Friday, January 15, 2016

Ontario Arts Council grant award

     I am pleased and excited to announce that I have just been informed that I am one of the 17 who received a new grant from the Canadian government for art projects.   This is the third one that I have been awarded with the first one being for Standby and the second for Imogen and the pigeons which you can see the machinima for below.

The funding for this grant will be to assemble and film The Singularity of Kumiko, to create a first life exhibit using the Occulus Rift and Stem system, and various other things such as marketing, voice acting, music, travel etc.

     I am very excited and pleased with Canada's / Ontario's continued support of what is not considered a mainstream artform.  I have spent a long time working in this area now and have witnessed the resistance of some curators to see outside their comfort zone.   Many curators have spent a life learning how to evaluate and understand painting, sculpture, film etc and to be honest, I think some of the resistance is from being intimidated by the prospect of having to learn something completely new and difficult for them.  "Virtual what? I have to make an avatar?? install .. I barely know how to turn on my computer!" etc.  I am kidding but only partially this time.  The truth is that to understand an immersive artwork then one must become immersed, so the simplicity of pictures and text don't apply to the Immersivist artwork and a curator just can't hope to evaluate our artform by looking at pictures or even watching machinima.  They have to experience it and it's not easy to do so.  When occasionally faced with this reaction it is even more rewarding to know I have a staunch supporter and believer with the Ontario Arts Council, a very progressive organization for the arts.
    So the Gathering will remain on Immersiva for another month or so and then I will begin to assemble the Singularity of Kumiko and film.  Yay!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Clean up your life by Megan Bernard

     I had a commission to create a music video machinima for the talented musician Megan Bernard, and she has just now made it public.  Here is the YouTube video hope you enjoy!  BTW the avatar and figure in the grass look like Megan... well minus being 40 stories tall.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The new year

     I was thinking to myself.. oh I should do a post on my blog! and so I sat down to write and realized that I didn't really know what to write about.  Oh Tony Dyson asked to be friends with me on Linkedin today.. that was kind of cool.  He made R2D2.  That is sort of something to write about.  I don't know how he would have discovered Bryn Oh nor why he would want to be friends, so likely it was some kind of mistake .. but I accept odd mistakes and it's kind of fun.  Speaking of which, I saw the new Star Wars movie and I think it was the best one of them all.  I actually saw it twice because I am a nerd.   Anyway, so I was trying to think what to write and just as I was contemplating this a song came on the radio which has some really dumb lyrics.  It is called Locked Away by Rock City featuring Adam Levine.  It begins...

 "If I got locked away
And we lost it all today...
Tell me honestly...
Would you still love me the same?"

     So the song essentially is about a guy giving scenarios to a girl wondering if she really would love him when things are rough.  And the message is that if her answer is no to these questions then maybe he is better off without her.. that she is lacking in some way.   So if there are any impressionable young ladies reading my blog then please listen to me when I say that you are not obligated to stay with a guy who gets arrested and in the process of that crime loses everything you have built up together.  So for example...

"If I got locked away
because I did lots of crack
and ran over a family in my jeep.
And we both got sued
and lost the house and our friends
Tell me honestly...
would you still love me the same?"

You would reply

"No you silly prick
you selfish arsehole
I really don't love you the same."

     Thank you song for easing me into this blog post.  I just needed something to get me started.  So I can also write some thoughts about Sansar I guess.   What I am curious about right now is whether Linden Lab will have a separate TOS for both second life and sansar.  I suspect they will but I wonder because a while back Linden Lab said that they made the unpopular changes to the original TOS because they wished to unify all their products under a single TOS (terms of service).  So why is this topic interesting to me?  Mostly just because the TOS in is current form states that everything the user creates in SL is equally the property of Linden Lab.  We share ownership and while it sounds terrible, I think it is safe to say that Linden Lab would not take anything we created and try to make money from it.  They legally could under the TOS.. but it would be a form of suicide once word got out... just yeah I can't see them doing it.  A long time ago IBM pulled away from Second Life due to this problem.  They naturally would not invent something in Second Life with the chance they would have to share the intellectual property with Linden Lab.  They went behind a firewall and remained in Second Life for a while but likely they are completely gone now.  This is what IBM employees told me .. not my own interpretation.  The casual user might accept this but a big company likely wouldn't.
     So lets look at Sansar now.  Sansar, from what I understand, is focused on using Maya first and foremost.  Maya is a high end computer animation and building tool used in most CG movies you see, and it has a price tag of around $5000 depending on the suite.  It is quite difficult to learn and is used mostly by professional studios.  I am not going to say that those in SL who use Maya have all pirated it... but I would bet that many did.  After art school at OCAD University I went back to school to learn a program similar to Maya called Softimage XSI... when I finished the course I didn't have a copy of the program and I couldn't afford one, so now I use Zbrush instead while others use Blender which is free.   But you know, if I had not become a painter then I probably would have had to pirate Softimage if I wanted to keep my skills sharp, improve my portfolio and get a job in the computer animation field.  If Sansar's focus is on Maya then it seems safe to say that it will be professional studios who they are wooing... and I don't think a professional studio would accept the current TOS.  So that is why I am interested.  This is just speculation on my part though.  I like to throw out ideas.  But it's also possible they may be starting with Maya and then will include everything else after they have Maya working perfectly. 
    I get the feeling that Sansar is not going to be a replacement for Second Life but rather a medium to stage projects from.  That it may not be the social world that SL is in the same way we know it.   For example maybe a new movie or game creates a high end virtual trailer of some sort hosted on Sansar and the marketing team gives the location for people to go to on their phones or tablet, VR headset or whatever.   People from around the world go to the trailer or virtual experience and enjoy it... then never return or perhaps didn't even need to make an account.  I think there would also be various permanent locations all promoting something.. but I am not sure if it will be a community world like Second Life.  If I am wrong on the other hand, and it is similar to Second Life then I really hope that they focus on the embedded building tools similar to the prims that Second Life came with.  I say this because with many who I talk to they all refer to the sandbox and social building era as the golden age of Second Life.  It didn't look as good as it does now with mesh ... but it felt different in that people stood around and socially created in real time side by side.  I remember building on IBM with AM Radio thirty feet away making trains or Spiral Walcher, Colin Fizgig or others making fun little things that we would all chat about.  You would see a basic object rezzed.. then manipulated in real time.. then it would float over to the spot it was meant to go and so on like a puzzle being put together.  You get to watch things grow.  With mesh we build outside of SL and import entire fully textured and completed objects... it is a different sense of communal creativity.
     If Minecraft has shown us anything it is that graphics are not everything.  People often talk to me about old creations like Greenies or Black Swan but they would look dated compared to the mesh we use today... but people remember them because of the experience.  The best thing you see in Sansar when it opens will look dated in five years... if you saw it again you would think to yourself .. why did I think this thing was so wonderful?  That is if you were able to see it again five years later, which is unlikely.  So what is important will be the experience that one is left with, that is what will create the memory.  If Linden Lab can create decent building tools that come with the viewer then it will spur creativity across the user base where all users build on the same playing field.  Why is that important?  Because I know many prim builders who feel insecure about exhibiting their work because mesh has, unintentionally, created self consciousness in those who don't have the time or interest in learning a complex 3D program.  I mean it is supposed to be fun right?  There will always be those who excel over others using the exact same tools and everyone can appreciate when someone takes those same tools that all of us use but create something remarkable beyond what is expected.  That object you can appreciate because you understand the tools used and recognize the skill needed.  For example friends sometimes say to me oh I love this artists work the human figure they built is so realistic and graceful... and I look at the model and think..  umm yeah that's the default human female body that comes with Cinema 4D or whatever... they just kind of imported it.   If you see eyeballs separate in a human model the chances are that they didn't build it themself because separate eyeballs from the model are used generally just for animating the eyes to look around or whatever.  We don't animate in Second Life so building like that is not necessary, there would be no need to build separate objects for eyes, also you would be creating two structures that are hidden but the viewer still has to render... just not a good idea.  I don't tell them this as it is kind of like throwing a wet blanket over their hero but at the same time I don't like the idea of someone who is trying to build a human form with all the muscles and sinews to struggle and feel inadequate because they can't measure up to another artists work, who didn't actually make what they exhibit.  And it is because they just don't recognize that the model is a default one often taken directly from a professional 3D program.
     I think if you make something and have the opportunity to exhibit it to others, you might feel reluctant if you know that there is someone out there who might put down a work beside yours that is created with a far superior tool to that which you use, and that it makes yours look amateuristic.  It involves embarrassment.  It is just not the same playing field and that is fine under most circumstances.. it's just progress.. except it just might not work well if Linden Lab wish to devise a creators universe where everyone is excited and showing each other their work.  Anyway just throwing out some ideas, but I think a successful building community can work provided the native tools are accessible and powerful enough to compete in all aspects including whatever marketplace is developed.  And if Sansar is not a replacement for Second Life as we know it, then Linden Lab please make a replacement for Second Life too when you get a moment.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The last Guardian video game

I don't know what to say.. just wow will do.  Ok that won't do.  I think this is actual game play and not a filmed segment and the almost instant personality of the Guardian is remarkable.  It is a bit unsure of itself and hesitant.  It shows some concern when he stumbles a bit on that narrow walk at the start.. it is just very aware of him.  I wish I had a playstation.. sigh.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

An interview with Giovanna Cerise

      Giovanna Cerise

Bryn Oh: Where are you from?  And who are the most renowned (not necessarily the best)  artists from your country in your opinion?

Giovanna Cerise:     I live in Italy, and currently I teach Italian and Latin Literature in a high school. I have joined to my liberal arts studies, the musical studies by studying classical guitar and  musical  Paleography. So for a long time music has been my main activity. My passion for virtual art has filled the emptiness left in me from having abandoned it.  Making a choice of famous artists in the world is very difficult, in a country like Italy, where you breathe art in every corner: those who have left an important, indelible trace are so many. So it is an impossible task for me to choose the names. I will indicate randomly the ones that come immediately to my mind, forgetting certainly many. Dante Alighieri, Luigi Pirandello, Dario Fo, Eugenio Montale, Umberto Eco, Umberto Boccioni, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Amedeo Modigliani and again Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verdi, Edoardo De Filippo, Luciano Pavarotti, Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini, Paul Sorrentino but Marcello Mastroianni, Anna Magnani, Monica Vitti ... and I could go on forever.

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?

Giovanna Cerise:     I confess that until recently I had problems speaking about my experience in SL, first because I myself found difficult, in defining it. When I tried to explain that I was taking a course in virtual didatics, around me I saw quizzical expressions, mainly because others did not understand what a virtual world had in common with the work I was doing. With time the situation has not improved much. Now, to those who ask me questions, I present my experience by  trying to show them all the possibilities that it have opened to me and how it has enriched me.

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

Frida Kahlo
Giovanna Cerise:  Many of the artists that I have already named are among my favorites. In general I am attracted to artists who are able to express their innovative point of view, those who dig deep and have the courage to show their more hidden world. . . The works of these artists are "listening" and they seek to connect our inner with the piece of the world that we have in front.  I love Frida Kahlo and her intense works, full of strength, sensitivity, passion. I like the large metal sculptures of Arnoldo Pomodoro, his perfectly geometric forms with a highly polished surface, torn with cracks and openings that expose a shaggy interior, fraught with reliefs. And yet Anish Kapoor and his
Anish Kapoor
monumental, surprising, disturbing and problematic installations. Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana, who question the system of values ​​and certainties and invite you to investigate further. And then of course there are the musicians, and I name Bach among all of them, an exceptional personality, whos work is both poetry and science t. To these other should be added like Hermann Hesse, Luigi Pirandello, Italo Svevo and Eugenio Montale. Many, then, are the artists of virtual worlds by whom even if for different reasons I am affected. I want to mention some of the works: "der Schauer" of Selavy Oh, Transition Zone of Oberon Onmura, Imogen and Pigeon of Bryn Oh, "Taxy! To the Zircus " of Eupalinos Ugajin, Black and White World of Cica Ghost, The Inevitable of Fate of Rose Borchovski, Sparkys of Romy Nayar, Celebrity Blow Your Tits Off Rides Again of Maya Paris , Imago Anatopism of Alpha Auer, Bogon Flux of Blotto Epsilon and Cutea Benelli …

Bryn Oh:  Whose artwork do you personally dislike the most and why?

Giovanna Cerise:  More than indicating precise names, I am not normally attracted to those works that, as we say in Italy, are "Tutto fumo e niente arrosto," works in which the author only seeks the spectacular effect, trying to cover the complete absence of any content, in the worst cases, and, at best, give a vague idea of a general concept where they trivially put in anything that has to do with it at  the moment. I feel a mental laziness inability to empathetically envolve the observer in an authentic manner, touching only the emotional surface l with a cluster or a juxtaposition of elements that should inspire wonder, but, at the end they just get bored, for their repetition, which at the end to nothing more than to slip epidermically.

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?

