Saturday, February 25, 2017

"Hand" - part three Telephone Jesus and the falling man

I know I said we would start Flutters story this post, but I actually have to talk about a few other things first which are part of the social layering of the society for the narrative.  While the overall story is for a very close but alternative version of our world, it does over lap.    Across the street from the Rebirth Store you will notice Flutter walking towards some ramps and boards which lead into the apartment building.  I think I have mentioned in previous posts about creating a composition using the "eyepath" to lead the viewers attention to different focal points.   In a static image the eyepath is easy to use but with a virtual space where the viewer might
Telephone Jesus
Duck lipped selfie
look at a scene from many different angles it is a bit more tricky.  Some might notice a stone sculpture haphazardly nailed to a telephone pole.  Different things point or lead to it and should the viewer stand before him and follow his gaze they will see he looks down upon a broken cell phone.  A piece of detritus from the past.   I think the social commentary of the telephone Jesus is self explanatory so lets move on to the cell phone.  People who are familiar with my work know that interaction is an important element in my creations.  You have to click on things to find other layers or hidden parts.  The cell phone is one such thing.   When you click it you will be teleported to the last image taken on the phone..  a selfie. The selfie is of a girl making duck lips in front of the burning Twin Towers from 911.  The duck face or duck lip selfie was a craze for a while and it has already passed actually.   We are now in the time of the Fish Gape selfie.  I imagined this after reading about a trend where people were taking smiling selfies around dead people.  At accident scenes etc.  The total lack of empathy and the ... I guess emotional detachment?  A type of desensitization that maybe comes from the over saturation of similar content we find online.  Over the last ten years we have seen the simon cowells and that angry chef guy and others who TV has engineered into a type of hero.  Trump in a way is a product of that.   So the Duck lipped selfie comments on a person who could take such an image of themselves to post imagining that it is something others will "like".  You can see behind her a tiny dot... again if you zoom in and touch you will discover the falling man.  Building the falling man was one of the more difficult things I have had to make.  It is a man who gracefully falls to his own death.  He almost appears calm and at peace.  I tried to find out who he was, so I could then understand if he was there delivering something.. if he worked there, if he had a family,
The falling man
girlfriend, parents and grandparents.  I wanted to know who he was but he remained a mystery.  I have not found anywhere that identifies him, he is an anonymous falling man.  He falls and perhaps his life flashes before his eyes as they say it does.  Maybe he has regrets, things he wishes he could have said or done.  In the end though, within the social mediaverse he is a prop for the duck faced selfie. 
Ironically people would "like" his death.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"Hand" - part two

Vera Lynnbot
     When you come up from the dark and damp subway you emerge to a warm city basking in a sunset.  To your left is a familiar character if you experienced Imogen and the pigeons and The Singularity of Kumiko works previous to this one.       She is a Vera Lynnbot.  This particular one was hired to sing to Kumiko as she lay in her coma.  Their programming was designed to entertain humans and that was their sole purpose.  When the population began to disappear they would wander around looking for people to sing to.  At the start of the Imogen and the pigeons story we were shown the Vera Lynnbot standing and singing beside the last remaining computer which housed the digital memories of Imogen.  Imogens memories were the last remnant of the human race, and as such it was where she stayed.
Singbot Advert
     Across the street from the Subway is the Rebirth Store.  One of the themes for the overall narrative, which began almost ten years ago with the Daughter of Gears, is the concept of the Technological Singularity.  The idea behind the singularity is that an AI is created with a type of intelligence.  But the thing is that even if it begins with a basic intelligence it has the ability to grow at an exponential rate.  So for example.  Imagine a competition.  A group of the top 20 scientists in the world against a basic AI with little experience.  The contest is to build a spaceship that can fly to another galaxy with people on board.  They have one year before the results are due from each group.  The top scientists get to work and each have a lifetime of study behind them they are the top experts in this field... the AI has no experience.  So the AI creates a virtual environment that matches real life.  Same physics etc.  It begins to learn the same things the scientists studied and puts the virtual space on say 10x the speed of real life, like putting a movie on fast forward,  and the AI need not sleep.  Long story short the AI can catch up and surpass the top scientists fairly quickly in the test virtual space.  Not to mention it also keeps upgrading itself and the virtual space too.  Maybe it can increase the speed to 100x real life?  To 1000?  So at the end of the year it has spent hundreds of years in study to build the space ship.  Its design is far superior the top minds of just a year ago, in fact it makes their design seem like a childs in comparison.
      In my stories the Singularity has arrived and essentially people have left the singularity AI to run everything.  "All we need to do is play" said Iktomi to Kumiko.  Since it learns exponentially the AI comes up with remarkable inventions daily.  One such invention allows us to record our lives and mind digitally onto a computer to later be put into a new body, essentially creating immortality (which in my story is not invented yet).  So the Rebirth store collects lives and keeps them for the day when we can install these memories into new bodies.  Since the memories are stored digitally as a language
they can now be "edited", and Imogen and the pigeons as well as the Singularity of Kumiko show two different views on whether ones memories should be edited and changed.  Imogen lost her daughter and in her story she edits her memories to change that outcome and bring her daughter back to her.  In the Singularity of Kumiko .. Kumiko is in a virtual space within her real life coma after a car accident, and has to decide if she wishes to have her memories recorded.  She feels that a life shouldn't be edited and that emotions like happiness can only exist when they have sadness
to compare with.  For her views please watch the Singularity of Kumiko machinima.  The Singularity of Kumiko is a prequel to Imogen and the pigeons with Kumiko being the daughter that Imogen lost.  Kumiko is lost because she decides not to record her life digitally and to stay in her coma where some unexpected things happened.  She dies in her coma and so cant be reborn. 
     So we see a decaying city but we don't yet know why.   When wandering around the ground level
you might come across  deer returning to the city or little relics of a time that is now fading away.

