Saturday, January 29, 2011

Turing: Back to the Future

He has the appearance of a space man from gentler times,  when the only cyber bullies were the Cybermen, and jetpacks were boxy, like Volvos, on the safe side. In real life, Patrick Millard is a Pittsburgh-based photographic and sound artist, and a graduate of SCAD (oo Savannah!). In SL, Formatting Heliosense is part DJ, part curator, part exhibitor, and all round good guy at the Turing Gallery, at the heart of Galatea Gynoid's Extropia Core region in Second Life.
Formatting Heliosense: I didn't plan to curate or own a gallery when I entered into SL per se, but I certainly entered into this world in order to extend what I was doing artistically. The idea of virtual worlds is in conceptual alignment with the work I do in RL about technolgical and environmental symbiosis. The thing that is unique about Turing Gallery compared to most SL galleries is that we have a consistency on theme. We do not show particular media or approaches to artwork, but we show only art that coincides with Extropian interests - Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, The Singularity, Transhumanism, Technology, Space, and all things that emphasize a a more complete future through advancements in technology.
 When Formatting said that, I had visions of migratory goatherds in space, but then I googled the difference between transhumance and transhumanism. Don't tell him, it's embarrassing. But back to the Turing - the structure's by Vidal Tripsa. Originally intended to be part of a mall, the Turing Gallery has been home to futuristic and conceptual art since August, and has already attracted big names including Maya Paris and L1aura Loire, Scarp Godenot, Kolor Fall and Wizard Gynoid
Formatting Heliosense: Along with the gallery, I run the club here, Technohenge, DJing and organizing the other DJ's while Zada Zenovka is on extended hiatus. The music and the scuptures and painting - it's all art to me; but it is a group that makes the sim run.
 Like all buildings in Extropia, the gallery  is named after a famous transhumanist. Alan Turing (you know, Bletchley Park and all that) devised a test to tell when a robot/machine/computer has achieved human communication skills to the point that it is believable. Now, if that could be hacked and used as a Contacts List filter...
Formatting Heliosense: Our first artist in the new location was Xenophile Neurocam. His work was a fun showing because it filled the space in a comprehensive sense. He did not allow the space of the gallery or unique divisions between halls and open exhibition spaces become a hindrance, but rather a opportunity. He even made one room completely immersive by putting the viewer in a completely dark environment and then adding his sculptured and annimated work to the space.
The next show is being set up - it's an installation by Scottius Polke called The Shrine of Previously Discarded Notions. It sort of looks like a ribcage, with a warm glow. Formatting summed it up in a single word: 'hugs'.
In his studio you can see a couple of pieces from this Formatting Gaia collection; you may recall that naked acreage on show at the Enaxia and also at Quadrapop Lane's Tree Gallery last year.

From the tower, you can look down on Extropia to the strains of techno music; there's also his original work Nanoresponse. Want to experience Nanoresponse but afraid of heights and/or not inworld? Click here.
What's Formatting looking forward to in 2011?
Formatting Heliosense: The 2011 edition of Scien&Art, organized by Marjorie Fargis and Talete Flanagan. I have offered to host part of it here at the Turing. I'm also quite intrigued and attend the Cybernetic Arts stuff that that group is doing in world.
The future's bright.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Crafty reminder

Tomorrow celebrations begin over on Craft for the first anniversary of OpenSim's most friendly grid. More about it over on the other blog, Pings from the afterlife.
I made a trampoline, but don't let that put you off, everyone else made wild and fancy stuff very much worth seeing!
This is the URI of the grid (the bit you add to the Grid Manager of your viewer) http://craft-world.orgL8002/

Sunday, January 23, 2011


You'd be forgiven for dubbing it Art Mess rather than ART MAZE 2011, the Zindra based collaboration on show until the end of the month. More than thirty artist of wildly divergent taste, style and talent have been mashed up in a land crossing a couple of sim boundaries, connected by series of tunnels. These days, I'm inworld mostly to look at scripts, not art, but Dividni Shostakovich was going back to the Maze for his second visit, so I got a lift with him. Or rather he sent a 'teleport lure', as the kids are calling it these days. Stuff happens when you're away.
If the ArtMaze Welcome notecard were a dog, it would be a golden retriever puppy; large, good natured, energetic, a bit over excited. It promises "an amazing world of endless imagination and exploration", and "the chance to be a real life travel writer" on their Art Maze website!
I had my doubts.
Oh dear, are we so jaded we can't be amused by the Souvenir Mug? Or persuaded to try on the (surprisingly dry) freebie Teeshirt? The show has its own Linden Rep, Blondin of the same name, which I suppose is code for Nipple Police, although, considering we were on Zindra, nipples were disappointingly few and far between. But that might just have been the sag. I mean the lag.
We did get lost, but not in a good way at first, stumbling against a horrible psychedelic trompe-l'oeil. There's no cohesion in the overall design; each artist improvised the links to the next with tunnels.
It's a sort of litmus test to talent, and the winner has to be the wonderful Oona Eiren - much more about her coming soon! - whose Murder in the Lake build is one of the Maze's best bits.
I never did find the hidden body in the room, and that's the problem with massive shows like this, there is so much going on, both in your brain and on the screen, that it's almost impossible to pay the sort of attention to detail the work deserves.
Renowned ischyophile Scottius Polke was lurking in the bookstacks, and he took me to see Penelope Parx's ants.
Aloisio Congrejo's Universes are also lovely.
But I fell in love with Corcosman Voom's room, hosting not just his 2D art, but two lovely statues, The Flautist and The Aerialist. It sent me back to my tightrope anim, freshly inspired.
The immersive and interactive elements at ART MAZE 2011 are mostly poses in dioramas, the custom music stream and the chance to share your photos and thoughts with the group. Yeah, no, I'm not going to do that. Although it is a contest, so you should enthusiastically stick a photo or two in the hut, if that's not a euphemism.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sound Mind

Essendo cosi è necessario che la bellezza sia una natura come quella della virtù, figure e voci; perché noi non chiameremo qualunque di questi tre bello,se non fosse in tutti e tre comune definizione della bellezza.
Marsilio Ficino, Il libro dell'amore
It's the bleak midseason, and many of us are suffering from Blue Martian Disease, the main symptom of which is loudly anguishing about things of zero importance. We need harmony, serenity! We need to know upon whom Hamlet Au next plans to bestow his ample self!
OK, we don't really need to know that last one, but the other two are essential. Here's an idea.
On a crowded, rather untidy sim, Miso Susanowa has created an oasis of sound and harmony, where every flower sings its own microchord, and as you walk among them, they fill your mind like perfume. She sat on a magic mushroom, a sort of Yoko Ono thing going on, but less hard-faced, and with leggings. I swooped my cam among the tinkling bells, a breeze of harmonics.
Miso Susanowa: Some of those notes aren't being played, they are the harmonics your own brain is making between the notes actually being played. It is truly interactive audio; even if you are still and look in one direction, you will hear the sound field sweep back and forth depending on which harmonics are resonating.
  Miso's RL career in visual art and music began back in the 1970's; she's been a performance artist, composer, sound engineer, and informal IT teacher. In 1995 she set up a website that helped women (especially preteen girls) to learn to write HTML. She is an 'oldbie' in terms of digital art: she started doing digital drawings as long ago as 1982, on a UNIX system. In 1995 she participated in some early virtual worlds, so that her arrival in Second Life in 2008 offered a very different learning curve to the one many of us experienced.  She has an impressive portfolio of work with galleries and art collectives like UWA and Caerleon, and has collaborated with some of SL's biggest names; she's recently been featured in Spanish art magazine Arte y Parte. Starting with her 'Angelic Clocks' and most recently with the atmospheric Solstice tree, shown in InWorldz in December, which included her composition The Longest Night, sound has dominated her artistic output. Her first experience in SL was a silent one, mostly rollerskating, but without the sound element it failed to pull her in; before long she'd imported a rollerblade sound, just to make the experience more complete.