Kaos, Kosmos
Giovanna Cerise:  Among the works that I like most there are those of the last period and I refer to the  installations as Arithmos, Fisicofollia, Cosmos and kaos and Speculum. I am particularly tied to the "Habanera" inspired by Bizet's Carmen and to smaller works like "Broken Time" and "The hidden purity". Usually I am never happy with the work I have just finished. My first temptation is to destroy them immediately. Luckily I can resist. I'm pretty critical of what I do and often, then reviewing some works in the past which seemed “exceptional” at that time, I say myself "But it is really bad", especially when I detect a sweetning or winking effect.

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?

Giovanna Cerise:  For a long time I felt the need, which then became a habit, to write down in a notebook those  words, phrases, images, musical references that have impressed me in a positive or negative way. The book has become a treasure chest of sensations and concepts, almost inexhaustible. It becomes a kind of latent memory from which often unconsciously, and for various reasons, an idea emerges. Sometimes the idea is so clear that it is immediately transformed into an image and the work of creation becomes fast and immediate. Other times I let  an idea subside for a long time, which expands like a spider web. Often I proceed through a symbolic research. And when I arrive to what I think is the best, I start to remove the superfluous, the repetitions, the distortions, trying to synthesize the whole. In practice can be summarized in a job of expansion and synthesis, which  I can be repeated several times, and that is accompanied by mental images of the transposition of ideas. The work of concretization is never very long, but it is intense. I try to concentrate it when I know I'm free from other tasks, because it absorbs all my energy becoming almost compulsive. In a few days what I had done before on a mental level is repeated. I collect objects, I work with prim or Blender. I empty the inventory looking for something that maybe I built some time before. I create texture. I move, I change, I look from various angles and, above all, I experiment, until I am convinced, until I arrive to the version that will be visible, but I may not be definite.

Bryn Oh:  What are you currently reading, listening to or looking at to inspire your work?

Giovanna Cerise:  Right now I'm reading "The birth of the  Greek tragedy" by Friedrich Nietzscke. In addition to Bach, who, as I said, is my favourite author, I'm listening to "Tristan and Isolde" by Richard Wagner and some songs of Queen.

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.
Giovanna Cerise:  There is not a general theme that inspires me, but, almost all my works I thing you can find a tension that reveal the relationship between unity and duality, which then often becomes that of multiplicity. And of course, we can still include the randomness and determinism and the fragmentary. To these general concepts I add my fondness for music that becomes a source of inspiration, not only when I work on a musical work, but also for the disposition of space, whether symmetrical or asymmetrical, and for all that can be connected to rhythm or harmony (assonance, dissonances, repetitions, pauses, etc.). There is a theme that then I particularly feel  which concerns the violence, especially against women, and oppression in all its forms.

Bryn Oh:  Have you ever had to deal with negative publicity or a disappointing rejection of your artwork?  How do you deal with it?
The hidden purity
Giovanna Cerise:  Not many times, but sometimes, it has happened, that someone has criticized some of my choices about effects, believed as excessive, or some color, saying that it would be better if I had used another. Another time offering my work for an event I was asked to change it by inserting some textures that were supposed to make, from the point of view of the customer, my work closer to the event. I refused and I was invited to take away my job. How did I react? I continued to use excessive effects, when I thought it appropriate, to use the colors I wanted and withdrawing the work, excluding other possibilities of collaboration with those I had requested the work. This does not mean that I do not accept  criticism, It is natural and even necessary. It is useful not so much for the work already done, but when it makes  me think about what I will do after, words especially if it highlights  something that I had not considered before.
But it is also true that when the artist creates, he has the right and the duty to choose, accepting all the consequences of this choice.
Instead I don’t take in consideration that criticism that based on preconceptions that become rules to be respected at all costs and that become the parameters of the work itself.

Bryn Oh:  Would you like to take a stab at explaining what defines virtual art? 

The variations of the magic flute
Giovanna Cerise:  It’s difficult to give a definition, even if I can try and probably I will not dodge the stab. We can begin by saying that virtual art is one of the possible paths which an artist may choose to undertake in our time. Precisely for this reason, however, it can become a need or requirement because we are immersed in a society where technology development is due to changes in the way we think and act, to the transformation of each type of language and perception . It is a path that has in itself infinite potentialities that have become active only partially, and therefore it opens up a fervent scenario of not simple but difficult perspectives. It constantly uses the testing of new methods and techniques, sometimes incorporating the traditional ones and amplifying the combination of art and technology. It is not an easy path for many reasons, some reasons are certainly strong, due to the reluctance of the majority of people, who belong or don’t belong to the sector, towards this type of art, but also to the shallowness which unfortunately sometimes is found in those who do this kind of art, and which is manifested in various ways. (Perhaps the stab has come ...)

