Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Eternity in an hour

Posted by Bettina Tizzy, with contributions by many

We struggled over the name for it. It is one of his best works ever and despite its short life, it couldn't remain nameless.

Charlene Trudeau, owner of the land it will sit on for the next 30 days, suggested that this enormous creation by Spiral Walcher looked like a nebula, an atom, an exploding star, a galaxy and a solar system all at the same time. She then quoted the poet William Blake:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

Charlene Trudeau: "Eternity in an hour." I think that's what I'd call it.

Infinity by Sleeves Rhode

Temporary creations in Second Life® often leave me with a tinge of melancholy. I can love them, but only for a very short while. Such has been the case with many of Miki Gymnast and Eshi Otawara's installations, as well as Chasm by Nebulosus Severine, to mention just a few. These were works that took my breath away and then... disappeared forever.

For one month only, the newest creation by that King of Glow, Spiral Walcher, will pulse brightly and then, like all stars, it will die.

Machinima by artist Nebulosus Severine

While many believe this to be made of particles, it is actually all-prims. Take a look for yourself by teleporting directly from here.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Second Front's theatre of the absurd: Loosin' it

Posted by Bettina Tizzy

Works by Second Front aren't to everyone's taste, and they don't care. Since 2006, the members of this maverick performance group have been challenging our notions of virtual narrative and embodiment via "theatres of the absurd."

Losin' it was performed at RMIT Creative Media in Second Life® by Fau Ferdinand and Lizsolo Mathilde, with sound by Zeb Vindaloo. Machinima by Osprey Therian.

Caged and suspended, Fau and Lizsolo are looking for something most people take for granted.

Shadow Draft client by Kirstenlee Cinquetti

Click through to blip.tv for a smoother performance if this one is choppy for you.

Jewish Home - Ecumenical faith pushes the boundaries in a virtual world

Posted by Bettina Tizzy

Just for a moment, forget the prims. Forget the distance between your keyboard and the virtual space you inhabit.

Via particle guru and scripter Darek Deluca, we learned of one of the sweetest places yet geared to faith in Second Life®. While Brazilian Jew Maarz Aya has called her creation Jewish Home, it is inclusive and welcoming to all faiths.

Featuring Pandora Wrigglesworth's very Not Possible IRL door (touch to enter), which leads to the inside of a moon just above it, this special place is accentuated with Aminom Marvin, Baron Grayson and vitrail Illois' trees, gentle particle effects and little lights by Yuki Aabye, Fallingwater Cellardoor's flowers and a spooky fallen tree by Aki Shichiroji.

Why do I like Jewish Home so much? This little island in the sky may be stretching the boundaries of what is possible, but I'm attracted because it is more welcoming and conducive to meditation, prayer and conversation than the vast majority of places of faith that I have been to in Real Life. Teleport directly from here.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kinetic Apparel: Hussein Chalayan...

Posted by Alpha Auer

Hussein Chalayan's beautiful garments are kinetic in the sexiest possible way: They float away, unpeel themselves or lift off. And no clumsy techno-choreography here either. The revelation of the nude body is timelined, graceful and dramatic. And most definitely not mere computer gimmickry attached to so-so fashion design - regardless of whether the clothes move or not, they are gorgeous enough to merit attention in themselves as well.

I am a more than just a little proud of this incredible fashion designer since he is my landsman. Well - stretching facts a bit here: Hussein Chalayan is actually Turkish-Cypriotic / British whereas I am a born and bred Istanbul city rat!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Andrek Lowell's Shadowaine Fell

Posted by Bettina Tizzy

Hobbit Andrek Lowell has created an idyllic and pastoral forest for Gorean Dugan McCallen, featuring his new sun rays, which I'd call Not Possible IRL (NPIRL) because they are almost like clouds of light. We've been given permission to visit, but keep in mind that it is a no fly zone and that you have to go by the coordinates to find it. Totally worth it. Whatever your feelings may be about the Gorean culture, please respect the people there in the name of gorgeous prims; teleport directly from here and then walk to 33, 224, 21.

You can see the same new sun rays at my home sim, Chakryn Forest, (teleport directly from here).

W magazine's Second Life : NPIRL and the Fashion Institute of Technology get a Second Chance

Posted by Bettina Tizzy

I was beyond excitement when my copy of the April 2009 issue of W magazine arrived this week. The cover reads, "Second Life: Designers Revive Their Greatest Hits." Alas, the article is not about fashion in our Second Life®, but reissues of old classics - marvelous though they may be - in Real Life. Sigh. Mark my words... the day will come.