Miso Susanowa: When I was 5 I stole my dad's tape recorder to tape the wheels of my schoolbus because I liked the rhythms. Sometimes you think, wow, it's so quiet, but if you focus in, the world is not silent, ever. Audio is our second most acute sense after smell, before vision. It gives a person a sense of place and depth that far surpasses sight. So to me, all this talk of "immersion" when all you have is mostly graphics is not immersion. 
The place seemed to be brimming with vibrations, like a swarm of sounds, the way a gong makes you feel, like a resonating congregation of noise developing around us.
Miso Susanowa: It will entrain your brain to alpha state in 10 minutes. It's a simple and well known effect but it requires pure sine waves which are a BITCH to loop - it took me two weeks to do it without pops. The corpus callosum will try to sync your brain to the waves and your heart will attempt to match the yogin's beat, which is about 68-72BPM, a "restful state". People paint with paint; I have audio synesthesia. Shapes, colors, lighting, texture will trigger songs, music in my head - it can be aggravating!
  Across the garden is the Temple of the Radiant Moon, used by Reikian healers and meditation groups. No advertising; people just find their way to Miso's  temple, to bathe in the sounds.  From the textures and artwork it's easy to see she's made a study of world faiths ancient and modern, and has tried to blend cultures, drawing from them the aspects of the moon.  Two deep, mellow sounds boom out of the Temple even before you enter the door, the Earth Tone and the Heart Drum. It's a sound that seems to sneak into your bones. Add to these Japanese taiko drum, Tibetan Throat Singers and a Gregorian chant, and you have a  menu for deep meditation. 
Miso Susanowa: This is applied research, not mysticism! Hospitals use ultrasound for bone knitting and muscle relaxing and healing. Consciousness is based on electrical signals, which are waves: so is your blood flow. Over 20 years, I've tried to ferret out what I could about the "secret healing tones of the Lyre of Hermes Trismegistus" etc., or how the Tibetans can hypnotize people with a drawing. I've closely followed the work of  modern researchers like Pauline Olivera. Online life is overstimulating. These tones help fight that online feeling of I SHOULD BE DOING SOMETHING, but a word of warning - such pure tones can be contraindicated. They are here to use, but if you are tense, uptight, a cup of coffee isn't gonna be good for you, yes? Well, these sine waves affect the brain, so need to be used with caution.
  Back outside, the sounds diminished, and she led the way to her third sound zone. She had me click on the sun above her head. Excerpts from a 22 minute composition of Miso's, based on the radio frequencies of each planets,  filled the air, and I cammed in until my avatar filled half the screen. The exquisitely accurate planets revolved around me, playing their tunes. I wondered what it meant to Miso to be able to influence people so much. 
  A victim of abuse as a child, Miso's struggled with feelings of self worth all her life. These sounds have helped her over the years, and it's her desire to share them with other people who are hurting.
 Miso Susanowa: The Code of Silence is the most deadening thing there is and I defy it, I talk about what is distasteful or uncomfortable for people because it's real. It's important to get beyond the mind that can be twisted up. This is nothing new. My tools are just different. I learned science and even computers as a left brain strengthener, to help me not be overwhelmed. It isn't natural to me to be a geek, I use it to help me not drown. It's a discipline, a mental yoga, and it's saved my life more than a few times...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Countdown to Craft One

