Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Open Sourced

Tonight I had the honour of appearing on Christopher Lydon's Open Source discussing 'Living in Game Space' alongside Sherry Turkle, Hamlet Au, and Cristiano Midnight, as well as an in-world audience of talented content creators and entrepreneurs.

Props to the Electric Sheep Company for pulling off yet another pan-reality event.

If you're interested, the show is available here.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Future's So Bright (Part I) - The Grail








Taking the ideas introduced in the previous post to their logical extreme we examine Seifert Surface's latest build, a head-spinning exorcism of the right angle. His structure, called 'The Grail,' resides in a surreal private island playground sim known simply as The Future (95,187,400 - view on map | direct teleport).

I first encountered Seifert's stunning mathematical visions at Lordfly Digeridoo's Grignano Public Art Museum, and was struck by the relationship of his abstract sculptures to the historicist context of the build in which they were contained. Head on out to his backyard, however, and its a whole different deal. As far as context goes, 'The Grail' simply hangs ambiguously in the sky amongst Seifert's menagerie of curious experiments. If you're looking for the build's function, it is also somewhat unclear. Someone might want to live there, someone else might want to fill it with slot machines and call it Biff's, a third may just want to get stoned and stare for hours (Hey, its very shiny. People with Glaucoma would be really missing out if they didn't get it treated).

The Grail is typically accessed via one of Siefert's trademark discombobulators such as those enjoyed at this past year's Burning Life Festival. Upon arrival at the elevator lobby there is the further need to launch onself upward in a seemingly precarious manner to the desired floor. But that's a bit of a misnomer - its all one floor. Weighing in at over 1000 prims, the entire build is perceived as a single manipulated plane. This expression creates a number of fascinating conditions where horizontal and vertical elements meet, each one resolved in a unique and well-articulated way. I continue to be mezmerized by the build, and not in a manner that involves lime flavored Tostitos.

The Grail is but one of a number of forward-looking structures on this sim that breaks the shackles of our assumptions about architecture as they exist in the real world. Rest assured, we'll be back.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Barnesworth's Pre-fab[ulous] Homes and Furniture








Turning our attention now from a build that responds to the natural context, Barnesworth's Pre-fab[ulous] Homes and Furniture in Barcola (83,159,25 - view on map | direct teleport) similarly responds to an 'urban' context in a manner that blurs the distinction between private and public space as it appropriates the materiality and scale of an adjacent pedestrian plaza by manipulating a single surface into an up-to-date container for retro merchandise.

In some senses the build evokes similarities to the abundance of rounded-corner 'soft box' architecture in Avalon, however it represents a departure from the somewhat self-referential qualities of these builds by engaging the plaza not only on the level of surface manipulation but also as a distinctly unique object relative to its surrounding structures, as opposed to the more subtle thematic variations to be found amongst the collection of Avalon builds. The store acts as a bookend to the outdoor mall that comprises the Barcola Riverside Commercial District (which as of this writing is still under construction), with views to the water and the nearby SLOPCO facility.

With all the attention that has been focused on the Larsen Shops lately (also by Barnesworth Anubis with Jauani Wu) it would seem appropriate to highlight the effective potential in builds such as this one that take advantage of their presence in virtual space not just to skillfully mimic real world structures (although complicated ideas of continuous surface manipulation nee the Deleuzian fold have been clearly pinging the radar of the RL architectural vanguard for over a decade) but rather to take advantage of the virtual context to create a structure that is abstract and yet gains meaning by remaining engaged in a dialogue with architectural realism.

The forward-looking quality of the build does however seem to present a juxtaposition with the retrospective nature of the merchandise inside. This contrast would appear on the whole to be a positive thing, serving to emphasize the goods for sale rather than to hide them, however it also suggests that if one is to hold up the merchandise to the tenents of the Modernist movement that spawned it, the manner in which the goods are displayed is perhaps missing a certain degree of clarity, rigor, and logic. One might also suggest some additional opportunities to fully utilize the various pockets of space created by the interaction of surfaces in a manner that might play up the potential ambiguities between the interior of the store and the exterior plaza condition.

These negligible issues aside, having picked up a couple of chairs and a chaise for the old cabana there is something to be said for the pure joy in purchasing virtual furniture, namely not having to arrange for delivery, or rent roof racks, or scratch the floors on the way inside, or bash one's knuckles as a consequence of undersized Allen wrenches and the necessity for self-assembly. With the apparent ease of a single swooping gesture, Barnesworth has created a spatial compliment decidedly on par with the retail experience.