Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Art and Architecture by Xenophile Neurocam

Xenophile Neurocam

Incorporating mathematics and an artistic sensibility, Xenophile Neurocam produces art and architecture that entices the viewer to contemplate and participate in the artistic experience. He has created a unique style through a combination of various influences and technical expertise. Xenophile's work in Second Life® has not been all about self promotion, however.

Throughout his time in Second Life, he has attempted to communicate with newer builders and pass on his knowledge of content creation. Inspired by the unique environment of Second Life, Xenophile Neurocam has found his own contribution to the community of Second Life even as he has helped others find theirs.

Xenophile himself has found many topics fascinating, and all have influenced his view of art and architecture. His reading and research has helped develop his own style of art and architecture within Second Life. He explains his influences:

Artwork in front of Club Symmetry

“I spent a lot of time studying the art and architecture of the 1939 New York World's Fair. I'm influenced by inventive and creative futurists of the past such as Buckminster Fuller and the mathematical works of H.S.M. Coxeter. I find inspiration in the Bauhaus movement, Art Deco, and Art Moderne in general. I like to surround myself with books of science, art, mathematics, both contemporary and ones that look at the past and possible futures. Lately I've been interested in the architectural styles of the Victorian period although I've been interested in a variety of periods throughout history.”

His art and architecture have always been in a state of development as he has found new sources of interest. However, there have always remained the clean lines and geometric forms that characterize his work. When asked about his love of geometry, Xenophile, the creator of the Second Life Pattern Polyhedra Geometry group, responded,

“I'm fascinated by classical geometry, that created with a compass and straight edge. I'm interested in the forms and shapes of the regular polyhedrons and the shapes that can be formed from them. I believe that the power of graphics on the PC has led to a renewed interest and revolution of these areas, a branch of mathematics that had been neglected in favor of algebraic branches of mathematics. Now the two are being merged and developed further with the rise of immersive environments like SL, which will create a new generation of artists that will explore these areas in a new medium. Geometry provides continual inspiration for sculptural and architectural forms.”

Artwork in XN Art Gallery

As geometry lends itself well to many forms of art and architecture, it has become a central focus of Xenophile's work. In addition to his own studies, he has found the work of Wizard Gynoid in Second Life to be particularly challenging. Regarding Wizard, he states, “Wizard Gynoid creates the most sophisticated geometrically based objects in SL that I know of and is famous for her work in that area.”

His own work reflects his varied interests and the particular nature of the Second Life environment. Using the constantly developing tools available for 3-D content as well as his own research and resources, Xenophile Neurocam creates art that is unique in style and structure. When asked to describe his work, he said,

“Interactive, self-modifying, elements of randomness. Some are just plain static. I often use texture animation and particles in my works. There are also things that happen on touch. This makes the artwork immersive. [The observer] can interact with it in a way that allows them to change the shape that is most pleasing or interesting to them. It allows for mutable art that can change on command. They can change it to suit their mood.”

Flowers in front of Art Symmetry

Unlike art in the real world, that in Second Life has an ephemeral nature that allows it to be changed in various ways not otherwise possible. The interactive nature of Xenophile's work makes the experience of his art much different from that of art outside the virtual space.

When asked to comment on how this makes his artwork unique, he stated, “I think that the interactive nature and the continually changing nature of my creations make it easier for the person to delve into the piece. It's like the difference between touching a piece of art and interacting with it rather than simply looking at it. It gives your brain a more tactile sense of the art objects.”

 XN Art Gallery

The particular nature of creation in Second Life has allowed Xenophile Neurocam to develop a varied array of art and architecture to be displayed throughout the grid. His own gallery is in the Hawthorne sim region, one of the original regions in Second Life. Interested residents can view a portion of his art works there, along with his cuboctahedral club, Club Symmetry.

In addition to his display at his gallery, Xenophile has shown his works at other galleries, the latest one being the Turing Gallery in Extropia. He is currently collaborating with friends to create a display for Burn 2.0, quite an honor as the event will be much smaller this year.

