Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Imogen and the pigeons - machinima

 Last year I received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council to create a machinima, among other things, for Imogen and the pigeons from which the Singularity of Kumiko is the prequel.  I would like to thank Jenna Stillman and Loreen Legion for lending their talents in voice and for Loreen, the ambient music score.  Many experienced the Singularity of Kumiko and were surprised at the ending which showed Kumiko to be the daughter of Imogen.  The story of what happened to Kumiko describes the events which broke Imogen, placing her within the institution.  Many others no doubt had no idea who Imogen was, if that was you and you would like to know how she connected to the Singularity of Kumiko then I have listed a series of blog posts I had done explaining the story for Imogen and the pigeons and all its little parts.  Some posts explain rooms and compositional elements
flying chair
while others just post poems and such.

Poem rooms

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bryn Oh art Calendar

Bryn Oh Calendar 2015
A while ago I was contacted by Art Blue in order to create a bunch of Bryn Oh Calendars featuring
my art work.  Jami Mills, Ziki Questi and Art created a really beautiful calendar and I have just received 10 in the mail.  Art produced the calendar for a specific purpose, hundreds were sent out to various museums and galleries across the United States and Europe with a simple message for the curators.  I will post it below.

Immersive Digital Art
Bryn Oh

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Digital art might not fit into any particular category of your institution just now, nor might it be a key target of your collection, but in a few years it might be different.  40 years ago when I was in high school, I made my first steps into this field, so I know the history.  I had only  a computer driven pencil, a plotter as it is now called.  Now we live in the Metaverse - "just in a few years' time we will all meet there", says George Bloom, director at CBS Digital.

Enjoy this first calendar of Bryn Oh, a virtual artist and pioneer in this field.  Please store it; keep it in your archives for the future.  That's all we are asking.  Many works that artists created with computers 40, 50, 60 years ago are now lost, and few have been preserved well enough to present to the public.

We offer you the opportunity to download the prints as raw screenshots [png files] in a 6,016 x 6,016 pixel format for exhibition purposes.  Send us an email with a full imprint and I would be happy to send you the links to download.  You may print and reproduce them after receiving a confirmation from our foundation.  There are no costs involved; we simply wish to ensure they are presented with the highest quality.

Jami Mills, editor of rez magazine, will be happy to send you some text for publication that is suited to the prints.

Yours sincerly
Reiner Schneeberger
Director Stiftung Kunstinformatik

Daughter of gears oil painting 30x40

Art has proved to be quite the patron as he has also purchased both my Daughter of Gears oil painting and "Mask" an oil painting I did of my avatar.

     I have now 9 calendars which I was not sure what do with.  I have decided to sell them as a way to create income to help pay tier for my virtual region Immersiva.  To be upfront, it costs me $300 USD a month to keep Immersiva and the money raised would go exclusively towards paying tier and whatever costs are associated with mailing out the calendar.  So if you have enjoyed my work over the years and would like something physical to remember it by, would
Mask oil painting 30x40
like to be a patron or simply to donate then feel free to contact me for a calendar.  You are welcome to donate as much as you like naturally, but a minimum of $100 USD is fine for the calendar in lindens, paypal or whatever.  I can also sign it, just let me know if you would like that.

I would like to thank Art Blue, Jami Mills and Ziki questi among others for their selfless and generous desire to preserve my artwork.  It is a great deal of time and effort not to mention expense to create these calendars and they do so because they feel the art created in virtual environments are important and worth preserving.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Video games as contemporary art - Endless Forest