Not long ago, I was scheming with NPIRLer Max Newbold (aka Beth Harris in RL) on a mixed realities project in New York/Second Life that was to feature fashions that are Not Possible in Real Life. At the time, she was working at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, but the blueprint for our happy plan got tossed in the dust bin when Beth was snatched up as director of digital learning at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Talk about mixed blessings...

The good news is that a scholarly hero has stepped in to rescue the FIT/NPIRL project. Dr. Steven Zucker, dean of the School of Graduate Studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology, has rallied the troops and has informed me that it is still a "go!" Meanwhile, the real world fashion industry will just have to wait to learn about the hottest names in virtual fashion, and in particular about NPIRL fashion.

Eshi Otawara, creator of the most expensive dress in virtual worlds, just unveiled this new POPI outfit with a skirt that reminds me of rich, creamy icing and comes with a bonus: a finger jewel of a bee that is sticking its tongue out at you :P. The hat! Eshi Otawara couture is available here.

I haven't retouched these, other than to crop

Cutea Benelli and her shop Grim Bros, continue to issue surreal and/or humorous outfits for men and women and every possible mood (teleport directly from here).




Alpha Auer has already blogged about Pandora Wrigglesworth's colossal "Rococo" hairstyle, but I still can't get over it. Literally. This all brings to mind that Texan expression... "the bigger the hair, the closer to God." Available at Pandora's fantastical Curio Obscura shop (teleport directly from here).

Rococo Fantastico

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Skills Hak and her Biological Avatars

Posted by Alpha Auer

Sometimes one cannot help but believe in telepathy, so great is the coincidence of one's thinking about a person and them contacting you: I had not heard from Skills Hak, the creator of Insilico in quite some time and while a return visit to Insilico (and particularly a minute inspection of that Cyber shopping district over there ;-) has been on my to-do list since last Fall, I do tend to fall into a most lamentable daily rut, I find. So, what with one thing and another I have not managed to go back there despite all my good intentions.

Until yesterday that is, when I took a group of my students and co-instructors on a cultural field trip to Insilico, as part of a hybrid art and computation course which we are teaching at my university. Subsequently I logged off, logged back in an hour or so later and - hey presto - there was news from Skills, about the completion of an avatar, of which she had already given me a sneak preview a few months ago; a dragonfly! (Of course, a more sensible person than myself would immediately come to the conclusion that Skills Hak had spotted my name on her visitors list and contacted me through that connection - but telepathy is sooo much more dramatic, isn't it? hhh)

I am not going to pontificate on the glory of this creature but leave you with the images I took - one against a dark sky and one in stark daylight:


The avatar is also equipped with a combat mechanism and targets avatars which it bombards with an amazing arrow and particle combination. I tried to take a really good photograph of this spectacle as well, however this image is the best that I could capture and trust me it is nowhere near doing the real thing justice.


The Cyber Widow rezed at Syncretia. Sadly I had to remove her after a while due to her prim intensity. A larger image is here.

Note: I am getting more and more engrossed in the relationship between biology and art. Thus a recently discovered mind blowing blog named Bioepehmera, (which, incidentally, seems to be in the process of changing its location these days), has been holding quite a bit of my attention. It seems to me that Skills Hak's two avatars, the Dragonfly as well as an earlier one, the Cyber Widow, are befitting material for Bioephemera.

You can see the biological avatars of Skills Hak at her store Gemini Cybernetics located in the above mentioned cyber shopping district at Insilico. Larger images of the Dragonfly avatar are to be found here on Flickr. A previous post on the beautiful and yet doomed sky city, Insilico can be read here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Land Art in Second Life – A historical perspective and an introduction to virtual artist Comet Morigi

Posted by Bettina Tizzy

In the beginning, there was landscape art. It is believed that it had its debut in Çatalhöyük, Southern Turkey about 10,000 years ago with this image of an erupting volcano…

…and then worked its way over the millenniums onto the prized walls of galleries, museums, and the homes of the fortunate few.

That was the status quo until…

The late 1960’s

In 1968, the minimum wage was $1.00. The National Debt was $286 Billion. The life expectancy for males was 66.6 years and emergency living quarters had to be set up in hotels and trailer camps for the estimated 850,000 boomers entering college.