September 28, 2010

Xenophile's work in Second Life is not all self promotion, though. He teaches a Second Life content creation course, which he developed himself, at a local community college. It has become a popular course that is a part of many programs at the college. He has also taught courses within Second Life; he is currently engaged in developing his own contribution to the Steampunk community and hopes to teach classes at the Industrial Academy in New Babbage.

Through his own blend of research and technical expertise in the tools of Second Life, Xenophile Neurocam has created art and architecture that has influenced the development of the artistic community within this virtual world. His fascination with geometry and futuristic lines has provided his work with a style that is certainly unique. While contributing to the knowledge of others even as he makes his own place in Second Life, Xenophile has become a valued artist and teacher.

Thank you for reading.

Press Pass Reporter
Satori Marat 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

UWA 3D Art and Design Challenge August Winners Announced

September 18, 2010

The September 5, 2010 party at the Second Life® University of Western Australia (UWA) sim marked the 12th and final monthly announcement of winners since the beginning of the UWA 3D Art and Design Challenge. Jay Jay Jegathesan, Manager, School of Physics, (otherwise known as Jay Jay Zifanwe) announced the August 2010 winners to a crowd of artists and friends.

 Jay Jay Zifanwe

The party was a culmination of the 12 months of the challenge, divided into the Flagship and Imagine categories. The Flagship category accepted entries of designer/builders, with the expectation of building the winning design on the real world UWA campus. The Imagine challenge, which accepted entries of 3D art, ran concurrently with the Flagship. The winners may be viewed at UWA Imagine Winners Level 4.

Of the August entries, Mr. Jegathesan said, “An incredible, unprecedented 109 entries were submitted to the August round, with 103 Imagine entries and 6 Flagships, making it 841entries across the year by some 300 Second Life Artists and Builders.” A list of the winners appears below.

Now, the Grand Prize round has begun, as well as a People’s Choice Vote, both of which will wind up on September 30, 2010. The impressive panel of judges includes Frolic Mills (BOSL CEO), Courtney Linden (Linden Lab) and Rowan Derryth (art historian and writer for Prim Perfect Publications).

Each of the 16 judges will be asked to list their top 10 Imagine works, their top 5 non-scripted Imagine works and their top 10 Flagship entries. Quadrapop Lane has created a HUD to easily teleport you to all the winning entries for the People’s Choice Vote. It’s available at Level 1.

 Celebration Party

After the briefing, the guests teleported to a celebration with DJ Eifachfilm Varcirca.

UWA in Second Life

The UWA 3D Art and Design Challenge is only one of the initiatives by and within SL UWA. Since its inception, the UWA sim has had the intention of “creating true bridges between SL & RL [real life] for prospective students, current students, staff, alumni and the community” through the core elements of arts, architecture, teaching and research. The elements of arts and architecture are exemplified by the Art and Design Challenge and the MachinimUWA Challenges.

The first machinima challenge was born of a desire to showcase SL UWA and its purposes in a public venue, e.g. the internet, youtube, etc. MachinimUWA II: Art of the Artists exhibits the winners of the Imagine and Flagship Challenges in the same way. The entries are linked to the UWA blog.

At the moment, entries including Fuschia Nightfire, Bryn Oh and Yesikita Coppola are posted. The contest continues until September 20, 2010. If you would like to enter, the rules are here.

Teaching and research are at times accomplished in conjunction with each other. For example, a post graduate class allows students in the business program to participate in a unit (1/4 semester) entitled “Buyer Behaviour and Decision Making,” in which they research consumer behavior in SL. SL is also a component of a unit on social media for undergraduate commerce students.

Mr. Jegathesan stated they would like to expand this, but “art has been the back bone whereas the teaching is sporadic.” Aptly, a new challenge will be issued in October, an art collaboration that will involve major art groups in SL.

Satirical Polemicist by E. Wierwight

In the same vein, the UWA has executed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Texas at San Antonio, principally to promote exchanges in the categories of art and teaching, entailing matters like judging and lectures.

“The international connections made through SL are very important to me,” Mr. Jegathesan explained, “and through August the challenges have seen artists & builders hailing from Venezuela, Belgium, Mexico, Wales, Canada, the USA, the UK, Uruguay, Scotland, England, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, France, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Denmark, Holland, Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Cuba, Serbia, Tunisia, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.”

