Thursday, August 28, 2008

3D doodling with Vlad

NPIRL florist, sculpty master, and video artist Vlad Bjornson is hosting an interactive 3D doodling session and is inviting content creators to come build together on a chosen theme. He's calling it Collabricate. This could become a weekly event, folks!

You'll certainly be in good company. Here's a great vid he created in October of last year: his Top Ten Second Life® building tips.

Vlad's spreading the event over the course of two days to give more people a chance to get in-world and participate: this Saturday, August 30th between 11am and 1pm SLT and Sunday, August 31st between 5 and 7pm SLT.

Got any brainstorms, suggestions or questions? Visit his Shiny Life blog and let him know.

Seeing is believing...

Pandora Wrigglesworth was always being asked to demo her products, so she finally just made a series of super short videos. Did I tell you her stuff was great already?

Here's the Oui Coupe...

and the Horseless Gown...

You can see more of these video demos off her Flickr stream.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In darkness, cerdwin flanagan paints Templum with light

On her Flickr profile, painter and photographer cerdwin flanagan describes her photographic interests as follows: "My subject matter is usually dark and twisted. If you have an aversion to blood and pain and beasts and nightmares, I'm not your girl."

Indeed. Consider yourself warned. Despite the fact that blood and pain are not my thing, I have been drawn to the dark photographs she has added to the Templum ex Obscurum - A NPIRL photographic challenge pool, not so much because of the restraint she has shown with her use of light, but because of the way she paints and defines her images with it.

Click on any of these images to see a larger version.

Here, cerdwin took this self portrait by Baron Grayson, the creator of the extraordinary Templum ex Obscurum, and amended it to her liking, per the rules of the SL-picture-pile-ups group

the language of trees (2)

This photograph was taken long before the NPIRL photographic challenge... even before Templum was placed at its current location. Apparently, Baron Grayson had rezzed a chair in the ballroom


As always, many thanks to Cuwynne Deerhunter for allowing us to mob the sim he is guardian and owner of for days on end.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dusan Writer surveys NPIRL on content protection

Several weeks ago, I spoke up on behalf of the Not Possible IRL group and asked that Linden Lab add a Creative Commons tab in the object editor, as well as a Creative Commons option in the right click pie menu, so that everyone could see, with a simple right mouse click, what the rights were on an object.

An uproar ensued... Some misunderstood and thought that I was suggesting that the current system be replaced with only Creative Commons protections. Some felt that Creative Commons might not be the only way to go and that other systems, such as GNU, should be considered. Others accused me - and by association, my poor group, most of whom had very little to do with this suggestion - of being communists because Creative Commons empowers and protects open source creations.

The fact remains that the members of Not Possible IRL transform intellectual content into high-quality content, and have a great deal to lose unless the rights to that content are protected to the full extent possible

Blogger and specialist in vertical integration of media content and experiences, Dusan Writer, stepped in. Here is a man who inhales and paraphrases raw data better than anyone I know in our virtual space. I welcome his first contributions to the group and to this blog. - Bettina Tizzy

by Dusan Writer

Content creators are looking for solutions to current frustrations according to a recent survey conducted of Not Possible in Real Life members.

But they remain passionate about content creation. When asked to describe the benefits of creating content in Second Life®, they were almost spiritual in how they described the feeling of creating art:

  • "You can create your vision....You can create your own environment, clothing and style and share it with the virtual world"

  • "Satisfaction...enjoyment, release...pure pleasure"

  • "Become one with a dream - feel the pleasure of sharing your thoughts with others and their enjoyment of what you make"

  • "Almost infinite way of expression"

  • "Great options for creativity and a great audience to experience your work"

  • "If a picture is worth a thousand words, a 3D environment must be in the millions."

But lately there has been a lot of discussions about interoperability, Creative Commons licenses and content protection. But sometimes as content creators we're too busy making things to be able to engage in the communities and meetings, the office hours and blogs where these decisions are being discussed and made - and we'd like a voice at the table.

