Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cao Fei

"Cao Fei’s work reflects the fluidity of a world in which cultures have mixed and diverged in rapid evolution. Her video installations and new media works explore perception and reality in places as diverse as a Chinese factory and the virtual world of Second Life" (

I remember seeing this episode of Art 21 a while ago, and thought I share Cao Fei's work with the class. I believe you can view the full episode on the Art 21 website, and Netflix.

Nike Greycloud: Update

The more time I spend on Second Life, the more my interests begin to deviate from interactions with other Avatars. I think my lack of interest in meeting other Avatars may stem from feelings of distraction when I converse on Second Life. I usually have a goal when I sign on, such as building an object, discovering a new location, taking a photograph, or writing a script.

Lately, I have enjoyed taking photographs in Second Life, the images mostly depict various landscapes. These landscapes are simulations/abstractions of reality, and I like how this abstraction is taken one step further through the screenshot. I have also been trying to build objects in Second Life, objects that can be brought into / created in this virtual world, but cannot be brought out. It is hard for me to get used to this method of object making; it is almost too simple, the interface having fewer options to manipulate a form. I am in the process of learning how to bring objects from Maya, or other programs, into SL. This process has been confusing for me, but I am determined to figure it out. Once I am successful in bringing more objects into SL, I will play around with giving these objects scripts. Although i am not extremely interested in interacting with other avatars, I would like to leave objects behind for avatars to interact with. The objects become an extension of myself, and the actions the avatars perform are voluntary, as they decide whether or not to click on the given script.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Polygonal Sculptie Tutorials

I think I've finally found some definitive rules for making sculpties (in Maya). The way it works is that you export a UV map of your 3D object using a special script (linked below), and then import the bitmap into Second Life as a sculpt object. The UV map that you import has to be perfect. In other words, it needs to look like a grid of UV points that fills the entire top-right portion of the map. When you import it, it looks like a square rainbow.

You can't create an object in Maya and then go back and make it's UV map perfect. You have to start with a perfect UV map and keep it that way. To do this:
1) Create a sphere primitive.
2) Go to Edit UVs > UV Texture Editor
3) This is how you want it to look when you export your map. Though, I'm not sure about this, but I think you may want to select the second-to-top and second-to-bottom (right before the pointed triangles) and move them onto the edge of the box, so you have a perfect grid. Otherwise the bitmap you import into SL will have some weird deformations along the edge.
4) In the Channel Box, add however many subdivisions you want to the sphere. The result is the number of vertices you must maintain while modeling to preserve the perfect UV map. If you add or delete any vertices, the object will be deformed when you import it into SL. This means no duplication or merging. So I guess you have to get used to not having perfectly symmetrical models.


Basics of Creating UV Maps (Maya)
Creating UV Maps and Textures (Blender)
Modeling Sculpted Prims for Second Life in Maya (using polygons)
- also covers making perfect UV maps
Lynda Tutorials
- best tutorials for learning just about any program the school has; login through the portal for free access
Creative Crash
- lots of examples of professional 3D models and rigs, some are downloadable so you can see how they work
Summary of Animation Overrides
Second Life Tips & Tricks
- some useful scripts and info on animation overrides, cameras, etc.
Basic Animation Override Script
Gestures Wiki
Creating SL Animations with QAvimator
Download QAvimator
From Nurb to Sculpture
- text and video tutorial available
Sculpted Prims: 3D Software Guide
- info on what programs are supported and how to import models into SL; just about all searches lead back here
Pivot Level
- a script for making a lever object; you might be able to use this to change a prim's pivot point


Many of you have been asking how to harness the power of other 3D packages in order to make "sculpties" for Second Life.

The official FAQ is here

The specific MEL script for outputting from Maya is here. Make sure you read the FAQ first!, as there are restrictions on what type of models you can export out as viable sculptmaps.

SLURL for Studio Space

Our new studio space(s) at the Parcel SAIC Group is on the Dreaming Out Loud Estate
Direct teleport is here. Enjoy these snapshots of the build experiments.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Avatar Update

It's been very difficult for me to get used to Second Life. I've been pining for that overarching vision and artistic cohesiveness you find in other games (Well, okay, this isn't a game). So many sims have the same look and feel, jumbling together objects bought from artists of varying skill. I've found a handful of beautiful sims, but even those spaces are marred by the ubiquitous venders and advertising. And most of what I've experienced boils down to sight-seeing. Is Second Life all about looking? Looking at architecture, shops, avatars? Taking snapshots in virtual spaces?

I've realized that my interest in virtual worlds lies in authoring experiences for other players - to share with people a vision that's entirely mine. And while Second Life provides a platform and a potential audience, I feel constrained by the choices made by it's developers when they created this framework.

All the same, I suppose it's as good a starting place as any. For my final, I want to play with ideas I've had about connecting online communities to the real world, with an emphasis on environmental simulations. I want to put users in the bodies of other organisms, and to taylor the playing environment to promote awareness of certain biological and ecological issues. My home is in the Pacific Northwest, so I'm considering a focus on repairing urban salmon runs. Not entirely sure, however.

Because of this interest, I've been pushing myself to learn Maya and other programs that can import data into Second Life, to try and get the most out of the visuals. I've got the general theory behind building and animating avatars, but actually modeling and importing sculpted prims has been extremely frustrating. This past week, I tried to model a canine head in Maya (as practice for doing tutorials, and to make a new avatar). But trying to upload it as a sculpt-map failed, and I'm not sure why. It might be because I used polygons instead of nurbs. I really hope not....

On the other side of things, I plan to continue exploring Second Life. However, I want to branch out and find sims that aren't just pretty to look at. I want to try socializing with other users and seeking out sims that mimic different kinds of game-play. I need to see what's possible in that arena.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Performer in a theater

My avatar is performer and I could be a performance director in the SL. I make a stage for the media performance, and my avatar needs to change his/her costume and makeup. Sometimes it will take props on.

I’d like to make Miniature Theater using LCD monitor in the RL. It will interact video with physical lighting. Otherwise, In the SL, I would manipulate many things included time (sunrise, sunset, or midnight) and lighting. These functions are very useful for me for making a daytime or nighttime.

For the final, I want to make a performance in SL with my avatar. In the performance, there will be a dancer, but he/her will have various roles. A story of performance would be lead by either a dancer or video clips on stage and background.

"real" photographer

I continue my avatar to be a photographer. I took a view camera and visited different interesting places. Though the appearance is a photographer, I hope the camera really works. I can take pictures in avatar’s view, not me outside the second life’s world. It seems difficult to get a script to realize it. So I just try to let the avatar be a photographer appearance. I have been in SL world more than one month. Usually I think what is the difference from the SL and facebook? They all build in computer and based on internet, and the facebook is more effective than SL in communication. So what are the differences? The look? The way to control? I have no idea. It seems a complex question for me. I need to think deeply.

Furthermore, I tried to build some models to enrich my inventory. And I found a script for 3DS MAX last week. It is for uploading models from 3DS MAX. I tried several times but it didn’t work. I find that script is a powerful tool to touch the idea. I will continue to further my avatar in the way with more new powerful tools.

Second Life Infection

When beginning Second Life, I believed my experience would be filled with solitary experimentation and a reflection on that experience stimulated by media theory. But, an unexpected personal dimension has risen. I asked my girlfriend from Toronto, who I have been in contact with through video chat on an every-other-day basis to join SL so that we could spend time together in the virtual world. I sent her stills of my avatar over email. It was clear though, through my stills that: A. my character was not modeled after myself, and B. that my time in second life what predominantly solitary.

My girlfriend, who is a shy, and rather solitary fiction writer, joined SL, modeled her avatar after herself and immediately made friends by accepting an avatar’s invitation at Orientation Island to become a vampire. After a couple days, between text messages and video chat it became clear that she spending a lot of time in world, and her time on SL was predominantly social: attending dance parties, nude beaches, and underworld-fashioned mansion parties. Next, to my surprise she posted photos of herself having SL sex with a tight-bodied nude- blond onto her facebook wall. This incident has brought up many complexities for me concerning to what degree SL is a ‘real’ experience. Many of my friends have suggested that SL is not ‘real’ when I talk about my girlfriend’s public exhibition of her SL sex encounter. Is reality dependant on physical presence of both people in the experience?