The Last Ocean by Nish Mip

The challenges have drawn the attention of many of the most notable artists in SL, as well as important media outlets such as BOSL, ICON Lifestyle Magazine and SL Enquirer, thereby boosting the popularity of the UWA sim. Alumni and prospective students like to visit the sim with its replica of the actual campus, including Winthrop Clock Tower and the Morton Bay Fig Tree, which are favorites of Mr. Jegathesan. The Clock Tower is “the main UWA building; it was the inspiration to come into Second Life and build it to let the world see.”

Here is a listing of the August challenge winners:
Imagine Challenge
UWA Legacy (for submitting an entry in each of the 12 months) - Jesse Keyes, Alizarin Goldflake and soror Nishi
Honorable Mention (for submitting an entry in 11 of the 12 months) - Corcosman Voom and Oberon Onmura
August Imagine Challenge 1st Prize - The Last Ocean by Nish Mip
2nd Prize (joint) - The Satirical Polemicist by Eliza Wierwight and What a Wonderful World by Lea Supermarine
August Imagine Challenge Honorable Mention - Stop Fear by Gleman Jun, Dotty the Dragon by Soror Nishi, The Deep by Blue Tsuki, Quantum Matrix by Gingered Alsop, Partly Antsy Chamber by Pinkpink Sorbet and Antarctica - An Individual Existence by Glyph Graves
Rain Prize (established for and selected by one of the Founding Patrons of the UWA 3D Art & Design Challenge) - The Satirical Polemicist by Eliza Wierwight
The Bohemian Ghost Prize (selected by Bohemian Ghost/Owners of the Summerland Estates) - The Aerialist by Corcosman Voom
August People’s Choice Award 1st Prize - Stop Fear by Gleman Jun
2nd Prize - The Satirical Polemicist by Eliza Wierwight
Best Non-Scripted - The Unicorn Wood Edition by Nessuno Myoo

 Aug Flagship Win Herick Straaf

Flagship Challenge
UWA Legacy (for submitting the most entries) - Nyx Breen (submitted 13 of the 69 of the builds)
August Flagship Challenge 1st Prize - Concept Building for AXS Lab by Herick Straaf
2nd Prize - UWA AXS Lab by Nyx Breen
August Flagship Honorable Mention - Black Swan by Oldoak Merlin
Casey West Australian Cultural Prize (established to encourage the seeking of knowledge about Western Australia, its culture and its people) - Black Swan by Oldoak Merlin

Thank you for reading.

Se7en Wirsing
Press Pass Reporter

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sephiroth Juran and The Next Day

September 9, 2010
Written by Angelina Lerintzo


The Next Day -- A Role Playing Sim

When I visited The Next Day in Second Life® there were a lot of breath-taking views. The different coloured lighting schemes reminded me of urban lifestyle in the district parts of my hometown. As I went deeper and looked at the structure of the buildings, I saw a futuristic theme inside the sim. However, it kind of reminded me of different cities and countries. So, I view it as a mixture of four countries like Macau, Byron Bay, Hong Kong and Japan

Press Pass: The Next day, it’s very nice. Whose idea was it at first?

Sephiroth: Well at the beginning my partner, Sana Dagger, was building a RP futuristic vassel in space, then the sim owner Morgane Nyle, who belongs to this chain of sims, and had only middle age ones, wanted to change one of them in urban style and asked Sana to build it. So she left her vassel project to begin building here. Morgane chose the name. The idea of building a sim in this style is Sana’s. We began to build it together, then sweet Tantulus joined us later. While we were building the first sim, we decided to add a second one. Finished them both, we opened 3 months ago.

How did you meet Sana Dagger, Morgan  Nyle, and Tantulus?

I met them on an RP sim, as I’ve been RPing for 3 years on SL. So I met Sana and Sweet as players like me and we became friends. Morgane was a sim owner of the sims where I played, so when I got invited to join the staff of those sims I knew her too.

From left to right: Sephiroth Juran, Press Pass Reporter Angelina Lerintzo, and Sana Dagger.

