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Posts Tagged ‘Machinima’

A new location ...

A new location …

Episode 2.5 of The Blackened Mirror goes live at 2pm PST / SLT today (that’s 10pm GMT) and you can watch it in a variety of ways – but one of the most fun is to watch it on a large screen with friends inworld!

There are screens available at The Crescent Theater in Seraph City, the Designing Worlds studio in Garden of Dreams and the Prim Perfect Head Offices in the Seychelles. (The crew tend to head for Seraph City).

In this episode, No More Angels, Millie has been kidnapped by emissaries of Babbage – Mr Biggins’ home city – and a place he is very reluctant to return to.

A determined Harland Quinn

A determined Harland Quinn

Quinn is determined to rescue his young friend – but what dangers lie ahead? What price is he asking his companions to pay?

If you can’t make it inworld, then it will be available on the web at Treet.TV Blackened Mirror Channel, on The Blackened Mirror channel at Aview TV, on The Blackened Mirror YouTube Channel and, of course, on the front page of The Blackened Mirror website.

It will also be on our Facebook page, where our “likes” are steadily growing! Have you “liked” us there yet?

What dangers are they hiding from? Watch - and find out!

What dangers are they hiding from? Watch – and find out!

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Our visit to the art galleries and installations of the University of Western Australia in Second Life is now available on the web – with a chance to see some of the beautiful and evocative creations that have resulted from the art and machinima challenges issued over the last few years.

Guiding us round the build is Jayjay Zifanwe of the University of Western Australia (in real life Jay Jay Jegathesan, Physics UWA) who takes us on a tour of the Second Life version of the University, and shows us the winners in this year’s challenges for art and machinima, as well as some fascinating work from this year and earlier challenges.

Art and Machinima Challenges at the University of Western Australia in Second Life

Art and Machinima Challenges at the University of Western Australia in Second Life

It’s a fascinating show as we look at how the University has become a major centre for virtual world art from all around the world -n and learn a little of the impact that has had on the real life University and individuals too.

The University of Western Australia in Second Life

The University of Western Australia in Second Life

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Art and Machinima Challenges at the University of Western Australia in Second Life

Art and Machinima Challenges at the University of Western Australia in Second Life

Join us at 2pm SLT today, Monday 9th September for another episode of our new season of Designing Worlds at our studio in Garden of Dreams, as we visit the University of Western Australia in Second Life to learn more about their work in virtual arts and take a look at some of the works that featured in recent – and older – challenges!

The University of Western Australia in Second Life

The University of Western Australia in Second Life

Jayjay Zifanwe of the University of Western Australia (in real life Jay Jay Jegathesan, Physics UWA), takes us on a tour of the Second Life version of the University, and shows us the winners in this year’s challenges for art and machinima, as well as some fascinating work from this year and earlier challenges.

And you can also learn more about an exciting new Art Challenge – the Freedom Project.

Strange oaks from simple acorns grow by Soror Nishi, winner of the Centenary Challenge

Strange oaks from simple acorns grow by Soror Nishi, winner of the Centenary Challenge

Why has a University in the Antipodes become the centre for amazing virtual world art? Watch today’s show and find out!

Silent Reflections by Krystali Rabeni

Silent Reflections by Krystali Rabeni

It makes for another great show – so do come and watch it at 2pm!

Or – if you can’t attend in person – tune in at 2pm SLT on Monday for the live show on http://treet.tv/live – or catch it later in the week on our shows page on the Treet.tv web site at http://treet.tv/shows/designingworlds – our very own version of the iPlayer!

Neurons Sphere by Shenn Coleman

Neurons Sphere by Shenn Coleman

All images photographed by Wildstar Beaumont

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You can now see the first of our special shows from the Second Life 10th Birthday Community Celebrations – on the web!

In this show, we talk to exhibitors Honey Heart who tells us all about the fascinating art of Second Life dressage, and Catbboy Qunhua who talks about his forthcoming machinima, Flying Saucers from Outer Space, a patische of 1950s science fiction movies. We meet David Abbot, who tells us about the Long Walk – an exploration of the regions that make up the SL10b Community Celebrations – with gifts to find.