The counter-culture seeded by the opposition to the Vietnam War and led by baby-boomer Berkeley radicals in VW buses and Black Panthers with raised fists and Timothy Leary fueled by an odd combination of higher education and psychedelics and braless women using the pill and hippies with their noses buried in the Whole Earth Catalog and a rock movement that changed music forever…

… ushered in a growing and surprisingly organized attack on the “system.” Any system. Defiance was the norm and damn the conventions.

By now you are asking yourself… where is she going with all this and how could it possibly be related to art in virtual worlds? It is imperative that I share this background with you to put things in context, for even in Second Life we cannot ignore the fact that we are influenced by all that has preceded us.

Art felt the impact of those socio-political conditions in a very, very big way

Back in the late 60’s, a handful of American artists in their 20s rebelled against the very idea of representing landscapes, electing instead to work directly with them (think Gaia Hypothesis). Moreover, they washed their hands of the confines of the gallery space and even the Capitalistic notion of selling their art, and began to alter the shapes of deserts and mountains by moving massive quantities of earth, rock and vegetation on a grand scale to make the environment their studio.

This is not an enterprise to be taken lightly. Generally speaking, it is costly, lonely work that takes a long, long time to do. It helped that a number of foundations were beginning to seriously fund art and willing to back up these “visionaries.” And then there were all those vast expanses of land in states like Nevada and Utah and Texas - seemingly inexhaustible reserves at the time - with all kinds of geological seductions already built in, not to mention alluringly cheap land prices.

How large? Let’s just say that sometimes this Land Art or Earth Art is so colossal that it isn’t apparent to the casual observer on the ground, and then it is often referred to as Aerial Art.

In 1970, Robert Smithson created the 1,500 foot long Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake, Utah, using mud, rocks and salt crystal. Because of the tides, it is not always visible.

Photo by N*A*UTILUS

Consider Michael Heizer who has been working on his “City” installation in the Nevada desert for over 35 years and doesn’t expect to finish for another 8 years. See the New York Times’ 2005 audio slide show (refer to the side bar) of Heizer’s work-in-progress, and another story on his Double Negative project.

The Roden Crater finally got underway in 1979 when artist James Turrell was able to purchase a two-mile-wide crater in Arizona with grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Dia Art Foundation and others, and begin redistributing tons of earth to give it shape. His story is well documented in this New York Times’ 2007 article.

The 400,000 year old Roden Crater is slated to open its doors to the public in 2011

While economies of scale in Land Art are paramount in Real Life, creating art on a very grand scale is nowhere near as problematic in virtual worlds. In Second Life® and on OpenSim grids, residents are magically empowered with land-altering – though quite indelicate - tools that enable them to instantly raise, lower, and sculpt the ground up to ± 100 meters, depending on the estate.

Terraforming, the ability to intentionally transform surface topography, atmosphere, temperature or ecology, is not unique to science fiction or even science (where it is primarily called planetary engineering).

In Second Life®, terraforming land is a skill that looks easy to do, but frequently results in unrealistic and poor duplicates of mountains, lakes and canyons. In this video tutorial by Second Life’s Resident Enlightenment Manager, Torley Linden instructs us on how to work the user interface to "terra":

Introducing Comet Morigi – A Terra Painter in Second Life

Japanese artist Comet Morigi became known to me when I came across one of her works quite by accident: an immense curtain-like particle effect that is driven by the sim’s wind (teleport directly from here).

To see all of Comet’s work to best effect, you must set your graphics preferences to render (see) the highest draw distance and particles, though do remember to lower them back afterwards as this decreases your system’s performance

Comet teleported me to see her newest particle work - a creation she'd been tweaking for two weeks - explaining that her idea was the visualization of a sim-wide wind stream, maxing out the wind map. The red squares indicate each point of the clouds' density. Its purpose: to research the wind stream in a sim.

I don’t often comment on human-like avatars, but Comet’s seemed almost Brazilian, sporting tan lines and a gold lamé dress and shoes, as well as a highly expressive talking animation that gestures as she types. This is unusual for Japanese-created avatars. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to find any aspect of Comet and her avatar that didn't strike me as unusual when taking her in as a whole. But back to the art, and her comments...

Comet: In-world, everything is made of pictures. The ground and the sky, every creature, house, clothes, our bodies… everything. You terrain-edit as if you are painting with a brush on the ground. The in-world is NOT the opposite of Real Life but rather a type of Real Life. Why don't you say “OutWorld” instead of Real Life (RL)?

