Friday, April 30, 2010

World Expo Shanghai 2010

The first life curator Cristina García-Lasuén owner of the OPEN THIS END SL group and also known as Aino Baar in Second Life, approached Spanish officials for the World Expo several months ago with the purpose of bringing Second Life machinima to the attention of a greater audience. She was successful as they granted her several hours per week to display machinima simultaneously over five four metre wide HD screens which are attached to a structure called the "Air Tree" built specifically for the Expo at the Madrid Pavilion.
 In the picture to the left (click on it to enlarge) you can see a child in a blue shirt on one of the monitors that will exhibit SL machinima.

Wikipedia gives this info for the Expo..
"More than 190 countries and more than 50 international organizations have registered to participate in the Shanghai World Expo, the largest ever. China expects to receive almost 100 foreign leaders and millions of people from across the world to come and visit the World Expo. More than 70-100 million visitors are expected to visit the expo, the largest in history."

Whats even better is that the Madrid Pavilion is right beside the Shanghai Pavilion so we should be right in the hub of it all.  Even if a mere 1% of the 70-100 million guests pay attention then we are doing ok.

I approached Linden Lab with a proposal to build content specifically for this event and they graciously gave me five sims with which to do this.  Pathfinder Linden was instrumental in helping me get these regions.  There is a loose theme over the five islands where each land is missing something.  Island one has no love, island two no energy and so on.  Over the course of the Expo I will be highlighting each sim and the builders involved.

What we are doing for this event is to allow machinimatographers to make a film in the range of 3-6 min showcasing the narrative of one of the islands.. or all five if they choose.  The machinima must be HD and widecreen.  I will be showing those machinima on this blog and those of the highest quality can be added to those shown in the Madrid Pavilion at the World Expo.  If you do wish to make a machinima or help promote this event in other ways then please contact me and I will give you a press kit with more info on those involved as well as machinima details.

I generally work alone and over the course of this event I began to recognize the difficulty with projects of this scale.  There was an enormous amount of drama with people stomping off in anger and general unreliability.  But there were those who stepped up and provided brilliant work in a variety of areas.    I would like to thank Glyph Graves, Marcus Inkpen, Aino Baar, ColeMarie Soleil, Mallory Destiny, Kazuhiro Aridian, Soror Nishi and Desdemona Enfield here first and then in greater detail over the course of the Expo.   ColeMarie was also able to contact and get permission to use music from the great talents Justin Lassen and KatieJane Garside
from Queen Adreena.

Island one - Bryn Oh - no love At the location you arrive is a picture with sky setting info inside.

Island two - Glyph Graves -no energy/Entropy  Clicking the tree will start into motion events.

Island three - Bryn Oh - no colour  By typing in chat "tree" you will see the shopping carts change to wonderful trees by Soror Nishi.  By typing "vendor" they will switch back to the carts.  They are also on a timer to change every 8 min.  This scripting was done by Desdemona Enfield.  It is fairly essential to put in the sky setting for this one.  You can also download both sky settings in xml files which may be easier.  you can get them here...

Island four - Marcus Inkpen - no sound sky setting in the notecard on island one

Island five - Bryn Oh - no light by typing "bryn" in chat will open the lightbulb seeds.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Moby video winners.

Alas I didn't win the Moby contest thingy for the unfortunate reason that the others were better than mine.  I really would have preferred to blame it on politics or something.  Sigh.   I will post mine and then the other finalists and finally the winner.  I might as well write my take on each because wft its Friday, and its fun to give your opinion.

I think this one might be my favorite.  Only thing I would say is that the music is completely unrelated to the video.  I don't find they fit together at all.  I do love the video though, fighting the bee and then saying "wrf was that" was priceless.

A creative interpretation in this one.  Nicely filmed but personally I am kind of tired of watching humans doing human things.  We are endlessly fascinated with watching ourselves so not surprised this is a finalist and it deserves to be.

Did I say the top one was my favorite? maybe this one is actually.  It was really creative and he deserves a medal for that editing.  Told a touching story in an unorthodox way.  The music and visuals fit perfectly and really just enjoyed watching it.


I really liked this one too.  Maybe this one is my favorite.  Really planned out the sequence well with lots of variety.

So this was the winner. To be honest I don't really like it. Thats not sour grapes either. I just really am surprised Moby picked this. Its kind of funny sure and pokes fun at celebrity. Was probably entertaining to see view himself in this manner. I guess it depends from how deep within Moby this song was created. If the lyrics and mood came from his soul then how can you let the visual interpretation be corrupted so far from what you were trying to portray? If on the other hand it was created with sheer technical skill, and at no time did he feel the emotions of the song, if this song was not his baby, but rather a necessary component for a full length CD then I can understand the lack of concern at its portrayal visually. I don't recall if I mentioned at another time on my blog how earlier in my career I used to paint things which were too connected to me. I could not sell them as they meant too much, but worse, I feared to try dramatic changes to them as I was afraid of ruining them. You can't advance if you are afraid to take chances so I had to "cure" myself of this problem. The way I did this was to take my favorite paintings and burn them, bury them, sink them in a lake and hide them. Some were preserved carefully in plastic and buried in construction yards at night. One is now under a gas station not far from me. Anyway, this severing was necessary for me specifically. I can now work on things which i see as almost perfect and still have the ability to try new things because the alternative is losing them forever.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

