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...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Turning Tricks

As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

I don't know if anyone notices these things, but I do plan to go back and finish that post about the Inferno in English, honest, right after this...
It's off to virtual Portugal and YouTube to check out the work of an old acquaintance, zephyru Zapedzki, a Portuguese painter and photographer. We met ages ago, on the last day before Paris got nuked from a lack of funds. There's a post about it, if you look in the archive. I say the last day except it wasn't, in good gallic style, not a hair was touched, if anything the art nouveau and vieux over there continues to flourish under new management, and it's busier than ever. Nothing like a fuss to get the punters in.

Anyway, zeph dropped this poster on me in which he asks: "Have you ever wanted to make love inside a giant kaleidoscope?" and who of us hasn't, in an erotic moment, thought 'this is all well and good, except for the fact that we're not in a giant kaleidoscope'. Oh yes, you have. Zeph has four 'scopes for you to visit, with this warning: "CAUTION! if you have epilepsy or similar problems do not use the Kaleidovortex M for more than a few seconds - even people with none of these problems may experience dizziness or sickness."
Yeah, brings us right back to the poster question, I know. I took some photos as you can see, just to show the kaleidoscopy and the hugeness, that's me the tiny figure in the middle of this picture, TP to that location here. Or here for the one in the picture at the top, I think. *Also thinks what the heck kind of hair is that now?* They are labelled 'F' and 'M' for reasons that wll probably become obvious to you round about ... now.
This is the video on YouTube he made of the 'scopes. (It suddenly occured to me I better watch it to the end, to make sure zeph didn't get carried away in the making of...)

He has a gallery you may want to visit also.
And now for something slightly different, more machinima, kaleidoscopes, but with libraries thrown in. It's called 'I am Library: Ode to Self-discovery and Collective Creativity' and promises to be clips from an early version, this video was posted back in February, as soon as I can find some hair and heels I plan to zip over to Thoth Jantzen's space in the Open Habitat, and see if the full and perfected version it is still there...

Hmm back again...well, of course in my semiconscious state of mini laptopia I saw little, and I may indeed have shown more than I saw, to the Man Himself, Thoth Jantzen, who as you can see is Thoth by nature as well as by name. He gave me this link to a new version you might like to see. In SL since '06 making him an oldbie of the best kind, as even my limited view of his CosmiqueIII confermed. What good stuff does he have on offer? You go over there and report back, how about that.
Also, if you're reading this today, Thursday 16 July, here's something else happening in the Italian part of the metaverse, at 10pm Italian time. The Antica Stamperia Il Faro (I have no idea how or why, but antica it is) is awarding literary prizes over at Immersiva. Drop by and try out some of your Italian, and pick up some original fiction while you're there! Ecco inanzittutto questa sera si festeggia a Immersiva come scritto qui, la letteratura metaversale italiana. In bocca al lupo a tutti i concorrenti e scrittori che si sono aderiti, e buona lettura a tutti noi, ci saranno delle opere davvero interessante da sfogliare inworld quest'estate. Second Life offre una gamma di emozioni e avventure ... caleidoscopica, e con questa parola giungiamo alla seconda notizia di oggi, il novo machinima di zephyru Zapedzky. Zeph è portogese, artista, musicista, fotografo; l'ho conosciuto tantissimo tempo fa, a Parigi Eiffel, quello che si chiamava Paris 1900. Ho scritto un post a proposito mi pare, uno di quei sim che sembrava all'epoca destinato a sparire sotto il peso del tier, ma che esiste ancora per fortuna, un sim molto elegante e bello. Sopra c'è una foto di lui scattata quel giorno, e a dire il vero era tanto che non avevo avuto le sue notizie, invece proprio ieri mi ha mandato il carino annuncio che vedi sopra. Ha creato quattro opere giganti, possono essere visualizzati nel primo machinima che avrai notato sorrendo attraverso la parte inglese... oppure possono essere visitati di persona : il cartello pubblicitario ci invita a ponderare la domanda : "Non hai mai sognato di fare l'amore in un caleidoscopio gigante?" Una domanda retorica, naturalmente. Sono quattro opere, veramente non ho capito come sono disposte nel metaverso, comunque questa qua sarebbe l'ufoscope F.

Quello grande di sopra, non so se riesci a vedere ma sono io al centro, è il kaleidovortex M belli da visitare anche se per quello grande c'è l'avvertenza che può provocare il vomito... uomo avvisato mezzo salvato. In tema di caleidoscopi in Youtube ho trovato anche l'altro video che vedi sopra. La creazione di Thoth Jantzen, eccolo, un vero ...dio egiziano - scrittore poeta poliglotta artista audiovisuale e dai anche filosofo. Uno di quelle persone incontrati per caso nel metaverso che provocano la voglia di continuare la permanenza virtuale ancora un pochino, per vedere cosa ha da dire.