     A while ago I discovered Tale of Tales a small company or studio run by Auriea Harvey and MichaĆ«l Samyn out of Belgium.  Together they create unique ways to think about experiences that we would classify as video games.  The first one I discovered, quite by accident, and explored with my friend ColeMarie Soleil was called Endless Forest.   In a previous post I talked about how I have been trying out video games that get ratings of around 90% or so to see why they are so popular, Endless Forest didn't get rated by anyone and is the bane of teenage boys from what I can see online.  Despite this I quite like the idea of it.  Some video games I have come to see as contemporary works of art whose focus is on interaction, immersion and usually narrative.  Many of the best ones I have come across have been open ended too.. meaning that you can pretty much go wherever you wish without following a linear path as we are accustomed to do in cinema and other forms of art.  In the good experiences we are active participants rather than passive observers, and that, as you already know if you follow my blog, is the type of art experiences I attempt to create in the virtual world of Second Life.
     The vast majority of video games I come across involve some type of violence and most try to include at least one exploding head.  The developers tend to follow a well trodden successful path for the majority of players, so when I see a new way of thinking it always intrigues me.  It is a brave thing to take a chance on something which completely goes against the current trends of success.  That is what Tale of Tales tends to do with most of their work.  In endless forest there is no goal.  You arrive to a forest as a baby deer or foal.  Above your head is a unique glowing symbol which is you, and what others recognize you by.  You will come across other deer and will realize quite quickly that there is no way to communicate with them.  There is no typing out text to one another but instead you have a variety of ways to communicate with
body language.  Shake your head, rear up onto your back legs and so on.  It is a community embracing the absence of normal communication, and then what happens in that environment.  It was interesting to me how simplified the language became and how simplistic the pleasures became.  From wandering around to comfortably laying close to another deer.  I remember over time a little doe began to follow me around and get genuinely excited when we would bump into each other in the forest.  It was both bizarre and adorable at once.
   Now I am not suggesting this is a game you would play for months on end, but rather an experience to have, to think about, then move on from.  Many would no doubt find it stupid, boring and odd yet I do quite enjoy odd so that is why I am including it.  It is a uniquely strange and beautiful experience at a vastly slower pace than a large game developer would dare attempt and I respect them for thinking of then creating it.  It is original as well as a different way to use the medium, so if you would also like to try it then you can download it here.  The Endless Forest

Monday, December 22, 2014

New Years goals for me and Mr Linden.

Lobby Cam test
     My new years resolution is to finish a multitude of projects that are hanging over me like some
morbidly obese vulture desperately trying to stay airborne.  So here they are for those of you who like to know what I am up to.  I have
to finish up a machinima for Imogen and the Pigeons as per an Ontario Arts Council grant, I have a new an exciting project at the Jewish Museum in Berlin which will also be a hybrid event shown in SL.  I am slowly building the new story for Immersiva called Lobby Camera.  I am creating a book for Imogen and the Pigeons as well as The Singularity of Kumiko.  I am painting an oil painting for use in the new build Lobby Camera.  Finally I am working on a massive project which I have signed a non disclosure agreement for but it relates to PTSD.  I really want to talk about that one but not sure when I can.  Oh yes I also want to create a project using the Occulus Rift combined with the Stem system.  So getting all that done and hopefully not adding too much more is my goal right now.  What I would really like to do is catch that low flying Vulture and make a pie out of him.
Lobby Cam test
    This is a few things I think Linden Lab should do.  First they should fix the TOS or explain in detail why they need it worded the way they have it.  I personally don't care if they are part owners of my work if they simply need a blanket  ownership of content to allow them to transfer or test transferring our content to the new SL2.0.  I think it has been far more damaging to them to leave it up to the community to guess what their intentions are.  Linden Lab should also grant us the ability to customize the day cycle for windlights.  Let us slowly merge between a half dozen windlights.  Linden Lab need to devise a method for people to effectively promote their events.  Currently there is the destination guide which is ok but many residents are unaware of or uninterested in keeping track.  Currently most events seem to be promoted by residents in their own groups which have several hundred members.  There should be promotional groups with 100,000 members.  Perhaps ask new users a few questions on what interests them when they join and then automatically give them a handful of groups which they can delete later if they want to.  A new user could get a notice one hour for live music, the next for an art exhibit opening, the next for a game of some sort and so on.  It gives them things to do and ensures that there are others around when they arrive to socialize with.  Linden Lab need to reduce tier and then open
mystery build!
up second life to the hypergrid.  They need to focus on making money from marketplace where they take a percentage off of clothing and furnishing the hypergrid rather than just SL.  It would be painful to start, but hopefully SL2.0 will arrive and have additional revenue in some form to make up the difference lost by tier.  Regions are dropping steadily so do it now while you can still get the news out to the population base which is also declining.  Create perks for land owners such as reducing monthly tier after owning land for a year.  So lets say the new tier cost were $100 a month, if you keep the land a year then they chop off $20.  Then keep it another year and it drops another $20 and so on until it reaches a floor of say $40.  It is more difficult for people to let a sim go if they have had it for years and are getting a deal.  Make it non transferable perhaps.  Ok these are a few things off the top of my head feel free to add more suggestions in the comments about things Linden Lab should try.  Oh and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2014

