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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shadow of giants: Ub Yifu

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, does not go away.
P K Dick
Meet French builder Ub Yifu, builder of gigantic and extraordinarily detailed statues. That's him the figure in black in the pictures, a sort of silhouette - marionette of Don Quixote, complete with horse, and separate Sancho Pancha. It's his own creation... but that's a line stolen from another knight. I first met Ub at a vernissage over on one of the Pirats sims a while ago, I think I mentioned him to you in French Quickie a few posts back, if you're interested in checking out that very fine institution. This week, I finally got around to visiting him at the heart of his world, Ub Yifu Sculptures. Ub came into SL thanks to a TV show. He works on custom statues and people often ask him to reproduce famous RL sculptures. He's particularly well known for his version of the magnificent Argonath from The Lord of the Rings and for the Dalì elephant. His work has been on display in dozens of different sims, and is very popular in the steampunk community, but that's not how he started...Ub Yifu: I start learning to build reproducing some famous painting in 3D that was great to learn the job. I started with Matisse, Magritte, then Dali and Picasso. Matisse was my starting point, it was easy enough to learn to adjust prims.
Thirza Ember: was it your intention to sell art in SL at the beginning? or did that happen after you got started? Ub Yifu: No, at first I just wanted to create things. I'm still amazing by 3D, but then people start to ask me to do sculptures for them. I make all my own sculpties with my hands not using any script, nor importing pre-made 3D objects...
Thirza Ember: What is the biggest project you have worked on?
Ub Yifu: My biggest build, and one of my most recent builds, is the monument for Mexican Independance. It's 14 different statues using 841 prims in total. You can see it at Ciudad de Mexico the Mexican Government sim.
Many builders find the process draining, I wondered how long it would take to make 14 different statues, and whether Ub was one of those people who needs to take a break to avoid getting burned out in SL.
Ub Yifu: It took about one month to make the 14 statues for that project. I do some break during the day, but I build everyday since 1,5 year now - it's all I do in SL.
Thirza Ember: You also have your store, here. What about selling and dealing with clients? Do you enjoy that part of the work?
Ub Yifu: That depend on the client, but most of mine are cool - they are art lovers so it is a pleasure to please them. For example, georg janick is a great client of mine. But first I had to do a lot of advertising to show my work. That was not the best part, but you need to show you work somewhere at beginning.
Thirza Ember: What was the most difficult statue or painting you tried to reproduce? Did you ever have a picture or a sculpture that was just too difficult?
Ub Yifu: Well first all were very difficult and some impossible for me but now I think that I can handle the human body to do something not too bad. Thirza Ember: Can you remember one piece that was especially hard?
Ub Yifu: Yes, well, many were hard and I'm still not satisfy with most of works but, for example, that Botero hand is pretty hard. The hardest thing to make in SL for me at beginning was the human body. I'm still working on that hand, adjusting each sculpties one by one as always. Each new sculpture is a new challenge for me, so my favourite piece is always the one I'm currently working on. You can see my latest installation over on sim Wizard .
Ub's sim Ub Yifu Sculptures is a treasure house of sculpture. You can keep up with his latest offers and exhibitions by joining his group, sculpture creation team. He told me he had always had a land from his first days in SL, but waited to open his own place once his earnings were enough to pay for it. We both agreed that having a piece of land on which to build transforms the experience of SL, as a mode of creative expression. But that opportunity often depends on dumb luck, rather than potential talent. Ub thinks Linden should give everyone just a little land, and I rather think he is right. I wondered if he visits other artists and who in his view are the best of the best. Ub Yifu: I visit them all, I think, or almost. At my beginnings, lightwaves was Starax and I was amazed by his prim work. Everybody knows it. He did the Black Swan including the famous angel and ballerina of course, but first he was working with basic prims like I did before sculpties arrived. I like a lot pumpkin tripsa too.
Thirza Ember: Do you have a favourite artist or writer, or musician that you would like to see in SL?
Ub Yifu: A real one you mean?
Thirza Ember: Yes.
Ub Yifu: My favorite writer is dead. It's Philip K. Dick a great science fiction writer. For him, the sim would be a steampunk sim, something like Wastelands maybe. I would put some of my pre-existing sculpture in it, maybe, but some I would do especially for that. What specifically? I have no idea yet, but maybe a body in a cryo machine like in his famous book UBIK. There are so many things one can do here, the possibilities are endless, for example I would do a sim about the movie BRAZIL too, for my next exhibition maybe. It would be just like the movie: old and futuristic.
Here on the sim you'll find several handmade avatars of fictional characters, reflecting his taste from John McClane in Die Hard to Edward Scissorhands. I wondered which was Ub's favourite.
Ub Yifu: Don Quixote ~ I always wear that one.
Thirza Ember: So you are a dreamer.
Ub Yifu: Of course! I must be, to spend my days building here.
Thirza Ember: But unlike Don Quixote, your dreams have a reality that cannot be denied.
Ub Yifu: Hehe maybe, but all these are just pixels owned by Linden...

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