Across the street from the Rebirth Store is a new theme to the story world I have created.  It is called PodWorld and it sells virtual reality pods for people to live in.  At this time people have begun to live, love and work within the virtual space.  Originally those who lived and worked in the VR were known as "sleepers" in a derogatory fashion, but as time progressed almost everyone began to live in pods.  I imagined a type of evolution where the human race didn't evolve any longer physically with their bodies, but rather the mind moved forward on its own.  Our bodies became place holders and our mind lived the perfect existence in the virtual space where we looked as we wished to, where our intellect had the might of the Internet behind it, where, essentially, people built their own Heaven.  Society no longer needed a house and furniture, entertainment systems and all that added expense... they just needed a pod to house their bodies in sleep.  They then had the choice to purchase food canisters of different duration so they need not be bothered to log out of this world.  Some bought ten year food canisters, while others
got five or the basic package was one year.  In this story the world fell apart 8 years previous and so only those who purchased a ten year food canister are still alive in their virtual spaces.  The rest perished when their food and water ran out, oblivious to the collapse of their previous world.
     This is the world you enter when you come out with Flutter from the Subway.  It is a story which requires the visitor to piece together clues to build an understanding of the society, and for those who are familiar with my previous work, they will add new layers to what they already know.   In the next post we will begin progress into Flutters story.

Friday, February 17, 2017

"Hand" - part one

     When the visitor begins the story of Hand they appear on a Subway platform in the dark.  Behind you stands a water damaged angel statue, and before you sits a cold and damp platform long abandoned.
  A Subway car sits over flooded tracks in a state of decay.  On a bench sits Flutter, or as some call her Flit.  The other kids call her this because she moves through the city quickly from place to place like an agile swallow in the sky or at other times she seemingly has no direction at all much like the erratic broken flying of a moth. 
     Flutter sits on the bench holding a suitcase tightly to her chest.  Inside is something precious to her which she has looked to find for a long time.  She has been traveling along the subway lines and tunnels to different stops searching for something which she has now finally found.  We discover her resting on a bench listening to the ambient dripping of water in the unnatural quiet of a place that, in another time, was bustling with people who also flitted and fluttered about the city.  Flutter and the other children live in this world almost as anthropologists trying to piece together what it used to be like.  They bicker and debate with each other what the old world used to be.  They have never seen a moving Subway car nor are they aware that the escalator in the background moved on its own rather than being a static set of stairs.   There are hints
all over the city of what it used to be like, and they have all developed a nostalgia for this imagined world.  A nostalgia that should be so foreign to children.  There is one thing they all desire more than anything else, and Flutter has found and carries it back to them in her battered suitcase.

The visitor walks up the steps of the escalator and comes out to the bright world above.  A juxtaposition similar to the unearthly quiet of a once bustling subway.

