn Oh. As a sim designer, Bryn Oh uses virtual spaces to develop 3D representations of her interactive stories ("Immersiva", "Anna's many murders"). Also an artist in real life, Bryn recently received a grant from the Canadian government to pursue her virtual activity.
And there are huge expectations for another event, which is planned for this Autumn: virtual art gallery Arte Libera (http://artelibera.biz) will host Dutch artist Rose Borchovski (aka Saskia Boddeke). She will introduce a new chapter of "The Susa Bubble Story", a noir tale that has long enchanted the Metaverse. An interesting theater author, in 2009 Boddeke presented in Italy (at Parco della Musica in Rome and at Teatro Arcimboldi in Milan) "The Blue Planet", a 'multimedia oratorio' written with Peter Greenaway. In that occasion, videos made in Second Life had been released; Boddeke says Susa will appear in theaters soon.
Of course, not all virtual art endeavors stand to such achievements. Many people experiment with virtual art; few of them leave their mark by being sensitive, original and qualified with the technicalities of the medium. And the available budget can play an important part too: playing Second Life is free, but land space ownership has to be paid for. A full virtual island currently runs for USD 295/month + a one-time fee of USD 1.000.

-Simona Lamonaca / Vogue Magazine (translation by Opensource Obscure)

Next thing I need to mention is a new build I have opening tomorrow for the MiC a real life museum that is also in second life.  It is called "Family Unit" and it is a bit of a quirky take on, yes you guessed it, my family.  It was an interesting challenge to create a build for Musei in Comune di Roma because it was to be based around a machinima of the build rather than the actual 3D inworld creation.   Most of my works are made for the experience of navigating the 3D environment and then a machinima is created to catalogue or narrate the build.  But for me the unique artistic element to this medium is the navigation of the 3D space as an avatar.  So this build is a hybrid of something for the resident of the virtual world who will enjoy the open ended exploration with the other importance of it being composed for the real life machinima showcase in the Museum.  The only suggestion I would make is for you to click the "Urn" if you wish to find my Grandparents in the build.  They are not easy to find and you will have to quick and agile to get to them.  Your chances will be much better if you attempt it with a group of friends.

The opening is September 12 at 1.00 pm sl.  I will remind everyone in the Immersiva group.

SLURL to main meeting area at MiC

SLURL to start of my build

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Farewell Kirstens viewer

Some sad news today.  Kirstens viewer will stop development.  For those of you unfamiliar with viewers other than the default Linden Labs Viewer that comes with SL then you should know that there are quite a few great 3rd party viewers created for Second Life.  Essentially Linden Labs has made everything open source minus anything which requires a license (such as Havok physics engine).  A variety of people or groups take this code and create their own ways for us to interact with Second Life.  Some focus on performance others on graphics etc.  Kirstens was the top viewer for graphics.  Quite easily.  You definitely had to have a powerful computer to run it, but should you be so fortunate the experience was fantastic.  Shadows and ambiance were unmatched.  To put it in perspective I think the default setting for LOD in Kirstens was set at 12 where other viewers are at 1 or 2.  As I said in a previous post, that means most sculpts wont take their shape until you are right beside them.  Kirstens focus was on beautifying Second Life.  For the machinimatographer this is very sad news.  It was the viewer of choice for high quality film with effects.  My Annas Many Murders machinima was done in it and had it not been then many of the scenes you see would not have shown up quite the same.

It's really unfortunate that this comes at the time when Linden Labs have just brought out mesh capability.  Mesh allows for almost direct movement of high quality works created in computer animation programs like Maya, 3D Studio max, Softimage XSI and Zbrush to be brought into Second Life with minimal loss from the original creation.  This means that a new level of quality can be shown in the 3D environment but also exhibited outside SL in the form of machinima.  Machinima passes through the feared "walled garden" that prevents the outside world seeing what we can achieve here.  Linden Labs marketing people are focusing on supporting machinima for that advertising dimension.   So essentially they have given us the capability to make high end graphic work yet now the top machinima making viewer has shut down.
     This brings me to the fairly new Linden Labs philosophy which I have come across since being part of the Linden Endowment for the Arts group.  Linden Labs would like to step back and let the users take control of their own projects.  We have seen this with events such as Burning Life which now exists only due to the generosity of users who supply sims for the event.  I understand the reasoning for doing this as any large event requires the use of many Linden employees who they would prefer to be working on other things.  The problem with this philosophy is that users such as KirstenLee Cinquetti , who created this very useful viewer, essentially make content for Linden Labs for free in their spare time.  Creating this viewer is a huge undertaking, constantly upgrading it then fixing the little bugs etc all were done by the user with virtually no encouragement or support.         Personal issues have forced Kirsten to focus on finding additional work in RL.  To do this she pretty much has to sacrifice her time spent in Second Life.  It would seem to me that it may be a good idea for the Lab to adjust this philosophy in order to employ Kirsten to continue making this viewer for their own marketing benefit.  What is the value in showing the capabilities of Second Life outside the walled garden in the highest level of graphical representation?  Is it worth 10k a year? 20 or 40k to a company which profits each year in the hundreds of millions of dollars?  Perhaps they would fear setting a precedent whereby other content creators would demand payment to stay within second life.  I don't  know but it is really is disappointing to see this viewer disappear.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

