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Archive for August 9th, 2010

Amid the worry and scurry, hue and cry that has accompanied the transformation of Burning Life (an official Linden Lab mega-fest) into Burn2 (the extension of Burning Man into the metaverse) I will take the following position:

The transformation of Burning Life into Burn2 is a very good thing.

Aisling Easterwood and her Fire Skin

The question of course, is “a good thing for who?” Most commentary on this has been concerned with what the change signals from Linden Lab and how it affects hopeful residents who were eager to try for a parcel this fall. There hasn’t been a lot of discussion of what it means to Burning Man and the virtual burn itself.

Burning Man has a unique culture (and it is this culture that makes it very attractive to yours truly). Similar to SL itself, it’d be easy to focus on some of the more sensational sex, drugs and rock and roll aspects of Burning Man, but this would miss the point entirely (as it would in SL also).

The real coolness, the fierce core of burning culture, can be found in the Ten Principles. They lay out a vision of a community that is composed of creative, independent individuals who don’t hang on the sidelines. This culture invites you in and encourages you to express yourself. It celebrates generosity. It expects well being and responsibility.

Burning Life Needed to Change

There are two principles that are particularly germane in examining the BL to B2 transformation. First up is principle #3.

Decommodification. In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

Sponsorship comes with strings attached. Corporate logos next to a charity’s name on signs and Tshirts is bankable good-will and high quality public relations. The sponsorship is not extended altruistically. That’s why Burning Man has decommodification as a core value – to defend the idea that true gifting is unconditional and without thought of reward. But wait… let’s check out the header of the website for Burning Life, 2009… and ouch. Second Life logo, upper right – the price of corporate sponsorship.

Burning Life 2009 Website Header

That isn’t to say Linden Lab couldn’t have provided support for Burning Life if they wanted to. It’s just that such support should have been provided no strings attached, as is expected of all contributors to Burning Man.

Moving on to our next principle…

#4 – Radical Self-reliance. Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.

It’s really no surprise that Burning Life was huge (34 sims in 2009), with enormous participation from builders and artists and hordes of SL residents flocking to attend. I mean, it was FREE. It cost nothing to get there, nothing to build there, nothing to exhibit, nothing to perform, nothing to attend. Free. Free. Free.

TANSTAAFL. There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Well, not really free – because it was a Linden Lab event, subject to their constraints (PG), rules (no megaprims) and oversight. Still, it was a pretty good deal – except it wasn’t really Burning Man, metaverse edition. It was SL Birthday, desert edition.

It’s not like Burning Man in the actual world is free. You pay to get in and you pay to exhibit. You pack your car / truck / trailer with desert camping gear, water, food, propane and enough sunscreen to drown an elephant. Add all the stuff you want to build with once you get there. You are expected to be entirely self sufficient in the heat and sand and pick it all up and take it out when you’re done.

That’s partly why the culture is what it is. You work hard to go to Burning Man. You invest in the event and you earn being there.

So, What’s Next?

If bigger is seen to be better, then Burn2 will be seen to be a huge step backward, at least in the short term. It seems reasonable to assume that many were participating in Burning Life because it was free and a short term hit can be expected.

On the other hand, Burning Man in the metaverse is now free of Linden Lab and Second Life. There is nothing to keep it from spreading out into Blue Mars, InWorldz, Rezzable, Reaction Grid or even Open Sim servers dedicated to the burn.

Achieving a truer reflection in the metaverse of actual burning culture necessarily requires an event that takes a bit more work and investment to make happen. If the birth of Burn2 ultimately results in the emergence of a more altruistic, more self-reliant virtual community, I will count it a tremendous advancement.

Second Life® is a trademark of Linden Research, Inc.
Burning Man is a trademark of Black Rock City LLC.
Raven Haalan is not a trademark of anyone at all.

Also posted at: ravenhaalan.com

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'26 Tines' by Bryn Oh

Text by Jayjay Zifanwe
Photographs by Rowan Derryth

Winning the IMAGINE Category of the UWA 3D Art & Design Challenge is quite the accomplishment. But the July round winners were announced today, and former winners took the day again as Bryn Oh (26 Tines) and Nish Mip (Overload) were named joint winners of the L$5,000 prize. The FLAGSHIP (Architecture) Challenge saw the formidable partnership of DB Bailey & Patch Thibaud take the L$5,000 1st Prize over Brazil’s Herick Straaf. 5 time Flagship Champion Nyx Breen won the Casey West Australian Cultural Prize for the 3rd time.

'Overload' by Nish Mip

The penultimate month of this year long L$550,000 challenge, July saw a record-shattering 80 submissions to the IMAGINE challenge, with 5 Flagship Builds of incredible diversity and quality, as has become a trademark of the Challenges.

