Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's hip (this week) to be square-ish

In Real Life, a monolithic cube might make you think of the Kaaba in Mecca.

This photograph by Muhammad Mahdi Karim

In Second Life®, especially if it has some special physics feature, it makes me think of conceptual artist and scripter Selavy Oh. As art professor Amy Freelunch pointed out, Selavy has carved a niche for herself with pieces that almost always feature a cube or cubes falling, pushing or floating, such as some of her Tectonics series, and her Architectural Intervention piece.

Much of art in Second Life® requires some degree of technical/scripting skill to produce. This week, the theme seems to be physics... and cubes.

Those of us who spend even a wee bit of time at performance space and presentation/sandbox Brooklyn is Watching (BiW), have been aware for some time now that Selavy has been planning the opening of her "Nested Cubes" installation to the public today, at 4:30pm SLT (teleport directly from here)...

Selavy's Nested Cubes isn't really orange... I've been playing some more with Torley's Windlight presets it came as quite a surprise yesterday when I discovered this piece by Hyperformalist DanCoyote Antonelli (aka DC Spensley) at about 1,200m above the Brooklyn is Watching space (teleport directly from here and take one of the chair tours he offers there).

Subtractive Reactive Social Sculpture by DanCoyote Antonelli

Notably, I inspected it and it was created July 22, 2008. Yesterday.

I immediately sent DanCoyote an IM that read simply, "rascal." He was busy working but his brief reply read... "I am a coyote." I have not yet been able to confirm that he understood why I was calling him names, and if his response addressed my implied charge or, shall we say... question. I hope to learn more.

Higher resolution version here
Music: "Neurofunk," composed by Michael Genato, ASCAP; published by Mike Genato Music, ASCAP and Freeplaynjj, ASCAP
Video: Bettina Tizzy

At any rate, I visited Nested Cubes recently with postdoctoral mathematician Seifert Surface (aka Henry Segerman), who's astonishing Noobility installation, created in collaboration with his brother, Art Laxness (aka Will Segerman), is now wowing the crowds over at Rezzable Productions' Black Swan (teleport directly from here). Seifert was my companion of choice for this expedition because of his knowledge of physics, especially as they are related to virtual art. As I expected, upon rezzing he was examining the piece with care. I hope he won't mind my sharing his comments as we reviewed it.

Seifert Surface: I checked to see if the things that fall are the same objects as the things you fly into. Not always the case... there might have been a switcheroo.

To mix it up?
Seifert Surface: For some reason or other. Eg, it could have been done so that the things you fly through go invisible and at the same time rez a physical cube in the same place... so it looks like you fly through the thing and it falls, when in fact the original cube is still there, just invisible. Then you bring back the original cube at a later date. That isn't what's going on here, though. The original cube is falling... invisiprims, and some sort of pusher. These are all good things to be experimenting with.

I later contacted Selavy to ask if she had used Keystone Bouchard's (aka Jon Brouchard) marvelous Reflexive Architecture scripts, but she clarified that all the scripts are her own. I also learned that Nested Cubes re-rezzes itself after a ten minute absence of avatars. "The viewer is an important part of this work, as in any work," she said.


Aha! Just as I was preparing to publish this piece, an email came in from DanCoyote Antonelli:

"Sel is a friend and I think a very big talent in Second Life... a rising star and diehard Hyperformalist.

My installation of the RSSS (Reactive Subtractive Social Sculpture) at BiW was in response to her cubic arrays in BiW and at Design Island. This is an example of similar morphology (cubic array) and completely different conceptual behavior. The demonstration of this fact accounts for my timing.

The piece I have at BiW was pioneered in late 2006 and is a well documented and coherent approach implicating the viewer into a sculptural relationship with the work. In fact, I contend that it implicates two viewers since the active viewer who is in the piece cannot see the length and breadth of the metamorphosis of the piece, so it takes at least two.

You know what they say... "The simpler the art, the more complex the explanation..."