Reactor Stage

Reactor Stage

And we look at two of the fantastic stages – the Live/Turtle/A’stra Stage (created by Flea Bussy and Toady Nakamura of Grendels) and the Reactor Stage (created by KT Syakumi).

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Over the last week, a group of us have been working on creating a video to go with the One Billion Rising song – Break the Chain.

On our Flickr group, you can see some awesome pictures taken by people during the filming.

Dancing for the video - photograph by Scheherazade Storyteller

Dancing for the video – photograph by Scheherazade Storyteller

As you’ll realise from those, we haven’t attempted an exact mapping of the original video. What we’ve done is to film avatars in a number of beautiful and iconic locations across Second Life. Watch to see if we feature your favourite – or maybe discover some great new places!

Dancing for the video - photograph by Scheherazade Storyteller

Dancing for the video – photograph by Scheherazade Storyteller

The dance we use is not a duplicate of the one you’ll see in the video – it was once cheorographed by Pyper Dollinger and Tatiana Kurri of Dazzler’s Dancers to match the original as far as was practicable – and throw in some special moves of our own! And when you come to One Billion Rising, you’ll hear this anthem played every hour during the event – so that you’ll be able to dance to it too!

Dancing for the video - photograph by Scheherazade Storyteller

Dancing for the video – photograph by Scheherazade Storyteller

And, in case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the original video.

Don’t forget to add your photos of One Billion Rising to our Flickr group – and enter for our Official Photo Contest too!

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Celebrating Thanksgiving in Second Life

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Second Life

Join us at 2pm SLT today, Monday 19th November, for the new episode of Designing Worlds at our studio in Garden of Dreams. This week our friends in the United States will be celebrating Thanksgiving, so we decided to have our annual Thanksgiving meal on the show – which gives us a chance to sit round the table for a discussion. Elrik and Saffia meet with Aisling Sinclair (the show’s producer) and Zander Greene to discuss machinima and what is involved in creating the popular treet tv series, The Blackened Mirror. And, of course, we all enjoy a gorgeous meal (courtesy of Pamela Galli’s La Galleria designs) on Aisling’s deck.

From The Blackened Mirror

From The Blackened Mirror

It’s a lovely setting – and a fascinating discussion about how far the boundaries of machinima can be stretched – and there are a few behind the scenes stories too! So do come and join us at 2pm!

Or – if you can’t attend in person – tune in at 2pm SLT on Monday for the live show on http://treet.tv/live – where you can now chat with other audience members and even some of the participants during the show – or catch it later in the week on our shows page on the Treet.tv web site at http://treet.tv/shows/designingworlds – our very own version of the iPlayer!

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Second Life

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Second Life

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The new episode of The Blackened Mirror contains a whole heap more puzzles and games … and this time a jigsaw quest for information too – and whether you play on the web or in the virtual world of Second Life, there’s a special prize to be won!

One important element of our games this week is to locate the destination that Quinn, Alais and Mr B will be heading for at the end of the episode.

How do you do this?

Mr Biggins makes a delivery

Mr Biggins makes a delivery

Well, there were two clues in the episode itself – firstly, the gift that was delivered to Alais (and which Mr Biggins delivered to the Library). And the second is her words to them both at the end of the episode – “It’s time to stir the Cauldron!” Combine those two elements, and a judicious targeted search may well be your friend.

Or there’s another way to find out – by completing our web quest, which this week asks you to complete a series of online jigsaw puzzles that leads you – through images taken from the episode – to the destination you are seeking.

As you solve each jigsaw, you’ll see that the web location of the next forms part of the completed picture – you’ll need to type that into your browser!

The first of these jigsaws is located here – and you may find they get tougher as you go on!

But there’s more.

On the web
By completing the web quest, you’ll be given a link where you can find out more information about Harland Quinn – and a chance to enter a competition that will allow YOU to be name-checked as a character in The Blackened Mirror.

