Archive for the 'Second Life' Category

reblogged: On Building the Unreal, a Memory

2007.08.10 (Friday, August 10)

My grandparents, the tired, the poor and the hungry of an Old, imploding Europe, immigrated to America between the 1880’s and the early 1920’s. Arriving on its shores with little more than the clothes on their backs and the energy of getting to work to re-build their lives, crafts and tradesmen, they literally started constructed the inner cities, then the suburbs, of their adopted country’s eastern seaboard.

What? & How? to build to build & organize the young cities and unbuilt territories of America, was based on their mental images, those of the land they left behind. An instinctive memory of the thousands of years of culture and architecture constructed by their ancestors’, a ghost-image that somehow they felt capable of reproducing, that would permit them to thrive in their new home. [continue>Metaverse Territories]

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Roadmap Event Questions

2006.08.14 (Monday, August 14)

The excellent Metaverse Roadmap Event that I attended earlier this week in NYC @ EYEBEAM has been briefly covered here, here & here. Due to a serious lack of time on my part (I’m waiting for a plane), I’m posting a couple of questions that I wanted to ask and that we didn’t get around to on Thursday evening.

  1. Jerry Paffendorf showed a web app that created links between a build in Second Life (SL) and a real world, mapped location on which it is based. Why do this? Is there anything actually being created by doing this? Even though it was just another feature of the metaverse space Jerry was showing off, I think the details and implications of this is essential, and deserves much more attention. In fact, it was alluded to several times in other presentations without enough elaboration.
  2. The discussion between Prokofy Neva and Mark Wallace provided the sound byte of the evening. Prokofy identified “World” as the “force” fighting the integration of virtual & WWW spaces. World, she explained, is a “time machine” whose role is to provide the context for shared experience through the creation of succinct atmospheres. (It was actually a quite poetic moment). Wouldn’t we have been better served, if the equivocal nature of world was replaced by space? World is a potentiallity, whereby space is a tangible, modifiable material, a medium.
  3. Sibley Verbeck of Electric Sheep described a recent event in SL for baseball’s All Star Game, created for Major League Baseball. But beyond the ostensible entrepreneurial and marketing ploy, how will the simultaneous representations of an original event actually change our experience of it? Or, sticking with the example of baseball, we know how its media space representations (TV, radio, press…) augment and intensify the game. How will virtual worlds play out as trans-media simulacrum?
  4. The great Tony Parisi produced the best graphic-byte of the evening, showing his vision of the metaverse that seems to thrive on a multiplicity of local, discontinuous worlds connecting through the existing infrastructure of the web itself (web 2.0, that is). But for me, Second Life’s global physics, consistent atmosphere and spatial continuity was a revelation. It showed me that coherent space can lead to persistent shared experience. Space is the fabric and the medium of consensual experience. Can this be sustained throughout Parisi’s discontinuous spaces?

Between the thunder storm and torrential rains that leaked through the Chelsea warehouse roof on a warm New York night, and the enthusiastic exchanges that animated the event, much more deserves to be said. I’m not doing it justice here, what I’ve written is incomplete. I’ll try to support my questions by filling in the cracks with my notes of the event. But my plane was just called, so I’ve gotta run. Thanks Jerry, and to everyone involved.

Avatar pupeteering by on-screen manipulation

2006.08.03 (Thursday, August 3)

More on the “Puppeteering to Second Life” anouncement,that tells us about the “ability to add movement through the expressive puppeteering technology … allowing residents … to enhance their interaction without having to access dedicated animation software…” Soon, we’ll be able to “simply grab an avatar’s body part and move it in the desired way.”

Computer World elaborates on this after a first hand demo @ Siggraph 2006:

“Apparently, players will soon be able to pose their online avatars by moving and manipulating body parts through a very intuitive, point-and-click interface. Not long afterwards, they’ll be able to create personalized animations using the technology, saving them for hotkey-use in future sessions. While it’s certainly not the most original technology being shown off at the show — and there is sure to be an uproar in congressional districts when folks realize that groping will be as easy to do in game as swinging a mouse to and fro — it’s sure to have a lot of impact on the hordes of people and companies that make real money off of the virtual world.”

Rezzing Procedural Space

2006.07.27 (Thursday, July 27)

Smart Geometry is a work-group promoting research in advanced 3D CAD applications. Of particular interest is GenerativeComponents from Bentley Systems, which describes a “parametric and associative” system for the development of design projects. Wow. A GenerativeComponents application describes a 3-D dataset (a fancy name for a bunch of objects) by not only its geometry, but also by the “abstract relationships,” the many decisions, large and small, that make-up this particular design. Representing the logical structure of a build, and not just its explicit geometry, is an attempt to describe and explain the builder’s intentions –the how, what and why of its spatial composition.

But what does this have to do with SL?

In Second Life (SL), spatial complexity emerges from the deliberate accumulation and modification of geometric primitives based on an idea or ideas about space. Although there are countless ways to proceed so as to realize a specific building, it is always the result of specific decisions unfolding over a linear or non-linear period of time; this can be thought of as a kind-of recipe. For example, a build (ABC) has three objects (a, b & c) that followed the recipe (a-> b-> c) for its fabrication, the order in which the objects were composed. Using the same three objects (a, b & c), but this time following the recipe (c-> b-> a), we now have constructed a build (CBA). While the two builds might have common attributes (quantities, size, scale, colors, distances etc…), the overall quality of space differs.


GenerativeComponents, taking this into account, integrates the designer’s intentions to the composition of the scene until it becomes both the build AND the tool, the concept and its fabrication. In fact, makes the idea and the object reversible.

Users of 3-D modellers or CAD software work graphically, applying intuition and experience to establish a specific workflow. It is this workflow –the commands, decisions and modifications of objects, that is captured and encoded by a GenerativeComponents program. A recipe is created from this mix of geometry with the decisions that transform it. The proceedure is captured, analyzed and made reusable as the logic, memory, process, context and content of the project.

The idea of an object is reinvented, geometry is fused with the seeds of its generation.
Experimentation, through the development of evolving design scenarios, can proceed without having to manually re-build a detail design model for each alternative.
And finally, since the interface of GenerativeComponents applications is a mixture of graphic manipulation and a dataflow scripting interface, there is a natural convergence of the two generative models. Builds employing SL as a media rely on LSL, the Linden Scripting Language, to complete the deployment of complex space, thus a platform permitting their coming together is a welcome advancement of the buliding/programming environment.

Identity: agent.indvidual.territory

2006.07.25 (Tuesday, July 25)


A) At Paris’ Musée du Quai Branly, a current exposition asks, “What is a body?” The response comes from the world of comparative anthropology, and presumes that :

  1. the body, while perhaps an individual entity, is not, in terms of a society, a private one;
  2. the body is not a finished object, but rather a public fabrication;
  3. one is not alone in his or her body. We are constantly elaborating a relationship with something that is not a part of us and that varies from culture to culture. It is an important differentiating element between cultures and societies, whose differences can be traced to this significant other. [More detail after split]


B) In Second Life (SL), “I” am composed of three distinct mechanisms [taken from the LSLWiki]:

  1. an agent, the “client’s presence within a simulator“;
  2. an avatar, the “visual representation of an agent”; and,
  3. a camera, through which “an agent sees” the world.

These 3 elements permit me to perceive, interact and communicate in the SL spatial, natural and social environments. But taken together, these otherwise local, simple and omni-functioning elements have one essential, global ambition: to represent Me, and to make tangible my POV. It is thanks to the fundemental engagement between agent (individual) and simulator (context), that I exist.


C) In SL, I am not alone inside of my avatar. I share it, like in the anthropological body, with something that is not a part of me. The contemporary body is defined by the tension between its individual limits and its shared, common evolutionary and biological structures (as represented by a strand of DNA). This conflict is played out by man thought the creation of symbolic imagery, projected by his technologies of cultural and communication.
The body in SL is the result of the tension between the individual agent and the world’s simulator; where, if we substitute the term simulator (or sim) with territory, then “I” am defined by the tension between the sensory limits of my SL agent and the territories that I occupy at any given moment. My agent becomes both my reactive and receptive nervous system to capture external stimuli, and my connection to the consensual, communal spaces of this virtual territory. It is this territory (via the simulator) that lets me possess the essential cultural capacities of memory (of ideas and things, shared and individual), media (think, make and do; ideas, material, action) and space (personnel and public). Read the rest of this entry »

“Who are these people?”

2006.07.24 (Monday, July 24)

From the blog Non-Governmental Imagination [via Technorati] :

“As I watched that crowd of swaying avatars on stage, I couldn’t help but feel like a dinosaur. I was a little scared of this medium, in that it seemed so foreign to me and would require so much work to get a firm grasp of. I know SL is experiencing tremendous amounts of growth right now, and the people immersed seemed so comfortable flying around (literally) and building worlds and friendships that I had to ask myself “who are these people and where do they find the time to spend in Second Life?” These same questions, mind you, are the same ones I asked about bloggers two years ago. Although blogging may have been a niche activity then, it’s not now. I guess I just reacted how lots of people do to new ideas they can’t wrap their head around. Will SL become the new blogging, a medium which is cheap or free and any NGO would be foolhardy to ignore as a means of raising awareness or money?”

Real world, serious games

2006.07.23 (Sunday, July 23)

[Saving the World, One Video Game At A Time @ NYTimes, 23 July 2006]

  • “…a new generation: games that immerse people in the real world, full of real-time political crises. And the games’ designers aren’t just selling a voyeuristic thrill. Games, they argue, can be more than just mindless fun, they can be a medium for change.
  • Video games, serious-games advocates say, also possess a persuasive element that is missing from books or movies: They let the player become a different person (at least for an hour or two), and see the world from a new perspective… most (people are) interested in playing as their own “side.” But when he pushed them to switch positions they developed a more nuanced sense of why the other side acted as it did.
  • Ultimately, a video game is just another medium for artistic expression…”

[The View from Jerusalem @ New World Notes, 18 July 2006]

  • “The “SL Israel” group is several dozen strong, primarily comprised of Israeli Residents, and when their country’s conflict with Hezbollah reached a savage apex over the weekend, I sought them out, to get their perspectives– on the situation in particular, and how it’s impacted their Second Life.
  • “So for awhile me alone working on this ‘temporary Temple’, and hope to enter ‘Jerusalem’ sim.””

Explaining RL Art with SL References

2006.07.20 (Thursday, July 20)

The New York Times writes about this project, The abode of chaos, that is outside of Lyon, France (caution, this is a link to a .kmz file and will attempt to open Googe Earth, so don’t click if you don’t want to do this). Not to take away from the considerable energy it takes to pull something like this off… But, given its self-proclaimed context as a contemporary œuvre of art, it’s pretty banal stuff, déjà vu, especially when you look closely. So why bring it up at all? Somehow, as I look at this project from the perspective of Second Life (SL), I begin to understand its formal context much better. Through its use of simple, disposable and seemingly un-physically bound objects, juxtaposed though not quite chaotic enough, it becomes a material simulation of SL’s lack of physical and conceptual restraints; an embodiment of its immateriality. In fact, I find the SL take on chaos and immateriality much more coherent.

[The Manor Meta Project SLurl] click to zoom

Art, tech and territory

2006.07.20 (Thursday, July 20)

This 3pointD post about a script, a web interface, and a location moves two approaching worlds (RL <=> SL) a little bit closer. Corey Linden speaks of “SL mirror-world space to visualize, market, and sell the data” using world-converging mashups such as this. I’m more interested in the innovations for the non-mirror world, metaverse-as-a-media built environment that scripts like this will make possible. In the spirit of geo-caching or gps art, invented in the wake of cheap, available GPS tech, what are the objects and spaces that will emerge from the convergence between art, tech and territory?

What I want to figure out is how, when and why this:

… can be, act and look more like this (click to zoom):

re: Immersion or Augmentation

2006.07.19 (Wednesday, July 19)

The SLCreativity blog frames an important (in)world issue concerning “2 views of Second Life,” immersive vs. augmented. What are the implications for the built environment, as well as for building the environment, in both real life (RL) and Second Life (SL). I’m going to attempt to re-frame the issue by considering it from the perspective of “representing something.”

Augmentation: As far as the augmentation argument is concerned, there are 3 nuances to consider:
a) augmenting RL with SL; and,
b) augmenting SL with RL; but also,
c) enhancing other metaverses with SL.
Maybe this distinction comes from an a priori bias of seeing neither SL or RL in a vacuum, but rather as 2 very intricate pieces of the other’s puzzle. Another bias I have is to consider SL a platform rather than just a game. This somehow necessitates reading usefulness into what we do with it and how we use it. Thus, if we can define SL as an interface, filter or conduit between content & container, between information & its communication, we can begin to understand SL as a part of this framework.

Anyway, deconstructing the plural, reversible nature of the transactions between SL and its’ siblings and cousins, recognizes their common effort to decode and inform the world(s) around them. This being said, the fact remains that metaverses are a specific and unique kind of container because of their dominant expressive material (media) : immersive Space (but I digress, (or do I?)).

Immersion: The idea of immersion in SL being defined as “not be(ing) contaminated by anything from the outside” is misconstrued. As I’m attempting to articulate through my work on this site (a bit laborious, perhaps, but I’ll find a way to be more succinct…) most of SL’s content is conceived by establishing a direct or indirect semantic link between a RL artifact and a SL reference. Thus, in order to access the meaning, atmosphere or usages of a build in SL –its signification, prior knowledge or experience of the RL artifact is necessary. In this scenario, the immersive purity becomes necessarily ruptured by having to access, at the very least, a mental image of the reference, or worse, a Google search, in order to understand what’s going on. In the example below…
can this be an “immersive” or even meaningful experience…

…without this reference?
For total, non “-contaminated” immersion to occur the signification system must turn to SL itself, a self-referential system, and tap into the SL deep structure, to arrive at true immersive expression.