Archive for artists

brooklyn is watching!

In popcha stands a tower. A tower from which visitors to the Jack the Pelican Presents gallery in Williamsburg, New York can watch all that is happening on the popcha land. I found out about this project because Juria Yoshikawa sent out invitations to go see the work he made for Brooklyn is watching, called Neon Graffiti Party, and to my surprise I found a lot more works there by other wellknown names such as Dancoyote Antonelli and Strawberry Holiday. The owners of the land call the project a ‘hybrid RL / SL art project’. What to make of it? I don’t know yet, in the tower lives an eye, an eye that visitors can use to look around but I have not yet seen the eye in action so far. Besides that, the land appears to be a bit messy at he moment. What I do like though is that it is another way of making known what is going on in sl artwise without the immediate need for reviewing or criticizing in the most traditional sense. The sign next to the entrance says it like this:

‘and you will be watched, thought about, and commented upon…whatever…leave ‘something’ ‘here’ and it will be chronicaled on our blog and talked about on the brooklyn is watching podcast or….possibly….ignored….or possibly….mocked.’

So even though the tower seemed somewhat deserted when I looked up I can only applaud a rl gallery making a serious attempt in showing sl and its artists and thus trying to monitor these developments.


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angrybeth shortbread

Last week I finally met miss Angrybeth Shortbread. I had already come across her name several times but I never actually got to talking to her. Angrybeth works in her rl as an artist and teacher at Leeds College of Art and Design and does in fact the same in sl. The reason for talking to her now was my visit to PLAY, an exhibition of several of her sound installations at The Collective, the island of the Leeds college. These installations were made between 2006 and 2008 and they have been put together on display to accompany a lecture she performed at FACT, the Liverpool based Foundation for Art and Creative Technology. This lecture was done for the People: Place: Presence event at FACT which was a one day mix of seminar and demos by a range of audio-visual artists. Angrybeth showed her sound pieces and talked about the properties and potential of a place like second life. What I like about her is how serious she is about virtual worlds, the development of (the use of) those worlds and how she wants her students to explore them. She teaches Design for Digital Media and she therefore considers that only logical but still, she told me the UK artworld is, like the Dutch one, very reluctant in embracing Second Life. However the Leeds college has their own island in sl where the students can work and experiment. Angrybeth showed me the work they have done for book publisher Penguin. With sl being hyped in Europe in 2007 a lot of commercial companies jumped in without understanding what sl really is and how to use it. Penguin, contrary to those companies, indicated that what they wanted was anything but a giant bookstore or office. So what they have now is a giant typewriter, a headphone and pda. The typewriter has a twitter account and whichever you decide to write with the machine shows on the twitter page. Sitting under the headphone gives you some special selected penguin podcasts and the pda gives you the penguin website. Angrybeth stressed that it was built more than a year ago, almost as if she was apologizing for the place not being completely up to date. I don’t think it mattered, nor does it matter if penguin decides to continue being in sl or not, the fact is that to me it was a nice example of how presence in a virtual world can be done using the characteristics of these worlds instead of just copying a rl office into sl. To me it showed vision, even if it was a one year old vision and considering how hard it can be building a stable thing in an environment that is still so much subject to change and development. Angrybeth: ‘Thats another problem for companies in sl, things break. Virtual world marketing has still a long way to mature’. But, back to Angrybeths sound installations. I thought they were pretty great. The different installations were called names like ‘stretch’, ‘push’,

‘collide’ and ‘sense’, this is a pic of ‘push’. What it does, see the blocks hanging above my head? You can change their size and thus decide on the tone you want to hear. Each block has the complete C scale and by clicking it you can hear all the notes. So, once you have set the tones you can go and push the thing on the ground which then makes a controller trigger the notes. So you can vary in the notes by clicking the blocks but you can add even more variation by pushing slower or faster, forward or backward. The ‘mechanics’ of the thing are actually a lot like those of an oldfashioned musicbox. And like Strawberry Holiday’s journey (see this post) this also can be used as a training practice where avi locomotion is

concerned. A nice video with a demonstration can be seen here. Anyway, next pic is my other favorite one called ‘stretch’. This one measures the size of your avi and converts it to a tone. It is not an installation that is best experienced on your own since hearing only one tone could easily become boring. So when Angrybeth joined me I could fully understand the working and fun of this installation. If you have 2, 4, 7 or 10 different avi’s with different heights it gives you 2, 4, 7 or 10 different tones. And then the note order is based on whoever is closest to the pole in the middle. So, thats nice right? But now think of the possibilities. In sl I can not only put on heels or take of my shoes, I can also grow and shrink! And so can my fellow avi’s! And then we can change position. Lots and lots of possibilities.