Potete anche visualizzare qui l'ultimissima versione del machinima. Colori psicadelici, romanzi ambientati in Second Life, e la bella musica di Elton John... all you need is love!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Infernal Obsession: Dante Primer

The English bit is further down... just keep scrollin' along ♪ ♫♪

Questa settimana dietro il consiglio di un'amico sono andata all'inferno. Lo so, lo so, ho dei pessimi amici. Ne sono più che consapevole.
Ma invece questo consiglio non era del tutto negativo: di inferni, in Second Life - e qui si parla dell'inferno dantesco, per intenderci - ce ne sono addirrittura due, nati da due stili molto diversi, due punte di partenza a prima vista lontani l'una dall'altra, ma forse no.
Il primo inferno visitato era quello di Dante's Inferno. Se decidi di ...andarci anche te, a quel paese, be', ancor prima di abbandonare ogni speranza, bisogna fermarsi un pochino sul nome del sim per intero: Dante's Inferno and Linden Hills by Gloria Naylor. Ora, io in un primo momento ho pensato che le Linden Hills avevano qualcosa a che fare con Linden labs. Non è così, Linden Hills è un romanzo di Gloria Naylor, nel libro le 'colline Linden' sono sia un quartiere nera americana sia un'allegoria dello stesso inferno, ma un'inferno nel quale le anime hanno negato le loro radici, hanno offeso e rinnegato la loro vera identità, anziché offendere Dio. Ciò spiegherebbe questo lato del sim, la parte che approfondisce, tramite cartelli e elementi come degli automobili anni '50 una chiesetta in legno e dei fastidiosi paparazzi, lo studio del libro di Gloria Naylor. Non l'ho letto, e confesso liberamente, non ho nessunissima intenzione di farlo; il prezzo della mia testardia, l'ho trovato incomprensibile e disarmonioso, che sofferenza...
Un intero sim per rappresentare l'inferno dunque, ma con fortissimo accento americano, ideato e costruito da Desideria Stockton, Eloise Pasteur e i loro amici di Literature Alive un'iniziativa per promuovere lo studio e la conoscenza della letteratura ai lettori di tutte le età. Il terreno nerastro, toccato di rosso, sotto le stelle fredde d'una mezzanotte eterna, si scende da girone in girone; tra il fumo e il fuoco, tantissimi cartelli e schermi, informazioni tratti da wikipedia, il testo integrale dell'inferno sia in inglese che in italiano, vari spezzoni di film ispirati dalla Commedia, e brani di musica 'diabolica'. Tanti cartelli, a dire il vero, da far sembrare il Limbo più la vetrina d'un supermercato che il vestibolo dell'inferno. Un inferno da liceo, allora, pieno di indicazioni idee e approfondimenti, mirato ai giovani lettori americani. Basta contemplare la 'porta' (in inglese 'gate'), che vuol dire anche cancello e, nell'interpretazione americana della soglia dell'aldilà, troviamo proprio un cancello da fattoria.
Il sim è volutamente incompleto, qui non troverai Lucifero. Le creatrici hanno voluto dare ai viaggiatori giovani e meno giovani la possibilità di partecipare alla loro visione infernale, di ...metterci lo zampino, se vuoi. Infatti, oltre ai quiz interattivi, rocce parlanti, serbatoi di notecard e progetti per scuole, c'è in palio la bella cifra di $L10,000 destinato a chi crea il 'perfetto' Lucifero. Le istruzioni e le regole del concorso sono disponibili nell'ultima bolgia, qui in fondo, dove il muro vieta di passare alle parti più freddi (e meno politically correct).
Niente tp, dovrai ...andarci a prenderle.
Il secondo inferno invece è del gruppo di Agora Saturnia, terra atea, terra di artisti di ogni tipo, paese natale di silvestro Dagostino. Un inferno nei cieli in quanto costruito su una piattaforma sopra la land, pieno anche questo di informazioni sul libro, ma anche di balli e animazioni appropriate alle vicende delle anime dannate. Ho chiesto Silvestro come è nato il parco d'arte. Silvestro, in veste da Dante, mi ha spiegato tutto...
silvestro Dagostino: L'inferno è venuto per caso. Avevo fatto un vulcano, e vedendolo una amica, Soon Zenovka mi ha dato l'idea dell'inferno. Tutto questo circa 5 mesi fa, più o meno, ma il lavoro è fatto a periodi di non più di una settimana alla volta perchè mi consumo oltre quel periodo. Insomma ci saranno 20 giorni di lavoro in tutto per ora. Per fare l'inferno, mi sono documentato ovviamente sulla divina commedia che conoscevo solo dal titolo fino ad allora lol ! Poi, ho cominciato con la selva oscura, cercando di rappresentare anche qualche personaggio tipo Caronte, Dante, Virgilio ecc., poi andando in ordine per gironi cercando per ogni girone di rappresentare la colpa e la punizione delle varie anime con delle animazioni appropriate.

