Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oh, those intrepid gravity challengers! - Part III in our Gravity in Virtual Worlds series

by Bettina Tizzy

In my next blogpost and below, I will share some of the latest innovations on the grid (there's something for everyone in this mix) that are certain crowd pleasers, but first, some death-defying feats from the other side of the mirror!

For one year now and from time to time, this blog looks to Real Life for inspiration, even going so far as to extend an invitation to people we admire to join us in our Virtual quest. Recently I came across some startling photographs and promptly contacted the unique personality behind them to learn more.

Apparently some of us are more preoccupied with weightlessness than others. Chinese artist Li Wei risks life and limb to create his performance art in high places. Mr. Wei, who uses the human body as his canvas and has often been referred to as the Chinese Evel Knievel, combines acrobatics and boundless energy to produce images such as this one that depict him balancing impossibly on another's head...

Meanwhile, in Second Life®, people in the Hobo group have been known to amuse themselves by stacking their avatars in a virtual and rather tall totem pole...

Hobo Pile-up (I'm sort of in the middle, lulz) - Photo by Candy Cornwall, provided by Derek Sienkiewicz

Using mirrors, scaffolding and steel wires (and nerves!) to effect these images, Mr. Wei can be seen flying in and out of windows...

Tossed around by petite women...

... and skylarking with crowds.

Many thanks to Li Wei for graciously allowing us to publish his stunning photography here

"I am fascinated by the unstable and dangerous sides of art and I hope my works reflect these aspects," said Mr. Lei. If he can do all these things in Real Life, what might he accomplish in Virtual Worlds? What daring aerial and acrobatic ideas of his have remained in the vault that could be fully realized in our pixelated space?

In fact, what looks to be formidable in Real Life often comes across as quite tame and even useful in Virtual Worlds. Nearly two years ago, JenzZa Misfit and her partners launched what would become a blockbuster product in Second Life called the Rendezvous. While the tool can only be operated on some lands (rez-enabled) and only one avatar can control it at a time, the Rendezvous broke ground in that avatars were able to interact with each other in a new and important way: for the first time, couples could fly and walk together holding hands, swim side-by-side, and more (it's decidedly PG, by the way).

JenzZa Misfit: "Flying together allows two people to experience a Peter Pan and Wendy' experience that is hard to describe. Moreover, it allows them to see and hear things together."

A significant benefit to using the Rendezvous (now in version 3.0) is that couples can fly low and slow, thus making it possible for them to share things on the ground at a realistic pace

A new version of the Rendezvous will appeal to groups of friends and business people: five people can fly together - Rather cosmopolitan, don't you think? -Photo by Dirk Talamasca

I still have a number of novel products (in Beta or just on the market) to share with you and for those wishing to enhance or celebrate ZeroG behaviors in Second Life. Stay tuned for the next installment in this series.

See also:
+ Overcoming gravity (and reality) - Part I in our Gravity series
+ I can fly, but meh - Part II in our Graivty in Virtual Worlds series

+ Here's a nifty source for photographs focusing on weightlessness: the Flickr group Floating People .
+ Climbing walls, sky dancing (in HD!), and weightless sex/showers - Part IV in our Gravity in Virtual Worlds series