Angrybeth: ‘you need friends to play this, so I suppose it also encourages people to be social in a social online world’. This is me and Angrybeth being 1.35 and 2.0 meters long which gave us the high and low C. Short being the high one and tall being the lower one obviously. I must be honest, I was a bit reluctant changing the height of my avi and I don’t really understand why, since I do know how to work the sliders. I guess it has something to do with me getting a bit attached to my sl shape. Angrybeth: ‘what I like about this piece is seeing how many people WILL not alter their avatar’. And that brought us to one of the most important ingredients as to why this piece can not be done in rl. Angrybeth:’you can make sensors to calcute height, but I can’t grow instantly, and also you’re in the Netherlands, I’m in UK. Yet it feels like we’re interacting within the same space.’ She couldn’t be more right. Exactly that last point made me almost

forget about the rl impossibilities and asking the fairly stupid question why this work could not be done in rl. Last one I want to show here is ‘sense’. What this does is it takes the unique key of your avi, which is called a UUID and can be considered the equivalent of our rl DNA I guess. Angrybeth: ‘This unique number is translated into a 16 note scale and so these data are transposed from numbers to a phrase of music which is unique to your avi. That phrase is then stored in a bank of the last 50 people that visited the installation. So what you hear is in fact the traffic of the place.’ So, all and all I was pretty impressed with Angrybeth’s work and really enjoyed the few hours I spent with her talking about her work which I think is really great. Unfortunately the PLAY exhibition has only been up for the month of april but mostly everything can be found on the Pencil Factory, which is Angrybeths gallery, or as she prefers to call it, her sketchbook.

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getting physical

edo’s workshop 1

This was fun, physics class by edo. Boy, why do I still have to learn so much? Needless to say, physics never was my best subject in school. Quoting my high school teacher: ‘she doesn’t understand and she never will’. Can you believe that man? I say he just wasn’t ambitious enough to teach me! Anyway, I don’t think one half hour on the behaviour of wooden balls will cut it so I hereby claim my right to the rest of the lessons.

edo’s workshop 2

I always like being in edo’s workshop but this time he turned the whole darn thing into a swimming pool. He could have warned me! Oh well, besides learning about the existance (yes, I really am that bad) of a physics engine I also learned another interesting thing. I had been wondering quite some time now about the total lack of privacy in our sl profiles when it comes to joining groups. Those group lists can contain a lot of information you really don’t feel like sharing. But thanks to edo’s playing soccer with his wooden boxes I discovered the possibility of hiding your groups. Aha! This instantly answered a lot of questions. Now I just have to think of a group that would be worth hiding.

edo’s workshop 3

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more spots & dots


So, last week I went to the performance seeing spots, being dots by Juria Yoshikawa and Nnoiz Papp. Allthough visitors were asked to participate in the performance I didn’t do so because I couldn’t be there for the whole performance. I realize that because of that I have not experienced the work as I should have but at least I saw half of it. The first time I saw work by Juria was in june 2007 when he was ‘doing’ the white cube gallery with his work called 4. For this work, being a collaboration between Juria and four composers, he gave each composer a number (being 1, 2, 3 or 4) and asked them to create soundscapes based on that number. Juria himself ‘took on the challenge of using the art space itself as the raw material of the sculpture. As with light, sound, motion and time – the art space is material for the creator‘ as he wrote it on his website. The whole work/exhibition lasted for 4 weeks and every week Juria changed the gallery completely. In all four episodes Juria integrated us in the work, using all aforementioned ingredients. In the first week for instance: ‘Each panel contains a unique voice audio sample and visual text that is activated when viewers walk through each panel‘. This was one of the first sl art works I experienced, and can be considered an eye opener to me. In most of Juria’s works I have seen since, I recognized the same ingredients. His use of colours, sound, movement and the integration of the visitors in the work. All and all I can say that to me Juria has a pretty distinct signature to his work. However, lately I have been wondering if it would be possible to actually develop one’s work in sl. What I mean by that is that a lot of, what we now consider, great artists have earned that status because of the radical changes they made in their own work and in arthistory in general, no? So here I witness sl artists at work and I consider this kind of art, a radical movement in itself. Juria describes it as follows:

‘Rather than bringing in rl artwork, I am compelled to use mainly the elements that make up Second Life itself. Typically, my virtual artwork mixes kinetic objects, animated texture, text, ambient noise and av animations. I inevitably choose scales larger than conventional gallery work since I’m interested in people experiencing the work in a physical way – flying through them, riding on them and socializing within the art. To me virtual art is about freeing oneself up to create in ways impossible in real life.’

New materials, new techniques, a new way of experiencing art. It’s all new. But will the possibilities be endless? Or will we end up with more of the same? In sl that is. I hope not. In light of these thoughts I was very happy with the invite for the new performance and, allthough not everyone may agree, with the things that happened afterwards. The day after I was asked if I thought Juria and Nnoiz’s performance was too much like Dancoyote Antonelli’s ZeroGskydancers show. I had to think about that for a while. Since there were indeed similarities, there also were essential differences. Whereas the skydancers performance was a more ‘classic’ style show with an audience, in the spots & dots performance the audience was in fact part of it. Whereas the skydancers were moving according to a well prepared choreography based on a storyline, the spots & dots were of a more improvised character. Where in fact the instructions were shouted by Juria in general chat, in the skydancers performance this was, very theaterlike, done behind the scenes. I don’t think that I have been looking at a case of plagiarism. To me that would sound like one photographer telling the other he is being a copycat because he also uses a camera. Or a painter telling the same to another painter because he is using canvas and a brush. But I’m not sure. Hence my questions about development in sl art. I guess my real question is, what is in fact the newness. Is it the genre (a term used by Juria) in total, or do we already have to look at the differences in language (a term used by DC). Whichever one it turns out to be, the fact is that as in RL, artists are also being inspired by other artists. And sl art is, even if to us it feels like a big thing, still a small niche. I for one am really curious to find out how long we will be able to experience newness in sl. The more detailed discussion on the works by Juria and Dancoyote Antonelli can be read here. A video made by Evo Szuyuan on the performance can be seen here.

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seeing spots, being dots

Today I received the following invitation for a new performance at Diabolus by Juria Yoshikawa and Nnoiz Papp:

‘Seeing Spots, Being Dots (Dance of Mayhem Plus Homogeneity)
Juria Yoshikawa: Kinetic environment and participatory performance
Nnoiz Papp: Musical composition and musical performance
Olga Wunderlich: Curator in rl and sl

Let us suppose that we’re all just a temporary mishmash of dots on a screen. All of our energy, personality and uniqueness is just a collection of bouncing color dots creating seemingly meaningful patterns we call a virtual world. Zoom in and you are a sea of dots with no form. Zoom back and you’re just a spot on the map. In celebration of all of our dottiness and spottiness, virtual installation artist Juria Yoshikawa will join up with composer-artist Nnoiz Papp to perform “Seeing Spots, Being Dots” at Diabolus Island as part of the current art show CARP3. The performance will be simultaneously shown at  the Scala in Friedrichstr. 112A as a part of the Directors Lounge Festival in Berlin. Participation welcome: The “dance” is open to all attendees of the virtual event. People will receive a dot costume and large kinetic sculptures to wear to take part in this improvised performance. If you would like to participate, please IM Juria Yoshikawa by 2/13 and she will give you the costume, sculptures and event instructions.’

Time schedule:

In SL: 02/15, 9:15am slt, part of the Carp3 show, Diabolus Art Space

In RL: 02/15, 6:15pm, part of the Directors Lounge Festival in Berlin Scala in Friedrichstr. 112A Berlin-Mitte