Bryn Oh:  What would you say makes virtual creations unique over other art forms?
Fisicofollia, image by Kikas Babenco

Giovanna Cerise:  Even here it is difficult to give a clear answer. Many terms were used to define the virtual creations: immersivity, interactivity, interconnectedness, complexity, constant change of perspective, presence of more and different sides, break down barriers of all kinds, multimedia, ability to be replicated, and even the unfinished ... Perhaps we can say that its uniqueness lies in the potential that the artist can use at the same time and in the same space all or many of these elements, pouring into this form of art all the features and problems of our age.

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?

Marcel Duchamp
Giovanna Cerise:  The choice of Duchamp to use, without modification, of a profane object to bring out the cultural development of an object not depending on his artistic transformation, was certainly a source of discussion, poignant and often innovative, especially for the period when it was formulated. I think this placed the artist face to face with the choice, which often is not free because it is conditioned by external and internal factors, to take the path of Duchamp or the "traditional" one, with all the implications that this entails. In both cases, the choice itself can not be separated from the creative purpose that arises from the artist and his mental and conceptual processing. You can not, on the other hand, say that the technical skill is never important. Sometimes I think it is also essential. If we shift the focus from the visual arts to  music or dance, for example, I can not think (but maybe that's my limit) of how you can do this kind of art if you do not have a certain technique and a certain knowledge. The artist, perhaps, then reaches higher goals when he most manages to hide his technique. (On the other hand I must say that the acquisition of techniques, experimenting new ones, at least for me, is also a source of pleasure, of game and a way to clear the mind and show better ideas).

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Gathering

     The Gathering will open on December 1st.  Please be sure to accept the dialogue box that says "do you accept being in Bryn Oh's experience?" or something like that because.. well.. it's more fun if you do.  It simply allows the rolling balls to kill you and send you back to the start of the sim as well as give me access to your credit card information, your webcam, your Granny's phone number and your deepest secret.. ok not the latter bits but just the rolling ball thing.  I quite understand automatically declining any box that pops up as I regularly do it myself.  It is this irrational go away box! reaction
that I get. 

     So this new build is kind of an experimental one where I have been testing out some ideas but still trying to keep it cohesive.  In a notecard at the end I explain a bit where some of the ideas came from, and as you can see with these two images the Gathering story came from converting some pen and ink drawings that I did into 3D scenes.   I had received a commission to do pen and ink illustrations for a coffee table book based on my paintings but I had actually barely did any pen and ink before.   So I had to learn how to do it.  I studied the works of John Tenniel, George Cruikshank, Van Gogh's lovely drawings and others including Edward Gorey.  And these pen and ink illustrations were what I did to learn the techniques, but I really loved the final ones and wanted to do something with them.. so here it is.  Pen and ink using a nib is a difficult yet very rewarding way to illustrate.  You have an ink pot and dip your pen in to get a bit of india ink, then spend hours putting in little markings creating the sense of depth in light and dark.  Then after two hours you drop a big blob of ink right in the middle by accident, swear like a sailor and then start over.  Anyway I hope you will enjoy the machinima and build.

Monday, November 23, 2015

New artwork opening December 1st "The Gathering"

Umbrella Girl

The Gathering
 On December 1st I will be opening a new artwork called "The Gathering" on my region Immersiva.

An evening walk
projector room
     The work uses a variety of lighting techniques and material shaders so you will need to follow the directions at the very start.  Essentially, like in most of my recent creations, you will need to put on advanced lighting with shadows with projectors (sun/moon + projectors).    Materials essentially can be seen in the topmost image which is a rainy room.  The "wet" or shiny reflections over the floor and mannequins are created by using layers of textures (diffuse, normals and specular) to create a more textured reactive surface.  Another thing you really should do is accept an invite to allow "Bryn Oh's experience".  An experience or experience tools are fairly new for builders and they let you combine a bunch of things that would normally require people to "accept" an interaction to only need to accept at the very beginning.  So for example if you went into a room and I wanted to make your camera move to a painting on a wall, then you would have to accept a dialogue box asking for me to take control of your camera.  You would say ok sure you can take control this time, and then your camera would move to the painting.   Then if you walked down the hall a bit more I might ask to control your camera again.. and again you
would have to accept and so on over and over down the hallway with each painting.  With an experience you essentially give permission at the very start to always accept without needing to be asked repeatedly.  Those dialogue boxes break the immersion in a work so experiences are great for removing those unfortunate barriers to becoming immersed in a virtual narrative or environment.