Sunday, December 30, 2012

Immersiva closed until mid January

On December 31st I will be deleting Gretchen and Teddy and turning Immersiva private for the next few weeks so that I can put the finishing touches on my new build called Imogen and the pigeons.  I am hoping to open the build right around the 15th or so but hopefully sooner.  The picture above is from one of the scenes in the new narrative, but really I just wanted to show a dress made by my talented friend Gwen.  
     I can't really say too much about this new build or I will spoil it I think.  All I can say is that there are layers to it with some things falling into place more the second time through.  Some parts are tricky and some a wee bit dangerous.  Other parts might require you to say things in chat while others are quite open ended.  I expect it to be quite chaotic.  I will sending out invites for a small media tour in the next week or so,  if I don't contact you but you would like to attend then send me a message.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Prim reduction trick

A murder of Bryns
The Long Now Orrey
I was going through my shop today applying a little trick associated with my older prim works.  The "trick" is simply to select your prim work in edit, then go to "features" and from there you will find a drop down box called "Physics shape type".  It will be on "prim" by default so move it over to "convex hull".  This will reduce the size of your build by half.  So for example, I had once made an elaborate Orrey for the movie My Avatar and Me and it came out to around 1200 prims.  At that size in my shop it really is just for the collector of my work, but after dropping down to 600 prims it is.... well still too big and just for collectors... but less big.  Now in comparison I have been working in mesh lately and discovered a few ways to reduce the size of a work.  At the top is what I guess you would call a self portrait of my avatar.  I recreated her for my new build.  She is pretty close to my av as you can see, and guess how many prims or PE it costs?  A mere 11.
        The difference with mesh though is that if i were to scale it up to the size of the Orrey she might end up costing more.  You see unlike prims or sculpts mesh works will change their PE depending on their scale.  So a giant Bryn could be several hundred PE or prims while a tiny Bryn could be just 1.  Anyway, back to the prim trick.  So when you first switch the selected prim to convex hull it sometimes shoots up to some ridiculous size.  I did it for the Rabbicorn and suddenly the prim count went to something like 900 prims from 100 or so.  If you are on a sim with no prim space left it will return the sculpture to your inventory which can be annoying.  So make sure you have some space left for prims on the sim then switch it to convex hull and when it goes a bit mental switch it from convex to "none".  Now it wont like that at all.  It will say something along the lines of wtf are you doing?  Just ignore that or even shake your fist at the computer then move it back to convex hull and it should chop the prim size in half or there abouts.

     Lastly I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  I will be visiting my parents which means watching black and white movies, then I will be heading way up north to stay with a bunch of family in a cottage.  I can't decide if that sounds fun or terrifying.  Snowshoeing and cross country skiing yay! and well... being enclosed in a small space with family for three days...  gah!  Nah shouldn't be too bad, I have the fifth book for the Game of Thrones series so will sit by the fireplace with Baileys infused hot chocolate and read.  God that sounds boring but I am so looking forward to doing that.  And if you have not read the Game of Thrones do so!  It's so fun to read.. nobody is safe in those books.  You can think someone is an untouchable main character then poof they are suddenly killed.  Anyway, happy holidays.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Breaking machinima

Often when I would be creating work on Immersiva my friend ColeMarie Soleil would sit and practice composing songs and singing.  She is a very talented girl and it was a pleasure to listen to her as she sang and played though the simple microphone of her computer.  It was quite beautiful and inspiring.  On one such occasion Cole worked on creating a melody for a poem of mine called Rusted Gears.  One day she surprised me with this completed song and so now I have placed it within a machinima that was filmed for my portion of the Cube Project.  I was touched and am happy to say that Cole has now followed her dream of performing live in Paris and is doing quite well.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Immersiva news

 I have put down a little environment on Immersiva while I build Imogen and the pigeons  The main part is from Gretchen and Teddy and you can see the video for it by clicking Gretchen who stands on the stage.  I would also like to apologize to Fox for deleting Virginia Alone the day before she was to do a guided presentation of the build for Concordia University.  Whoops sorry.  Anyone who plans things like that please let me know in writing combined with an occasional reminder so that doesn't happen again.  Fox is a smart girl and will incorporate the notion of virtual art being so transient into her presentation so I am sure it will be fine, but gah who needs that stress.

I have just uploaded the new Firestorm viewer and the phototools look great.   It is now a pleasure to take photographs.  Hmm what other news do I have? ..  Oh Skye Galaxy messaged me yesterday and said that he will only be in SL to perform on occasion and wants to do a circuit of sims he loved from when he first came to sl.  So he will be doing a show on Immersiva in the next month.  I will announce the details in my in-world group with the unexpected name of Immersiva.    Hmm what else.  I have discovered a beautiful old recording done by ColeMarie Soleil where she made a poem of mine into a harmony.  I have just completed that machinima and will upload it soon.  She is an incredible talent.  My friend Travis who did the music for the Pandora video I made a few months ago, has taken on the task of doing the score for Standby.  Standby is the 40 minute movie which combines my trilogy of works starting with The Daughter of Gears, The Rabbicorn and then Standby into one film.  I will hopefully have that done in a month as well.  Think that is all the news for now which means I am back to writing Christmas cards so that they don't all arrive the week after Christmas like they did last year.  I absolutely hate writing Christmas cards.  Humbug.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Virginia Alone closing December 1st.

