Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Want your virtual art to receive Real Life recognition? Here's the recipe

Last Friday at Jack the Pelican Presents Gallery - the Real Life counterpart to the Brooklyn is Watching project in Second Life

Posted by Bettina Tizzy

Sautéed Real Life recognition of Virtual Art
(Serves 1,000+)

1 (one) Second Life® account/avatar
1 (one) or more prim-based virtual artworks

1 (one) each, notecard giver and notecard explaining your artwork
1 (one) Brooklyn is Watching landmark or slurl
Patience, a pinch
Tolerance (omit ego)

1) Log into Second Life
2) Using the landmark or slurl, teleport to Brooklyn is Watching
3) Rez your virtual artwork there
4) Garnish your artwork with your notecard giver
5) Sit tight until the following weekend
5) Direct your browser to the Brooklyn is Watching website and listen to the weekly podcast to hear if Real Life art critics reviewed your piece.


That's my take on the recipe offered by the man who conceived it, Jay Newt (aka Jay Van Buren), back in March of 2008 when he launched what was to be a one year mixed realities project: Brooklyn is Watching (BiW).

That year has come and gone, culminating with the two-month long Best of Year 1 Festival and the unquestionably "not possible in Real Life (NPIRL)" installations created by the Final Five: Dancoyote Antonelli (aka DC Spensley), Glyph Graves, Bryn Oh, Selavy Oh, and Nebulosus Severine (aka CM Pauluh), not to mention a write up in the New York Times.

The finalists were tasked with creating original virtual art that relates to the virtual version of the Jack the Pelican Presents gallery, and...

Nebulosus Severine enveloped the virtual gallery in a luminous fortress-of-solitude-like structure — that is a meditation on the nature of the self.

DanCoyote Antonelli exploded the metaphor of the virtual gallery by using the building blocks of that illusion as raw material for a dynamic, rhythmic, abstract sculpture stretching up into the sky.

Selavy Oh exploited the intrinsically flexible nature of virtual space by creating an interactive maze of nested, shifting Jack the Pelicans in which she curated a show within a show featuring artists not selected by the judges.

Bryn Oh turned the gallery into a ruin of glowing technological fragments infested with digital flora, inviting the viewer into her own idiosyncratic fantasy narrative.

Glyph Graves used the gallery to show how art is a reflection of its physical and social environment by creating a work that changes based on the number of people viewing it.


The project is now slated to go on... indefinitely, and while it's had its share of bumpy technical moments, the concept and the people behind it have given the most acclaimed virtual artists in Second Life a reason to roll up their sleeves and not only participate with their art, but also to launch their own BiW initiatives and boost the effort in every way they can think of.

I thought we'd find out what is on Jay's mind these days now that so much has gone down, and the future seems to be wide open.

We already know what your original vision was for Brooklyn is Watching. What is your current vision of what BiW can be?

Jay: The biggest thing that has changed in my mind because of my experience organizing this show is that I really think control needs to start to shift in the direction of the community that has grown up around this project. There are people remote from Brooklyn who are willing and able to have more of a say in what BiW is and what it becomes and I'd like to find ways to let them.

Regarding the Festival, what have you learned from this experience that would be valuable to other Second Life'rs wishing to organize events around a theme? Or around the arts?

Jay: Well, organizing artists is like herding cats... but I knew that before. Never try to organize something this complicated in two months. Don't have a day job. No really - the parts that have worked very well in all this are the parts where specific people had discrete tasks they were responsible for and the authority needed to see them through from soup to nuts: Penumbra Carter and Stacey Fox making the machinimas, Dekka Raymaker and Wltrr Rajal making the virtual version of Jack the Pelican (art gallery in Brooklyn), and so on. Where I got into trouble was when people had overlapping or dependent duties - one person couldn't act without another. Also, give yourself twice as long to plan as you think you'll need.

How much do you get out beyond the BiW borders? Will this remain the same or do you intend to explore other lands?

Jay: I probably won't as long as I'm involved as I am just because I don't have time. I do think that focusing the conversation on what people bring to BiW is useful for two reasons: 1) You can't have a good conversation about everything. You need to limit it somehow and this is an easy (if arbitrary ) way to limit it. 2) It is one thing for us to give our honest opinion about art by artists who have actively sought out our opinions. It would be pretty nervy of us to just roam the grid saying what we think about all kinds of stuff when probably the people who made that work never wanted our opinion in the first place.

How has your opinion of art in a virtual setting changed from day one of the project to now?

Jay: Really this summer has just confirmed what i thought about it before -- its uncontrollable, it wants to stay wild. I think the virtual art has the capacity to undermine peoples assumptions about art more than art in a real space can. The SLon De Refuse is amazing - its more BIW than BIW - and Selavy Oh's show within a show inside the final five is another great example of how virtual art can turn everything on its head.

What has all of this activity meant to Jay Van Buren and his real life and how are you finding the time to balance both lives?

Jay: I'm not. I'm completely strung out and brain-fried. After the 23rd of August I'm gong to hide for a week from everyone and then I'm only going to talk to a few people at a time about where BiW should go. In late September we'll emerge from hibernation stronger, better, with a solid plan for the future and more people on board helping me in some kind of official capacity. With job titles. And sharks with lasers attached to them. I'm going to get me some of those, too.
  • Teleport to Brooklyn is Watching's headquarters, sponsored by Popcha! and the University of Kansas' Department of Visual Art, from here. This is where you can rez new artworks on a weekly basis.
  • Teleport to the 30 Best, sponsored by the University of Kansas' Department of Visual Art, KU Art, directly from here.
  • Teleport to the Final Five exhibit at the East of Odyssey from here.
  • Drop by the Real Life Jack the Pelican Presents gallery at 487 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211.


Solo Mornington said...

Wonderful awesome yay. :-)