Kyle Beckett won the competition in the Fun Noir of Episode 1 and was given a chance to become a character – either a heroic or a villainous character. Kyle is now – in the world of The Blackened Mirror – a leading reporter on The Daily Prim and Millie’s second favourite customer at the Java Jive, as he always leaves a good tip (no need to ask who Millie’s FAVOURITE customer is!). Look out for mentions of Kyle across The Blackened Mirror site and games.

In Second Life
Once you have found the destination, we have a real treat for you with this episode!

Harland Quinn - Private Investigator

This time you’ll find out about one of Quinn’s cases if you follow the trail!

There is a hunt that extends through the region – one clue will lead to a clue for another – but each of the first three clues will contain something rather special – the first three parts of an exclusive Harland Quinn short story – Death in Velvet – written by our brilliant writer, David Abbot. Here’s an extract:

It was a rainy day in the City of Angels when Winona Knight came through my door. Dolores had gone out to get something secretarial and I was dozing the afternoon away behind my desk after another long night at McKenzie’s saloon with Ed Pearse. Looking up at her made me wonder if I was still dreaming: she was the kind of woman who could make you think that, especially with that halo of blonde hair lit from behind, and when she hit me with a smile I just couldn’t help smiling back. The golden hair might have been saying angel, but the red dress she was wearing gave rise to thoughts from somewhere else entirely.

And then you find clue 4 … and that is something rather different. Firstly, it contains some gorgeous gifts, created by one of the best known creatives in Second Life. And then it also contains … well … let’s leave that as a surprise, shall we?

We’ll just say the story comes in four parts … and there’s more than one way of discovering the solution to the mystery!

Ready to start? Head for the the jigsaws – or take another look at Episode 3

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Mary Wickentower has sent us the following information:

Thanks to a generous grant from the LEA Endowment for the Arts, Mary Wickentower, of  Polished Puppet Productions  launched  “Cinema!”  for the LEA Full SIM Art Series, running through the month of September.   “Cinema!”  is a  tribute to Machinima, and the talented movie makers, designers, creators and performers in SL. Hurry over and have a look before it comes to an end.

The Empire Cinema - a part of the !Cinema!" installation for the LEA

The Empire Cinema – a part of the “Cinema!” installation for the LEA

You can see a review of the show by Victoria Lenoirre  of the University of Western Australia here.

Mark your calendar for 12 o’clock NOON SLT on Sunday, September 30, 2012 when the master of Particle Performances, Spectr3 Belfire will headline the closing ceremonies for “Cinema!”  with his spectacular particle show.

About “Cinema!”
Take a trip down memory lane and take back the ambiance of an earlier time – a time of elegance, when going to the cinema was luxurious, and the theatres were grand places; huge and ornate with immense balconies, high domed ceilings, massive red carpeted staircases and décor that rivaled the Vatican. Their equally impressive facades dominated that landscape.  Even the cozy, smaller theatres had a rich character, where you could ease back in splendid surroundings and suspend all worries, leave you tribulations behind and enter a world of imagination.  And then there was the drive in movie – a culture all to itself.  The mammoth screen filled the sky, and you could hunker down with friends or family, cuddle in a fluffy blanket, and bury your head in a soft pillow, all in the comfort of your own car.

The real life movie cinemas of today are colorless and sterile places, much like the work cubical that we spend our lives in. They leave us hungering for a touch of class, a bit of chic. Come take back the ambiance.

La Paloma  - a part of the "Cinema!" installation for the LEA

La Paloma – a part of the “Cinema!” installation for the LEA

But there’s more.  Each of the spectacular theatres featured in “Cinema!” also showcases films from the best machinima in Second Life.  Relax in fabulous surroundings and watch films from LEA MOM; the 48 hour Machinima Film Fest; and the University of Western Australia’s MACHINIMUWA contests.