This OutWorld-InWorld notion preoccupies Comet considerably. My associates and I often refer to Real Life as "off-world" but that isn't what is at stake here. In Comet's view, the two "worlds" are distinguishable only as types of the Real reality.

Comet asks: "What is InSide/OutSide?"

Inside and looking out from Comet's Galleria OVERFOTO (teleport directly from here)

Comet: Here at OVERFOTO, I am working directly on the geological conformation of the natural-virtual environment, transfiguring its composition and changing its original morphological features through a land-art operation that translates the same space - which normally hosts an exhibition - into a piece of art in all respects.

Treating nature as a raw material and the means for the creative process... the concept of manipulating terrain as a large scale three-dimensional sculptable object... these are ideas that Comet wears like a second skin. At another location, her composition features knobby, rugged land portruding through translucent planes.

Given that most Land Art works are site-specific and often ephemeral in nature, they cannot be marketed in traditional ways. The original work is seldom saleable, but derivates such as photographs and sketches are easier to share and duplicate. Comet has created these panels of previous works, which are available at her gallery/studio (teleport directly from here).

Patterns of land and water land forms look natural, but the relief map is abstraction.

Admirers of Comet's work are intense in their appreciation. Art collector Eddie Gotter has given her a sim to work with - Art Art - for example, and collects images of all her art. She is experimenting there now with mega flexi tubes and wind elements.

Meanwhile, she is hoping to find a sponsor for her Sunken Museum, an installation she did for the Arena group that no longer remains. The steep-sided gorge is a dramatic display that - once again - few visitors understand as art.

Upon arrival at the Sunken Museum, I was informed that the whole sim environment was the art, anything below the clouds and even underwater. "She has sunken the museum INTO her environment work. That is a work NOT IN the museum."

Could all or most of this be realized in Real Life? Yes, I think so. But consider the hoops that Christo and Jeanne-Claude have to go through for each of their monumental projects, whether urban or rural. When asked a few years ago about their Over the River project, slated for completion in 2012 or later, here was their response:

"Right now, an environmental impact report is being prepared. It will be a big book of over 250 pages. It is done by a company in Colorado, which has been chosen by the local government of the Arkansas River, but at our expense. We get the bills. They have been working on it for over two years now and we have already spent more than $250,000, just for the environmental impact study. When that will be ready as a draft, it will be distributed to all the public places along the route of the project, like the post office, the city halls, the schools, so that the public can look at it. And some of those who are against would say, “Ah, you forgot about the butterflies, what about those butterflies?” Then the engineers who have prepared it will answer, “If you look at page 257, you will see that we are talking about the butterflies.” That’s just an example. If we have indeed forgotten something, which might happen, since this is only a draft there is time to correct it and say that no alligator will be endangered, for instance."

In fact, I think Christo, Jeanne-Claude and other Land Artists would be well served if they used virtual worlds as their sketchbooks.

Today, March 24, is Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women's contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements.

Ada Lovelace was one of the world's first computer programmers, and one of the first people to see computers as more than just a machine for doing sums. She wrote programmes for Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, a general-purpose computing machine, despite the fact that it was never built. She also wrote the very first description of a computer and of software.

I elected to write about Comet Morigi and her work with Land Art/particles on Ada Lovelace Day because, with her art, she is stretching the boundaries of technology and by doing so, encouraging others to make new and previously impossible uses of it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Real Life inspires: Theo Jansen's "Beach Monsters"

Powered by the winds, Dutch engineer and artist Theo Jansen's kinetic sculptures are, quite simply, breathtaking.

Friday, March 20, 2009

In continuation of the Hern Worsley Special Broadcast...

Posted by Alpha Auer

Once upon a time, on this very blog I said that it would be a very difficult task to make a nice little list of all the designers I consider to be utterly brilliant in Second Life®, but that if someone brandishing a virtual gun pushed me up against a prim wall and wanted me to give only one name I would probably mumble out "Thomus Keen" in my terrified state. In continuation of this hypothetical scenario what would probably happen next would be that I would immediately add "oh and Hern Worsley of course...". And then if the villain were to yell at me "DECIDE woman!" I would probably have no option but to eat the bullett. (By no means are Thomus Keen and Hern Worsley the only two object designers in the metaverse that I have on my secret list of all time ultimate favorites - there are quite a few choice others in their company as well. But, I am sure you are getting my drift here. ;-)

Between myself and my rapacious tribe of alts we have plundered Hern Worsley's shop AVZ many times over. We do not go all too often because a trip out there inevitably results in a complete depletion of all funds, but then in the end we always do go back and make up for time lost in one massive bulk purchase where we basically clean the shop out of every new item rezed since we were last there. Good job one does not carry shopping bags back home in Second Life, I really do not know how we would possibly manage if that were indeed the case.