#1 The Petrovsky Flux

I have been doing my top ten list of my personal favorite builds for what seems like an eternity this year.  My computer passed away earlier this year and somehow I kept telling it not to make a back up for about six months.  I had made all my top ten machinimas in that period so you get the idea.  It's kind of alarming that it is now September as that means I have to start filming for the 2011 picks already.

The Petrovsky Flux was created by Blotto Epsilon and Cutea Benelli.  It was named after Ivan Georgievich Petrovsky a Soviet mathematician.  The wiki says that he greatly contributed to the solution for Hilbert's 19-th and 16th problems.  I will just have to take their word for it.  Unfortunately all my associations with Math involve the terrible feeling of being asked to go to the front of the class to work out a formula on the chalk board, meanwhile feeling all the eyes of my classmates on my back as I publicly struggled.

The Spencer Art Museum
Patron is Steveke Wulluf
University of Kansas

The Petrovsky Flux was my favorite build in 2010 for a variety of reasons.  There is the initial striking composition of it sprawling across the sky as you arrive at the sim.  Watching little flashes as new pods are born to the structure.  The strange flying sheep or hopping chairs.  The creation will grow and grow over time only to collapse and disappear in order to grow once again.  The composition in the sky is random with new and interesting shapes constantly being created.  The scripting element is just brilliant.  The Flux starts out as a small structure and slowly adds elements one upon another.  These elements generally are taken from a wide range of rooms or hallways.  So the structure will determine that it wishes to add a new pod.  A random pod is chosen and attached to one of perhaps 12 different faces to add it to.  It will then continue to add pods at various appendages.  When a pod is created there is a flash (as you can see in the machinima) so you can see how many pods are constantly being added to the Flux.  My guess is that once one of the arms hits a predefined boundary it will set them all to physical and allow them to drop.

     What also works for the Flux is that it excels on multiple levels both macro and micro.  I have said how interesting it is to watch grow from afar but it's also equally interesting to fly up to and enter.  You can actually climb inside and walk within its random corridors.  In some cases falling with the structure as you explore.  The pods in themself are beautifully crafted and quite entertaining when you are inside.

For me the success of a SL work of art is based on its use of a range of tools.  Does it inspire wonder?  Is it well crafted including ambient sound and narrative? immersive? interactive? Does it have the ability to hold my attention for longer than 10 min and would I like to come back to see it again?  The Flux has all these and more.  Soon we will have many nice looking mesh creations popping up all over the grid.  Perhaps someone will produce a finely crafted tree, unicorn or abstract work.  It will look nice but if it remains just a 3D build then it will not fully capture what this medium is capable of.  The emotional content with the Monet work on the left is far more appealing to me than the hyper realism of Bernardi.  Technically the one on the right is wonderful.  However it shows that just making something look very real doesn't actually touch us inside, it only makes us appreciate the technical ability.  The Petrovsky Flux is tied into a wide range of technical features from math to scripting in order to make it exist, yet it lives and breathes closer to the Monet if that makes any sense.  That is the true skill of these talented artists.  They have created an immersive environment using the unique tools that SL supplies, and have created something that fits for SL as a medium.  On the other hand if a mesh build were done of the painting to the right, then it really would not take advantage of this particular medium.  If it were a portion of a larger build incorporating other unique elements of a virtual world then that's fine, but on its own it doesn't say anything.  We could struggle to give it meaning by saying the fact it is in a 3D virtual world gives it relevance, but really that only works a limited amount of times and its been done.  So there you have it.  My favorite builds from 2010.  If you have any you think I should look at for 2011 let me know and I will pop over to them.

#1 favorite from 2009
Under the tree that died by AM Radio

#1 favorite from 2008
Tryptofaa Sands (tornado)