Philip Auslander brings up Steve Wurtzler’s criticality of history’s binary position to events being either live or recorded in ‘Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture’: “As socially and historically produced, the categories of the live and the recorded are defined in a mutually exclusive relationship, in that the notion of the live is premised on the absence of the recording and the defining fact of the recorded is the absence of the live” (Wurtzler). Wurtzler challenges this traditional view by discussing live TV or live radio as a situation where, as Auslander reiterates, “performance and audience are spatially separate but temporally co-present”; or like a lip-synched concert, where “performance and audience are spatially co-present but elements of the performance are pre-recorded.”

What’s interesting about Second life is that the experience is similar to live television recording, where, the performance is spatially separate from the audience but they share temporarily. Though unlike television, the axis of communication is not one performer to many audiences, (to use Clay Shirky’s wording) but rather one to one. Making it a personal interaction yet confusing the traditional performer and spectator roles. One becomes a performer and a dual or split audience: performing for the other avatar while watching the other avatar perform as well as watching ones own avatar perform.

second post update

So far, I've experimented with the identity of my avatar, from the original asian form that I manifested during the beginning of class. I took the liberty of changing my character into an asian-centric manifestation at the beginning in order to provide myself some sort of link to the idea that I was being reinterpreted in digital form, but then once I got comfortable with the idea of having a digital representation, it became a little easier to represent myself as a character of a different ethnicity, such as a black or white person. I am still getting acquainted with my character though, and all of the quirks that I am attempting to personify my digital being.
being able to play with the lighting/brightness of all the objects though, is still an awesome thing to do because of that.

Avatar Update

Not much has changed about my avatar. I experimented a bit by making a hat and a scarf (applied as soft body) and adding the objects to my pre-made Snoopy avatar, but no major changes were made to the avatar as a whole.
I'd like to experiment a bit by making my own avatar body in maya as I am interested in the how avatars work as representations of the use. I thought it was kind of funny that when I was wondering around Halloween sims, people would randomly exclaim "Snoopy!" and do a little dance for me.
I like the idea that at any given moment you can change your outfit and appear to be a completely different person (aside from your name staying the same, of course). Other than Snoopy, I use a strange character that looks like a business or fashion-type woman who walks on all fours and has a dinosaur tail. Though this character is simply my attempt at strange humor and does not necessarily represent anything deep about myself, it was interesting to see the results of mixing animal skeletal structures with humanoid bodies.

No changes thus far regarding my feelings about my avatar as an entity. I’m not sure if it’s an idea that I’d be interested in utilizing, but my broader work occasionally involves creating characters; to exist as personifications of some concept or idea, existing to illustrate them (by reacting to or directly reflecting these thoughts) or as individuals in their own right to exist within a narrative. Depending on the freedom of posing within Second Life and overcoming the limitation of having only one avatar to act as a focal point at a time, I may try creating a tableau directly, as opposed to using elements of Second Life as reference materials for a sketch. (This is neglecting collaborative work, which I prefer to do in order to simplify the working process and allow greater flexibility in deadlines. I prefer any potential hiccups a project may experience to be my sole responsibility.) Another crucial factor in deciding if this is a direction to proceed is also the visual style that comes from Second Life. I have, however, discovered a little more of the building tools available, and I’m more than content with these in themselves. The path cut and hollow options within the build menu have already been useful; more practice with the variety of build tools will hopefully result in an interesting and fun production. Included are snapshots of a hooded cape and armor I've randomly been making; the path cut and hollow tools have helped out immensely, with more work with textures to follow.

Monday, October 11, 2010

SL/RL Art Opening - Transmediation

Transmediation Art Exhibit

Featuring: Janell Baxter, Claudia Laska, Patrick Lichty, Andrew Oleksiuk, Janet Rooney and others. A transformative communication method; information in multiple formats converge, and data is translated into new medium.

Join us inworld for the opening at I AM Columbia sim (Columbia College Chicago) at 2pm SLT (4pm Chicago time). Thursday October 14, 2010.

Both inworld and real world exhibits are free and open to the public

The real world opening happens simultaneously at 916 S. Wabash

Avatar Color Study with Trampoline

Here is the scripted trampoline with colorful avatars.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Realtime 3D Class Goes to Metanomics Talk

Our class went on a field trip in Second Life to a live taping of Metanomics. Can you identify the SAIC students? ;)