September 28, 2007

Tragedy at Burning Life

written by Cyanide Seelowe

Everyone saw it coming... we all KNEW that griefers were going to target Burning Life and come up with a cunning way to ruin someone's fun... but their recent attempts on the Playa were far more tragic and devastating than anyone could have imagined.

It is to my understanding that a group of griefers came up with a way to returns all indescriminate "Objects" to their owners, or delete them... i'm unfortunately not savvy on the details... but I will tell you that more than 80% of the Floating Rivers installation is now gone, and the carnage that surrounds our small plot of Burning Life resembles that of a zombie flick-- desolate, empty and unsettlingly serene.

Burning Life Builder Good2 Go mourns the abrupt departure of his
build, reminiscent of Buddhist monks from the Vietnam war.

We understand that the whole point of Burning Life, and its parent festival Burning Man is the impermanence of art... but this is a terrible way to say goodbye.

Nevertheless, there are still human spirits attached to these virtual avatars, and the last time i checked, the human spirit was indomitable-- we will persevere, and we will make a come-back.

Gone... all gone.

Good2 Go in a better mood, but still aflame :D

September 25, 2007

A Grand Scale- Burning Life '07

written by Cyanide Seelowe

Up until now, my concept of "scale" in Second Life was generally one of quantity, rather than one of size-- sure, artists such as Madcow Cosmos set the standard for both high prim, large scale pieces of artwork; but outside of his creations, it's very rare to see artists just letting go and creating sculptures that are larger than life. This misconception changed on my most recent wanderings through the Burning Life playa.

Burning Life '07 is definitely a bowl full of art candy waiting to be eaten up by the imaginations of anyone who would wander through. The dry, dusty playa is filled with giant sculptures, huge environments and earth-shaking concepts that dwarf both the avatar AND the imagination. If you're looking to tilt your head back in awe and amazement, I implore you to visit this year's Burning Life festival-- you won't be disappointed!

For more pictures, mosey on over to the VAA Flickr!

September 24, 2007

Floating Rivers- the VAA's Debut at Burning Life

I can't even begin to tell everyone how utterly excited I was when I heard about the Burning Life landgrab and the kind of opportunities it presented. Not only would we be participating in one of Second Life's most fantastic displays of eclectic collaboration, but we would be exposing ourselves to new horizons of networking and making a ton of new friends along the way. So I camped out and claimed a small piece of the land for a handful of volunteer artists-- one month later the once barren and dry playa of land is teeming with life, movement, color and creativity.

Many thanks to Alpha Auer, Dale Innis, Rezago Kokorin, Sunn Thunders and elros Tuominen for taking this dusty piece of land and quenching its thirst for collaboration! It has definitely encouraged me to make our participation at Burning Life an anual tradition :D

Be sure to visit the VAA Floating Rivers installation for Burning Life to gaze in awe at the build-teams hard work!: Burning Life (Zara) (28, 90, 24)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

September 23, 2007

Leaves Of Light / Enclume - A Collaborative Installation

- by Magellan Egoyan

Last Thursday saw the simultaneous RL and SL launching of the Leaves of Light / Enclume Installation. This installation proposes a "church of light" as a space designed to harbour and promote the music of Alain Leblond, a Quebec City based composer. The result of a collaboration between myself, Jeanni Nishi and Pandora Wake, the building was conceived as an attempt to exalt the spirit through the use of light, color and subtle motion. This is combined with the powerful organ music of Alain Leblond, the original inspiration for the installation, and in particular a composition called Enclume (or Anvil in English). The cathedral features stained glass compositions by Pandora Wake of the four elements, earth, water, air and fire, and evocative kinetic sculptures created by Jeanni Nishi for this event and seen here for the first time (see image below). Technical assistance for the media support has been provided by Ringuard Cuirard and Nocturne Writer. The cathedral itself was constructed by myself, but some of the textures were provided by Jeanni, while the rotating sky is an original creation by Pandora Wake.

Visitors to the installation called the space "serene", "a beautiful and unique structure", and "meditative". Clearly, although the images give a sense of the site, the installation delivers a multisensory experience that must be felt directly. Like the Rezago Kokorin and Sunn Thunder's project, The Abyss, this is the result of a collaboration between several artists. We are hoping to see more collaborative installations within Second Life - the environment favours such collaborative projects. The Burning Life event is certainly one way to promote such efforts - individual installations such as The Abyss or Leaves of Light are another.

To visit the installation in world : Leaves of Light, Wetas (72, 110, 635)

September 13, 2007

elros Tuominen - Second Life Artist

- by Magellan Egoyan

I had the privilege of interviewing elros Tuominen and preparing the fourth installment in the series Second Life Artist, following the earlier episodes on Rezago Kokorin, Plurabelle Posthorn and Cheen Pitney. Many of us know elros as a charming, delightful person via chat, but wait till you hear the warm tones of his voice! His ability to express himself gracefully loses nothing to his strong Basque accent, if anything, you will be still more seduced by the results.

I believe I may have discovered a natural ability in elros for teaching as well - he moves from one concrete example to another to illustrate the different points he makes about his work and the process of developing the fascinating ensemble of work that he has accumulated over the year he has been present among us. He tells us about using colour, making textures, the use of sculptie textures, and a variety of other topics.