So, I had admired Hern Worsley's imagination, creativity, taste and exquisitely delicate craftsmanship of both form and texture (without which, for me, all the rest is utterly for naught I'm afraid) for the longest time when one day, upon logging in I found that I had gotten a most unexpected present - a dragonaut jetpack, accompanied by a message telling me that Hern Worsley had noticed my general love of jetpacks and wanted me to have this latest of his designs. I immediately proceeded to thank him and during the ensuing conversation found out that not only is Hern Worsley a gifted designer but also a very funny man: When he started telling me that the jetpack was quite a utilitarian object in that it proved to be very useful whenever one wanted to spear a deer I immediately reached for the "Add Friend" button, an offer which Hern very graciously accepted. (And a propos of the deer hunt: One does of course have to sidle up backwards to the beast in order to be able to harpoon it - but really, one cannot have everything in this life and a bit of sacrifice for aesthetics is to be expected then and again, I say).

There are many many wonders at AVZ, particularly an unbelievable selection of hair, some of which has already been blogged by my valiant colleague Bettina Tizzy right here. The store has recently changed location and is now to be found on its own island. And a trip out there just to admire the starkly black, to me very obviously biologically referenced architecture of the giant beetle/building hovering over the sea is a worthwhile experience in itself.

You can teleport to AVZ directly from here. You can see larger sizes of the dragonaut jetpack here on Flickr.

See also the special post on Poetik Velvets, a spectacular work of architecture by Hern Worsley created for Nur Moo here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Soror Nishi: "Your computer screen is stained glass"

Posted by Bettina Tizzy

Every time I teleport to see a new creation by Soror Nishi, I feel the same kind of rush that I used to get when I would open up a fresh and fragrant pack of fruit-flavored Life Savers as a child. In fact, if I could eat prims, I think Soror’s trees would make a righteous summer lunch.

Soror is best known for her electrifying and primordial forests, "ancient trees," and bodacious flowers, but she also makes avatar adornments such as sinewy and curvilinear antlers, and brightly colored jewelry.

All photographs above by Lem Skall

Don't let Soror fool you, and she will, given the chance (she's a kidder, that one). In reality, she's a Brit, but has been known to describe herself as hailing from Harajuku, being the daughter of a flower seller and having a software magnate for a husband. In truth, she is an artist who invades our senses with her bold colors, and paints her textures rather than photograph them.

Soror Nishi

In a notecard that accompanied a recent art show of hers, I read that "Concerned about the diminishing native flora of Second Life®, she set about planting and nurturing the plants that the Lindens had cleared from the land with an over-grazing of goats and the like. Her work in preserving "the Ancient Ones" for future generations is well known, and her recent discoveries of rare orchids have generated much interest." She's like that. It is quite true.

There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted. - Henry Matisse

I used to associate Soror's exotic and glowing colors with the Mayan world, where every textile and craft dances in vivid shades, but she enhanced and modernized that view when I spoke with her.

Soror Nishi: I think that light through glass, which is what we are working with… is particularly suited to bright color. If you want earth colors, use oil paint.

Stained glass?

Soror Nishi: Yes. The computer screen is a stained glass. It is like television, which is badly used, really. The screen has amazing possibilities, but is best shown off with colors. The Simpsons for example... Virtual worlds have more in common with stained glass than with photography, and (our) failure to recognize this results in poor copies of boring everyday objects, architecture, flora and fauna. These colors belong in Second Life by virtue of the medium we use. The extensive attempts some make to populate this new world with "realistic" copies of the Old World show a colonial tendency to ignore the native culture and superimpose a pre-formed visual style.

Soror Nishi at Hotel Dare

Hotel Dare, conceived and curated by Gattina Dumpling, is a concept space that goes far beyond the typical gallery setting to feature the location-appropriate works of rotating artists who have been given a hotel "room" to do whatever they wish with it. Dare has relocated to the new Poetik sim and Gattina invited Soror to collaborate with CensoredMy Lunt and become a hotel "guest."

