Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wherein I attempt to describe what I am looking for: NPIRL content guidelines

Posted by Bettina Tizzy

By the time each Thursday rolls around, I'm frantically trying to catch up with all the first-rate landmarks and notecards and emails I've received, rich with hot tips on new and undiscovered content and ideas that just might be worth sharing with the 2,600 members of my Second Life® groups Not Possible IRL and Impossible IRL.

I send at least one in-world notice a week - usually late on Fridays - featuring some 3 to 20 items that I've culled from hundreds of these suggestions, and I'm often asked what my selection criteria is. In addition to intriguing building tips, info on other virtual worlds, and advocacy for the rights of content creators in Second Life, my main focus is on creations that are Not Possible in Real Life.

Are my selections opinionated, discriminating and highly subjective? Yes, they are. There are many other ways to discover information and calendar listings on the topics relevant to your particular interests in Second Life, so this is my personal attempt to provide you with a distillation of what I think is cool, trendsetting and even groundbreaking, always within the context of Not Possible IRL.

Am I an academic, schooled in the arts? I am not. Jay Newt of Brooklyn is Watching once called me a theme park mistress and I can subscribe to that. Not Possible IRL and Impossible IRL are not art groups, and for that matter, this blog is not an art blog. They do feature and include art, but that is not all we are about.

That said, what follows is an attempt to describe virtual content that is Not Possible in Real Life or NPIRL. These guidelines were drafted with only prim and/or script-based content in mind, as I don’t believe – but I’d like for you to prove me wrong - that there is such a thing as NPIRL music. How that music is generated, however, can definitely be NPIRL (Komuso Tokugawa and Dizzy Banjo, I’m looking at you!).

Theatre and live performances often enable suspension of disbelief via real-time special effects and situations (think DanCoyote Antonelli’s ZeroG SkyDancers, CARP's Metropolis, Gazira’s Hammering the Void, and Grace McDunnough’s Musimmersion, for example).

Not Possible in Real Life (NPIRL) CONTENT (architecture, art, landscaping) is a generous combination of the following:

* Surreal, fantastical

* Indulges our sense of make-believe (can do strange, wonderful and surprising things; makes us laugh)

* Can fundamentally affect our behavior, perception and even our self-perception

* Physically impossible in Real Life, or could only be created at enormous/unrealistic expense (defies the laws of gravity and physics in general)

* Immersive

* It almost goes without saying that NPIRL creations in virtual worlds are three-dimensional. While photography and other 2D images may portray NPIRL content, they are difficult to render in-world and for this reason, I enjoy them best on the web. I am an avid user of both Flickr and Koinup, where so many of you post images taken in virtual worlds. I wish more machinimators would join the Not Possible IRL YouTube group, though their group management tools there are very poor.

NPIRL FASHION is garment-based and not a biological part of the avatar. In addition to clothing the avatar, it might do strange and wonderful things, or make us do strange and wonderful things. It can defy the laws of physics or expose the avatar’s body to extreme heat or cold or exploding particles or sharp things. It might include elements (such as clouds, or sunshine, or snakes, for instance) that could never be used in Real Life.

NPIRL AVATARS are fantastical, surreal, or funny, or surprising, but they all have one thing in common: They are definitely Not Possible in Real Life. They aren't human, or dogs, cats, horses, etc., unless they are exceptionally unusual (a unicorn, for example). While nekos, faeries and elves are NPIRL, their appendages must look integrated, credible and not like props.

I want to especially thank the members of my working group Not Possible IRL for their guidance and inspiration, and the extreme explorers and content creators of the vibrant Impossible IRL community who have sent in priceless tips and ideas. All this is possible because we've pooled our efforts and share an intense appreciation for the 3D platform. I adore you!


sororNishi said...

I also find myself wondering about a build..."will it be seen, in the future, as having been a breakthrough or milestone in Virtual World evolution?".

You all do cracking work...thx.

Anonymous said...

”These guidelines were drafted with only prim and/or script-based content in mind, as I don’t believe – but I’d like for you to prove me wrong - that there is such a thing as NPIRL music. How that music is generated, however, can definitely be NPIRL”

I am not sure where you draw the line here. I am working on a project where music is generated by the avatar information, but I need to upload sounds, obviously. I guess making sounds in-world would require you can program a syntheziser using scripting (which would be cool btw). Would you say that visual art is not NPIRL if textures are imported?


p.s. great blog. Always interesting to read :)

Bettina Tizzy said...

Well, thank you, Miss Nishi! All we can do is document these creations and their moment in history. It will, perhaps, be even more fun to look back later and see how wrong/right we were about stuff.

Binary, thank you so much. What you speak of would be "script generated" music, though much depends on what aspect of the avatar information you are basing it on. Using the human body's movements to generate music is not uncommon, and even human thought has been tapped into to drive musical notes.

In regards to textures, it is what they *doing* that matters. Flat, imported textures are MUCH better on the web.

I understand why people do it. If I were a painter in Real Life, it would be fun to share my art with my friends by importing a few photographs of that art into Second Life and slapping them on a prim, but they would be much better served and would be doing their own art a service if they invited their friends to see that art in person, in a well-printed book, or on the web. That's what blogs and websites are for! And Flickr! The quality is vastly superior and it doesn't take forever to render/load. Also, how could this possibly be NPIRL? :D There are people who then add a rotating script or what have you, and that's fine, but it doesn't do a thing for me and... it is also very possible in real life.

There are many art groups and galleries in Second Life that focus on 2D content, so it's clear that this is important to many. Different strokes for different folks.

Bettina Tizzy said...

It occurs to me now that I should add this caveat: these guidelines were drafted based on what I know. I'm always thrilled when someone proves me wrong in some new and exciting way.

Anonymous said...

For my project I use the avatar key, just as in my latest machinima "7 keys".

The only way I could imagine NPIRL "music" be done with regard to SL is to port information from in-world to some kind of program on a RL server that make the sounds etc, and then port it back in to SL.

I always think it's interesting to read what people actually find is "best" or most interesting art in SL (one reason I like this blog).


Bettina Tizzy said...

Binary! I must share Parsec with you: and Komuso Tokugawa's incredible biofeedback particle generating system, used in conjunction with his globe-spanning in-world jams:

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much Bettina :)