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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crowned HUD: Sasun Steinbeck

Sasun Steinbeck: Welcome! This is my little Art Gallery Owner HQ, which I've never actually used as a meeting spot before, so I guess this meeting makes it all 'official' and everything!
It's hard to imagine a bigger desk, but Sasun Steinbeck presided over it like, well, the Queen of Everything, and when it comes to organizing information about art in Second Life, the fun tag she wore seems no joke. You may never have met her in person, but if you spend any amount of time in Second Life, you will certainly have walked past and possibly touched her Art Gallery Kiosk, an amazing device that connects galleries, studios and shops all over the metaverse. It's also used by Linden Labs to share information about gridwide evens such as Burning Life. Sasun is one of the first people around here to make interactive scripted art - she began what is now her Morphing Sculpture back in 1995. It changes sound, shape and texture in almost infinite combinations, and is still on display at Avalon. Not being able to script worth a dHelloAvatar - don't get me started on that whole physical lift saga - I am in awe of anything technical, and ArtsParks readers may recall an ancient post about Sas' Gallery Tour HUD. I wondered if, when she started out, she had any idea of the dimensions to which it would grow.
Sasun Steinbeck: Wow no, not at all. it's now totally integrated with the Art Galleries Of SL web site, so it doesn't need to be updated just because the list changes, like it used to. I used to have to save all the locations to a spreadsheet, then fiddle and sort them into three notecards by  category, then install them into the hud and send out a new one. I did that hundreds of times! Now it just gets the gallery data live from the website, so no weekly updates required. In fact, I sent out the first update in months - I fixed a little bug just last night. I consider myself more a scripter than an artist, to be honest I just haven't been doing any art in a long time!
The Art Gallery Owners group holds regular meetings open to the public where she and collaborators like Elise Benusconi, White Hyacinth and others share updates on various matters of interest to gallery owners, like the new beta version of the Gallery Ring Kiosks. A lot of people think Sasun 'is' a Linden, because her list is so much a part of art in SL.
Sasun Steinbeck: LOL I wish! I started the list back in 2005, after I created my sculpture. I was looking for galleries to show it in. The only list available was the one Pathfinder Linden was maintaining - which had about a dozen LMs in a notecard. I searched out and found more galleries I kept sending him update after update, and eventually we agreed I should just take over maintenance of the list. It has grown right along with the art scene in SL - from a dozen galleries to 677 to date. Recently we figured if we spent only 10 minutes at each gallery, that would take... 112 HOURS to see them all, which is 4.7 DAYS of continuous art! And that’s just the ones on my list… there are probably upward of 900 altogether. I'm really happy to have seen the art scene in SL grow from practically nothing to this huge mass of artists, galleries, and art lovers today. Most of the art in SL is uploaded from RL, and then you have builders and sculptors who take advantage of what makes SL so special, but I think it amounts to the same thing – people who just love to share what they see with others. I still get a huge thrill when someone says they love my sculpture, or even better, when an SL artist says they were inspired by it. The community aspect of SL art is what attracts artists and keeps them here. It's such a great way chat about techniques and ideas, and best of all, find people to collaborate with - people you'd never bump into in RL, from all around the world.
I wondered what she likes best about SL, and what keeps her coming back for more.
Sasun Steinbeck: I love the feeling of innovation. Just when you think you've seen it all, someone does something that blows everyone's mind. And I'm very pleased that Filthy Fluno recently included a painting of my partner Galea Yates and I in his Venus series of portraits.
About a year ago, Filthy (in RL Jeffrey Lipsky) and his SL art business at Artropolis were featured in a NYT article.
Filthy Fluno: Its been an amazing year. I get 100's of people contacting me about the article asking all sorts of questions about me and my art. Sales went up and visibility went through the roof. I've known Sasun for 3 years. My first impression was that she was smart, fierce, and an art geek. If she was a painting she'd be Goya's "Saturn Devouring His Son". Community is important to me because as an artist, I like to be around other people with similar goals, struggles, and craziness. Gallery owners depend on communities to support them by showing up and buying art and sharing ideas. Sasun helps audiences get to the art. The difference between SL and RL? SL is more accessible for handicapped people, it's cheaper to do business here, and of course much nicer to TP than to commute!
I wondered if Sasun had any pet peeves about SL - apart from her perv aversion (see her profile picks!)
Sasun Steinbeck: That damn llTargetOmega bug! It causes textures that you rotate using the llTargetOmega LSL function to slowly get out of sync. This affects any artist that creates multi-prim objects with rotating textures that need to be in sync. It mostly affects my sculpture so, for me, I really really really wish they'd fix it! But it's been years, and I've given up hope that they will.
And the future?
Sasun Steinbeck: I think the Linden Endowment for the Arts is a fantastic initiative. I applied immediately, and wrote a huge resume to get me in!! I really really hope they select me for the committee because their goals and mine are closely aligned. From what I have read, the actual programis not well defined right now, and I'm sure they want feedback to do that. It's going to potentially make some big advancements on how art in SL is perceived by the outside world, as well as providing some fantastic resources to the artists in SL. I've been discussing with the Linden Community program the idea of dedicated space to preserve some of the art history of SL, and it looks like LL has recognized that need right off the bat, which is great. I'd be really curious to find out what prompted them to do this. Has some artist in SL been talking to M, or did it come up in some Linden office hours, or...? I wonder. I really love the way RL institutions like the University of Western Australia have created a genuine crossover. UWA are outstanding in promoting art in SL by offering awards to inworld artists every month. They invest so much work and fund-raising to provide very nice prizes - that kind of thing really encourages artists to be productive and keep creating fantastic works of art for us all to enjoy. One aspect of the growth and change is visual art that integrates music and sound. It's essential that artists trying to create a more participatory and immersive experience pay a LOT of attention to the audio parts of the artwork and that Linden Labs keep innovating on the SL platform to give artists and builders more cool stuff for their virtual creation toolbox. Music has such a profound power to influence our lives, and like visual artists, musicians love to share. That’s the motivation - it's not like they make a lot of money! Live entertainment draws the crowds at openings, and is a win-win both for the artists on display and the musicians. One thing I'm sure of - artists learn from each other, they inspire each other, study each other's techniques, and the "state of the art" of art in SL will just keep getting better.