Commenting on the win, Nish said, “I am still so amazed that people even like my work There are so many truly great artists with incredible art entering into this competition. I’m absolutely amazed that I’ve managed to win something again. It’s put me on a real high. Thanks to everyone at UWA who help in organizing these competitions and thank you again to all the artists who have made these events so magical.”

Flagship winner by DB Bailey and Patch Thibaud

Speaking on behalf of the FLAGSHIP collaboration, DB said, “It’s fun to win. The real winner here is SL. What this has underscored for me is how extraordinarily effective this medium is in collaboration. To be able to work with another architect three thousand miles apart and three hours time difference on a design is a great experience. Not possible using the conventional design tools.”

Looking into the interior and courtyard.

Patch was equally effusive about being able to collaborate with DB “DB Bailey and I have collaborated on a number of projects, but we had a special interest in the Flagship challenge. We felt it was a great opportunity to provide yet another example of using a virtual world as a platform for architectural collaboration. We also decided that, although the competition brief did not require it, that we would seek to create a building that responded to the real world site for the UWA’s Cultural Precinct building, thus exploring Second Life as a design medium for real world projects. As always, I have found working with DB to be hugely enriching on a creative level, and the University of Western Australia’s Flagship Challenge to be a terrific incubator of creative endeavor in Second Life.”

First time entrant Gingered Alsop took out 2nd place in the IMAGINE Challenge with ‘The Chamber’ a wonderfully immersive piece that had many a visitor lost inside, in awe for hours.

“There is no greater gift then to see through your eyes what you imagine in your mind, and no greater joy then to share what you create to inspire the creativity of another’s mind.”, said Gingered. “2nd place is completely unexpected … and I am stunned and humbled purely by the amazing work I saw.”

'The Chamber' offers a spectacular light show.

In something that has never happened before in the non-scripted category, the judges could not seperate the top 2, and thus this category saw joint winners for the first time: JUMP by Corcosman Voom, and THE MECHANICAL KNIGHT by Nessuno Myoo.

“I am very pleased to share the July award for best Non-Scripted Entry with nessuno Myoo, an artist noted for being able to make the prims speak to us without disguising their nature. I want to thank the many, many people involved in making the Art & Design Challenge a unique event in Second Life, from both the University and from the Second Life community. An event of this magnitude is not possible without many hands to help. Most of all I want to thank Jayjay and quadrapop for the many hours of hard work they have devoted to this project, they have given us a wonderful gift in the Art & Design Challenge.” said Corcosman.

'The Mechanical Knight' by Nessuno Myoo

The People’s Choice Award followed June’s uncanny pattern, as there were joint winners for July as well: LIFE by Yabusaka Loon and LESSONS IN DEMOCRACY by Rose Borchovski sharing honours.

Lea Supermarine however won the People’s Choice an amazing 2nd time running, with NEURAL NONSENSE, the first time this has been achieved. When asked for comment, Lea responded. “Can I think a moment about it? Brains are burning.” Which was the right answer, considering her submission.

'Lessons in Democracy' by Rose Borchovski

Two special prizes by benefactors were on offer, The Rain Prize (L$1,000) and the newly established Bohemian Ghost Prize ($L1,000 + 600 Prims on The Summerland SIMM). These were won by luciella Lutrova (ESCULTURA CON BAILARINA) and Pixi Cosmos (SLICE OF TRANQUILITY) respectively.

The winners of the UWA Trophy Contest were also announced. This contest was kindly organized and run by FreeWee Ling and the Resients of Artemesia. Two L$3,000 prizes were on offer, with one of them being selected as the official trophy for the UWA 3D Art & Design Challenge, with the other to be used in an as yet unannounced Grand Collaboration.

Taking top honours here were Miso Susanowa & Sharni Azalee. Of Miso’s piece, the judges commented that Miso “…created a beautifully executed graphic design that explicitly says UWA while embodying the creative spirit of the challenge”, and in describing Sharni’s work, they said, “…it represents elegance and sophistication and is a great representation of 3-D in SL”. Abstract Baroque & Nish Mip took the Honourable Mention prizes.

There were 6 other Honourable Mention Prizes: Noke Yuizta, pravda Core, Maya Paris, Selavy Oh (and Identity Absent), Takni Miklos & Yabusaka Loon. Selavy asked to convey that Identity Absent (a shapeshifting bot that reportedly propositioned Miso Susanowa at the after party) was very glad to receive the prize, and that this event will be a turning point in her life!

Selavy Oh's 'Identity Absent' ironically placed in front of Yabusaka Loon's 'Life'.

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