I am working on a new build called Imogen and the Pigeons which requires me to delete Virginia Alone as I have just about run out of prims. I am going to leave it up until December 1st. Time flies and I still have a few more projects I would like to accomplish on Immersiva. I had intended to speak about the final three machinima for Virginia Alone but have chosen instead to put them all here in this post. I would like to thank everyone who sent kind messages to Virgina through me. When I went to visit her she was really touched that people from around the world, whom she didn't know, would send her good wishes. The first one is compelling as it gives her side of leaving her husband and then losing her daughter. Virginia Christmas - This was from a cassette tape I found that led up to Christmas Day. On it she records a variety of things including some recordings of her favorite Christmas songs. It always makes me feel a bit melancholy listening to this one as I can imagine her alone in that dark cold house while around the country everyone is warm, happy and celebrating with family. This final one speaks of the day the house disappeared and her insights into that day.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Today opens the MachinimaExpo.  It runs three days with today focused mainly on the technical skills involved in creating machinima ranging from speakers from Unity3D to Moviestorm.  If you wish to attend the event you can do so here..  It begins at 9am SLT with an iClone presentation.

You can listen to the live stream here..

More info can be found on their website.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The MachinimaExpo 2012

     Strangely enough there is another machinima festival scheduled for the same time as SLACTIONS, which I posted about yesterday. My initial intention was to write a post promoting the event which in turn will help the machinima artists. But I have changed my mind in order to speak about a few other things instead.
     If you read the post about SLACTIONS then you will recall that I lamented the fact that they did not give any credit to the actual artists who created the machinima that the event relies on to exist. Just now when I received the press material for MachinimaExpo I saw that they also did not give any recognition to the machinima artists, that I could find anyway. There is credit given to the organizers and keynote speakers as there should be, but none given to the actual artists who make the event happen in the first place.

     All that needs to be done is for a separate page to be created on the website which lists the names of the artists involved. It creates an online history for those artists and it is essentially a modern portfolio. It lasts for ages online and can be found when Googled. I had posted here a while back how my work was featured in Vogue Magazine. It sounds nice but it is really quite useless to be in print media now. The record of the article has ceased to exist except with those few who still have the print magazine in their basement somewhere, because they have a hard time throwing anything away.   Ok I have it in my basement.  Same goes for TV or the newspaper. They are initially effective but quickly fade and cease to exist. A well read blog or website is now superior to print.

     So back to the artists. Many are good at creating art but few are also good at marketing their work. So they need help and that responsibility rests with those using their work to build events. Now this post is not directed specifically at MachinimaExpo and SLACTIONS anymore, I really do believe it was just an oversight and I expect they are all unpaid volunteers rushing around doing their best.  But I feel like ranting today and maybe incorporating some swearing into this post. This type of thing has been going on for ages and some of blame rests with the artists as well.  
     You see, somewhere along the line artists have been convinced that what they are able to do artistically is somehow inferior to other skilled professions. People approach artists and say things like "I don't actually have any money to give you, but it will be great exposure for you if you fill my restaurant with your paintings!"   And sadly many artists have such low self esteem that they actually feel honoured to spend six months spending hundreds of dollars on paints and canvas to fill some restaurant with beautiful artwork, allowing them to sell more pasta fagiolis.  Have you ever asked the owner of a restaurant if you can buy a painting from their wall? no because you assume the restaurant owns them.  "No you can't buy it arsehole! get out of here!"  They wouldn't actually say that because if they did sell your painting then they will take a 50% cut.  A 50% cut for.....what?
     I mean if someone asks you to give free paintings for their restaurant you should really say "No no thanks anyway, but I think you should paint your own artworks and put them on the wall.  Yes that's right asshole, lets see your shitty stick-men drawings all over."   Would anyone go to a roofer and say "Hey so I have a leak in my roof and its really fucking everything up.  I was thinking you could, you know, redo my roof.  It would be great exposure for you.  I will even put a sticker on my window that says Bob did my roof.  And, you know, if you get some business from people seeing my sticker, you know, you should maybe give me like 50%.  Hey! why are you punching my face?"

     Maybe ask a Lawyer or a mechanic.  "So my car doesn't seem to move anymore.  How do you feel about spending the day trying to fix it you know?  If it starts working again it will be great exposure for you.  You know people will, like... you know, see it moving and shit and go "holy fuck look how straight that car is moving!.... I wonder who the mechanic is"  And, like, if I hit a red light, and someone knocks on my window and asks why the car is moving I will say it was you."

     Ok my blog post has just become me making up silly scenarios that make me laugh.  But yes please in the future credit the artists who work so hard creating the content.  Credit them where it will last.... webpages.  And artists, before we give our stuff away we should ask them how they will promote us.  Or pay us... haha just kidding.  We have skills that they themselves do not have, and it is every bit as valuable as any other skilled job or trade.

End of rant

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SLACTIONS 2012 machinima festival

Starting tomorrow will be a large machimima festival held both in a first life venue and within our virtual world. If you would like to attend in world then the location can be found here.. 
It will also be streamed live via livestream servers direct from Tagus Park - Lisbon Portugal. (by AviewTV)
 Festival website

The schedule of events can be found here program

Really wish they had put down the artists names beside the title of their machinima though.  Helps the artists get exposure as well as lets you come in specifically if there is a certain artist whose work you wish to see but can't stay for the whole day.  In todays age of Googling an artist needs an online link presence, so anyone from professors to researchers attempting to get information on a particular artist will not be led to this event.   Small complaint though, it is merely an oversight of the extremely busy.  These types of events are such a challenge to put on and all involved deserve a great deal of recognition for their hard work.  Some of those involved are Leonel Morgado, Ana Boa-Ventura, Spyvspy aeon, Bevan Whitfield, Pooky Amsterdam, Nelson Zagalo and Mal Burns.