So we set out to poll our membership - to find out where the concerns are with the goal being to share what we hope Linden Lab and the openSim communities recognize as a key stakeholder in keeping virtual worlds vibrant, and retaining the creative Residents who help to make the grids more beautiful.

Who We Are
The survey represented a cross-section of users. Most had over a year in-world (click to see enlarged image):

Respondents embrace the full spectrum of content creation:

Our Experiences
We wanted to first understand whether our experiences with content creation have been positive. 60% of us, however, have "experienced situations where you feel your content was or may have been stolen or inappropriately used" (although only 6% have filed a complaint through Linden Lab).

Examples of inappropriate use included (quoted directly):

  • Use of works in revenue-producing machinima without credit

  • We have a free sculpty set that is provided as a learning resource and have had to deal with people mangling the item and then selling it

  • A creation was copied, changed very little, at times even the same textures were used

  • Images of work used in Second Life photographs set for sale as unique items

Our Concerns

Our main concern is the current system. 63% of replies considered the lack of flexibility with the current object permission system to be very important, followed by enforcement and unattributed use of content:

Our Hopes

Through the survey we asked content creators what they love about the current system, and what they'd like to see changed. When asked what code, tools and policies they'd like to see changed, the permission system was a recurring theme:

  • "I would like the ability to define the scope of a creation into the assets of the creation itself. This item is copy, transfer with attribution for commercial use, for example."

  • "Better permission system with more options"

  • The current (permission system) doesn't permit much flexibility and if you have a very complicated object with a great many scripts, sounds or animations, it can take hours to track them all down and make sure they have the correct permissions."

  • "Revisit the entire permissions system."

Other ideas ranged from an "undo" button to building a better system for texturing to a plea for "cooperation over competition and vision over vanity."

These are just snippets from this extensive survey and is a starting point in a broader effort to solicit ideas, insight and opinion by the content creation community. Our goal is to use this data to help ensure that content creators are at the table, that we have a voice as policy and code changes are proposed. As the metaverse grows, it will do so because of the joy that great content creation can bring - providing experiences beyond what's possible in real life.

Ensuring that our voices are heard is as much a mission for better systems and protections as it is the wider acknowledgment that without content there are simply empty grids.

Use Second Life and get brainier - Imagination made tangible

In his book The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge explained,“experiments have shown that we can change our brain anatomy simply by using our imaginations.” He goes on to say, "...the faster you can imagine something, the faster you can do it.”

Unless you are a neuroscientist, it is difficult to appreciate the seismic shift that is taking place regarding our understanding of the brain, but scientific evidence is piling up: the more imaginative and creative we are, the better our brain works. In fact, no matter what our age may be, it seems that the more we stimulate our brains, the faster we produce new cells or neurons.

Here's someone who's imagination is firing on all cylinders... rebecca's profile on her Flickr stream reads as follows: "the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars"

Dreamscape Escape - This would be easy to do in Second Life®, but we have to love the thinking that made this happen in Real Life. It does beg the question, though... what would Rebecca be capable of in virtual worlds?

Now then, I've said it before and I'll say it again.. Second Life is the most affordable and complete tool I know of to commit hardcore creativity. It is also the place where the distance between imagination and tangible creations is the shortest. I personally know hundreds of people in Second Life who are capable of dreaming up something completely new in the morning, and by evening are already sharing it with others.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Garden of da Vinci - Where beauty meets science

German Felixx Shepherd (aka Martin Vieweg) explained his Garden of da Vinci sim this way: "I build here all my dreams of childhood, you might say. All what fascinates me. I'm a big LEGO child... in Second Life® for one and a half year, and this grew step by step. Some say that my buildings look like the ones of the movie "Lord of the Rings."

Or Disneyland?

And what he built is a lovely series of villas and observatories with Roman, Greek and Renaissance elements on the ground...

...coupled with sea and space exploration below and above.

Felixx was about to release something quite fun at the Garden of da Vinci when I visited him: a space rocket that enables you to orbit the planet of your choice as well as the sun. When you arrive at your destination, you can generate a space station and sit and watch the planets - and even the sun - comfortably and in close proximity!

