Sunday, June 1, 2008

The safety of spaces

He has challenged our idea of place since the beginning with the Far Away... a field of wheat, grey skies, a rusty old train, a table... but in our pixelated reality it is a comforting riddle that has gripped the imagination of tens of thousands of its visitors. Now, AM Radio, degreed in Fine Arts and living in the Chicago area, has unveiled two new installations: Husk, on a sim sponsored by the New Media Consortium, and The Quiet, sponsored by Princeton University. It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to his new Machinima featuring - and weaving together - all three places, with music by Torley Linden.

I learned today that AM seeks to inspire viewers to create and define their own narratives of experience as evidenced within the Flickr groups (see below) that are dedicated to each of the installations.

He shared the following quote with me from John A. Jalke's "The Visual Elements of Landscape":

A view, as a complex set of objects (a kind of place itself), can be categorized to basic components. These components include: (1) extent of view or the distance over which sight is effective; (2) foreground-middleground-background discontinuities or the existence of multiple horizons; (3) enframement by which the sight is bounded; (4) focal points that serve as attention getters; and (5) sense of security implicit in focal points that imply refuge. Effective views contain prospects that enable viewers to survey considerable distances over several successive horizons.

AM Radio: At once, you can read these ideas to mean that safe havens are, in fact, tactical positions, or more simply, great hiding places. Refuge implies safety. The way in which a place can imply safety is via its tactical position in a landscape. Comfort can be specifically constructed into a new unfamiliar space via it's ability to supply a visual advantage. The visual advantage allows the user to remain in a place while monitoring all entry points, as well as to plan an escape should the refuge fail. The design of the space should also imply the possible exploration of further, unseen spaces.

AM's work seeks to show that ideas of landscape and tourism are as pervasive in 3d virtual spaces as they are in real life. By creating a framework of traditional, and recognizable experiences based in realism, the artist can begin to manipulate the rules our souls would wish to prohibit. Rules such as gravity.

AM Radio: Realism in virtual spaces declares a universal language, upon which abstractions can be created. By transporting the user into a safe place by using rich visuals steeped in nostalgia and familiarity, these spaces calm the user into accepting what would seem to be impossible and dreamlike situations. The viewer is then free to form ideas and to make emotional associations upon the implied meanings of objects and symbols within the sims, rather than wondering if and how they should. The viewer subsequently and confidently shares those ideas and emotions with their fellow virtual travelers via images, dialog and stories.

Flickr groups about these three installations:
The Far Away (teleport directly from here)
The Quiet (teleport directly from here)
Husk (teleport directly from here)


Gary Kohime said...

Absolutely amazing, soulful, peaceful, yet awakening. As if going back to a time I never lived, yet remember. Almost a deja vue. This is far beyond words. And Torely, your music piece is outstanding. Thank you Bettina for sharing this.

Torley said...

I severely enjoyed this! The sound meshed very well with the music: I liked the slow panning camera angles, how my piano music reverbed and sounded more echoey and spacious. Definitely cinematic, like something's about to happen past the early morning hours. Seeing objects (chairs, bells, violins, nails) suspended mid-air added to the mystery. Seeing the fast-moving WindLight clouds reminded me of Koyaaniqatsi; I'm a sucker for time-lapse.

If someone was going to be cinematographer for a movie adaptation of The Road, you should totally go for it, AM. Superb! Thanx for using my msuic so well, too. :)

Bettina Tizzy said...

Ha! You are right, Torley. Chuck Klosterman and AM Radio would be a good match, I bet.

But that's another road... frankly, I'd entrust most any road to AM.