My machimima 26 tines will be starting off the festival so if you will be unable to attend and would like to see it then here is it below.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Machinima for Pandemonium

I have been taking on a few commissions lately, and this is one done for a talented builder named P4NDOR4 Quintessa.   It is a machinima for one of her sim prefabs.   If you would like to see it in world then give her a shout! The music was composed and performed by SL musician travis Amaterasu.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Musings on Star Wars

     In a bit of mind blowing news it would appear that Disney has purchased the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas for 4 billion or so.   As a child my three older brothers would watch the 1970's versions of those movies what seemed like every day.  When I got older I remember getting really excited when I had heard that new Star Wars movies were coming out.  I think childhood routines and memories get somewhat elevated into magic when you grow up and long for those same nostalgic experiences.  So I rushed out to see the Phantom Menace movie with friends when it first came out in the theater.  I had my extremely salty popcorn and fizzy drink and I was sitting in my favorite spot in the theater,  the lights dimmed and the red curtains opened to that most awesome Star Wars theme music.  I was incredibly excited and hey I am not a Star Wars nut.  It just seemed historic.  So yeah that was the best part of the movie, it kind of went downhill from there.  Afterwords my friends and I walked in silence for a bit before I hesitantly suggested the movie was shit.  I mean I felt like I had just said that mother Theresa was an arsehole.  I wasn't sure if there would be instant backlash and I would end up walking home alone,  but no it kind of opened up some floodgates and all were in agreement it sucked.   The following two movies got a wee bit better but meh.  George lost it, the legacy of Star Wars went from two awesome fun movies and a Muppet show episode called Return of the Jedi to two good movies out of six.  Last Halloween at a party I attended, people were drunk and discussing how the franchise should be taken away from Georgio and given to someone else to revive.  People were daydreaming about directors like Peter Jackson (LOTR), James Cameron (Avatar), the Wachowski brothers (The Matrix), Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) or my outlandish pick which would be Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away).  Anyway it was all just fantasy talk until well .. today.  As long as Disney doesn't make them into wholesome Sunday afternoon movies then it should be an upgrade.  Disney is quite capable of messing these up too but fingers crossed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Zet Avril at FELAFACS

Zet Avril did a great presentation on Second Life machimima at the University of Lima for FELAFACS 2012.

I really liked the way the camera would zoom into things like Bryn Oh's eye to show a machinima.  It is pretty useful that the actual machinima can be embedded into the presentation in this manner.  I know she put in a great deal of work for this so congratulations Zet I am glad it went well for you.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Still life with Mark Rothko beating the crap out of Vladimir Umanets

 I have known a gentleman named Kueperpunk Korhonen for quite some time now.  We first met ages ago as members of a now dead art collective called Caerleon.  He is an accomplished cyberpunk author and has put together Festival der Liebe which celebrates virtual art, writers, musicians and photography.

The whole schedule of events over the three days can be found here..  Schedule

I have created a fun little build for the festival called "Still life with Mark Rothko beating the crap out of Vladimir Umanets"  I think it is a potential piece of yellowism.

 If you hadn't heard, a work by Mark Rothko was damaged at the Tate Modern not long ago.  The work Black on Maroon was written on in marker by Vladimir Umanets. He wrote "Vladimir Umanets (just make it difficult for the police to find you!) A potential piece of yellowism"  Yellowism being his self created art movement or style.

What I liked about Black on Maroon was that it was originally commissioned by the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York city.  When asked what his intentions were for this series he said..

“I hope to paint something that will ruin the appetite of every son of a bitch who ever eats in that room,” 

How can you not like that response in our day of media coached actors and sports figures who never actually say anything of substance for fear of someone being offended.  Rothko didn't just say something politically incorrect but rather took direct aim at his patron and their clientele.  It makes me giggle it does.

Anyway,  so in my virtual world Mark gets to meet Vlad and discuss the finer points of Yellowism. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Virtual world performance at LEA

The LEA is ready to begin taking applications for those who work in the performing arts. We are intentionally leaving the criteria open as we would like to see what type of art performances are proposed without having a preconceived notion of what to expect.   Show us what virtual world performance art can be.  We will try to accommodate as many styles or visions as possible given the space and calendar. Some shows can be large productions lasting months or you can apply for a single half hour show. Let us know what you need and we will try to find a way to fit it in.

The application can be found here

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Virtual Ability Tour - Virginia Alone

This Sunday October 14th at 11am SLT I will be doing a walk through and talk with Virtual Ability for my artwork Virginia Alone.   Everyone is welcome.  It will run an hour and a half and will take place on Immersiva SLURL:

I have done this tour a few times in the past and I really respect the hard work people like Gentle Heron do for this group of several

The Virtual Ability Tour has a rich history and many great SL artists have contributed their time.  VAI approach the artists independently but if you would like to contact them then message iSkye Silverweb.

Here are some of the artists who have given tours in the last year.

Amandat Tamatzui
Antrozous Frostwych
Aztec Fenstalker
Bryn Oh
Claudia222 Jewell
DixMix Source
Filthy Fluno
Gracie Kendal
Mikati Slade
Monroe Snook
Scottius Polke
Van Caerndow
Winter Nightfire

Virtual Ability has been building communities of support for people with disabilities in virtual worlds since 2007. About three quarters of the group members have one or more kinds of disability (physical, mental, emotional, or sensory) or chronic illness; the rest are temporarily-able-bodied family members, caregivers, professionals, researchers, students, and others interested in disability issues.

