Yesterday I added a post to Cyberloom, and I realized that it is three years since the last post was added to this blog! All I can say is time flies when you are preoccupied! Today, I have been reviewing some of my 190+ earlier posts. The reason for this review is that my friend Suzanne asked me to send her the link to this blog. Gosh, I thought how to guide someone through a blog about a peculiar hobby visiting the Metaverse? Well, Suzanne, I hope that this post will help.
I began writing this blog in 2008 when I was an Adult Education student looking into online education for my Certificate in Advanced Studies. One of the first things that hooked me into the virtual world was the discovery that I could interact with it. In an early post, I wrote about this in a piece titled: Living in a Painting: Introducing Second Life and Windlight. I had discovered I could take photographs and adjust the lighting in a virtual 3D space reached by my computer. Strange that this machine of glass and metal and tiny computer chips could open up such a vast and visually imaginative realm.
I have a few preoccupations when traveling in the virtual world. The first is an ongoing interest in adult learning in its various manifestations:
Another recurring theme concerns a stack of sketchy questions about who we are as we connect with each other across the room, across virtual space and multiple time differences? Here are some of these posts:
Virtual Art is another area that fascinates and my approach to the work of Metaverse Artists stems from when I was a photographer working in London, and I would help artists by photographing their work for publicity purposes. I soon found that Second Life was teeming with incredibly thoughtful and talented artists. I also saw that there was a problem in that if you did not enter the 3D online space via your computer, you could not see and experience the work of these artists. This lead me on a mission to record the work of virtual world artists, here are just a few: Archetypal Robots and Giant Donuts
InWorldz put in an appearance at SXSW the music, film and interactive conference held in Austin, Texas every year. The virtual world categorized itself as a game developer at the convention and simultaneously showcased itself within InWorldz. In effect, they connected the conventional with the virtual with their “Welcome to Our World” exhibit.
For this post I collected together some photos I took on the Arts & Literature sim. There are other sims, each devoted to displaying different topic areas. These areas include: Education, Entertainment, Technology, Physics, Fantasy & Roleplay, Transportation plus Harbor – Boating & Nature. There is much to see and explore as InWorldz very cleverly invited their most talented citizens to show off recent or favorite works. This is certainly a very good idea for it means the pieces on display have a depth and maturity that can only be the product of hours of thoughtful work and personal skill development. It is also worth pointing out that many of these artists cut their baby avatar teeth in Second Life before being drawn into InWorldz with its generously sized building spaces and atmosphere of calm. The other observation worth sharing is that in practice many artist avatars have bi-world passports. That is, they work in Second Life and in InWorldz as interstellar traveling artists and troubadours. (Some probably travel even further into the OpenSim firmament appearing in multiple worlds.)
Above you can see a detail from Sy Celina’s ‘Dreaming’ exhibit which was originally built as a Christmas display. The exhibit, a comfortable living room and child’s bedroom is housed inside a giant blue Christmas ornament. The room conjures up an atmosphere of childish excitement with idealized Christmas memories and presents stacked high by the perfect roaring log fire, yet the furniture in the room is strangely transparent. I opted to avoid taking a ‘Christmassy’ picture as I found myself drawn to the pipe holder and photographs perhaps the two most solid and ‘real’ memory items in the strange room?
soror Nishi is one of my favorite artists. Her work is always full of color and humor. Her exhibit ‘The Steampunk Tree – a mechanical marvel’ (above) was in 3 sections, with the tree itself linked by a series of pipes to two other peculiar machines. She had placed 5 goats on a high platform at a feeding trough where they seemed to be eating colorful gourdes at one end whilst regularly emitting spherical droppings at the other. These droppings were then carried along a watery chanel to a filtering chamber filled with giant amoeba/octopus type creatures before being sent into the steampunk tree and thereby feeding its ability to deliver flourescent spores into the air. Smelly virtual worlds have yet to be invented but I am positive that soror Nishi’s tree smells like new roses growing in a farmyard.
Finally, I have featured Alizarin Goldflake’s display, an unusual black and white exhibit based upon Kay Ryan’s poem ‘The Niagara River’. This exhibit makes full use of the three dimensions available with virtual spaces and also employs sound effects. As you wander around the exhibit the black and white photographs of trees are constantly scrolling slowly around the walls, at your feet water is steadily running over your toes and in the background you can hear the sounds of a river and distant human voices. Alizarin wrote about this installation in her blog post ‘The Niagara River’
Because the poem uses a dining room melded with a river as a metaphor for the passage of time, life, or maybe the constant stream of consciouness, my installation has a sound environment that mixes the sound of rushing water with steady stream of people talking. The people have long departed from the room, from life, but their voices linger like ghosts and their names float in hover text.