#1 "Under the tree that died" by AM Radio

I often find that in Second Life art there are categories of strengths to each builder.  For example I may see someone create a technical/scripting work which is brilliant yet perhaps visually its a bit lacking due to a weakness in another area such as composition.  Other artists may create a beautiful sculpture using traditional concepts of form or negative space yet are missing unique SL capabilities brought on by scripting.  AM Radio is an artist who is very well balanced in this regard.  If we break down this build we can see some of the variety which makes this build successful.  And as I said at the beginning of this top ten, these are just my favorites over the year and I am not proclaiming them to be the ten greatest works of art in 2009.

The composition of UTTTD has some great elements which work together.  On the large open space we have three main areas.  The vehicle, the tree and the umbrellas.  From a distance it creates triangulation with the tree raised above and in the middle of the other two elements.  It creates the shape of a pyramid and as a result gives the impression of stability.  The left hand side with the vehicle is heavier than the right hand side with the umbrellas.  In a RL composition this would unbalance the piece giving the viewer the feeling that the left side could tilt and fall down.  Creating balance in a composition is an ages old struggle and depending how you want the viewer to feel when observing your work, is an important element.  If you wanted to portray a person on the edge of a cliff contemplating stepping off then having the composition heavy to the side of that figure would give the viewer the feeling that they were being drawn off the cliff.  So how can a heavy vehicle be balanced with several light umbrellas who are almost ready to be blown off into the air?  Its done with movement.  The umbrellas can't compete with the vehicles weight but unlike a static painting they can move.  I believe the movement draws the eye and gives them enough strength compositionally that they are able to balance the piece.  So all these elements give the feeling of a location that is stable with little change over the years.  The angle of the vehicle suggests the driver had to stop suddenly upon seeing the tree, and we have arrived at this moment as either the driver or as a witness.  The roots of the tree are not drooping with gravity but rather float out horizontally suggesting the tree is comfortably floating there.  Its not a scene of anxiety but of quiet curiosity.

The colour composition of the work is based off a small section of the colour palette using mainly earth tones.  AM is a colourist and one of his greatest strengths is understanding how to use colour within a piece.  To keep the calm nature of this build he has refrained from creating any high contrast colour sections.  The strongest area of colour in the build is to the right with the umbrella handles and the strongest being the red door.  Having placed the colours to this side also help balance the piece.  I have taken the liberty of choosing this sky, but I found that most skies allowed the composition to remain intact.

Aesthetically the composition is great.  At this point we look at the umbrellas.  AM has scripted them to move quite convincingly with wind.  They spin and twirl and in a way are a type of visual ballet which the viewer can watch after leaving the still portion of the composition to the left by the vehicle.  It creates variety going from stillness to movement.  From a limited colour palette to one which now introduces the red of the handles and door.  These elements are subtle and AM has added the scripting without overdoing it.  This is how I interpret AM's work and its the reason why I picked this as my favorite build from 2009.  It was a pleasure for me to speak about some of the great creators in Second Life and I hope you agreed with one or two of my picks.

AM Radio wrote an essential comment to this post which explains his work far better than I can.  I am going to post it here as an addition.

Thank you for the thoughtful write up Bryn.

I would just add a few thoughts to further the discussion, but are in no way a disagreement of your writing.

I try to provide both a refuge and a destination in all of my builds. I believe this to fundamental to a sense of stable composition in virtual worlds in addition to visual structure. The psychological sense of place is rooted in an index which defines some level of safety. The automobile, which has become modern armor in real life as we sweep across the modern landscape, provides a point of refuge, as if we could get in it to escape the rain or some unknown danger. The tree provides a mystery which beckons the viewer to leave the relative safety of proximity to the car. A telegram on the ground rewards the explorer and brings them closer to the umbrellas and door. The umbrellas and the door provide the prospect to find further places of refuge. The umbrellas move more like a tide, with the door a seeming undertow which beckons the user to open it. An image of the tree floating in the air sits in the road in front of the door, suggesting that the door and the umbrellas hold some clues to the mystery that first drew the viewer from the automobile.

In that sense, once the viewer experience each section of the build, there is a fulfilled sense of and experience which completes the viewer's requirement for defining a complete place. This is not unlike post modern life where we are in a constant state of tourism; as we drive, as we work, as we use the internet we have all become expert at high speed pragmatic criticism of prospective opportunity and destination. We're always looking for signs of prospect from the relative safety of a known refuge. I am referencing the work of Jakle, which I have applied to virtual experience and still exploring the validity of this use of tourism as fundamental to virtual experience.

If you visit my other builds with this in mind you will see these elements of refuge. Each refuge attempts to provide a visual or functional horizon which indicates prospective destinations of refuge as points of safety and interest.