An interview with Cutea Benelli and Blotto Epsilon

Cutea Benelli and Blotto Epsilon

     I remember seeing the Bogon Flux at Burning Life years ago and thinking how wonderful it was, how it really used the unique properties of a virtual space successfully.  Then they created the Petrovsky Flux (essentially an updated version of the Bogon) which is still one of my favorite creations which you can see here
     Cutea and Blotto are two playful minds and their personalities, in themselves, perhaps explain how their quirky artworks were ever devised in the first place. The idea for these interviews are for the reader to see who some of my favorite artists are as people, their attitudes, beliefs, interests and hopefully some unexpected revelations.  Hope you enjoy it.
Bryn Oh: Where are you from?  And who are the most renowned artists (not necessarily best) from your country in your opinion?

Cutea Benelli: I’m from Germany, but to be honest I’ve never really looked at where an artist comes from. If you ask specifically for German artists...i like a lot of earlier 20th century things.
Gerhard Richter

If you’re asking for more recent I suppose Gerhard Richter is among the best-known, internationally. The last show i went to - it’s been a while - was a Sasha Waltz retrospective. It was particularly interesting to me as it seemed to oscillate between installation and performance, with live dancers interacting with and completing the art spaces.

Blotto Epsilon:  from east coast U.S., specifically the state that futurama likes to make fun of. i’m honestly drawing blank on renowned U.S. artists, probably because they’re the ones i mostly ignore...i’m generally oblivious to the nationality of artists i respect.

Sasha Waltz
Bryn Oh:  Often the average person outside SL  is perplexed with virtual worlds in general.  When people unfamiliar with the virtual ask you what you do how do you explain it?

Cutea Benelli: I have never developed a good explanation and always wished i had one. Got one for me, blotto? Bryn? Anyone?

Blotto Epsilon: good question, because it’s difficult to answer. i think the key thing is immersion, but immersion is an intangible experience that doesn’t yield easily to explanation. So i generally stop there; people either get it, or they roll their eyes and try to find someone else to talk to. Another obstacle is that the examples of virtual worlds that most people are familiar with are based on fantasy, where emphasis is on gameplay/roleplay, which many will find irrelevant to their lives (including myself). Immersion must be experienced, so we need ways for virtual spaces to be less insular; the membrane separating virtual from carbon-space should be more porous so that people are encouraged to peer inside. And of course, the impact of immersion is greatest when the experience is shared among other humans in the same space.
Carl Barks

Bryn Oh: Who are a few of your favorite artists and why?

Cutea Benelli: With me, that changes very often. I’II go through phases, and i’m not at all sophisticated as an art lover, more a bit of an omnivore. In the past few years, I’ve been photographing for some small modern dance productions. It was interesting  to expose myself to that without prior dance knowledge and to see what looking at dance could do to and with me, and how my brain tried to decode dance as an entirely different level of artistic expression, how dance invaded my emotions. On the “well, that’s easy to get, is it even art” end of the accessibility
Robert Doisneau
spectrum, there are favourite graphic/comic artists such as Tardi, or Carl Barks, people whom i admire for their skills. Generally speaking, I am often drawn towards the courageous, the radical, art that is daring and risks failure. But I’m most charmed by art that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If it’s silly, I’m in. Like, of all the Picasso portraits out there, “les pains de picasso” by Robert Doisneau is the one I like most.

Mark Ryden
Blotto Epsilon: hmm. Mark Ryden is one artist that gets my attention; his paintings are just bizarre enough, and there’s something about his soft color palette that appeals to me (Cutea will probably make fun of me for showing any interest in colors
other than gray or dirt). And I’d be remiss not to mention the SL artists whose work I respect most: Claudia222 Jewell, Djehan Kidd, Aston Leisen, Eupalinos Ugajin, and of course Bryn Oh - it is easiest to remember the people who have directly influenced me.

Bryn Oh:  Whose artwork do you personally dislike the most and why?
giant buttplug
Blotto Epsilon: i generally don’t pay attention to anyone long enough to dislike them, but the douche bag with the ginormous butt plug in Paris got my attention. Doing stuff like that in the name of art rises to the level of dislike. Really, green?

Bryn Oh:  Which of your own works are you most proud of?  Do you feel any failed and if so do you now know why?
Blotto Epsilon: i have only done two, both were so much fun, and the four year run the Petrovsky Flux has had is amazingly gratifying. i’m proud of the collaboration with Cutea that grew throughout the making of the fluxes -- she has become one of my closest friends. i’m sort of disappointed that the petrovsky flux was never really finished (on the other hand i never finish anything, so i’m used to that). We’re also proud of the bond we’ve formed with Steveke Wulluf, our gracious host at Spencer.