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bridges again

carp3 caravaggio bonetto

In one of the reports of the in-world discussions about sl economy on the mixedrealities blog, I read how someone explained that sl economy cannot be compared to real life economy since the only actual product in sl is creativity. I totally agree. Yes, even for plotting a scam one would actually need some amount of creativity. And in my experience I see more and more emphasis on this in sl. A lot of the big corporate and commercial companies that wanted to be ‘in sl’ when it was all hyped are saying their goodbyes now and I understand why. It is because they have not taken the time to figure out what sl is really about and made a mistake thinking that only being in sl would bring them more success and more customers. It does not work that way. People have sl avi’s for different reasons obviously, but I think they always involve words such as wonder, escape, inspiration, internet development and the future. And for me these words do not come to mind when dealing with RL banking issues for instance. What does come to mind however is that it comes as no surprise that so many artists are active in sl, or any other virtual world. When it comes to big changes in our world artists have always been there. So they are here, obviously. To explore, to work with it, research it, to develop. Recently I met a student from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. He is working on the land his school uses for their students. Thats what I like, RL art institutions asking their students to work in and explore the possibilities of sl. This land can be found here. And a few days before I met him I ended up in Diabolus. A gallery space where several artists are working, among which Juria Yoshikawa, Josina Burgess, Velazquez Bonetto and Caravaggio Bonetto. All RL artists from different parts of the world. At the moment they have Carp3 going on, a cybernetic art research project as the sign in the gallery says. Reading one of the artists profiles I found out that some of these artists are working with a curator from a rl museum in denmark on a rl exhibition on cybernetic art. I contacted this curator and asked her about her plans, I had seen her name around a few times already but never actually got to talking to her. This is what she answered:

I am working on an idea for an exhibition that interacts with SL…saw the one today at Statens Museum…Tagging Art..not interesting, just two big interaction’

So, apparently the Statens Museum in Denmark already gave some attention to sl art with this tagging art exhibition. She continued:

All there is in the exhibition is two giant computer screens and a box that jumps if you click on it in sl. In RL you must be able to feel you are in sl’

So, as far as I’m concerned she mentioned one of the essential ingredients to make a rl exhibition on sl art a good one. Interaction. I must say, I can’t wait to hear more about this project and see how it will develop.

Above pic: a work by Caravaggio Bonetto at Diabolus.

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up! up! up! we go!

Due to another one of the i(mpossible) i(n) r(eal) l(ife) landmarks I received, I met miss strawberry holiday and her (as she calls it) lovely stalker miss wendyofneverland fussbudget. I just landed right in the middle of a garden where strawberry was still working on a new project. Apparently they already had a lot of visiters for this new work that wasn’t even finished yet. However, they took me to another one of strawberry’s works, an installation called on their journeys which was at the NMC land. A journey for sure. Upwards. I didn’t realize it at first but the whole thing is actually a walk upwards. The path in itself is pretty clear but your journey gets easily distracted by all the things happening to you while underway. Circled platforms changing colour while walking around on them, clocks that suddenly appear, steps that seem missing (miss fussbudget: ‘have faith’), round spheres that suddenly pop up and surround you and all other kinds of surprises that respond to your presence. The notecard says:

‘Everything in this build is interactive. There are sounds, particles, lights, and textures that change and interact with your avatar. But they’re all based on your avatars location. If you’re not on the path, you’ll miss the interactive parts!’

on their journeys

When I started my journey I did stay on the path but didn’t immediately realize where I was heading, and only when I zoomed out with my camera I saw the complete thing…oh, so much more steps to go. Hang in there vi, just a few more. I would advise newbies to visit this installation before doing anything else in sl since it’s a major lesson in walking. I actually fell off a few times myself (notecard:’It’s OKAY to fall off! Every journey has it’s setbacks!). Especially the one time where I almost reached the top was quite charming. Anyway, the ‘upstairs’ is supposed to resemble a room, in a city, strawberry’s room. As she said it: the room of a confident woman in her element. To me the beginning and the end were a little bit too illustrative to my taste but the journey itself I thought was pretty well done. I actually felt tired and content when I finally reached the top.

And that same feeling happened to me again when I witnessed one of the 444 prims performances done by eifachfilm vacirca. I didn’t really know what to expect, I mean rezzing 444 prims? So I sat down at one of the grandstands and eifachfilm started. one box, two boxes, three boxes. I lost count then and there. This was going pretty fast, and eifachfilm was building a tower. Clicking the boxes gave us bible sentences from genesis 11, the story of the tower of babel. So my screen filled with coloured boxes and bible texts I tried to keep up with eifachfilms building speed by clicking the top boxes. This was hard work too and I think that already halfway I started asking myself how much longer…but we weren’t there yet. In fact eifachfilm took the tower and us right through one of juria yoshikawa’s works up in the sky. The whole performance lasted about an hour and it actually felt like a relief when eifachfilm planted the last box.

444 prims

I think this is what I liked about both works the most, how it actually really integrated me, the effect it had on me.

A film of the 444 prims performance can be seen here.

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