The composition of a full and unified experience is as important as visual composition within virtual spaces.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Through The Virtual Looking Glass

 About a year ago or so, the idea of a book combined with a RL/SL art event was decided upon by the members of Caerleon Island in Second Life, lead by Professor Gary Zabel from the University of Massachusetts.   At this time I put together a dinner theatre type build/ performance called 4Jetpacks4  which you can see below.

 Its a bit of an old video so please ignore the poor filming.  Since this build there have been others demonstrating different characteristics of how we interact within the virtual world.  The artists of Caerleon but especially Georg Jannick have spent an increadible amount of time setting up this event which started yesterday with a RL gallery show of Caerleon artists physical work and virtual work.  Tezcatlipoca Bisani turned up fashionably late to the Gallery show in Boston and took some pictures which I have included below.  Over 100 people turned up for the opening last night, which is pretty good for a gallery.  If you happen to be in Boston and wish to see the show, it will be running until the end of April.  In world you can pop over to Immersiva where there is an info booth at the telehub.  Clicking on the boxes to the right will give you are variety of useful information.

 So for me this is the second time I have shown in real life as the virtual character Bryn Oh.  The first was at Nuit Blanche last year.  This concept has been something I have been working towards for, well, years now.  Showing alongside flesh and blood artists as a digital one.  I have always been fascinated with the idea of people seeing artwork in a gallery and looking to see who made it, only to be surprised and confused to find that it was a virtual artist with no connection to RL.  Just a collection of coloured dots.
I like to describe it this way.  Imagine going to a marionette show.  They dim the lights and as you watch, the marionettes cease to be string and wood creations controlled by a person, instead they take on a life of their own as you slowly become drawn in and your imagination is engaged.  If someone were to suddenly turn on the light in the theatre. you would see the person controlling the marionette and the suspention of disbelief would be broken.  But if the lights are kept off can that marionette remain a personality indefinately?  Its a part of the art concept of Immersiva.  To draw one into the virtual world allowing them to forget for a time their real life.  Bryn Oh is an extention of my artwork in SL.  She is designed no less than the builds I create. So now she has stepped through the looking glass and into RL with her machinima as well as some encaustic and wire music box insects (in the video below)

Below is the official write up for the event.  If you get a chance please check it out and let others know.

 ‘Through the Virtual Looking Glass ‘is a brand new exhibition of leading virtual artists. Showing intricate artworks simultaneously from the ‘Harbor Gallery’ at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and also at renowned galleries across France, Holland, Australia, Germany, and Brazil.

The Real Life exhibition will display virtual art by using computers, high quality digital frames, a digital projector, live video and audio streaming, and specially made digital interface devices accessing works in virtual worlds. It will also show prints, paintings, and sculptures based on art made in virtual worlds, some with embedded mechanical and electronic components.

Many of the artists whose work will be shown have established art careers, having exhibited in such venues as the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the DeCordova Museum in the United States as well as numerous well-known galleries and museums throughout Europe.

The final day will see a celebration event held RL at the Harbor Gallery and will stream live music into SL via the POP ART LAB sim.

Professor Gary Zabel (Georg Janick in Second Life) says of the event: “Two things inspired me to initiate ‘Through the Virtual Looking Glass.’ First I wanted to explore ways to break down the barriers that separate the real and virtual worlds by introducing virtual art to real world audiences. So much powerful art created in SL and other virtual worlds has been limited to rather small in-world audiences. We need to break it free of the confines of the virtual ghetto. The portal between the real and virtual worlds should allow art and audiences to pass through in both directions. Second I wanted to use the powerful networking capacities of SL to promote global artistic collaboration by developing a series of coordinated real world international art exhibitions. In addition to the Boston exhibition opening April 7, TTVLG exhibitions will be taking place over the next few months in France, Germany, Holland, Brazil, and Australia, each organized by leading figures in the world of virtual art. We have also developed a HUD that will allow SL residents to experience many of the artworks that are being exhibited in the real world galleries as well as participate in related musical and literary events. The organizers of TTVLG hope that these ‘crossover’ experiences will throw a spotlight on the power of virtual art to connect people across countries as well as worlds."

Featured artists include: Adam Ramona, Aequitas , Alizarin Goldflake, AM Radio, Artistide Despres, Botgirl Questi, Bryn Oh, Feathers Boa, FreeWee Ling, Georg Janick, Glyph Graves, Igor Ballyhoo, Jacque Quijote, Kolor Fall, Lollito Larkham, Luce Laval, Nonnatus Korhonen , Misprint Thursday , Olza Koenkamp, Pete Jiminy, Pixels Sideway, Pyewacket Kazyenko, Sabrinaa Nightfire,Thoth Jantzen, Ub Yifu, Wizard Gynoid.

Additional inworld exhbition venues:                    
Pirats (France)
CARP/Diabolus (Holland)
UWA (University of Western Australia)
Ice Caverns Gallery/Brazil
Museum of Virtual Art / New Caerleon ((US)
IBM Exhibition Space & Sandbox (US)
The Big House/Caerleon Art Collective (US)

Further Information:
Event Organizer-Professor Gary Zabel:
SL Inworld Organization: Pixels Sideways
SL Press Enquiries- Persia Bravin (

Website for Boston exhibition:

Website for international exhibitions: