Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Because otherwise life is dreary and dull

SL7B?

What is up with Second Life’s 7th Birthday celebration?

Now what?

It was bad enough that parcels were limited to 1024 sqm and only 234 prims and the place on the application to describe your idea was limited to 200 words, but the disorganization around allocating parcels was a disaster…at least for us it was.

Micheil and I submitted a proposal for an exhibit called Me & My AV on May 17th. The deadline for submissions was May 20 and builders were to be notified by June 3rd if they had been accepted.

We finally received word that we had a parcel…last night at midnight in my time zone…a scant one week before building closes. (Or so the says the same schedule that assured us we’d know about our application on June 3rd.)

But, it took the both of us raising  hell on the Second Life Birthday group to get anything to happen.

[2010/06/10 17:33]  Micheil Merlin: Courtney, when will everyone be notified?

[2010/06/10 17:43]  Micheil Merlin: A suggestion:  It would be nice for someone to post a group notice regarding the status of the exhibit acceptance process.

[2010/06/10 17:44]  Micheil Merlin: Any communiction would be welcome

[2010/06/10 17:45]  Person A: Doc sent a notice this afternoon

[2010/06/10 17:45]  Nickola Martynov: that was for entertainers

[2010/06/10 17:45]  Person B: the information everyone received went over the process, I believe, Micheil

[2010/06/10 17:45]  Nickola Martynov: that was for entertainers

[2010/06/10 17:45]  Micheil Merlin: I don’t believe there has been any notice regarding exhibits since 6/5

[2010/06/10 17:46]  Person B: Doc sent a notice this afternoon

[2010/06/10 17:46]  Micheil Merlin: About entertainment. Not exhibits

[2010/06/10 17:46]  Nickola Martynov: Person B, Doc’s notice was for entertainers not builders

[2010/06/10 17:47]  Person B: granted, Nickola

[2010/06/10 17:47]  Person C: I know people want to know things and that understandable but please bear with us – 2 of the lindens working on these things were laid off so everyones under a bit of pressure

(Not true. Two Lindens were assigned to SL7B. Mia Linden was laid off, Courtney was not.)
[Update: I was incorrect here. There were three Lindens involved: Mia, Courtney and Sejong. I checked the list but failed to register Sejong’s name lower down the page. Thank you Toxic Menges for bringing this to my attention.]

[2010/06/10 17:47]  Nickola Martynov:  there has been no notice to say all parcel have been allocated and that if you haven’t heard you are sol

[2010/06/10 17:48]  Nickola Martynov: Thank you Person C but there is now less than one week of building time. There are still two sims with no prims on them. Some of us would like to know if we should allocate our time to other projects

[2010/06/10 17:49]  Nickola Martynov: May I remind you the allocations were to have been completed by the 5th.

[2010/06/10 17:51]  Person B again: I’d like to remind everyone that the people who are working are volunteers…and are trying their best to do the best job they can

[2010/06/10 17:53]  Nickola Martynov: And I love Jesus, but that doesn’t help me get a decent exhibit built in less than a week.

I went and had a look at our parcel this morning. It wasn’t on one of the two entirely empty sims. And still I was astounded at how many empty parcels I could see. Clearly, there was a lack of applications and the  allocation process was badly hampered by something.

It seems to me that there is a culture of failure around these major exhibitions. Some people involved work day and night to make things right, while others do little more than poke sticks into the wheels.

But it’s all moot now for anyway. I have real life commitments this week and next that mean we won’t have time to complete the on-site work that needs doing. Micheil is going to pull something out of his inventory to put on the parcel.

I’m upset because we had already put several months work into developing Me & My AV.  The prims were ready, but we still needed a good 10 days on site to make it work properly.

So, if you ever wonder why there is so much trash at the big exhibitions, now you know.

Sad day at Linden Lab

As pretty much everyone knows now, Linden Lab announced a new direction for Second Life yesterday and laid off 100 staff members. LL announced their intention to focus their marketing efforts at web integration and social networking.

Reaction to the announcement is mixed. Long-time SL’ers, already concerned about the shift of attention toward corporate interests and away from residents, worry that they will lose the tools that allow for collaborative building. Others hope that their socializing opportunities will be enhanced. The free market types, of course, are all in favour. One naive soul even suggesting that the people let go probably “sucked” at their jobs anyway.

In many ways, I left SL months ago. While I certainly enjoy the social aspects of SL – I treasure the friends I have made there – for me, it’s all about the building.

I have been happily creating new work on Reaction Grid since November. It’s cheaper, less politically fraught and far more demanding of my creative abilities (such that they are).

"What is flexi?" Three weeks old and learning to build

I joined SL for the art. In 2007, I had read about a Vancouver curator opening a gallery in Second Life and I joined to see what that was about. I spent about an hour on Orientation Island acclimatizing to the environment. I had to pass four simple tests showing I understood the key tools and then I was off.

I had no trouble understanding the viewer. I found it intuitive and easy to use, the Search took me exactly where I wanted to go. And when I saw what people were doing with 3D building tools, I was hooked.

In 2006, Philip Rosedale, aka Philip Linden, gave an interview on what Second Life was all about. Halfway in, at the 3:40 mark, he tells the interviewer, “the thing about this metaverse is that you can make things there with other people.”

Make things. Not do things.

Yes, you can do things in Second Life – you can shop, you can dance, you can hangout and socialize. But as SubQuark Hax points out in a post on the iliveisl blog, the high end graphics and capabilities have little to do with the success of virtual social spaces.

Who has time to spend hours and hours online just chatting? Not adults, that’s for sure. And young people have never really been on Second Life’s radar, because Second Life is made for adults who want to create.

Second Life’s real strength lies in the stability of its platform. For stability, it ranks head and shoulders over any of the Opensim environments and that is where, I think, they should expend their energies. The art created in Second Life is a kind that has never been seen before. Artists like AM Radio, Adam Ramona, Glyph Graves, Kolor Fall and Miso Susanowa having been exploring immersive spaces and pushing the boundaries of virtual reality to create an entirely different art form, perhaps not seen since the invention of photography.

Losing that focus will turn a truly valuable asset into just another computer game subject to the fickle whims and passing fancies of  children.

Collaborative multimedia event by Kolor Fall, Cypress Rosewood and Skye Galaxy

Scottius Polke at project Z

Lunamaruna is a hand-painted fairy tale land where orange manatees fly in a purple sky and sharks are equipped with miners’ headlamps for a better hunting experience.

Lunamaruna seems to be a happy little place to settle down and raise a family, until you look beneath the storybook illustrations. Peeking inside the doors of the homes and offices tell an entirely different story.

On now at project Z.

More pictures on Flickr

Alien Plant Life!

Twisty prim man, Scarp Godenot, has applied his clever architectural talents to an installation of alien plant life at the futuristic sim, Extropia. The work was well received by Scarp’s many friends and fellow artists at last night’s opening.

From the artist’s statement:

Alien plant life has virally invaded Extropia from a source deep in space and it is growing out of control. Fortunately the anti contamination squad has managed to keep the infestation contained to the spaceport. See these odd and strange new life forms. They have been determined to be harmless to avatar life so far…..

Scarp is a RL photographer and hobby gardener. Some pieces have witty botanical nomeclature derived from the names of his friends. Merlin and I were honored with the Nikkimartynalia merlinoskopteryx, a white, bushy plant with tall, thin, twisty flower stalks rising from the centre.

Slideshow of my photos

The Ugliest Particle in Second Life

My building partner, Micheil Merlin, and I are kicking around an idea for M&M Exhibitions and Spectacles, possibly to be unveiled at SL7B in a few months. Involving particle effects, I’m experimenting with the parameters to see what I can learn. I’ve created some breathtaking effects by simply plugging random numbers into certain parameters.

And then I made this one…

That is easily the ugliest particle effect I have ever seen.

I had this idea of an exhibit of the ugliest particles in Second Life…but nevermind. It’s too icky.

A few of the prettier ones are posted on my Flickr page.

Red Lashes of Mars

Red Lashes of Mars

With windlight Gelatto settings, avatars dancing on media enhanced cubes


It’s amazing to watch the artists of SL exploring the medium and hammering away at the boundaries of digital art. A little over a year ago, Kolor Fall invited me to sit on some cubes he had floating in the air on his sim. At that time, Kolor was coming to grips with the Second Life physics engine to see what could be done.

Last night, we were invited to revisit Red Lashes of Mars, an installation of music by Cypress Rosewood, machinima by Stretch Mayo and the sculptures and sculptured terrain of Kolor’s eponymous sim. Avatars, dancing on great cubes textured with live machinima, were swirled and turned and floated 300 meters and more, while original trance compositions played on the stream.

I took more than 100 pictures using all the Windlight settings available. About 30 of them are included in this slideshow, which gives the best effect of the evening’s performance.

And down it comes…

How to Catch a Monkey at Burning Life 2009

Our little monkey has escaped for the last time.

With a little bit of sadness, Micheil and I took down our Burning Life build today. We were very happy with how well the machine performed overall. Even with the near constant lag, Micheil’s data logs said the machine performed properly 90% of the time.

Thank you to all the nice people who im’d us to say how much they enjoyed our exhibit.

I was delighted to find out today that Keumjoo Ahn, a Second Life machinima artist, filmed our machine running for her piece Hahaha. Our bit comes at 1:25 in the movie.

Ener Hax gave us some blog space and took many great pictures of our build too. Thanks so much Ener!