Thirza Ember: L'inferno dagostiniano dunque assomiglia a un palazzo in marmo, a più livelli o terrazze, aperta al centro come la tromba delle scale... solo che non ci sono scale. Ma l'idea originale era di creare il tutto in una gigantesca sala di marmo, o forse una caverna?
silvestro Dagostino: Sì. All'inizio avevo fatto tutto su un livello ma la fame viene mangiando la notte porta consiglio e quindi mi sono deciso a fare qualcosa di più grande.
Thirza Ember: A quanti livelli è dunque il tuo inferno, ed è vero che manca il Satana?
silvestro Dagostino: Non sono sicuro ma almeno 5 mi pare. Poi qualche girone l'ho messo sullo stesso piano di un altro, altrimenti non mi basta lo spazio. No, al Satana non sono ancora arrivato. Al finale c'è ancora tempo - molto tempo; è anche una questione di prims nella land abbiamoanche altre iniziative che necessitano di questi ...maledetti prims.
Thirza Ember: per te cosa e' l'aspetto piu bello, il fare o l'aver fatto? Ti diletta di più l'attivita' oppure vedere tutto finito?
silvestro Dagostino: il fatto è fatto me lo godo per pochi giorni tramite i complimenti che non mi dispiacciono mai. Cmq per me un lavoro non è mai finito. Il bello è quello che deve ancora venire altrimenti non ci sarebbe ragione di restare in sl per me.
Thirza Ember: Venire in contatto per la prima volta con il testo in questo modo così intimo, cercando di manipolarlo e interpretarlo in 3D, è un viaggio in sé stesso straordinario. Quale è stato l'aspetto che ti ha piu colpito, mentre lo leggevi?
silvestro Dagostino: domanda mica semplice .... come ripeto non conoscevo la divina commedia. Non l'ho stuadiata a scuola.
Thirza Ember: il libro l'hai trovato piu' breve, Molti hanno l'idea che si tratta di un libro pesante, e, visto che è stato scritto 700 anni fa, un libro antiquato, l'hai trovato così?
silvestro Dagostino: no anzi il contrario mi è sembrato molto moderno invece.
Thirza Ember: ...e il peccato piu grave???
silvestro Dagostino: non sono nemmeno a metà quindi non lo so. No. Ecco, forse lo so. Il peccato più grave è non averlo letto da ragazzo.
Thirza Ember: ahhaha
silvestro Dagostino: grave lacuna ma non è colpa mia!
Thirza Ember: bellissima risposta.
L'inferno di Dagostino e di Dante si trova tra i molti gioielli di arte a Agorà Saturnia, su sim Leiter.
This week I went to hell, well, I've been sent there so many times I thought I might as well see it for myself. Hell in SL is not other people, but two very different sims by two very different groups. First up, the Sim by Desideria Stockton, Eloise Pasteur and co of Literature Alive! a group that aims to get more people reading and appreciating literature through the kind of immersive experience only possible in a virtual environment. Neither Desideria nor Eloise was available for coment when I contacted them, shame, I would llike to have known more about the process of choosing this material for their sim. But perhaps it's obvious: in fact, the sim is not 'just' Dante, but a dialogue between two texts, on one hand, Dante, and on the other, Gloria Naylor's Linden Hills. I had never heard of this book and had just assumed Linden hills was something to do with Linden Labs, that link put me right. Which is sort of important, because standing staring out across the yawning mouth of the hellish sim, the Caddies and the old wooden church seem weirdly out of place.
Of course, there's plenty of inworld info that would have set me right hd I taken the time to read some of the notecards. The fact is, this Inferno is so packed with notecards, background information, interactive rocks, video footage, music and flames, that it is hard not to feel like a shopper on

This exhibit is meant to engage all of your senses, and these are the tools we have used to create an immersive experience.
On each level, there are activites where guests are asked to contribute content. Please explore all the circles of Hell. There are loads of notecards and activities, the plan is for student generated content to be added as various schools begin to use the project - they can add multimedia, sharing their ideas and experiences and everyone can participate in the "Build Lucifer" contest, with a top prize of L$10,000. That getting your creative juices flowing? You might want to run over the text of the 34th Canto then! Moving about the sin - oh sorry I mean sim - is easy enough, it's an open plan hell, no tps here, but there's a gondola that takes you from level to level if you're afraid of the fall.