Sasun Steinbeck è una delle donne più influenti nel mondo dell'arte virtuale di Second Life. Se non l'hai sentito mai, questo nome, avrai sicuramente visto uno dei suoi chioschi, una sua invenzione, un sistema di collegamento che unisce numerose gallerie d'arte, ateliers, e communità artistiche - oggi seicentosettantasette, per essere precisi. Hanno calcolato che, trascorrendo soltanto dieci minuti in ogni locale, ci vorrebbero quattro giorni e mezzo per visitarle tutti - 116 ore di arte non-stop! Sasun è un'abilissima scripter, infatti ha ideato nel lontano 1995 una scultura interattiva, capace di tantissime variazioni di texture, suono e forma, puoi visitare questo importante 'anello' nella catena evoluzionaria dell'arte immersiva su sim Avalon. Era proprio perché cercava una galleria dove esibire la sua scultura che Sasun ha intrapreso la sua missione di 'elenchista'...
Sasun Steinbeck: Nel 2005 ho scoperto che Pathfinder Linden manteneva una notecard con i nomi e LM delle gallerie di SL. Io quando scoprivo posti nuovi, gli spedivo il LM: dopo un po' è stato deciso che sarebbe più opportuno dare a me la responsabilità di creare un elenco aggiornato. Da quella Notecard è nato il mio HUD, fatto di note, un compito molto laborioso, oggi invece il sito Art Galleries Of SL  rende tutto più facile e automatico.
I chioschi di Sasun sono usati anche da Linden Labs per divulgare informazioni per grandi eventi come  Burning Life. Vivere SL come colletiva, è fondamentale per Sasun. Oltre ai chioschi, ha organizzato un gruppo per gestori di gallerie, e alle riunioni come questa nella foto, si parla di consigli, networking, e innovazioni, come la versione beta del Gallery Ring Kiosks.
Sasun Steinbeck: In SL ci sono oltre 900 gallerie d'arte, e ogni giorno nascono nuovi studi e negozi. La maggior parte degli artisti importano opere RL, ma insieme ai builders fotografi e scultori cheoperano esclusivamente nell-ambiente virtuale, abbiamo una grande famiglia di persone creative. L'arte in SL esiste perché queste persone hanno voglia di condividere, di conoscere e di ispirare altri - mi dà enorme piacere quando mi dicono che la mia scultura piace, o meglio ancora, ha ispirato un'artista. E possiamo collaborare con persone che,  in Real, non avremmo mai  potuto incontrare.
Uno di questi amici è il noto pittore Filthy Fluno (in RL Jeffrey Lipsky). L'anno scorso il New York Times ha pubblicato la sua storia di artista e imprenditore in SL e in RL. Ha fatto un bel ritratto di Sasun e la sua partner, Galea, la vedi sopra nella parte inglese. Ho chiesto cosa pensa di Sas, e ha detto che è una donna intelligente, impertinente, appassionata dell'arte... se fosse un quadro sarebbe Saturno divora un figlio
Filthy Fluno: Quest'anno per me è stato un grande success, grazie all'articolo sul NYT. Tantissime persone si sono messe in contatto, hanno visitato il mio studio a Artropolis e hanno comprato sia arte 'virtuale' che stampe e originali in RL. Il contributo di Sasun è impareggiabile.  Come artista, mi piace moltissimo trovarmi in compagnia di chi ha le stesse mete, gli stessi problemi, la stessa mentalità. Le gallerie non possono esistere senza il pubblico, la pubblicità è essenziale per la nostra soppravvenza, e i chioschi di Sasun sono un aiuto per tutti noi.
Sasun Steinbeck: Ci sono delle iniziative davvero stupende in questo periodo in SL. Parlo d istituzioni accademici come l'Università di Western Australia, che offre ricchi premi ad artisti. E la Linden Endowment for the Arts è un'iniziativa fantastica - mi sono iscritta subito! Avrà modo di dare più visibilità all'arte virtuale nel mondo in generale. Credo merita di essere presa sul serio, e se i lindens ci danno anche spazio per esibire opere 'storiche' sarebbe molto bello per il patrimonio artistico metaversale. L'occasione di essere consultata nell'elaborazione di un programma d'azione mi entusma moltissimo. Per me il futuro di SL è anche questo. Istallazioni che offrono un'esperienza multimediale, ma attenzione - l'aspetto sonoro deve avere la stessa importanza e qualità degli aspetti visivi. Linden Labs deve continuare a innovare gli attrezzi disponibili ai creatori di ogni genere. La musica ha un grandissimo potere. Inoltre, mi piace vedere la collaborazione sempre più frequente tra musicisti live e artisti. Anche i musicisti si esibiscono per il piacere di condividere - i tip jars non creano milliadari - ma le vernissages con musica live attirano un pubblico più vasto e questo è un bene per tutti. Il futuro di SL lo vedo così -  condividere esperienze, studiare e insegnare nuove tecniche, e ispirare altri con allegria!

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