Bryn Oh:  Do you have a method when creating? If so how does it often progress?  For example do you sketch or write out ideas first for weeks or do you perhaps just jump directly into the project with little planning and adapt as you go?
Blotto quietly thinking
Cutea Benelli: When  creating in SL, i don’t really know what i am doing - I’m a very inefficient and
rather spontaneous builder. i sometimes refer to what i do as stream of consciousness-building, but really that’s just a friendly way of saying “it gets messy”. It’s associative and playful and there is a lot of trial and error and spontaneity and plywood leftovers - maybe bricolage is a good word for it?
Blotto Epsilon: i will think about things for a long time, interspersed with seemingly aimless hacking and playing to test ideas; the actual creation part tends to be kind of convulsive, but working with Cutea moderated this a bit, as we are trying to adapt to each other’s approach. Then there’s a long period of dissatisfaction and tweaking, as if allergic to closure, which is why i never finish anything. Eventually, apathy dominates.

Blotto and Cutea unique avatars
Bryn Oh:  What are you currently reading, listening to or looking at to inspire your work?
Cutea Benelli:  I just finished re-reading both “Nine Stories” by J. D. Salinger and “le rouge et le noir” by Stendhal. Technically, the last book i finished is the very cute “a hole is to dig”. Currently I’m reading two non-fiction ones: “Smoke gets in your eyes” by Caitlin Doughty and “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. Not sure what this combination says about me. Maybe “this person reads stuff”?

Blotto Epsilon: i’m (slowly) reading “The Information” by James Gleick and “Pikhal, a chemical love story” by the late Alexander Shulgin. These may or may not be for inspiration.

Bryn Oh:  Does your work have an overall theme and if so what might that be?  If not please describe how you tend to pick your topics.   

Petrovsky Flux
Cutea Benelli: i suppose what i make in sl is most probably impacted by what happens in my RL in
small and in big ways, but there is no theme i am aware of. Some of my more extravagant wearables have been described as political, and maybe they are. I would love to believe that some of my work is indeed satire, but the truth is i just enjoy a good laugh.

Blotto Epsilon: i don’t think i have a theme, unless selfishness counts. i do things that feel fun, stuff that stirs my imagination.
Bryn Oh:  Have you ever had to deal with negative publicity or a disappointing rejection of your artwork?  How do you deal with it?
Blotto Epsilon: when we were making the Bogon Flux at Burning Life back in ‘08, one of the script police told me the script load of our build was *much* too heavy (it was, we could not have coexisted there). i panicked and threw away most of my code and started over. i’m not sure even Cutea knew how close we came to failing to even begin. Apart from that, i’m neurotic enough to be negative and disappointed on my own.

Cutea Benelli: Ha! I seem to remember that you were trying to tell me but i suspect was too far in “Yay! pipes! Shiny! Rusty!” mode to grasp it. In the end, we were there to fail better.

Bryn Oh:  Would you like to take a stab at explaining what defines virtual art? 
Blotto Epsilon: um. [makes stabbing gesture with a squirrel]. i read the wikipedia page for virtual art and i still can’t answer this.
Cutea Benelli: hey, let go of Rupert!
Blotto Epsilon: i regret picking up a squirrel

Early Bogon Flux at Burning Life (I think Ub Yifu and Am Radio flank the build)
Bryn Oh:  What would you say makes virtual creations unique over other art forms?
Cutea Benelli: immersion is a great factor, and the fact that you basically can ignore gravity (yay!).
apart from that i believe that medium is not as important as content (or maybe i don’t. geesh). What i loved about the original SL in-world building system is that it was so accessible, so easy. “Here’s a wooden cube. now build a world.” In that sense, it was as democratic and inclusive(?) as we once naively thought the Internet would be.

Blotto Epsilon: my favorite aspect is not being limited by physics and other constraints of nature, in particular making things that take on a life of their own. There are few other mediums that allow this kind of meta-creation, where the ultimate result can be surprising even to the creator. Of course, generative art is nothing new, but combining this quality with immersion, allowing one to get inside a living structure, seems relatively unique.