Dante's Inferno

Friday, July 3, 2009

Building Fiction: Huckleberry Hax

"You do realise that's what makes Second Life special, don't
you Texter? Not the idiots with the huge cocks, not the novelty
avatars, not the little cliques and clubs and groupings, but the
cool controllers there privately to let it slip, just a little, just to
see what having it slip just a little feels like."

November 2008: Texter Triste is standing on the platform at Le Havre railway station, waiting for his Second Life love to turn up; but a killer is watching him, and smiling...

Just So That You Know, Huckleberry Hax

Huckleberry Hax didn't come into SL with the intention of sharing his writing; it just turned out that way. He chose SL because he was taking part in the National Novel Writing Month event. He's since produced five novels that carry the reader from the Metaverse into the real world, and back again. What kind of books, I hear you ask? Well, that's the teaser from his fourth book "Just so that you know" up above. Next thing you're going to want to do is download, for free, some of his stuff - you'll find it here on the web.
So what's the story, Huck?
Huckleberry Hax: National Novel Writing Month. I wanted to take part and actually finish a novel. On one of the weekly podcasts, I heard that there was a guy in SL holding support meetings in some sort of virtual cafe. To be honest, I was more interested in work avoidance than I was in virtual meetings! After a few hours wondering around (and, quite frankly, wondering what all the fuss was about) I went back to my novel writing. But I was back over Christmas, and then again in the Spring. I've pretty much remained here ever since. Starting with my first SL novel, 'AFK' (which I wrote for National Novel Writing Month 2007), I've made everything I've written under my SL name available for free, on my blog.
I wondered how and when Huck started reading his work inworld.
Huckleberry Hax: In July 2008, Harriet Gausman of the Guild of UK Writers group asked me to read my second novel, 'The Day is Full of Birds' in parts over period of a couple of months at her Milkwood sim. I'd done very little voice communication on SL prior to that (I still prefer text for chat), so it was quite daunting! I've discovered that reading in voice is a very satisfying experience, however, and over the many reading events that I've done since then, I've enjoyed working on improving my style as much as possible.
Since Huck was originally lured into SL by a support group for writers, I was curious to know if he frequents any meetings of that kind nowadays.
Huckleberry Hax: I try to go every week to the weekly Writers' Circle meeting at Cookie, where writers share extracts of their work for feedback. I also go sometimes to the poetry workshop at The Blue Angel Poets' Dive on Saturday mornings, although I fancy my poetry advice is probably not in the same league as some of the more established poetry writers who hang out there! I'm working with two other writers from the Blue Angel - Persephone Phoenix (the owner) and Shara Levanque - to produce a new poetry journal that's due out any week now - 'Blue Angel Landing'. Its mission is to celebrate the work of SL poets, both new and experienced; this pretty much encapsulates the mission of the Dive itself, actually: the weekly open mic session held there (Sundays at 5pm SLT) has been running without break for nearly three years and is rarely attended by less than 30 people. It's an amazing achievement and the event has a quite unique atmosphere, no small part of which is the exhilaration of new poets reading their work in front of a live audience for the first time.
With the limit of groups one can belong to still firmly at 25, we all have to think twice before signing up for anything new, and I wanted to know which ones Huck found the most useful for his literary activities.
Huckleberry Hax: P.S. (Post Scriptum) is a really good one to belong to, since all the major events get advertised in that. The groups I'm most active in are the The Blue Angel VIP, the Guild of UK Writers and the Written Word. I also go to events sometimes organized by Bookstacks and INKsters. But there are plenty more groups besides these. Oh ...and I should also plug here my own group, Huck's News.
Huckleberry Hax reads regularly at Milk Wood, at the The Waterstage in Cookie, the Blue Angel Poets' Dive and on occasion at Bookstacks, The Bookworm Cafe at Da Vinci Isle and the theatre in The Village. I asked him that terrible question - which place he likes the best.

Huckleberry Hax: The Blue Angel is perhaps my favourite place to read my work in Second Life, because the atmosphere there so perfectly seems to match the type of RL place it's been designed to look like. But Cookie would be a close second - there is just so much that goes on there.
I asked the Usual Question, but got a surprising answer this time: Huck went with architecture, not books.
Huckleberry Hax: An Art Park to suit my taste? Well, I'm a fan of post-war brutalist architecture, so I would love to see a sim dedicated to the work of architects like Rodney Gordon, who died last year. I'd like to see again departed builds like the Tricorn Centre, (in RL Portsmouth, UK, demolished in 2004) - not the stained, crumbling, rather dreary looking things they became, but the way they were intended to look when they were new.
Despite the obvious Get Carter reference (aren't I predictable), I learned today that brutalism has nothing to do with cruelty and everything to do with the French term béton brut = raw concrete. It's an interesting choice, although I'm not sure a whole sim along those lines would be to my taste. But the idea of SL Pompey? That I have to see.