The panorama of “Cinema!” also features a cozy home-style dinner and vintage gas station, all set in a 1940-1950′s California landscape. Bring a bike, brig a car, bring your honey or best friend and share in the experience of “Cinema!” and take back the ambiance!

Theatres featured in “Cinema!”
Empire Movie Palace by Khan Omizu / [K.O.]

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/KO-Empire-Movie-Palace-Boxed-Rezzer/3819139

Walk through the ticket office and enter the main lobby, and you will catch your breath as the beauty of this grand palace style theatre unfolds.  Rich marble, red and cream interior gives way to the grand carpeted, black marble and mahogany staircases which lead up to the highest tiers of private smoking rooms and elegant period bars.  Ease back in elegant surroundings of the tiered main floor, the balcony or private boxes and enjoy some of the finest films in second life. The experience is everything you hoped it would be and more.

La Paloma Theatre  by Hideo Inaka / E&D Designs

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/ED-Designs-La-Paloma-Theatre/3384898

Richly art deco, this smaller scale, but still magnificent theatre is an invitation to chic ambiance. Loving attention to detail makes this award winning gem shine.  An animated ticket booth and a pair of sculpted, animated streetlights complete with moths add to the atmosphere. Custom textures add a note of elegance.  This design was awarded Second Place in the Fall 2011 Virtual Museum of Architecture Build-Off.

Drive-in Screen by Ethos Erlanger
The impressive Drive-in screen is a generous donation by Ethos Erlanger, “passionate” builder and resident of SL since 9/12/2006.

Mary Wickentower has been a Second Life resident since 2008, located in the snowlands of Sansara, mainland.  Mary is a poet/writer songwriter, artist, SL builder and machinimatographer, and owner of Wickentower Art and owner of the film production company, Polished Puppet Productions.  “Cinema!”  represents a collaboration of some of the finest designers, creators, builders, machinimatographers  in Second Life and is a tribute to their amazing talent.

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Revolt of the Mannequins by Silene Christensen. Photo by PJ Trenton.

The notorious British art dealer/patron Charles Saatchi wrote a piece for Saturday’s Guardian entitled The Hideousness of the Art World. Aside from the disturbing conclusion that I think I may have just become a fan of Saatchi (the man who launched Damien Hirst on the world; my love/hate affair with Hirst’s work is long-standing), I found the article to be revealing, by way of contrast, as to one of the reasons I am a fan of virtual art.

I miss writing about art in SL, the business of ‘first’ life has taken me away, I hope only temporarily. But Saatchi’s article has moved me to break my needful silence, and as well gave me an excuse to share some of my favourite selections from the UWA 3D Art Challenge finale, which I am privileged to judge (along with many others including our intrepid editor Saffia).

Venustrap by claudia222 Jewel. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Saatchi’s article begins “Even a show-off like me finds this new, super-rich art-buying crowd vulgar and depressingly shallow,” an observation born not just out of his years of being at the centre of the contemporary art market, but specifically out of his recent experience attending this year’s Venice Biennale. Venice’s biannual ‘world’s fair of art’ has a special place in my own heart, as it is where I first learned to love contemporary art back in 1990, at a tender young age, after I was blown away by Jenny Holzer‘s display in the American pavilion (the first woman to show there). I’ve only experienced it one other time since (1993, in which another favourite, Nam Jun Paik, represented America, and I saw an incredible installation by Peter Greenaway, who as we know has been so wise as to recognise the machinima as a cutting edge New Media artform, and was himself a fellow UWA judge for the machinima competition). If I had the means, I’d certainly go every chance I had.

However I’m certainly not in Saatchi’s league, and could probably stumble through guileless of the tragic display he witnesses there:

Being an art buyer these days is comprehensively and indisputably vulgar. It is the sport of the Eurotrashy, Hedge-fundy, Hamptonites; of trendy oligarchs and oiligarchs; and of art dealers with masturbatory levels of self-regard… Venice is now firmly on the calendar of this new art world, alongside St Barts at Christmas and St Tropez in August, in a giddy round of glamour-filled socialising, from one swanky party to another…

Do any of these people actually enjoy looking at art? Or do they simply enjoy having easily recognised, big-brand name pictures, bought ostentatiously in auction rooms at eye-catching prices, to decorate their several homes, floating and otherwise, in an instant demonstration of drop-dead coolth and wealth.