Open the typical hotel door to enter Soror and CensoredMy's "room" and find yourself walking through boldly colored tunnels infused with psychedelic particle effects...

... and strange mushrooms that you wouldn't dream of eating unless... well, I do believe that Les Fauves artists would have thought they'd died and gone to heaven.

Waiting at the end of the room is an explanation of what you have just experienced. I'll let you be surprised. Teleport directly to Poetik from here.

You can purchase Soror's landscape art, jewelry and accoutrements at Nishi Beach (teleport directly from here).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"body parts" : Virtual lovers are star-crossed islands

Posted by Bettina Tizzy

“body parts,” Alpha Auer’s fittingly poetic contribution to the new Poetik sim, is an installation that consists of several monochromatic and nude human bodies heaped upon each other, and an offering of unusual skin outfits (both male and female) to be worn by its visitors. Poseballs scattered around the bodies invite visitors to become a part of the sculpture. In the accompanying notecard and on her blog, Alpha bemoans the lack of corporal love in our virtual environment and asserts that avatars are ultimately alone.

While Alpha’s work in Second Life® is often playful, this is no puff piece, and it opens up the conversation about the compromises virtual world residents make when we dedicate so much of our time tethered to our computers, manipulating our human simulations, but never actually making contact.

Virtual lovers are star-crossed islands but… are we not beautiful to look at? Like hothouse petals, translucent “body parts” emanate from the wearer, pining for, reaching out for, but never touching. Romantic? Yes... but also quite sad.

One might argue that physicality is not essential to love or to friendship, and most assuredly, it is not. But it is the deepening of that exchange between two people that gets hobbled and can go no further in pixilated form, no matter how ardent or tender the feelings. Intimacy is the casualty, and any participant in “body parts” is sure to face his or her demons.

Alpha was intentional in creating a colorless piece, but “body parts” plays well with Windlight. The installation can also be found on her own gorgeous sim, Syncretia, where it resides behind a cinematic wall of creamy nudity.

In addition to creating art of staggering beauty (or hilarity), Alpha Auer (aka Elif Ayiter) also blogs here on Not Possible IRL.

You can visit "body parts" at Poetik by teleporting directly from here, or at Syncretia, by teleporting directly from here and looking for a creamy globe some meters above ground. While the lighting at Syncretia is set to "sunset," Alpha has also created a Windlight preset for "body parts," which is available here.

Many thanks to Naxos Loon for posing for these photographs. Because Alpha is a mix-master when it comes to avatars and clothing, I knew she wouldn’t mind if I adorned my avatar’s body with Hern Worsley’s hair.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Patron Saints of Poetik and what they have wrought + Interview with Hern Worsley, it's creator

Posted by Bettina Tizzy

You may wish to listen to the music that is played at Poetik while you read this.

Oh, to be cherished by Nur Moo and JuJu Dollinger (aka Ju)! To be housed and given unfettered artistic freedoms by the new Medici of the Second Life® grid!

Nur is an esteemed fellow-Flickrite with a photo style somewhat reminiscent of Tamara de Lempicka that I am fond of, but I'm only just now realizing the degree to which she - together with Ju - has mutated into a bona fide patron of the arts. Months of assembling, fostering and cross-pollinating an electrifying cross-section of artists and musicians will finally come together full force tomorrow, Saturday, March 14 with a party that is expected to run 24 hours.

Event poster featuring the Patron Saints of Poetik

The duo began their curatorial work back in March, 2008 on the mixed-use sim Sintetika, even before they took ownership of it, but what they are best known for are their branded parties: Poetik. I've never been to one but as I understand it, they expose people to new ideas and environments, and then encourage them to be disruptive and create. Hmmm. Sounds like a good workplace tactic, doesn't it? In their case, it's about parties: art parties, concept sound and light reveries.

A few months ago, Nur (a graphic and fashion designer in Parma, Italy) and Ju (a French artist in Real Life) boosted the pace and snapped up a pair of sims because, "...using Second Life network possibilities to share Art, we are trying to create a different visual / sound experience that goes further than what is possible in Real Life." They'll get no arguments from me on that count.

"I was always surprised, from the beginning of my second virtual life, by how much people try to copy reality and don't try to be more creative," said Nur. "That's why I look for the most visionary people on the grid and (then) try to support them. (We try to make) Poetik this total experience; every month a different artist creates a different installation and every week there is a music event there."

