Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Fallini in Second Life

IMPARAFACILE ISLAND exhibition on the amazing Fallini, who needs no introduction.  If ever there was a film maker show should be inspiring Second Life art it is Fallini.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Second Art and Second Life

Spencer Museum of Art, Spencer Art Museum is an amazing experience to explore.  But like most works of art it is not a living site, but is kind of an isolated experience.

Its an amazing thing to look at but would probably not be a great place to have a meeting.  But the role of art in our society is to stand out against a society and hold a mirror up to it, the question is what is the society of Second Life that Second Life art is reacting to.

So what is this artistic use of space telling up about virtual culture?  Well partly that space and technology are becoming more organic, that virtual technology can move beyond the linear bounds of steam engine technology.  But just like my study of identity on Second Life, just because radical art can see it does it mean it is happening in Second Life?

The reality of Second Life is not technology becoming more organic, far from it, from trees to animals the organic is re-imagined as a hyper technical with a repetition and mathematic precision not possible in any real world industrial process.  The Second Life art seems more to be rejecting what is happening in Second Life than showing what is possible.

When a space is use by a range of people a general post-modern nightmare of random senseless linear geometry.  And inorganic chaos which is both meaningless and ordered at the same time.  Kind of like TV, but immersive.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Zone: Second Life as Surreal Visitation

Much of Second Life has been abandon, leaving a scattered cluster of personal projects.  More and more Second Life reminds of my second favourite Science Fiction novel Roadside Picnic (Russian: Пикник на обочине, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.

From the Russian movie Stalker based on Roadside Picnic, think of this next time you wonder SL

Roadside Picnic tells the story of a Zone left by an alien race that has shortly visited Earth, for some reason leaving a few items that remain in isolated Zones.  Stalkers explore the Zone looking for items that might be of value to scientists, a black market in Zone develops.  But as many of the items in the Zone will kill you and as governments have secured the Zone the work is dangerous and negatively impacts the Stalkers.  Still the promise of surreal items draws some explorer to risk their lives to enter the Zone.  For me this expresses more and  more what Second Life is evolving into.  Most SIMs are now empty but there is a scattered surreal world left behind, objects that meant something to someone but are now strange, without context or community they are objects of pure imagination.

There are a number of strange and wonderful things in SL that seem just left there, with out much reference to their context and usually with no one around.

The novel Roadside Picnic pictures such an environment, a space of other people dreams and technology that can never really make sense to you.

Second Life landscape is becoming stranger and stranger in many locations, abandon projects and half used dreams left in a surrealist flat space right out of surrealist movie.

Things just seem randomly placed all over SL, without reference to history or culture.

Second Life

Illustration of Road Site Picnic

Second Life is the space of cars left to run forever going to nowhere, of forests cut by lines and towers for no obvious purpose surrounded by empty land and sea.  It is this strange forgotten landscape which is the most interesting part of the Second Life experience. 

Scene from Stalker, movie based on Roadside Picnic, does this look like SL today or what?

You could film Roadside Picnic here

Brussels and the 3D Printer

Imagine the year is 2045.  You are in charge of building a new city center in China.  The people are getting a bit tired of mass modern tower blocks and the local government has hired you to provide a space that will be different, someplace the hard working new middle class of southern China could enjoy going to.

You decide that Brussels is a lovely city.  So you access to a state of the art 3-D printer.  

So how do you build Brussels again?  You go to a market place like Second Life and you find a detailed SIM that has executed a design.  You have the advantage of being able to walk through it.  You buy the designs and then place it on a topographical copy of your area, making what additions you need or changes.

Then you just print Brussels.

I am pretty sure this is the future of architecture.  Not sure I like the idea of the real world looking more and more like Second Life, with pieces of great buildings simply placed around without context, but it certainly is the most effective way to start building cities.

Yogyakarta Borobudur Indonesia in Second Life

An amazing reconstruction of a Buddhist ruin from Indonesia.  Thought the build is amazing there seems to be no educational context, the item is kind of a collectors piece of art displayed on an island with no context provided.  The avatars who hang out here seem to use it as a romantic site.

Thus in a way the build is both the best and worst of ritual world.  A stunning re-construction of a site one can get a real feel for the architecture.  But being simply placed on an island it removes the historical context of the site, making it more of a Disneyland like place.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Dryland uses empty space well

Dryland (Anita's Artspace & Anita Witt Photography), makes excellent use of space to allow complex designs to rez.

The problem faced by all SL designers is that space contains potential computing space, and objects and people use potential computing space.  There are strict crazy limits on everything.  The typical fix is to cut corners, to use texture images rather than build 3-D structures is common, or to reuse the same item again and again reducing computation.  But these makes for objects that look flat.

Dryland does it much better, fewer opens per unit space but rendered in wonderful detail.  And it also understands the need for space to have meaning.  Dryland presents a myth of a dried up river bed populated by gypsies to make it amazing large space with few objects make sense.

Caledon vs Babbage, the importance of space usage in Virtual Worlds

Both Caledon and New Babbage are steampunk communities full of lots of creative inventions by Second Life's steampunk community.  Both are cool.  But somehow I find the suburban layout of Caledon as taking from the experience.  All the pieces, each pretty cool in itself, does not work together.  You look like you are at a conference for steampunk inventors.  Why New Babbage, which is laid out as a city and is often hard to navigate feels like a community.

Community is more than just a network of people on line with shared interests: its also a feel of a community.  In something like Second Life its critical to build structures that work as communities.  Cities build community, suburban space tend to isolate people.

Walking around New Babbage you are likely to encounter someone and make a new friend, the city streets channel people in to hub spots.  A grid layout like Caledon tends to isolate people to their own little square.

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