Virtual Ability helps enable people with a wide range of disabilities by providing a supporting environment for them to enter and thrive in online virtual worlds.  They provide SL residents with customized orientation and training at award-winning Virtual Ability Island. There, new residents can learn SL fundamentals in an accessibility-friendly environment, and existing residents can receive ongoing training and information about health-related issues and support groups.

In RL, Virtual Ability, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation based in Colorado, USA.  They are the leading provider of services and information for people with disabilities in virtual worlds, and conduct outreach and awareness activities to inform people with disabilities or chronic health conditions, their family and friends, medical professionals, and other caregivers of the benefits virtual worlds can provide.

If you would like to know more about them go here! or IM a member of the Virtual Ability team: Gentle Heron, Eme Capalini, Treasure Ballinger, or Pecos Kidd.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Boobiethon art auction

Benefiting the Feel Your Boobies foundation.
Auction bidding opens 7 October, 2.00 pm SLT
Last bid 12 October, 4 pm SLT
At RoHaus Art Gallery
Auction facts:
- 26 works of art from 22 artists
- 11 works are unique – that is, they are guaranteed one-of-a-kind works in SL
- Bidding for unique works begins at $1000L; Limited edition at $500L; All others at $100L
- Auction will run for 5 days
There will be an opening party on the first from 2 – 4 SLT, and a closing party on the 12th from 2-4 SLT.

As taken from

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving (Canadian)

It is thanksgiving here in Canada which is much earlier than the US one. Best wishes to everyone.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Virginia - Visions

     This machinima records part of a talk I had with Virginia in her nursing home.  In it she describes a few of her recent visions while at the end she mentions her "left".  I have talked to her many times about her right side / left side battle with herself, but I realize that it probably makes no sense whatsoever just by listening to Virginia in these tapes.   So I will attempt to explain it a bit here.
     Virginia has always had a struggle between two sides of her body.  Both vying for dominance.  She is naturally right handed and performs many of her daily tasks as any right handed person would do.  At one point her left side began to take control away from her right side.  So rather than using her right hand to pick up her coffee cup as she is accustomed to doing, her left hand will take it.  It likely doesn't sounds strange unless you decide to pay attention to how your own body instinctively reacts to routine events.  And then try to reverse it.  I am sure it is a very odd experience.
     Often Virginia would connect the actions of the left side of her body with causing real world consequences.  So for example.  If her left shoe was too tight or maybe her hair clip, then, as she notices the tightness, her phone rings.  She finds the phone only to discover nobody responds.  The phone rings again and it is the same situation.  She loosens her shoe and the phone stops ringing.        Now for you or I who live in a very calm rational world we will scoff and say "well that is just coincidence".  My goal in this project was not to rationalize or champion Virginias world, as I am not living in nor a party to it.  I am cataloging her perspective and helping Virginia to explain what she goes through.  In her world not only are her interpretations reasonable, but they also help to make sense of her situation thus allowing her to get through her days.  Remember that she is completely alone with these experiences.  Virginia hears voices, sees visions and has found herself, mouth open, speaking words she has no intention of saying.  To Virginia there is a battle going on for control of her mind and body.  One side feels foreign and disengaged while the other side is her.  If she can function on a daily basis using elements of her real self as opposed to what she considers the left side, then her world follows a more calm and rational course.
     Once the left side comes forward to interfere then there are often small but noticeable side effects that Virginia has recorded for many many years.  Here are a few other possible side effects of using her left.  She opens the front door to feed the feral cats and when using her right hand they are all well behaved and there are no problems.  If she discovers her left hand takes the scoop of cat food then perhaps the cats bite and scratch her or run into her house meowing for days.  If her left hand touches the radio then she suddenly can't get any stations for a while.. just static, or suppose she turns on the tap with her left hand for a drink of water and at that precise moment a car pulls into her driveway and a man comes out and begins to bang on her front door terrifying her.  Our reality is well behaved children lined up quietly to go into class where hers is recess time and chaos. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Virginia Alone - Cats

    I began working on Virginia Alone perhaps a year ago, and within this period Virginia was taken out of her home which you can find on Immersiva, and put into a nursing home for the aged by her estranged daughter who had reconnected with her.   Virginia was not terribly happy about going to live in a nursing home and felt betrayed, yet in the end it was for the best and she now understands that.  She  has people cook for her as well as doctors and nurses etc.
     One difference between my build and the reality of the house was that Virginia was a hoarder.  She had filled the entire house with boxes of things and her living space was reduced to just a small area where she sat by the front door.  She would receive her delivered groceries to this door and from there she would fill her cupboards and feed the cats.  Outside this radius of chair and stove it began to fill with debris.  She was able to, at one point, go to her bedroom but in one tape she describes a collapse of of a tower of her hoarded items which then made the trek upstairs impossible.. so she began to sleep in her chair by the door.  The photos on my desk show some of the feral cats who lived outside her door as well as some of the debris in the front room.   Virginia encouraged me to tell her story and to do so all the cassette tapes she had made over the years had to be found.  Not an easy task.  I spent many hours listening to the tapes and one thing I wished to portray with my machinima was that her tapes were not just of her speaking about her mental illness but rather a variety of things including her recording her favorite music and in the case of the one above.. singing along with them.  Hearing her sing to the final song in the machinima or on other tapes really affected me.   As an artist I guess I am a pretty visual person, so for me I would imagine her with her cassette player recording a favorite song from the radio, sitting alone contemplating her life.  Each tape I listened to was about an hour long and there were hundreds.   Some full of music,taped telephone calls or radio programs.  Others would be about her struggle to understand what assailed her though not understanding it was Schizophrenia.
     Then there were the tapes where she recounted an event that transpired.  They would be explained from the perspective of someone who could not see but interpreted events occuring around them.  So for example hearing banging in the basement and wondering at its cause but never fully being able to explain it,  or noticing snuffling noises by her piano and questioning whether it were a raccoon or cat or her mind playing tricks.  One tape described the other cats killing and eating one of their own.  After hearing this tape I knew there should be some kind  of evidence of this happening and was able to locate the bones the next time that I returned.   Much of my interpretation is based around discovering clues or references then actively searching for and then speaking to her about them.

      I will go through each machinima I have made for this project and give some insight, then upon completion I will close the exhibit.  So go have a look now if you would like to see it in person.
      So far the build has been up for over two months and has had just under 15,000 visitors worldwide.  Quite rewarding when I compare it against my traditional art openings in first life.  The access that a virtual world offers is remarkable.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Anna's Many Murders closing

Anna and little Timmy

Just a coincidence
Anna disagreeing with the Judge
One of the unsung art patrons of Second Life is Amase Levasseur. She owns Originalia and is part owner of Art Screamers, but often she flies under the radar of many who follow the arts scene in our virtual world, she is just a very unassuming person. Six months ago Amase offered her region Originalia to host my build Anna's Many Murders and I greatly appreciate her generosity.
Sadly the time has come for Anna's to be removed, but new artists will take over the space, so that in itself is something to cheer about. Anna's Many Murders will remain up until the 28th of September so there is still time to see it again or perhaps for the first time.   This is the slurl..
There is also a real life book should you wish to warp some small child's mind or keep it for yourself and gently warp your own.  You can find it here...

And lastly if you would like to know where the idea came from then this post explains it..

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Below is a machinima for my portion of Further along the Path. You might be thinking to yourself that you went to see Further along the Path but don't recall this at all and you would be right. My build used quite a few region resources so I elected to remove it from the sequence of scenes so as to not lag out the other artists work. So if you wish to see it you will have to click the bird in the room full of telephones or use this direct SLURL Further along the Path will be taken down soon.. not sure exactly when but in the next three weeks or so. If you have not seen it and would like to then here is the SLURL to the starting room The machinima is HD so can be seen full screen if you like. These are the participating artists by order of scene. 1-Glyph Graves 2-paramparamm Papp 3-Alpha Auer 4-Bryn Oh 5-Oberon Onmura 6-Eupalinos Ugajin 7-Ux Hax & romy Nayar 8-Ub Yifu

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Cube Project

One indicator of a struggling artist is to have a quick look at their painting palette.  In many cases you will find it covered with every imaginable colour under the rainbow in an attempt to fix whatever problem is ailing them.  It is their mistaken belief that the issue lies on the palette rather than in the artist.   When I studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design there was a Professor who used an exercise that has helped me greatly over the course of my artistic life.  In all other respects he was an arsehole, often telling struggling students they didn't belong in the College and that they should perhaps find employment cutting lawns or that their work was childlike at best.  You have to remember that top art Colleges are full of the countries best and promising students who are accustomed to being the finest and most praised from kindergarten, public school and high school only to discover they have suddenly entered a place where they are average at best and the praise is not as ready as it once was.   That is when they begin to dye their hair blue or wear capes and berets to try to stand out since their art no longer does anymore.  I often found my Professor drinking at the Beverly, our local artists pub on Queen Street, and we would banter endlessly.  He was a throwback Professor who was a practicing artist, which is not so much the case anymore, I actually really liked him.   What he would have us do was reduce our palette to a mere three colours.  For example just Burnt Sienna, Naples yellow and Cadmium Red.  When you do this you are forced to understand the range and properties of the colours you are using.   When you use a million colours you really know nothing about any of them.  The Cube Project is a virtual version of this principle.  We are turning away for a moment from the wonderful range of mesh or photoshopping beautiful textures to work instead on simple minimal compositions in black and white, over 20 regions.  The overall idea is to create a massive harmonious environment rather than follow the standard exhibition practice of each artist having a clearly defined separate space to exhibit.  And we must do this in a mere four days.  The exhibit will live until just September 1st.  The project itself is fairly unique in that 20 regions for two weeks would be $3000 us dollars, which is just not going to happen with your average rational person, so its scale is almost unmatched for a simply artistic endeavour.

The Cube Project is a collaborative artwork consisting of virtual artists Bryn Oh, Cajska Carlsson, Charlotte Bartlett, Dancoyote Antonelli, Giovanna Cerise,  Haveit Neox, Kicca Igaly, L1Aura Loire, London Junkers,  Maya Paris, Misprint Thursday, Nessuno Myoo, Oberon Onmura, PatriciaAnne Daviau, Pol Jarvinen, Rag Randt, Rowan Derryth, Sea Mizin, Secret Rage, Solkide Auer, Remington Aries, Solo Mornington,  Tony Resident, Werner Kurosawa and Xineohp Guisse.

The Cube Project uses a variety of windlights so Firestorm viewer is suggested.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

UWA machinima contest

A while ago I was asked by JayJay Zinfanwe from the University of Western Australia to be a judge in an upcoming machinima competition.  I was flattered and thought "sure I will watch a few machinima"  then discovered there were actually 91 and they ranged from 3 minutes to 30 minutes in duration.  I watched all the machinima and took notes coming up with my favorites.  These were not the winners as chosen by the judges but rather just two of my favorites which I really enjoyed and would like to share.

You can find all the winners at the UWA website.

     The first one is by Pallina60 Loon and I find it quite beautiful and poignant.  The music is perfect, and the length, the simplicity of the narrative, the technical elements and style I found to be really well done.  It is the story of a girl growing up and moving through life.

Congratulations Pallina on a fine work.

      The second work I would like to show is by Soda Lemondrop.  One of my personal dislikes in machinima is what I consider to be the misuse of technologies.  Use the strong elements and avoid the weak ones.  So for example, I almost never like the lip syncing feature for avatars.  What it unerringly does for me each time I see it used is to make me think "hmm those lips are not synced to the voice at all".   In most cases for me it will break the immersion somewhat because I find it distracting.  Some people use it fine, but in general I don't like it.  It usually looks crappy.  I mention this because in some cases people take the raw traits of a medium and use them perfectly.  The machinima by Soda Lemondrop depicts the virtual world for me.  It is quirky and funny and doesn't try to be epic and has lots of character.  There is no windlight and it has low rez ground textures... and the lip syncing is off.  Because of this choice it works for me and had it been a slick production it would have instead failed in my opinion.  I don't think I am explaining this very well but long story short I found this to be a successful work within a niche.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A visit with Virginia

A murder of crows
      Last weekend I drove three hours south to visit with Virginia in her nursing home. I was greeted to the sound of crows cawing in the sky as the south of Ontario, down by Chatham, (unlike where I am from in Toronto) is strangely full of them. Occasionally huge flocks fill the sky.  I wanted to tell Virginia how the exhibit was doing. I told her that it has been seen by close to ten thousand people so far and often are ranging from school groups to individuals who also suffer and can relate to her struggles. I told her that the guests come from all parts of the world and then read to her personal messages some have asked me to relay. When I created this work I wanted to build something that was beyond a portrait. I imagined being in the Louvre and looking upon the 2D painting of the Mona Lisa. I thought about how that picture has for so long captured the worlds imagination and caused people to ask.. who does she smile to? I have looked at the background of the painting and let my eye wander the curving path up the hill behind her and wondered where it might go. What I wanted to try with Virginia was to create a portrait that allows us to turn and see who receives the smile or perhaps allows us to follow the path up the hill into the trees and fields. I wanted a portrait with sounds, movement and duration and the freedom to explore and discover how we wish.  I wanted to depict a subtle fragment of her unreality,  these things only a virtual environment can offer. I explained to Virginia that in Santa Fe there were people walking through a recreation of her home and looked upon her face as they entered. But what I find most interesting about this work is how it transcends location. I have spoken to people living in places like Morocco whose environment is far removed from the lakes and trees depicted in this environment. They have never heard the haunting sound of a loon calling at night or even recognize the style of house Virginia lived in. A house built for bitter winters.  But despite what may be a  block from being immersed in her story, they have actually had no problem associating with Virginia. And deeply so for some.   Virtual worlds have remarkably strong elements of emotion within them and for those with empathy they were able to truly be touched by her story.  It is remarkable really and Virginia has asked me to thank everyone for being interested in her, and I think she is most excited about people hearing her piano compositions.  There is a nice write up by Quan Lavender for Avenue magazine which you can read here if you like..

Thursday, July 19, 2012

LEA endowment application now available It's time for the next round of the LEA Artist-in-Residence Land Grants! The LEA Land Grant program seeks to promote and nurture the arts in Second Life, through a six-month land grant to recipients. Recipients can be individuals or groups interested in creating or curating art, or proposing cultural projects which would require/utilise a full-sim build and can be completed within the allotted time frame. The LEA is able to offer land grants through the generosity of Linden Lab. Below you will find all the information needed to apply for a Land Grant, including helpful information for your application, and how decisions will be made, with a link to the application is at the bottom. Please read this carefully even if you are familiar with this process, as new information is available here. WHO? You. And the LEA. We are looking for projects that utilize the many possibilities available in the virtual world. This is not limited to visual art; we encourage applications that are also collaborative efforts across the spectrum of the arts, including performance, music, and film. We'd like to encourage Second Life residents at all levels to apply, and also suggest residents might form groups and apply together if they don't feel they're able to fill a sim on their own. WHAT? We expect that residents will plan and execute a project utilizing their land grant within a certain time frame. This has often been in the form of a full-sim art exhibition and/or immersive installation, but we also welcome applications which propose curatorial projects, especially those which have a connection to physical exhibitions and events (augmented reality) by individuals and arts groups. The LEA would also prefer that projects be original works for this installation, though of course curators might be presenting extant works. Recipients can expect to 'buy' (at zero cost) a full sim's-worth of land from the LEA. You will own the land and be able to deed it to your group, and so forth. LEA estate managers will have to change some settings on the land, such as terrain RAW files and textures, and will be available to support you throughout your residence. Artists will be given 4 months to execute their build, so that all sims have open work during the last 2 months of their grant. This, however does not mean you cannot open your project earlier than the 4 month deadline, and in fact many artists in the past have used their land to have multiple exhibits. However, it is imperative that your project will be ready within 4 months, and this time-frame should be considered (and reflected) in your application. WHAT IS EXPECTED OF RECIPIENTS? In addition to the aforementioned completion of builds, LEA Land Grant recipients are expected to uphold the LEA Code of Conduct. Recipients will also be expected to hold at least one event at some point within their residency. This could be an art opening, or it could be lectures or demonstrations. It could be an ongoing event, as well. They will also be expected to participate in an LEA-wide art festival, tentatively scheduled for the first week of the final month of your residency. While this could simply mean your build is complete and accessible, we would enjoy if you might consider being an active part of events (ex. talks, performances, gatherings). WHAT CAN ARTISTS-IN-RESIDENCE EXPECT OF THE LEA? In addition to providing land and estate management support, the LEA wants to help make your project a success. You will be assigned a liaison from the LEA Committee, who will help guide you through the land grant timeline, land management, PR planning, and point you to other resources which might maximize your experience and success. WHEN? The next round of land grants are scheduled to start on September 1st, 2012, and finish on February 28, 2013. Applications are available now, with a DEADLINE OF AUGUST 15, 2012 HOW ARE DECISIONS MADE? Land Grant recipients are decided upon in a democratic fashion by the 7 members of the LEA Committee. All applications are STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL - they are only reviewed amongst the LEA, and we will not make public who has applied. Criteria We feel one of the strengths of the LEA committee is that we come from different backgrounds - artists, architects, curators, historians, etc. - all of whom have different ideas on what makes virtual art great. We share a passion for this project, emboldened by differing viewpoints. What this means for the LEA Land Grant applicants is that there is no one ‘right’ project. Some committee members like immersive builds, others enjoy highly technical and scripted work, still others look for projects embracing collaborative, curatorial, or education projects. Some might wish to select those who have a history of successful exhibits in SL, while others are passionate about providing experiences to new and emerging artists. This is great news for applicants, as it means that ANYONE has a chance at getting sim, provided you show us you have an idea for a great project (even if it isn’t completely thought through, and we realise that this will most likely change in your working process). Decision Process Each full LEA committee member makes a list of their top 20 selections from the application pool, then these are tabulated by a member of the Advisory committee (link) to retain anonymity. With the results tabulated, the committee reviews the results and votes again, if necessary, to break ties in order to achieve 20 finalists. The remaining ‘tied’ applicants will be listed as alternates should someone be unable to accept their sim. Notification Successful recipients can expect to be notified within 2 weeks (see timeline below), and will be handed their sims at or near the time of acceptance. If an applicant has had a change of circumstance and feels they can no longer complete their project, that sim will return to the pool and be given to an alternate. No public announcements will be made until all applicants are notified of their result. APPLICATION TIMELINE (subject to change in the event of unforetold crises) Applications available/announced - July 18-19th Application deadline - Aug 15th Final Decision Committee Deadline - Aug 26th Notification period, and selection of alternates if need be - Aug 27 - 31st Sim handover and public announcement - Sept 1st HOW TO APPLY? Fill out the form at the link below. Please take care to ‘paint a picture’ of your project, and include slurls and/or web pages where we might view your work, to help the committee make an informed decision.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Virginia - Piano