Friday, February 10, 2017

"Hand" - walk through

  Over the next several posts I will be doing a walk through for my new artwork "Hand".  If you have not seen it yet then don't read these as they will contain the entire story and explanations of my thought process and design elements.   This first post will just be the arrival room where you set up the windlight and so on.  I am also going to explain a few useful building tricks.

Hand -

      So as with all my work over the past several years you will need to adjust some settings to see it
as it was designed.  First things first though.  In the picture to the right I have turned on transparencies so you can see invisible things.  You do that by holding down ctrl and alt at once then clicking T while still holding down the ctrl and alt.  Anything invisible in a scene can now be detected as a red semi transparent object.  The red in this picture shows two layers of walls.  In each wall is a Hud (a display that appears on your screen like a window)  and you will be asked to join an experience.  If you have already joined the Bryn Oh experience from previous builds you wont be asked to do so again.  This just applies to new people to my work.  When you walk through the wall the Hud will be added to you automatically if you have accepted the experience.  The experience essentially removes the step of people having to go to a kiosk and buying a hud when they then attach to their avatar.  This experience bypasses that and directly attaches a Hud to you. 
There are two walls because if the sim is busy and people are quickly walking through the first wall it can sometimes miss people, so the second wall is a backup to catch those it may have missed.  Now you walk up to some directions on the wall.  Directions are a necessary evil in my work.  I hate directions and I imagine so does everyone else.  That will be the nice thing with Sansar as things just appear as you plan them with no messing around.  Anyway, these directions are quite simple compared to how things used to be several years ago.  When people came to my work then they would have to set up the windlight manually with pages of numbers to insert... if you are on Firestorm viewer the windlight will just appear for you.  The windlight is important as the shadows themselves are part of the composition of the artwork.  The contrasting line between a dark shadow and the light will often help direct the visitor to important narrative elements.  As an artist I would naturally like the visitor to see the work as I designed it, however I realize that people like to change the windlight and take pictures for flickr, so these are directions for a windlight whose
shadows enhance the overall composition of the work.   Same goes for ambient sound.  If you are listening to music then you will miss the ambient sound which heightens the immersion.  

     The picture to the right shows two boxes that sit inside a wall.  It is a confusing picture because it is a bit tricky to show that.  So what I have done is angled the camera so that it breaks through a solid wall to show the two boxes with text on them.  People can not see these boxes normally.  Why put boxes with text on them behind walls you ask?  A good trick to help with rezzing textures or text is to introduce those textures before people come to them.  So when you arrive and are setting up the directions for the windlight your viewer is seeing these text boxes even though you are unaware of them.  The text on the box is the text that appear in the hud at different times in the story.  So you are taking these textures into your computers "cache" and then at a later time when the text appears they will appear instantly with no blurring to rez.  The next trick is to use the same concept for sound.  What I do is put the ambient sounds I will use within the build playing in the arrival room with the sound set to 0.  So you wont hear them playing but your computer will.  So for example in the Singularity of Kumiko where there was lots of voice narrative, all of it was silently playing in the arrival room so that when you got to a long portion of dialogue it played smoothly the first time.  If I had not done this then the first time you would hear the voice talking it would be broken and jerky with large portions silent.  This happens the first time as your computer puts it into cache.. and then if you listened a second time it would sound much better... but who listens a second time?  Best to avoid making people do that.  This trick also works if you were to say make an animated sculpty.  I once made a plastic bag caught in a tree that was blowing vigorously in a wind.  You do that by making one sculpty with a bag shape, then make a second sculpty with different bag shape and so on until you have maybe eight shapes to cycle between.  There is a script that will cycle between sculpty textures and thus create the impression of movement.  Putting the sculpty textures out for people to rez will prevent the bag from getting all warped the first time they see it.  Sadly this only works with sculpties and not mesh as far as I know.  Ah yes I forgot to mention, I also use windlights for different altitudes.  So for example on one floor of the apartment building the windows are boarded up... so when you climb into these rooms the windlight changes from the sunlight one to a very dark one to give the impression of a gloomy dark floor.  I do the same with the subway where you arrive.  It is very dark down there but when you walk up the escalator to the city the windlight changes by altitude so that it turns to the sun.  This gives the feeling of coming out of a dark place to a lit one.  This again only works with Firestorm and provided you don't change the windlight from the original.  Once you change the windight it seems to stop this feature from working.   Anyway I think I am done for the first part.  For the next posts I will just talk about the story itself.