Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sliding into Second

As the number of podcasts focused on Second Life increases (and stands poised to explode upon the release of the voice client), Wayne MacPhail's 'Who's on Second' remains one of my favourites. The show is an enlightening look at Second Life that goes beyond the typical media memes to highlight non-profits, educators, activists, and now me.

Episode 19 proved a marvelous opportunity to discuss some of the ideas that have been gestating here at Virtual Suburbia. The conversation covers a lot of ground, including the idea of spatial versus formal experience and whether we 'feel' space based on some sort of inherent physiological hardwiring or perceptual conditioning, through to how the notion of 'presence' extends across 3D and 2D media like email, IM, IRC, and Twitter, as well as how spatial apprehension and metaphors are brought to bear on one-to-many and many-to-many interactions. Upon first listen it would also appear I could stand to talk slower, say Um a few less times, and not come so dangerously close to contradicting myself. Good times.

One of the more challenging parts of the few interviews I've done is to narrow down a shortlist of admirable people and work to discuss. For that I would like to apologise in advance to anyone not specifically mentioned, and suggest our archives as a means of gaining a somewhat fuller sense of the scope and breadth of architectural talent in Second Life.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Another 'First': Annual Second Life Design Competition

Just in off the wire, and something you may be interested in - A call for submissions for the "First Annual Architecture and Design Competition in Second Life". The competition appears to be the brainchild of Munich-based artist and architect Stephan Doesinger.

From the competition's website www.sl-award.com (link is to English version, original URL is in German):
Topic of the Competition:
Seeking the coolest, most spatially interesting and aesthetically independent pieces of architecture from the inhabitants of Second Life. It can include all buildings: from big to small, spaceships, underwater constructions, villas, fully landscaped and designed islands, complex high rises. Decisive are creativity, innovation, features, style, and spatial qualities.

September 1st, 2007
Most intriguing is this excerpt from the 'background' section of the site, perhaps a nice summary of the tree we've been barking up for a while now:
What matters in Second Life is the architectural function of the building. Even if one cannot enter them, like the CAD renderings, in a physical way, the communication happens on many levels: aesthetic, linguistic, musical, and finally with virtual buildings, which one could also call walk-in plastic sculptures. This alone is something that real architecture sometimes can't achieve any more. Here, "architecture happens" and creates in this way, as contradictory as it may seem, "real places." Only through the "beyond human" physicality in Second Life – one can even fly as an avatar or teleport oneself – are new spatial connections made. The exciting question is: Which relation does the real architecture (-culture) have to this development and vice versa – on all levels?
My instant reaction to any RL architecture competition (in North America, at least) is a certain degree of skepticism, usually related to the inevitable politicking and compromises that occur if the winning design is ever to get built at all. The only potential concern about this one is that it seems to cast the net a little wide as it pertains to the *actual* criteria that will collectively emerge among the jurors to deem a spaceship better than a high rise, for example.

Regardless of how that plays out, the intentions at a quick first glance seem good, and barring any unforeseen malicious legalese the potential is for every entry to be of value to the creator, win or lose, as an actual 'built' work, providing a function in Second Life rather than simply languishing on paper and relegated to gathering dust.

That said, I can't recall the last time my inventory was swept out.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Long Commute

We're back home again after a rather stressful outage, related to Blogger.com's ability to utilized custom domain names for Blogspot hosted blogs. As an emergency measure, all traffic was being directed to our project blog www.simvineyard.com. The rather convoluted solution employed was found here on the Blogger Help Group.

We also took the opportunity to get a feedburner feed up and running and will be looking at the most appropriate strategy to get our ducks in a row in that department. Anyway, glad to have that all behind us. The site should be accessible from www.virtualsuburbia.com, virtualsuburbia.com, and virtualsuburbia.blogspot.com, with all of the current incoming links to the site in tact.

Thanks for your patience and understanding (not that we have any grandiose notions of self-importance, mind you). We just felt it very important not to confound new visitors from sources such as (my favorite formZ author) Lachmi Khemlani's AECbytes Feature on Second Life's potentials for Architecture, Engineering, and Construction in Real Life.

As well, within minutes of service being restored, it was a delight to find a comment submitted on our review of the 'Creepy Peepers' Apartment Towers, by none other than Scott Teplin himself, the artist behind the original print work on which the build was based.