Tag Archives: virtual art

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.