Sunday, January 29, 2012

What Price Treasure

I don't think anyone in SL deserves a free ride, it's not OpenSim dammit.
Art in Second Life has always been run on a dodgy economic model (just like art in RL) -  exactly the opposite system to that of consumer goods. The more complex and well crafted the hair, clothes, or animation, the more you expect to pay for them. I'm not even going to say the word 'shoes'. In SL, the least able artists are often the ones making money while the really big talents don't make a bean from their work.
Asking money for yourself because you think you're better than everyone else is lame, and makes people respect you less. However one cause that really seems worthwhile is  PiRats which is a Metaversal Treasure. Newbab, Merlina and their whole team work really hard, not to promote their own egos, but to encourage new ideas, new creative spirits. LL is not going to give them free land, and they'd be fools to join the LEA, because (in case it hasn't dawned on you yet) one fine day the Lab is going to pull the plug on that institution and everyone who's counted on it is going to find themselves high and dry.
What price independent art in SL then? Give a little to Pirats. Everyone can afford to give something, and every little will help. I believe the time will come when all the really good art will be in Open Sim, but that will only work when the audience is there too. For now, places like PiRats are the best hope for consistent independent art. True, it's a place that's occasionally nuts in a Gallic way, and is gifted with ferocious lag and art of wildly uneven quality, but the genuine community spirit, where even a beginner gets a look in, should be precious to us all.
Some of the contribution suggestions PiRats Appeal page seem crazy high, but don't let that put you off.  You can use your real life name Paypal and have the contribution show up under your SL name. I just gave them ten bucks, which is two lattes; perhaps you can do the same. Click here, and help PiRats survive.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Paris when it prickles

Art in Second Life may be undergoing some stress testing these days - no money means no art sims, unless you want to be swallowed alive by LEA, it seems. But never fear! Maya Paris is here to cheer and inspire us all to be more tickled pink and jazzy in our January outlook.
 I've been transatlanticking this week, which has kept me busy, but not too busy to see this wonderfully dark and musical exhibit - with lots of freebies, of course, and costumes. What would a Paris build be without them?
 Snowbody Cortes took these lovely pictures.
Unlike good hair and good shoes, most top-flight art in SL is free. That doesn't mean you shouldn't help pay for it. There are lots of ways you can contribute to artists - Maya, for example, supports her work by selling beautiful fans - so show the Linden love to artists, as you do to the Musicians, dressmakers and cobblers all. It's time we all paid to play, don't you think?
Le cactus is the Santa Barbara College venue for Maya's new work, but don't miss the Casino de Paris mini-version, on Virtual Montmartre, one of the richest sims in the Life. (Nish Mip's umbrella shop is there!)
You don't have to throw a banana on your head but if you did, just this once, don't you think it might be a laugh?
Looks like Wizzy 's having fun...
Turn up the volume,and get dancing. The music of Josephine Baker and Valaida Snow is guaranteed to delight, and you can't put your back out in vitrual worlds - so just let go. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

In the loop

Lepidopterous largeness in the form of Under The Sky opened to much fanfare yesterday night on LEA17 .
The opening was organized by Zachh Cale for Japanese artist, Yooma Mayo, and featured Skye Galaxy which was pleasing from a punning point of view, even if his music always conjures the sensation of an imminent arrival at Lobby Level.
People like ants and ants vastly bigger than the people doing the usual loop-the-loop of Being There At An Event. There was considerable lag, but not the fault of the public, as I discovered today, when the sim was empty.
Above the piano party, it was all paleness and detail-oriented prettiness.
 In SL, flowers and butterflies have been done and done and done, (often in exquisite nanoprims, which is way harder to accomplish than this outsize extravaganza) and whole sim builds are now commonplace, so while it's a charming build, I was soon feeling antsy, and ready for a return visit to Wizard Gynoid's Klein Bottle.
Wizard Gynoid has loved Escher since High School. His pictures have been recreated in SL many times; Wizzy herself made a version of his Waterfall, and Stars, which you can still see at Primtings next to Solkide Auer's version of Relativity. - and yes, Primtings is still there. Guess everything is relative, after all.
The build at the Education Center on  sim Clive  borrows from Escher's Mobius ring, but conflates it with Felix Klein's concept of a 'bottle' imagined as two Mobius strips sewn together
It's a much-revisited concept, but maybe the paradox that most speaks to our virtual lives. We see and often feel close to other avatars and their remote controllers, and yet everyone's on their own endless loop, essentially separated from all the other ants. Permanent parallelism influences our sympathies and reactions in ways that the head-on collision of the real world would never permit. And vice versa.
Wizard Gynoid: Soon you'll be able to ride the ants. This way each one will march around their own little Mobius strip. By definition, the Klein bottle has no "inside" or "outside", so, if we were to walk around it, we would end up on the other side of it, then back on this side again. About a month ago, Miso Susanowa made an awesome video of my build - I love it!

Wizard Gynoid: When I was in high school, I saw Eacher's black light posters. I heard you could take drugs and travel into the posters. I tried to but was never able to! Here I can make 3D copies of his paintings, and fly into them - a dream finally comes true. Escher had mathematician friends who influenced him a lot. Math and geometry inspired him, particularly the unexplained paradoxes the things that make your head hurt to think about! I'm very thankful to Escher, and sometimes I think I'm channeling him. He would have a ball in SL.
There's more to see at Clive. Compare Wizzy's studio on the ground with RL photos, and you'll see that it is a lot like Escher's office, with the same toys and concepts floating around.
Wizard Gynoid: My things are an interpretation using the tools I have available here. The artist is always defined (notice, not  "limited") by the tools they have. Lately we've been talking about moving some of our stuff onto 3D webpages using Unity3D, so people could view the works without having to log in to SL or Open Sim. I want to put the Klein bottle on a 3D web page for the world to see!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Here be dragons

  It's an accepted paradox that Travel writing is best done by people who don't know much about their subject. Oh sure, they get the names of the major attractions right, and explain the money and describe that nice little souk where few tourists ever go. But the better you get to know a country or culture, the more you find yourself hesitating, qualifying your description of it. The ideal travel writer breezes in, gets an idea and has the gall to share it, unashamed of their status as an outsider. Take the Orient - the name itself betrays a point of view: it's only 'East' or even 'Far East' from a European perspective. Even the seasoned visitor, with both work and leisure experience in Asia, finds themselves hard put to give more than a glimpse of  what is a vast and ever-changing enigma. Yet that glimpse can be hugely entertaining.
 Part of the UWA Sky Series, Between Orient and Occident is a three part installation that expounds on Central European (as opposed to the Anglo-American, TV and film based) perceptions of Asia. It's well worth exploring, as much for what it tells us about what the east is "like" as what it tells us about the three artists Asmita Duranjaya, ChapTer Kronfeld and Louly Loon. Louly wasn't able to be with us, on the day, but her art is so cool, she's bound to have a whole post to herself before long.
The visit starts at a pyramid, where Magic Doors give access to each section of the build.
ChapTer Kronfeld's take on the orient is dark, masculine, intuitive. He embraces the unknowingness of the Westerner, presented with the concept of the East.
A sense of oppressive uncertainty plays against luminous panels, points of reference that turn out to be phantom prims that you're meant to walk to, and then through. It's a confusing and almost maddeningly disorienting place. ChapTer led the way through passages. Following his strong, capable avatar made it feel a lot safer, but in the end, it was time to step alone into the darkness.
ChapTer Kronfeld: It is my strong way to find the theme of Orient.  The last few meters you must go alone, Thirza - your destination is to go to the light. You will find it's a good feeling in the stomach!
The reward fo all that uncertainty is a powerful open space, a vast contrasting web of lines that suggest skyscrapers, lines of communication, bloodlines, and so much more.
ChapTer Kronfeld: Here you can walk into the spider's web...
ChapTer's intensely masculine build is beautifully contrasted by Louly Loon's build, which takes its inspiration from the Italian opera Madama Butterfly. Three delicate sets follow the three acts of the opera. The theatrical effect exactly captures the stylized presentation of Japanese stereotypes in Puccini's opera.
This is not Japan, it is a dream of Japan; a dream of a world of death and love, loss and honour that cannot be said to no longer exist, since it was always a fiction built of indestructible truths outside the realms of the real. Pure feeling. Pure beauty.
Asmita Duranjaya is a tireless creator and performer in SL, and it comes as no surprise that her build is both didactic and energetic. Don't miss the word game she has set up to help visitors get the most out of the educational side of the install - there's a very cute gift up for grabs if you complete the puzzle and find the secret room!
Analyzing five aspects of the Orient, Asmita gets her audience thinking about the sensations of the physical world, and the way it is changing; the intersection of different languages and cultures, and the healing power of spirituality. Years of experience, as well as five months of discussion, research and building have gone into this install, and it shows.
The Tale Tower is particularly charming; take a moment to read the storybooks and be a part of the picture while you read!.
Striking also Urban Standardization a room full of shapes and noise that captures the trope of eastern cities as wildly crowded and increasingly samey.
Asmita Duranjaya: The sound is very important it is about the standardization of metropolitan centers - a blending of the appearance of Orient and Occident. Everywhere you look you see the same brands. there is a loss of individual shape but has also its own aesthetics. Each has its own beauty. That is the urban rhythm - its own true culture, or rather, a melting pot, a hybrid or transculture.
Move around the build to enjoy sensations of colour and shape, healing and meditation. It's easy to see why visitors have been known to spend hours in pursuit of the sights and sensations of the build.
Congratulations to Asmita and her team - including the talented Virtual Instrument Players, who performed for the Grand Opening - for providing a wonderful window onto their world.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

In the pink: Fuschia Nightfire

She says it's because she gets bored easily, but the truth is, it's because she's good. Fuschia Nightfire turns her hand to machinima and is witty, to installation art and is eloquent, to painting and is brilliant.
virtual paradox? Nina Camplin and Fuschia Nightfire
Nina Camplin became Fuschia Nightfire to 'find a new husband' - that's the story she tells: tired of being a WoW widow, she saw a news report about people finding new love in Second Life, and let RL hubby know she was going to see about getting a new man, virtually. The whole thing was a joke, and she thought she'd get bored and stop coming in after a while. None of that never happened. Four years on, Nina and her husband are still happily together, on separate computers but at the same big desk, and in the meantime Fuschia (that was the colour of her hair at the time) has developed an inworld portfolio to rival the one she has in the real world. Recently she's made a avatar for her 'real self' in a bid to avoid confusion, as she brings her SL and RL audiences together at a number of venues, like Vision of Beauty Art Complex.
Fuschia Nightfire: These are some RL paintings taken from SL scenes.I made a NinaCamplin Resident avatar for showing my RL painting. It's strange, but I could never quite get used to showing my RL paintings under a different name. I gave a talk a while back to a RL art group and they found the pseudonym thing very confusing, so I made a decision to show all my SL art under 'Fuschia Nightfire'. Fuschia is my 'trademark avatar'; I'm doing a photo project, logging my changing avatar for a year. I'll show the rest of my art with my real name.
At Lana Simondson's LA Gallery of Fine Arts, Fuschia spoke about her influences, and about her early days in Second Life. It was a while before she came across art communities - in part because she wasn't looking for them; when she did, there seemed to be lots of empty and uninspiring galleries. The community has come a long way since those days, and she loves the opportunities for collaboration and meeting with both the public and other artists. The feeling is mutual.
Lana Simondsen: Her work is stunning, graceful and full of life and her heart. Her approach is totally from her sense of fun and creativity.
That's more than evident in her contribution to the Pop Art show at Vista Hermosa Art Center shown here.
Nina/Fuschia has been painting all her life, and at home in the South of England she is a professional artist specializing in murals and animal portraits. The joy of Second Life is that, with a simple TP, you can see many of her murals just as they're meant to be viewed - full size, up close and personal to your avatar.
Fuschia Nightfire: This was done at the end of a lady's back garden; her husband was an artist, and this has lots of elements taken from his paintings.

Can't get enough of these cows!
I wondered what it means to an artist to be able to accomplish pieces in such different styles, 'to order'.
Fuschia Nightfire: It's very strange how that happened. My work was getting very expressionist, and I decided to go back to university to do a Fine Art degree when I was 40 - my mid life crisis! When I came out of that degree, I had gotten really into making photo realistic work which I guess had a lot to do with my trompe l'oeil murals.
Fuschia's trompe-l'oeil murals show the breadth of her ability to manipulate lighting and perspective in 2D art, and it's easy to see how her illusionistic bent would lead her to making 3D installations and dioramas. The technical aspects of building in Second Life didn't come easily. When she first started showing her work it took ages just to learn how to upload paintings and get them onto prims. Now she makes it all - even wearable art!
Fuschia Nightfire: In the real world, I have done a bit of sculpture; I learnt how to weld and did some metal sculptures a few years ago. In SL, I never thought I would have advanced in my building skills as much as I have. My next thing is mesh, I am dying to get started on that! I could never really get on with making sculpties. I can make all sorts of different blobs, but nothing more advanced than that. I often use full perm sculpties, since sometimes it's better to make use of ready made stuff, it's quicker than starting from scratch. When I first came on, the first artist who really amazed me was Feathers Boa with her avatar reactive pieces - I loved her work. Scripting is something I can never get my head around, so I sometimes commission scripts, but mostly I just pick up freebie ones and fiddle about with them.
The 'fiddling' works. Scripted landscapes (pictured here at a well-curated show on Artina) display her flair for both design and variety. Some cycle through night and day, while others, like the one in the foreground, featuring flowers by Fuschia's close and much-missed friend Sabrinaa Nightfire, bathe the viewer in a luminous, almost perfumed cloud of petals.
What's up next? For Nina in Real Life, it's more murals, and more time dedicated to getting her work out there. She confesses that a RL artist has to do way more legwork to get known and to get commissions - SL makes it all very easy by putting such things at the tips of our fingers. It's time to get down to some serious business! And for Fuschia, in SL? At the end of January she takes over at Metales, spreading her wings in a sim-wide build.

Fuschia Nightfire: MetaLES owners Romy and Ux invited me after seeing my zebras at UWA, so i wanted to do something around that. I decided to go with the theme from the title of the piece : 'Not everything is plain black and white'.
You can expect a build in many shades of grey, but ultimately, it will be Fuschia all over.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pay / Play

This blog isn't usually a soapbox, but something should be said. I can empathize more than most with Bryn's situation, but I can't agree with her reaction.
About three years ago, someone thought me 'worthy' of having my own land and left me two lovely parcels with a total of just over six thousand prims. It was a very kind gesture and I had a lot of fun making things, and playing in the huge castle at Evora that some of you may have seen in this blog.
 After a while, I realized that no tier was being paid. Not being in a position to take on that responsibility, I just quietly accepted the status quo, and enjoyed my space.
However, all good things come to an end, and a couple of weeks ago a nice man from LL got in touch to say that it was pay up or leave time.
I chose to leave; all my building is done in opensim now anyway, and it's easy enough to find a Home nook in SL for little or nothing. Sad, not to be able to display the lovely art that kind and talented friends have presented me with over the years, but I'll survive.
All of us think we are a special case. But we're  really not. It's sad that Immersiva is gone, but it's sad that Sextan Shepherd's Nemo build, or Luctesa, or hundreds - thousands - of builds (dare I say it?) even better  than Immersiva are gone. To 'make a case' for being given free land, as Bryn has on her blog, is something all artists could do.  To make a special case for one or two elite individuals would indeed set an unreasonable precedent.
For a long time, the received wisdom in art circles has been that Bryn is LL's poster-child for 3D art, (omg someone say 'Shanghai') and one can't blame her for being saddened by the loss of her space and perhaps her perception as a being set above and apart from the rest of SL's artists. But you can't fault LL for informing the land owner, not  tenants, no matter how famous, when they're going to take land back. And if the registered landowner stopped paying, then Bryn should expect to stop playing - that's the system.
The Lab is in the business of making money, not building a community - that's our choice, we volunteer our time and talent, coming inworld to 'waste' our time making things. Looking back over the four years of this blog, and the weeks of unpaid work that has gone into it, could I rant against Blogspot if it disappeared tomorrow? Not if I want to be taken seriously. In the transient ocean of online creativity, every adventure is a gamble, and not all ships survive.
I have always been wary of putting too much faith in LL's generosity - I'm talking about the LEA - for this very reason: the Lab giveth and the Lab taketh away - and they have every right to do so.
 If you put all your creative eggs in that basket you may live to regret it.