The ‘Welcome to Our World’ exhibit is still open in InWorldz. The best way to visit is to go to InWorldz.com and register before simply downloading their viewer. A display board at the landing area will provide a teleport straight over to the exhibition sims. They always have helpers at the landing area who can direct you as you take your first steps in Inworldz. For more photographs of the InWorldz SXSW exhibits visit Rig’s Photos and scroll down through his posts (he has 5 InWorldz photo posts).
In the 1960s Federico Fellini decided to start a dream diary and ended up keeping this diary for 22 years. Fellini’s ‘Book of Dreams’ (packed with notes and sketches) was published in 2008, about 15 years after his death. Today, a brand new hard back copy can be purchased from Amazon for $775 (there were 4 new copies left when I visited) and apparently Amazon used book sellers have copies available ranging in price from $176.28 to $1,221,71. Oh, and the book weighs 8.2lbs and measures 2.4 x 10.2 x 13.5 inches, really rather a tricky book to read on the morning commute. Now, the reason for telling you all this is because Fellini’s dreams will soon become highly portable as the tome is to be published as an ebook. To celebrate this new digital publication an exhibit devoted to the ‘Book of Dreams’ has been built in Second Life and you can take your avatar for a spin through Fellini’s dream world.
Second Life is the perfect place to promote the ebook edition of Fellini’s dream journal. This world of shared imagination inevitably conjures up strange random juxtapositions. For virtual tourists like myself this chance aspect is a major attraction. At times a teleport to a new location can have the quality of a game of dice with Salvador Dali the evangelist of surrealism. On other occasions we might encounter the gentler dreamy surrealism of a Federico Fellini film. What is more, this surrealistic dream state can often be encountered in the most most mundane areas of the virtual world. For instance, a friend has a house in Second Life suburbia and her neighbor has completely enclosed his virtual home with a giant wooden box. It is just there, no explanation just an object awaiting interpretation. I wonder what Fellini would have done with a virtual world at his finger tips?
Please visit Imparafacile Island to see the extensive exhibition of note books and old movie posters.
I flew over to visit Hypatia in Second Life this evening and am dismayed to find this beautiful, atmospheric location seems to have vanished. I am rather vainly hoping the creators have decided to build elsewhere or start a new project perhaps?
Honor McMillan posted a lovely article about the area in the summer of 2012 titled “Distracted by Hypatia”. Sad to say, it also appears that the neighboring fabulous “Joy of Steampunk Museum” has gone off to another realm as well. Here’s hoping I am completely wrong and my Second Life viewer was just malfunctioning this evening…
Shortly after sending out this post I received the following somewhat reassuring tweet from Corcosman:
“re: Joy of Steampunk. Went there on PhotoHunt event recently. Was told the sim owner was going to build something new.”
So, the sun may indeed have set over Hypatia and the Joy of Steampunk Museum but the good news is that something new is brewing (and my viewer was not on the blink).
And a note about the update Corcosman mentions the Photo Hunt Group in Second Life. This group travels off together to visit a selected location where they all take a number of photographs for one hour. Upon their return the photographers select their favorite image for display. A voting process follows to select the best images from the Photo Hunt. Gridjumper’s Blog explains the procedure in more detail in her post: Take a Photo, Capture an Idea in the Virtual World.
“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we would go nowhere.” – Carl Sagan
I recently acquired Photoshop CS6 and I have been having a wonderful time experimenting with layers. Layers are a really clever tool that allow you to stack images on top of each other. You can alter the degree of transparency of each image and at the same time erase areas of one picture to allow another to show through. There is a random aspect to this layering and blending that creates a game of visual serendipity. I have taken the opportunity to play with layers of ‘reality’ by combining the imaginary spaces of virtual worlds like Second Life with my tangible world or ‘first life’.
The two photographs in this post show the beautiful temple built by Marcus Inkpen. Sadly, this temple has long since vanished into the ether (see earlier post “The Returning has Departed” for more information). It is intriguing to capture an image of something that existed virtually and now exists no more; it is like dropping into a dream with a camera, the layering of pictures allows memory and imagination to blend and create yet another world that never was…