Without deconstructing the inherent irony in his rant (as he has certainly played his part in crafting that scene), it made me think about the virtual art world, and our own version of the Biennale: the UWA 3D Art Challenge. Well, ok, that might be a stretch, but it IS the place where we may see the widest range of virtual art, and, in my opinion, some of the very best. In fact, with perhaps the exception of AM Radio, all of the greatest virtual artists who come to mind have participated, some of them regularly. I’ve had the pleasure of being a judge for the final award these past two years, and it was NOT an easy task.

Paranormal Frottage by Misprint Thursday. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Like Venice, one can wander the UWA and see some of the freshest and most innovative contemporary art – in fact, art which would be very difficult if not impossible to display at the Biennale. Art so cutting-edge that most of those vulgar art buyers wouldn’t even know of its existence. They wouldn’t deign to. Forget about the taboo of Second Life: the art at the UWA isn’t for sale. And even if it was, the reproductive nature of virtual art (not to mention the economic system of SL) makes the market for it ‘virtually’ non-existent. And I say this as an avid collector of it myself. How would these people display this work? How would it hold it’s financial value, particularly when it lacks both potential rarity and physical accessibility?

One + Four Timeboards by L1aura Loire. Photo by PJ Trenton.

This has a bang on affect for virtual artists, of course, for whom creation can only ever be a labour of love, and if they are very lucky, might pay tier. Some have tried to tackle this via selling limited edition versions, usually of rezzed repros of their physical world work (something which for me isn’t actually virtual art anyway), or creating books of their work to be sold (often at too high cost). The only artists I know who are actually self-supporting in SL are those who have commercial sides to their businesses, or those who have external funding for their work. And here lies one of the key problems in giving credibility to virtual art: what market there is for it is unstable at best. Because the sad truth is, to quote a Jenny Holzer Truism, ‘Money creates taste.’ Or rather, perhaps, it drives it.

Believe me, I HATE what I’m saying here. I do, in fact, have a lofty dreamy goal that I will some day curate a very serious exhibit on virtual art in a very serious institution. I’ve thought long and hard about how to do it, and had conversations with some of my readers, no doubt. And I’m certainly not the first to try it, we know it’s already been done.

In Dreams by Blue Tsuki. Photo by PJ Trenton.

But to get back to the original point, the failed art market of Second Life actually has a wonderful byproduct: a space in which art is created and enjoyed truly for its own sake. We immerse ourselves in the beauty and strangeness of these creations not for investment purposes, but because we derive pleasure from it, whether that is sensual or intellectual. The UWA is by no means the only place to see this; it exists across the grid in every beautiful build (really labours of love) from landscapes like Alirium (who of course also sell their fantastical plants) to cities like New Babbage.

The Superheroes Breakfast by Typote Beck. Photo by PJ Trenton.

I don’t mean to suggest that we have crafted some kind of artistic utopia; SL is plagued with galleries of very poor ‘art’, run by owners who don’t know the first thing about curation or the art world (sadly, we seem to get group notices from these folks ALL THE TIME). But there is a way in which we avoid one of the key problems Saatchi points out:

Few people in contemporary art demonstrate much curiosity. The majority spend their days blathering on, rather than trying to work out why one artist is more interesting than another, or why one picture works and another doesn’t.

Now it could be argued that I am, in fact, blathering on. But I can tell you I do spend a lot of my time considering why some artists are more interesting than others, and why some virtual art ‘works’ and other is utter crap. Close friends can verify this, but I often don’t discuss what I think is crap in print. I’m not a brave enough critic. Instead, I choose to write about what moves me and what I see to be important work.

Theatre of War by Miso Susanowa. Photo by PJ Trenton.