"Different, but always experimental, is our project with the first sim [formes nocturnes]. We call this sim "our art playground," and invite the artists we like the most in the virtual world to play here with 15,000 prims... so it will be really an unique experience. Selavy Oh is the first artist to build at [formes nocturnes]," said Nur.

Selavy Oh's hallmark is the studied application of physics to prims

Nur added, "With time, the Poetik party has grown. We needed a new place, a whole new sim, and we decided to share this new 'work' with Hern Worsley, an open-minded artist and one of best builders in Second Life with whom we share a creative vision for what the metaverse should be like."

Speaking for myself and given my schedule, wild horses couldn't make me blog these days, but I'm not completely crazy. One teleport to the new Poetik Velvets sim where Hern Worsley has been ensconced and Kung Fu'ing prims for three months, and I was tossing my busy calendar aside.

Poetik love by Hern Worsley

You remember Hern, don't you? Owner of Avz and hairdresser of my dreams? Creator of the cyberpunk specs worn by that chimp that left me frothing with curiosity?

Hern Worsely at Poetik

Turns out that Hern is about way more - eons and tons more - than fantastic avatar adornments. To begin with, I'm a sucker for black and white striped ticking, and a whole sim ground textured with it strikes me as elegant and completely chic. Then consider the environment it is all situated in... Why, it's an endless aurora borealis!

This photo was taken using the Funky Funky Windlight setting, which Hern recommends at Poetik

Then... take a good look at this edifice on its own merit. It is, at once, industrial and organic.

The moment I saw it, I was reminded of a certain chair...

The Wassily Chair was designed by Marcel Breuer in 1925-26 while he was the head of the cabinet-making workshop at the Bauhaus

I had a chat with Hern to learn more.

There are some of us who are convinced that you are actually a master architect, here to let loose some creative juices.

Hern: It's just about nice lines and pleasing shapes that flow. I think stuff should just speak for itself really, and everyone can interpret it how they like. I've been doing Audio and Visual stuff in my own time in Real Life but it has never been my profession. It is now, though... apparently. I've learned everything in Second Life, to be honest. Without Second Life, I'm prolly not much use to anyone as far as creatively goes. ;) For me, it is a perfect medium to work in. I just hope it carries on and develops. I think it is possible... the next 5 years, once all the hype is over, and all the inflated expectations and misunderstandings, etc. Now that we're just coming out of that phase, I hope we'll move into a more steady growth phase where people who really "get it" are coming in and working.

How'd this come together?

Hern: Nur has been a good supporter of my store for a while now. She'd commission custom work from me a lot, so we've kinda developed a relationship via this around work. So yea, she just mentioned to me that she was looking to get a new SIM and would I build it? I knew I'd get freedom so I was pretty much up for it from the start.

What were her stated objectives?

Hern: She didnt really have 100% solid ideas. I had to talk with Nur the whole way to solidify what she wanted, etc. I'm not sure I'd do this without freedom, basically. She's a dreamer, really, but it's great. Wouldn't have it any other way. I see it as her showcasing the artists she likes. We both want to show that Second Life can be a lot more than just orgy rooms and shopping malls. Come try this... It's fun. Follow me, plz princess.

He then weaved his way (he uses an endearing kinda tipsy walking animation) over to one side of the building and invited me to sit on a sphere.

Sit on one of these for a bouncy ride to the ground level

Hern: For me, the time is always "now." I love what is new. I don't like looking back all the time. I'm excited by technology. We should be celebrating Second Life and virtual worlds and all the new possibilities they bring us, not building toy towns, and little versions of Real Life: cars, houses with kitchens...

Hern: I have this idea. How often do you zoom right out from a SIM, like to see it all? When I was doing this I thought people should be able to zoom out and then the surfaces of the SIM can have buttons and hold info, like a giant 3D website, basically. That would make it really elegant. If you go back to the scale of an avatar, all these surfaces are also really nice spaces for your avatar to be in... getting that connection in scales could be interesting.

By the way, to fully experience Poetik Velvets, you simply must, must, must disable camera constraints. Only in this way will you be able to free your camera and zoom way back to view the sim from above and all sides. This is something everyone in Second Life should learn how to do.

Thank you, Torley, for your smart and fun tutorials!

If there aren't too many people on the sim, please increase your draw distance so that items will render for you at greater distances.

