Wednesday, February 28, 2007

High on E

[Images Redacted]

Occasionally in an attempt to replicate the serendipity of discovering builds on the Second Life mainland I'll engage in some random island hopping. The results range from unsavory to stomach-turning, to intriguing, delightful, and even sublime. Not necessarily in that order. Sometimes simultaneously.

The sim of Sudo sits on the latter half of that spectrum. As originally posted at Second Life Art News, the island was launched for a mixed reality collaboration between Seattle's Bumbershoot Arts Festival and The Frye Art Museum. It contains works from some of SL's most talented creators, running the gamut from Cory Edo and Forseti Svarog's sea monster 'Chester' all the way to Dancoyote Antonelli's spectacular expressions in Hyperformalism.

One work on Sudo seems to sit comfortably within this range and yet somehow above it all. In bringing Scott Teplin's pen and ink work 'Creepy Peepers' into the third dimension (so to speak), Kim Anubis and her fellow Magicians have conjured a build (view on map | direct teleport) that sits engagingly between the realms of realism and abstraction, architecture and art, illustration and reproduction, a feat of illusion which like a bifurcated bikini clad showgirl leaves you scratching your head, utterly amazed, and feeling a little strange all at the same time.

Creepy Peepers (which just finished showing as a part of the 'Heavy Water' solo exhibition in Paris) is a voyeuristic glimpse into the domestic struggles of characters we get to know but never get to meet. Unlike the often disappointing adaptations of books into movies, the migration of this piece into Second Life seems to invoke an additional layer of resonance over and above what was already a wondrous little drawing to begin with. The axonometric view of the unspoken intentions of high rise dwellers explodes in new ways and from multiple angles when alt-zooming into every hand-drawn nook and cranny of the structure, as if donning a pair of super-binoculars from one's own balcony window.

My only disappointment about this build is no fault of the artist nor the folks who brought it to Second Life, for it would appear so evocative as to bring back a long forgotten childhood preoccupation with the books of Richard Scarry, and as such, I kept waiting for Lowly Worm to peek his head out from around a corner. He never did.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


[Images Redacted]

Last Monday the blog of print publication Things Magazine included Virtual Suburbia alongside Keystone Bouchard's The Arch in a reading roundup (check for the Feb 05 entry, as no permalink seems to be available) of sorts, and had the following to say:
The ARCH, a weblog that 'explores the convergence of the metaverse with the real life practice of architecture'. Ultimately, it boils down to this: can Second Life be used as a real world professional tool for architects and planners? From our vantage point (without a presence in the virtual community), the answer would have to be a resounding no. Turns out that there is a burgeoning community of design-obsessed commentators circling the infamous on-line community; see also Virtual Suburbia, 'the architecture of Second Life, reviewed on the fly'. The question has to be why.
As for Keystone's work, I'd encourage you to check it out and decide for yourself, and suggest his most recent posts (as covered in New World Notes) make a very compelling case to the contrary.

I tried to leave the following comment on the post but was told "Your form appears to be incomplete or your comments may be seen as spam," so it has been reproduced here:

"The lofty goal of Virtual Suburbia is to draw out criteria on a case by case basis of what constitutes architecture appropriate to the (non) physical and cultural contexts of Second Life. The problem-solving approach brought to bear on such architectures is in many ways ported from and translated back to design in Real Life. If the formal characteristics are not the same, the spatial experience and the very idea of a 'solution' to a particular function, be it of significant gravitas or indeed 'just a game' has much to teach myself at least about design in general, and most of my learning comes in the dialogue that is facilitated by the weblog form.

The not-so-lofty goal is to simply draw attention to the many talented individuals expressing their creativity with Second Life as the medium and provide additional information to those holding the assumption that Second Life as a whole reflects a bland unconsidered cacophony of shopping malls and doll houses.

Oh yeah, and its fun.

So, thanks for posing the question, allowing for a revisit of why exactly I'm doing what I'm doing, and to have discovered your excellent publication along the way."

Sorry if this is repetitive to any longtime readers. Thought it might also might be helpful for those visiting for the first time, for which you have my thanks.