Both elros and I had a wonderful encounter, and I believe the fun we found in each other's company shows in the video. The sculptures many of you know, but here you get to see many of them grouped together in time (although these represent only a fraction of the prolific production he has achieved). Many will be familiar, but almost certainly some will be new. elros is among the most generous of souls, and despite the fact that he sells his work, I think he may give away more of it then he sells! Furthermore, there are many other chords to his ark, far too many to be covered in a single 10 minute clip. In addition to his wonderful sculptures, elros makes Second Life jewelry and is a very fine poet. But that is another story, for another time...

The video may be found on youTube, here. Enjoy.

September 6, 2007

Machinima promotion of Second Life virtual art

- by Magellan Egoyan

I have been conducting a bit of research concerning the effectiveness of machinima/video productions for the promotion of artists, both in and out of Second Life. I find the results intruiging, and since Cy has made it clear that the promotion of virtual art is an important topic (by producing a much needed "self-promotion kit"), I am following her lead to talk a bit more about the "marketing" of virtual art.

Despite the dramatic rise in the use of video to convey information (witness the explosion of youTube's content in the past couple of years), it turns out that there are not very many promotional videos for artists in general. Using obvious key word searches such as "artist" "promotion" "intro" and "presentation", I found roughly twenty such promotional videos outside of Second Life, and less than a dozen for inworld artists.

The oldest posting seems to date back about a year. For non SL artists, the average view count comes in at about 200 views per month when spread out over several months. This view rate is fairly constant even when one excludes very amateurish video blogs or promotional videos done by or for high profile well-known artists. I have found in the viewing curves for my own machinima productions that they have a characteristic shape, a relatively steep increase in views for about a week and then a stabilization of the rate to a roughly constant level. The variation in view rates across different artists, however, is high - it varies from a minimum of about 40 views per month up to more than 600 views per month for some relatively well known artists.

For the promotion of Second Life virtual artists, the average view rate appears to be about 50 views per months (excluding my own machinima productions), so significantly less. The view rate varies from a minimum of about 15 views per month up to maximum of about 80 views per month.

Another interesting feature about these statistics is that the production values of the video or machinima affect these rates. For the non Second Life artists, view rates of amateurish productions are significantly lower than for more professional efforts.

Now to my own productions by way of comparison. My four artist productions generate view rates of an average of 135 views per month, with relatively little variation from one artist to another - a slightly higher rate for better known artists. The minimum rate is 110 views per month, the maximum about 150. So my productions seem to fall intermediate between the "standard" promotional videos of Second Life artists, and those found in the mainstream. I say standard in quotes, because the professionalism of most Second Life promotional videos is actually relatively low compared to the mainstream promotional documents, and so a fair comparison between the two sets of productions is somewhat difficult.

My own reflections about these statistics is that there are grounds for improvement. Second Life artists seem to be reaching a more limited audience than mainstream artists in their self promotion efforts, and there must be ways of improving exposure outside the Second Life community. I am presently exploring these issues and expect to change my videos as a consequence. It is also worth pointing out, however, that some increase is possible simply by raising the quality of the machinima productions that are made - I think my own work here demonstrates that.

Machinima productions do appear to be a viable format for promotion, different but complementary to a website. There is need to develop more of an active use of machinima to promote virtual art - there is so much of it in Second Life, and much of it goes largely "unsung". Time to change that, I think!

September 4, 2007

New Second Life Geography Machinima Clip

- by Magellan Egoyan

Although my geography machinima videos are of less direct interest to a VAA audience, I must admit that one of my reasons for developing these was a market ploy - to increase the audience that watches the artist machinima clips I've been producing, via a spillover effect. And, to be quite frank about this, this is indeed working. There is clear evidence that the viewing audience for the machinima clips focussed on artists has increased by a factor of about a third over what it would have been, in the absence of the Geography clips. Which is, I suppose, a comment on the effectiveness of marketing for the promotion of artistic work.

So I am pleased to announce the delivery of my second Second Life Geography machinima clip, this one focused on the twenty sims that form the region that was originally Second Life. For your viewing pleasure, you will find it on youTube here.

Communion through Architecture

- by Magellan Egoyan

I was privileged, earlier today, to be shown a fascinating new gallery by an unusual artist whose name is Keystone Bouchard. Keystone is an architect who has a real life practice, but after discovering Second Life he's turned his talents increasingly towards the virtual world. His interest is in developing what he calls "reflexive architecture", but this is related to what I have been calling "reactive sculpture". Essentially, he is developing buildings that respond to avatars in interesting ways, enhancing their sense of space or their perceptions of themselves via interactions.

He has constructed a large gallery which is breathtakingly beautiful, a kind of "sculpture in light" (see the photos to get a sense of this). Within the gallery are about a dozen separate installations, each a gorgeous construct with its own lines and movement. Do not take these photos to be representative, however - the true beauty and power of these installations comes when one engages with them, bodily. Furthermore, although they are interesting for a lone visitor, they are designed to be responsive to groups, so take a few friends with you when you go. The experiences these architectural wonders provide will haunt your waking hours, even perhaps your dreams. Not only do they engage our senses (there is sound and some movie elements as well as the dynamic objects which make up the installations), they also engage our sense of play. One feels a desire to run and jump, even sing around these constructs which seem to know and echo how we feel. Each installation has a different behavior, and so it is worthwhile taking time to explore and engage with each one.

Keystone mentionned that the gallery is located above an island he won as a prize for one of his installations. Rarely has a prize been used so aptly to the common good. This awesome gallery is not to be missed, it is one of the most impressive and engaging kinetic experiences I have encountered, inside or outside of Second Life. (Location within Second Life : Also for another viewpoint on this work (and more information), please consult Bluewave's review.