Marcel Duchamp
Bryn Oh:  Centuries ago there was no such thing as an "artist" just craftsmen, as time progressed superior technical ability and creativity created the elite "Master" artist whose work stood recognized above all others.  In 1917 Marcel Duchamp submitted a work entitled "Fountain" to the Society of Independent artists.            He stated "... He (the artist) CHOSE it. He took an article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new thought for that object"  He wanted to shift the focus away from technical craft to more of an aesthetic intellectual interpretation.  Some say that because of him almost everything is considered art today.  From an elephant painting with its trunk, a Banksy, a child's drawing to someone vomiting paint onto a canvas.  What is your perspective on this?

Cutea Benelli: i think that sense of humor is the greatest subversive force. Also i think i may be captain obvious.

Blotto Epsilon
Blotto Epsilon: my art education ended in 4th grade, so i don’t know the right answer, but i unequivocally prefer the interpretation involving craft. i’ll gladly acknowledge the aesthetic beauty of other stuff (which does not include urinals without plumbing), but i don’t think it adds anything useful to call it art. This is probably an old-fashioned view, but i am old.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Occulus Rift thoughts

actually kids shouldn't use it
-Image by Jacki Morie
     As I mentioned a little while ago, I received an Occulus Rift HMD (head mounted display) to much fanfare in my own head.  Oh it's a party in there.  So far I have tested it with a few demos, they are interesting if mostly just novelty right now.  And I have also tested it at my build the Singularity of Kumiko with the headlamp on in the dark.  That was pretty interesting and immersive, but had to remove my ao and duckwalk around.  Also I could not interact with anything properly, clicking and so on.  Perhaps the biggest issue is that  I can use it for perhaps 15 minutes before I start to feel a bit ill.  Apparently they will be able to fix that with software updates over time.  There was an update a week ago and it seems to have messed up my settings so I have to figure out how to fix that now.  Oh the joys of beta testing.  I think the Occulus has great potential.. in the future.  Right now, as expected, it needs more testing.  Like for example, I read a while ago that children shouldn't use the Occulus rift since their stereoscopic vision is not fully evolved yet.  Someone else sent me a kickstarter page of a guy who wants to live his life, for a month, with the Occulus on 24/7.  Too early buddy, you might seriously mess yourself up by doing that.  But then I guess there is always someone wanting to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel or some other form of attention / validation process.  Wait a bit, make sure it's safe but don't rush to be the first "living" in the Occulus only to have part of your brain fall our your ear on day 23.
"There is a rat in this trench!"
     One of the coolest things so far with the Occulus is looking down and seeing the body of my
avatar where my physical one should be.  You can imagine the types of things this can be used for, like say,  suppose they made a educational model showing the storming of the beaches of Normandy  and they used a variety of things like the stem system, kinect and the Occulus to let students be there to storm it.   Reading an account of the horrors of this event would not be nearly as immediate as experiencing them oneself.  Then combine some sort of consequence if you were to actually (virtually) die in the environment, I am thinking -20% off your test at the end automatically? Yes I would make a rotten teacher.  Imagine if someone shot you in the leg or something equally nasty, and you looked down to see it.  Then you had to properly dress the wound or stitch it up.  The shock of this type of education would, I think, dispel the glorification of war and let people understand to a greater degree what it was really like.  Imagine rushing to a bunker and finding a 14 year old German boy terrified and very human... and having to make a decision in seconds what to do.  It is easier to brush off death when it is just a faceless statistic, but the world would be a better place if they weren't.  The future in education could remove the abstraction and detachment from History class, hmm maybe it is good I do not create curriculum for schools.  Anyway, this is just one small idea for the Occulus or another HMD use, but there are so many options.  Haha actually I just thought of something.  You know how Second Life was
No offense but I changed you into a person from work
depicted exclusively as a sex game by lazy journalists?  I think the Occulus might have to be worried about that same stereotype if they are not careful.  Hmmm Facebook owns them now, ok so they will probably actively promote the potential sex aspects then.  I don't get this picture.. why does he wear it when he is with her?  I am pretty certain she wouldn't find a black box in her face sexy.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I don't know why..

     Oh I don't know why I am in love with Mike Tyson Mysteries.  Is it because Mike Tyson pokes
fun at himself so good naturedly?  Maybe because the principal from the show Community is a voice in it or just because Norm Macdonald plays a pigeon.  It is silly, strange, politically incorrect and campy and all together it just makes me laugh.  But then I have a bizarre sense of humour.  You will either go WTF? or giggle the whole time.  They have just made a few episodes so far but I really hope they continue.