Craft Grid is about to turn one year old, there's a party and you're invited!
The party isn't until January 27th, so you have time to prepare. You don't have to bring a bottle, but Craft is an OpenSim grid, not a place in Second Life. So now is the time to figure out how to get there, so you'll be ready on the day.
You've two options. First thing, be sure you're using a viewer that supports multiple grids. Phoenix or Imprudence are great because you can eliminate the need for attachments like translator, a/o, etc; reducing lag. Configuring the viewer for another grid is simple too.
In  Preferences : Grids
Click the button "Add" in the box "Login URI"  insert:  http://craft-world.orgL8002/
Insert a Nickname (possibly "Craft")
Click the button "Get Grid Info"
Click the button "Apply"
Craft will then be added to your list of Grids, which you can access using your avatar name, surname and password. 
Go to the Craft website and make an avatar, like you did at the beginning of your Second Life. It's going to be basic, Male Female or Gender neutral, so a chance for something new perhaps? Something bizarre for a change? Or finally something less weird? Anyway, you can change all that later if you want, including importing your personal custom shape. Don't get too freaked out about being a noob. OpenSim is less about what's on your skull, and more about what's going on inside it. Having said that, there are plenty of stylish freebies, at the landing point on Hydra and also at the Craft Freebie store. This is a non-commercial grid, so look forward to a lot of sharing.

Maybe you already have a nice avatar in,  for example, Reaction Grid (this map courtesy of Pam Broviak and the good people at govgrid). If you do, you use it to can jump into Craft. How do you jump? Pathfinder Lester explains Hypergrid Jumping here. Even a technomoron like me can do it, it's a lot of fun - see the photos here.
So once you're in Craft, what will there be to do?
Botgirl Questihas described Craft as a 'European grid', and, while he's not wrong - Licu Rau is Italian and partner and co-founder Tao Quan is Scottish - the atmosphere on Craft is international, not eurocentric. Tao and many others don't speak Italian, so don't feel at a disadvantage if your Italian, or indeed your Scottish, is not perfect. Almost everyone wears a translator. And everyone is friendly. It's the Friendly World!
What will there be to do and see in Craft? Music, presentations, and art exhibitions are planned, but even now you can visit some cool stuff, like Tao and Licu's sim-sized ship on Agra.
Try the interactive game on sim White Light, that begins underwater and takes you through a series of fantastic towers (Look behind you for the HUD at the landing point!)
and of course the Museo del Metaverso and the artists' colony that is coming together around it.
See you in Craft!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Alpha Female

Forget the lameassitude of  Retrospectives, Predictions, and Top Ten Lists, and do something original.
Visit Little Rock.
It's new sim for a new year. NitroglycerinE artists Natsha Lemton and Loki Glas are working on a new environment. It's a sky-borne install which will be a big departure from the previous, oceanic incarnations of the Jardin des éphémères.
The full glory of the finished sim may not be ready yet, but you can still see plenty of Gallic glamour from this loving and creative couple; make an early visit to the ground level Gallery where Nat is putting out some of her best bits of 2D art. Among the 220 pieces that will eventually be on display, there are pictures - not portraits, exactly, but abstract 'histoires'  inspired by ten of the people who have been most influential in her Second Life. We went to look at the one of Loki.
It's warm, dark, calm, and attractive, like the man himself, yet, this isn't the one Nat likes best; that honour is reserved for this piece of gorgeous greenery.
 This is for Koad Sewell, whose beautiful sim Natsha admires very much. And the peacock theme? Is that a comment on Koad's personality? Both Loki and Nat laughed, and admitted he's something of a peacock, but in the best possible sense. The ten subjects haven't come to see the show yet, so some interesting reactions may await. Itinerant artist and herringmonger Scottius Polke, and cheetah aficionado Roy Scharfberg joined us to admire the pieces.
Roy Scharfberg: I love to come here and look at Nat's art. It clears my mind and inspires me.
Lemton's art is bright without being overwhelming; canvasses move through fresh and vibrant colours in a way that is both striking and harmonious. It's been a labour of love, and the works on show have taken Natsha about a year to put together, between making the alphas and the regular textures; that's a lot of time swallowed up in the process of making art, but Loki wouldn't want it any other way.
Loki Glas: We don't get a lot of time for playing and dancing in Second Life, but when I look at Nat's art, it is worth it!