At present, you can already visit Mars, generate your own fireworks display, or simply have a picnic under a tree. There are numerous freebies available, too.

Teleport directly from here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Middle Ages strike at the Giant Snail Races

Second Life® is crammed with eccentric phenomena and oddities, since so many people use the virtual platform to live out their dreams and fantasies, and while most of these projects only last a couple of months - if that long - few have had the determination and stick-to-it-iveness of one such RacerX Gullwing. His famous Giant Snail Races have been going strong for nearly three and a half years.

And you, too, can be a snail and take part in the races (but be sure to show up early so you can grab your spot: see below for hours).

RacerX has completed what is quite possibly the best race track for these giant molluscs, ever: a medieval theme. "It's probably the most fun to watch so far," he told me, and I agree.

Huge fire balls blow open the starting gate...

The snails have to wiggle and squirm and shimmy their way up a steep ramp... with more fireballs being hurled in their path and at them. Physics on these items are set at 5 times the normal gravity, so they mean real trouble for the racers.

Even worse, two taunters stand at the top, with the ability to hurl sheep and peasants and cows and more fireballs at the racers as they inch their way up the ramp.

Below, RacerX demonstrates the taunters' gesture: "neenerneener!"

All interested participants: There are beginner training classes on Saturdays at 9:30am SLT.
Spectators: The races start at 11:00am SLT every Saturday. They usually go for about an hour and 15 minutes.

Teleport directly from here, and you can always refer to the link and a slurl on the lower right hand column of this blog.

See also:
* The history of the Giant Snail Races

Arahan Claveau to show at the Australian Centre of Photography; Arthole Season 2

Brit Arahan Claveau will be taking part in a month-long show opening on September 5th at the Australian Centre for Photography in Paddington, Australia called Avatar. Thirty six of his photographs of avatars from Second Life® will be shown alongside images from WoW, Sims 2 and other virtual worlds. The ACP mounted the show, because "Being yourself just isn't quite enough any more." In addition, a talk will be held on September 6 to discuss the possibilities and the pitfalls of being superhuman; whether through celebrity, performance enhancing drugs or a virtual alter-ego.

Arahan said to me, "I agreed to it because the focus is not so much about the actual photography which, as you know, I quit a while back, but more about the politics of being an avatar. I think it’s a fascinating area for discussion; raises all sorts of interesting questions."

We've had a number of discussions, Arahan and I, regarding his decision to quit photography in Second Life and delete his stellar Flickr account, which I took pleasure in and referred to frequently as a solid resource. I still maintain that it is a historical loss, as he had documented many exhibits and activities that no one else had, to my knowledge. His photography (and the production and art direction for it) was exceptional, and most of that body of work has been wiped from our art map as well, although some can be viewed on his website.

The following interview is about two years old, but Arahan still feels the same way about most of it. "Probably less positive about the concept of mind uploading," he added.

Fortunately, Arahan is still making Machinima.

Meanwhile, season 2 of Arthole, his collaboration space with Nebulosus Severine who recently gave us Chasm, will relaunch on Sunday, August 31 with new works by these two on second level, and Ichibot Nishi and Selavy Oh on the third.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Like telegraphic signals, the magical pixels roll in - Templum ex Obscurum

Melodious Source

As of this writing and in just five days, 340 of the very best photographers of Second Life® have mobilized, becoming members of the Templum ex Obscurum - A NPIRL photographic challenge Flickr group to produce photograph after stunning photograph, relaying their views like telegraphic signals, of this high-drama, absolutely cinematic location... via magical pixels.

Whether gothic or ghostly, a scene from a dark fairy tale or an epic tragedy, these shots tell us stories about what has transpired there while the banks of fog roll in over the underground rivers, and moonbeams set off the sparkle of the crystal trees.

Some add prose or poetry. Others don't even tag. Most of these images haven't been viewed much, if at all, and a very few have garnered comments and faves from visitors to those pages.