Increase your Draw Distance
> Edit
> Preferences
> Graphics
> Check the "Custom" box if hasn't been already
> Use the slider to go to 512m (the higher, the laggier, but it's worth it unless you are in a laggy situation)
> Hit the OK button and close
IMPORTANT: Many people forget to set the Draw Distance lower after they've been maxing it out. I keep it at about 200m most times these days, and increase it when needed.

Music to work by is of critical importantance to Hern, and he shared the stream that he used throughout the three months of creation:, which I thought was mighty generous of him, since most people keep their stream sources private like a great hand of cards.

Hern: It would be pretty selfish of me to keep them all to myself. This radio station was a huge influence on my work. They were in Second Life a while ago but not anymore. I may try to coax them back soon though. This station makes me more intelligent, lol. I don't really have words for what I make, but music does a great job of explaining things I think.

The Moo Gallery

Was there an "aha" moment?

Hern: Yea, the "aha" moment was about 5 evolutions ago, though, lol.

Hern created about 90% of the textures he used. He has just gotten started on Flickr. You can access his stream here.

How did you alter the water surfaces?

Hern: Mega prim, double layer. Secret recipe ;)

Are the shapes for this silvery wheat-like growth on the sim inspired by kitchen utensils a little bit? (Silly question, I know, but I cook so maybe not so silly). Musical chords?

Hern: I guess I see 'em as kinda receptors or circuitry, but then I see a lot of correlations with nature and technology anyway. Art nouveau and art deco styles definitely reflect that, too.

Hern lives in a British town but has big plans for the not-too-distant-future.

Hern: You know what I'm gonna do :) I'm taking a laptop and going off to Asia, and I'll be working in Second Life from all over the world soon, I hope, via wifi.

Ah, sounds like an adventure and good economy!

Hern: Yea, like my ideal... live in a treehouse and work in a virtual world. I think I can see a way to like travel and earn money from my work in Second Life, which means I don't have to ever stress about work or running out. I don't see it as a holiday, I see it as a lifestyle. I'm treating it like a mission. I'm gonna take a lot of tech with me. I've found a way to run a laptop with solar power.

Theft is an important hindrance. And in the world economy that we are entering now, it is a primary consideration.

Hern: To be honest, what I earn here in Second Life is more than most people earn in many countries in Asia, but I want to get away from the west and its values and priorities. You can't let fear rule you or you'll never do anything. I am of the belief that 90% of human beings are very nice people, and I expect I'll find out I'm right when I travel, too. But yea, I will be equipped up and as secure as I can be for my tech stuff.

Last question. What did you learn from making Poetik that you are taking with you to future creations?

Hern: A lot. Well, for one, I learned I can do it. Also, it has engaged me a lot more closely with the "art" scene in Second Life, something I'd not really been into a great deal before. My first attempt at here... I was very serious and planny, but it didn't work or help anything. Just killed it. I threw that away and just went for it, and it worked out anyway. You have to give yourself time to play, and if your lucky like me, (you'll) have a client who will let you do that. They are rare. Either there's total trust and good communication or it won't work. If it's a build for someone else, it's important if they have specific ideas that you get them out of them, or it will just cause probs later.


Unlike most builds that I admire, the strong vibrations I'm feeling at Poetik Velvets aren't just about prims and sculpts, or the people who created this place, but also the folks who will inhabit it, as you will appreciate in Lyric Lundquist's - my new obsession and a favorite machinimator's - vid.

poetik velvets from lyric_lundquist on Vimeo.

The parties are slated to start tomorrow at 8am SLT when the sim will be opened to the public and run for 24 hours. Hern will be DJ'ing, too.

8am SLT - Bibdui Babenco
10am SLT - Hern Worsley
12pm SLT - Luigy Balhaus
2pm SLT - Andy Seiling
4pm SLT - Radi Roffo
6pm SLT - Juju Dollinger
8pm SLT - Damon Dollinger
10pm SLT - Dane Koba
12am SLT - TBA
2am SLT - Mr Widget

Slurl effective March 14th at 8am SLT: Teleport here.

The sim will feature the works of Hotel Dare artists (curated by the founder of that concept, Gattina Dumpling), including soror Nishi and artoo Magneto, as well as Alpha Auer, four Yip, Pixel Price, and several others. I'll be telling you more about them over the course of the coming days.

Gattina Dumpling has been hush hush about which artists she will end up featuring at the new Hotel Dare location. We'll have to get it out of her