     One of the things which lessened the symptoms of Virginia's illness was to play the piano.  In our talks she spoke about how living in the City had a variety of things, essentially sound pollution, which would  cause her illness to become more pronounced.   Sounds most City people don't hear anymore such as, believe it or not, an ambulance going by or cars honking and dogs barking.       Personally, I still hear much of that noise which is what has made me into what my friends call an "Alley slink" because I find the noise and bustle of the main touristy streets annoying and generally travel everywhere one alley way north, south, east or west of the busy streets.
     Virginia would hear much of the ambient sound of her City and it would trigger reactions and anxieties in her.  One of the things which brought her reality back into balance was the soothing act of playing piano at her Church.  Many of the piano pieces she recorded on cassette were original compositions as well.  The sound is a bit tinny being on one of these tape recorders and the piano itself is out of tune but she has some great work.
     When I listened to all the cassettes in some cases I would begin to visualize her in the house talking to the cassette player.  Like on Christmas day humming to a song or attempting to organize her house.  I tried to imagine what the actual scenes would look like if I were watching from the bushes.  In this one there is quite a striking scene to visualize if we put the pieces together.   Virginia is blind as I mentioned and each room in her house was covered with almost a thick drapery of cobwebs that had grown over 20 years or so.  Her piano was situated amongst these cobwebs almost like on a stage with the curtains drawn back.  Now imagine being outside her house as she is recording this particular tape.  The house is dark as there are no lights on and as Virginia says in the machinima, there is a storm outside whose thunder may be heard on the piano recording.  Imagine flashes of lightning illuminating the scene inside this house of Virginia as she is playing the piano in the dark shrouded in cobwebs.  What I kind of shake my head at, is that should this scene exist in a Hollywood movie then I would have felt it to be far too dramatic and corny looking to be real.
     May 26th 2008 is the date of this particular tape and I wonder what I was doing on that day.  Perhaps building in SL.  It was a Wednesday and the Harry Potter actor Rob Knox was stabbed to death in a pub protecting his little brother, a mass grave was discovered in Peru, a oil pipeline was blown up in Nigeria, there was talk of "carbon credits" and Switzerland's top court ruled that a convicted drug trafficker was entitled to keep the money.   And in a remote house Virginia played the piano during a storm.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Virginia's breakers