But in SL, curiosity drives us. We explore these worlds as a pastime, and the artists who build immersive installations provide spaces for our curiosity to frolic. For me, the very best virtual art engages multiple senses (smell and taste are of course not yet possible, which in some ways might be a blessing!). I do include touch here because, although we often think of this work as being non-physical, we in fact must interact with our computers to access it, and in some cases our dexterity is engaged to experience work.

The Suicide Forest Infested by Harpias by Rebeca Bashly. Photo by PJ Trenton.

In many ways, though, this works the same way as visiting a gallery or museum. The work is physical, but we do not usually smell or taste it; and we usually don’t touch it either. In fact, virtual art is even MORE interactive–we can ‘touch’ is and be part of the work. And we don’t have to worry about caretaking and conservation in the same manner as physical work (although virtual works opens whole new problems in these areas). One of the machinima from the UWA challenge that I absolutely loved played upon these ideas was ‘Artwashers’ by 2sense Productions.

By introducing us to the fictive cleaners at the UWA, the parody cleverly highlights how such a space is so much less complicated that a real museum, allowing the administrative energy to be focused on creativity and education. And that freedom to focus on the creative work has created a wonderful, happy accident. When I interviewed the UWA in SL founder and director Jayjay Zifanwe (Jay Jay Jegathesan, Manager of the School of Physics, University of Western Australia) at last year’s SL8B Prim Perfect stage, I asked him, ‘Do you realise the amazing collection of virtual art you are building? Have you thought about what you will do with it?’ He replied that it hadn’t at all been his goal to create a collection, but rather to simply drive creativity; that he wasn’t a curator. However, I could see FreeWee Ling, the UWA curator (and winner of last year’s challenge), nodding her head along. Jayjay’s wonderful idea and lofty goals have this incredible byproduct of an unintentional but incredible collection of virtual art. What’s to be done with it? We’ve got some ideas… watch this space. As well, I’ll be interviewing Jayjay at the Christmas Expo this coming Friday, so do come along as I’m sure we’ll chat about this!

Shattered by Gingered Alsop. Photo by PJ Trenton.

There is so much more I could say on this, but I’d rather bring this oversimplified ramble to a close by simply stating that the final awards ceremony for this year’s UWA Challenge will be a week from today (Sunday the 11th) at 6am SLT. Meanwhile, you can visit the finale exhibition and see the winners from this year’s monthly competitions, direct slurls can be found here. The images in this post are of some of the works that I have selected for my top 10 in the overall and unscripted categories. But I’ll close with a slideshow that includes some others, taken by the talented PJ Trenton (you can see the full set more clearly at his flickr.)

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First, a sincere apology. I’ve sorely neglected Ekphrasis due to many physical world commitments, and though readers may not have missed it as much, I certainly have. I am brimming over with ideas, with little time to express them, making for a very fussy virtual art historian. However, I thought I would post this, and leave my own door open wide for critique.

One day last fall, I had the vague notion that I might turn Ekphrasis into a podcast, really just a reading of the article that I would post here for those ‘on the go’ types. I know I enjoy a good podcast on my morning commute. However, in thinking on it, I realised quickly that an Ekphrasis podcast wouldn’t work very well if you couldn’t also see the images.

As such, I set to work on turning one Ekphrasis into… well, I’m a bit confused on the term here. I hesitate to call it a machinima, since it lacks realtime capture (it is comprised of stills). Let’s say it is a short documentary, an experiment of sorts. I am grateful to PJ Trenton for being my guinea pig, as well as collaborator. I’ll leave it to viewers to judge whether the original article, Ekphrasis:PJ Trenton (posted almost exactly a year ago) translates as well in this medium, but I will say one of the great benefits of this medium is the ability to show you even more of PJ’s beautiful work, including some of his RL photos. I’d love to make more of these, but only if this one isn’t seen as total rubbish!

And due to my severe Ekphrastic lapse, I shall have to come back with a vengeance. Keep your eyes peeled for a very special Ekphrasis in the next couple weeks that has been quite a while in the making. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this wee film.

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