I've picked out just ten of these gems to share with you here today, and I'll publish many more with you over the days to come. Thank you Baron Grayson, creator of this masterpiece, and thanks, too, to Cuwynne Deerhunter - guardian and owner of Templum - for his support and endorsement of this project.

Ed @ iMagical Studio

Annalisa Shepherd

Shoot 'Em Up - F.Paine

Lilith Ivory

Trinity Outlander

rikoko Ewing

freeta Kayo

Rowan Masala

AlterEgoTrip Svenska

Laynie Link's "Andromeda" - Hurray!

I just love finding designers who make clothes that are Not Possible in Real Life (NPIRL). Today... that would be Laynie Link who created this spun candy ensemble called "Andromeda."

I don't know the first thing about taking fashion photos in Second Life® or Photoshop, for that matter, but thought I'd share how I felt when I discovered this outfit.

Teleport to her LaynieWear shop directly from here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Unexpected objects

"Recent works," which will open this Sunday, is a bit of a meditative walkabout with surprises around each bend in your path. Created by Mencius Watts and Taggert Alsop, and curated by Tayzia Abattoir, this kinetic light and sound and space installation invites quiet exploration, and while much of it - if not all - would be possible in Real Life (PIRL), the cost of mounting such a show would be prohibitive unless you happen to be one of the ten or so names in the art world with the proven ability to pull in some very serious money and support.

It works well in a virtual environment, and realism is achieved with these unexpected objects in unexpected places by breathing life into them through the use of video, light, movement, and live feeds.

One exhibit works interactively with Flickr. You type in any word, and it pulls and displays approximately thirty photographs that are tagged with that word. For this video, I typed "NMC," which stands for New Media Consortium, the organization that is hosting the show. Another installation displays RSS news feeds. The works are proximity triggered, so you must get close enough to set them off, or alternatively, turn your media on.

Filmed and edited by Bettina Tizzy
Sound files produced by Taggert Alsop

Mencius Watts is the "artist" account for an American with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Intermedia and Video Art. Using another account for his "day job," he heads up a research group that works exclusively in virtual environments, including Second Life®. His professional focus resides with interface design, social engagement, virtuality and simulation.

Mencius Watts: We work a lot in Second Life these days... art mostly. We do museum kiosks... gesture-based, touch screens, etc.

Does that carry over in the art that Mencius does?
Mencius Watts: Yes. I reinvent a lot of my Real Life works. I am a video artist... do installations. I collaborate with scripters, composers, etc.

Who are your collaborators?
Mencius Watts: A group of Real Life artists and programmers. The main avatar is Taggert Alsop.

Ah, not in world...
Mencius Watts: Well, we are in Second Life, too. All blurry. Taggert does most of the scripting and most composing for the works. I do the 3D and media concepts. For me and our group, (this show) is a wonderful opportunity to explore virtual art and showcase the intersections of art and technology. (There is) a lot of content in the works, but some pretty hefty back end know-how driving it (and) making it work. For the user, a direct experience with the work... not clunky. The aesthetic experience is the most important. The technology behind it should disappear.

The collection of works will open to the public beginning Sunday and will be up for a month at Ars Simulacra, the New Media Consortium's (NMC) Second Life artist showcase island. Teleport directly from here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Art 101 redux - Penumbra Carter

I have no idea who Penumbra Carter is, but this is the best summary of art in Second Life® I've seen to date in one video. Who are you, Penumbra and what did you mean by all of this? Please do tell us!

Join Impossible IRL without using one of your 25 groups

September 29, 2009 Update: It is no longer possible to join the web-based Impossible IRL group, but you are cordially invited to join us in-world. There is a one-time fee of L$500 to join, which helps us to cover our expenses and occasionally support struggling artists. Thank you to all of our members for their encouragement, their many contributions and their vision of what virtual worlds can be.

Of course, it is always best to join the in-world group, but if you are hurting for slots and couldn't join otherwise, this is the next best thing.

Teleport here and look for this poster. Touch and voila! You are in.