     Virginia had created hundreds of cassette tapes and on each she would state the date and sometimes the tapes connection to others she had recorded in the past.  For example she might say "December 1st 2007, tape 45 a continuation to tape 73."  In some cases the numerical order didn't actually relate to the chronological order. Virginia has a remarkable memory though and in her mind she kept the order clear, but in being blind she was not always able to find the correct tapes she needed.
     Virginia struggles against what she calls her left and right side.  Two sides which are forever battling for dominance.  She has discovered, over time, that a complex method of placing pressures or avoiding interaction with parts of her body will reduce her symptoms.  In this cassette she talks a bit about her "breakers" or the means she uses to alleviate some of her problems.  The way she interacts with her left and right side not only affect how she physically feels or functions but also it directly can affect what happens in her outside reality as well.  So for example if she picks up her coffee cup with her left hand perhaps the voices in her mind stay at bay or she has better balance or feels more collected and comfortable.
     If by accident she picks up the coffee cup with her right hand then things in her world can become unstable.  So for example if she picks up the cup in her right hand then at that exact time a car might pull in her driveway where a person starts banging on her front door alarming her.  Or perhaps using her right side causes the feral cats to aggressively scratch her when she feeds them.  She catalogues to herself all these occurrences and has found a means to counter them by putting pressures at points on her body.  She may tie her left shoe very tight or put pressure on her wrist with elastic bands.  It is a balancing act for her which allows her to manage these symptoms. My rational side wonders how these could do anything, but then medicine has many examples of pressure point treatment.  A massage therapist often treats areas of the body by working on seemingly unrelated muscles far from the affected area.  The acupuncturist has practiced for centuries and mapped out complex connections all through the body.  Perhaps Virginia has found a way to alleviate her illness in this manner either psychologically or physically.
     Over her life people found Virginia to be strange and in the 50's many just saw her as being "difficult".  She is well aware that talking about these things to others has, for the most part, done nothing more than caused her to be ostracized from society.  She is a rational person dealing with the irrational.  When we talk she is hesitant to speak of some of these things because she knows they sound crazy, but she has never flinched from trying to figure out just why her life proceeded as it did.  Why did she have to deal with these struggles where it seemed easy for everyone else.  She lived in a constant self diagnosis and was her own doctor.

Virginia Alone is now open on Immersiva and is also currently being shown on a monitor at the Santa Fe new media festival.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Virginia Alone

     Over a year ago I came into contact with Virginia.  She is over 80 years old, blind with cataracts and  lived alone in a remote farm house in the Canadian countryside.  She also suffers from Schizophrenia.  Well, more like she fights it from the perspective of someone who has no awareness  that her illness has chapters in psychology textbooks or proper technical terminology to use. She deals with her own reality which is an unreality.   She knows that people think she is crazy, and sometimes she was a bit shy telling me her theories because they sound delusional even to her. They are interpretations gathered from many years of her recognizing patterns while noticing causes and effects associated to seemingly benign occurrences.
     When I first came to her house she was living in just a very small portion of it and the rooms were all hung with 20 years of unseen cobwebs.  She had a chair by her front door with a radio to listen to and the rest of the house was filled with boxes and bags and containers full of things she had collected over the years.  I recall opening a cardboard box to find rolled up newspapers all taped together with even elastic bands wrapped around them.  I painstakingly unwrapped a giant ball curious as to what was inside.  Eventually I unveiled a smaller container inside which there was yet another container and so on until eventually I unearthed a single seed.  When I asked Virginia about it she told me that it was a heritage seed she preserved from an old apple tree.  Most apple trees have been cross germinated for many years to create the perfect apple and she preserved this seed because it came from a natural tree which are becoming more and more scarce.  You see she has reasons for everything, but one must dig to find them because the surface appearance tells a different story than whats inside.

Virginia had about 30 or more old cassette players strewn about her home, and hundreds of cassette tapes she had recorded her thoughts on over the years.  I have listened to all the tapes over many months and have converted each from the tape format into a digital file which I then distilled from 120 or 60 minutes down to 30.  Then I reduced them again down to 8-10 minutes.  I have tried to keep the tapes as close to how she recorded them as possible.  You will hear the clicking of her recording, some have grocery lists or recordings of songs she liked, radio shows or perhaps she broaches topics in her life such as abandoning her child or explaining how she would place her radio on the front steps so she could go outside into the yard yet still be able to follow its sound back to her house so that she would not become lost.  On one tape she relates how the batteries died one time and she could not find her way back home for 8 hours.  In Virginia's mind it was not her who was lost but rather the house.
     Imagine how time would almost stop if you were sitting alone in the dark talking to a recorder.  Your house taking on an almost organic life with it tiny squeaks, groans and bumps intruding on your profound silence.  Think of just one day sitting alone with your mind, then imagine a week of introspection and then finally 20 years.  Have you ever listened to a thunderstorm emerge from its first breeze to its final drip from the eves trough?  Virginia hears everything we do, but defined.. then she hears more that our reality doesn't permit.

     Often it felt like I was unraveling a mystery.   On one tape I heard talk about her feral cats killing and eating another cat outside her door.  On one of my visits I discovered the remains of this cat which was almost like reading a history book which didn't become real until I actually saw the evidence that it really did occur.  There were some incredulous looks when I made it known that the bones would be coming home with me that day, but for me it was essential.  The bones represented the harsh realities that existed in her environment, there were no dogs wearing jackets and boots nor kittens being carried around in purses like I get in the city.  It was a forgotten pocket with few civilities where the inside of her house was overgrown to match the outside.

     Virginia Alone will open on June 22nd at the Santa Fe New Media Festival as well as on Immersiva.  At the festival it will be shown on a ten foot screen and guests will be able to navigate the build while there.  By clicking on the cassette players or tapes within the build you will be taken to a YouTube site where you can listen to some of her recordings.   Virginia is much like the apple seed wrapped in layers of paper, you will need to listen to many of her tapes to begin to understand her.   Virginia has since been moved from this house to a nursing home and some of the recordings are from an interview I did with her there (yes that is moaning and periodic screaming in the background).  I am not sure how this artwork will be received by its guests, but needless to say Virginia is very excited.

Also showing at the festival will be works by Artistide Despres and Haveit Neox as well as a performance by Tyrehl Byk with musician Ultraviolet Alter.  It is gratifying to see such a respected festival acknowledge the talents of virtual artists and I would like to congratulate them on their foresight.