ImpIRL'ers get lots of previews of the best stuff and hear about most new things before they get blogged, and the blog only represents a fraction of in-world activities.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mes cheveux sont tellement chic et NPIRL

It was one of those things I didn't even dare to hope for... great hair that would not be possible in Real Life.

Cog by Hairspray

Covet by Hairspray

Dark Garden by AVZ

Survivor by AVZ

Finally, exotic and imaginative hair is hitting the grid, and I couldn't be happier about it.

We learned about Hairspray hair by Sinnocent Mirabeau from Jo Heartsdale. - - teleport directly from here.

We learned about AVZ Cyberpunk Fashion hair by the delightful Hern Worsley from the very chic Ka Rasumson - - teleport directly from here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I want to tell the world about Second Life content creation and the amazing people who are making it all happen

August 19 Update: I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all the people who have taken the time to vote for me and write such nice things on the SXSW panel picker. You so rock! With your help, I just might make it. The voting ends on August 29th.

South by Southwest (SXSW) is my favorite event in the whole (real) world. It takes place in Austin, Texas in March of every year and combines a film festival, a music festival and an interactive media festival.

I want very much to evangelize about Second Life® content creation as a speaker at the 2009 SXSW Interactive Fest, and whip up some excitement about the mind-bending things that you are doing in our virtual world. I also want to pull together a fantastic panel of people to communicate our story. There are hundreds of submissions for panels and competition is fierce, so I'm hoping you will vote for me. My submission can be found here. The sign up process to vote is pretty straightforward and your help would... help!

A photographic celebration gets underway... and how!


Thank you, thank you, dear artists, photographers and friends in Second Life, for your instant and warm reception to the idea of celebrating the extraordinary work of Baron Grayson, the Templum ex Obscurum, simply for the sheer joy of it.

Here are just ten of the many photographs that are coming in to the Templum ex Obscurum - A NPIRL photographic challenge Flickr group from the ultra talented people of Second Life. In most instances, you can click on the photographs to see a larger version. Please remember to tag your photographs with the name of the creator of Templum ex Obscurum, "Baron Grayson", and also add a "NPIRL" tag for good measure, 'cause it makes me happy.

Even as I'm posting this, more photographs that I hope to feature are being posted to the group.

shellina Winkler

Gina Glimmer

Tillie Ariantho


Lilith Ivory

Gary Hayes

Hidenori Glushenko

Tim Deschanel

Solkide Auer

A very special thanks to the kind gentleman and owner of Templum ex Obscurum, Cuwynne Deerhunter, for his patience with our enthusiastic invasion of the sim.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pandora Wrigglesworth's Portable Door Generator - Physics with panache

Today, Pandora Wrigglesworth will be releasing her newest product, The Portable Door Generator. She teleported me to a room yesterday and asked, "The door is behind you but, how would you get out of the room if there were no door?" She went on to explain, "With my new device, you don't have to rely on the architect's choice of where to put a door."

She activated the mechanism, and with a swirl of particles, a new door magically appeared, when none had been there before.

And just like that, Pandora walked through a door of her own creation...

Pandora went on to say that "It works on any solid surface. It doesn't have be just walls. It does require rez perms but it is temp rez so prim limits aren't an issue. It works on walls up to about 5 meters thick and doesn't have trouble with walls being different angles on the other side. There are five different kinds of doors chosen at random."

How does it work?
Pandora Wrigglesworth: Rezzing the doors and linking them up was easy. It was detecting *where* to rez them that was tricky. There is no LSL command to detect the shape of a prim in other objects, so I rez small invisible prims and bounce them off the walls and then through the walls like sonar. They move until they hit a wall and that's where one door goes. Then they drill through the wall until they stop colliding with it and that's where the other door goes. There are three prims and then I use a little matrix algebra to determine the rotations and positions from that. They are self-deleting. I'd hate to see them stack up in the Lost and Found folder!

Please note: This device is also handy when you fall down underneath a building on a bad teleport.

All proceeds from the sale of Pandora's items benefit her Global Domination Fund. You can pick up the Portable Door Generator at Pandora's shop, Curio Obscura, by teleporting directly from here.