Hold on, I’m kind of curious. How much money do you earn every month for creating the Next Day?

We don’t earn money, it’s just for passion. We rent shop spaces and apartments or clan bases just to cover a part of the sim’s fees. 

Wow. That’s real commitment. How do you manage to balance between real life and The Next Day in Second Life?

I spend free time in SL, depending on RL commitments. SL is a creative environment that allows you to create things you can't in RL, and to free your fantasy. So it’s quite fun. Many think of it as a game, but for me it’s more a place to create. Of course this takes time, let’s say it’s a “hobby,” not different from many others.

What is the CCS (community combat system) meter for?

It’s a combat meter, very diffused. It’s used for roleplay in the sim, as  it allows people to fight.

The Next Day

That is indeed fascinating. What languages does the community use to communicate with others?

Their own, there’s not an official language. Mainly the community is English and French speaking. To interact they are requested to use a translator, or try to communicate in RP as they would do if they meet a foreigner in real life. I mean it's SL, the best mixing of cultures.

How and when did your love affair with creating massive structures grow?

I began to build in SL 2 and a half years ago. The items in my shop include weapons, armor and gorean outfits. I began with large buildings on those sims 1 year ago.

The colours, the design, and variety of culture. You astound many for creating such brilliant places full of details. How many people told you that you are their source of inspiration?

Well there are many creators in SL, really talented. Yes many probably take inspiration from here to make new works, but the problem of building a sim like this is that it takes much time, and RL commitments. Even keeping a sim closed for months while you build it is a cost that not many wish to substain. It’s a lot of work and time.

Sephiroth and Sana

Some new members who just started playing second life want to create amazing structures, buildings, and shops. Can they learn to build big structures fast? What is the secret?

It takes time to learn. The problem is that it’s not something you can teach. Personally I did try, I got an info notecard somewhere in my language that teaches the basics, then I began trying. For sure it’s a great speed up having someone sharing the passion, because you learn faster while helping each other. 

It seems easy. I’ve built a table when I experimented with it. It was fun but quite challenging. Do we need a lot of patience if we want to build such structures? Does it frustrate you sometimes?

It doesn’t because I love it but for sure you must have a passion to do that at a certain level. Some people find it easy, some not. Those who do are sure candidates. The problem is not so much learning to build things in SL, but going on to learn at a certain level. For example building a sim like this needs sculpted prims, using programs outside SL like Blender 3D, or Maya or 3DMax. Same thing for textures, you must learn to use Photoshop to make things different from what is already seen. You can even purchase nice stuff. We did that even in many parts of the sim. Sometimes you must learn to script, as building a sim needs many scripted things. So if you are a team, everyone puts their knowledge together and it’s easier. Sana is really talented with photoshop, sweet with Blender 3D. I learned to use Blender too, I’m quiet good in scripting, and we all are able to build. But learning to build on SL means learning other software.

Have you ever argued with your colleagues about disagreements? 

Yes, we did a lot. Sometimes building a sim is frustrating, as you think you’ll never finish. So yes it happened.

 The Black Bunny

What are the famous spots in The Next Day?

The Black Bunny, the main club.  Damville, the criminal street. The Arena. The Dock Art Fair, that is the art gallery. But there are a lot of places, clubs and bars. 

Where can we find the location of Black Bunny and Damville?

Damville is at the north east side of The Next Day sim, where there’s a police car. Black Bunny is under the same sim, you reach it from a tunnel in the same area, using the elevator, but it’s easier to reach it with the sim teleport system. You find teleport screens everywhere. Touch them, select the destination, right click and teleport.

This is a common question people ask. Which location is best for combats and battles?

The Arena is the place to train, but people fight everywhere. Battles happen during RPs. This is not a counterstrike sim. The combat meter is used when people begin to struggle and aggress in RP, or decide to use force to solve problems.

What groups exist in The Next Day and what role do they play in the community?

We have 4 RP groups: criminals, Next Police Department (whose role is quite clear), MedLabs for those who like hospital and researcher RP, and Citizens for those who wish to manage a non-RP activity like a club or a bar. There are even some CCS clans, really old, but people can create their own RP groups as they wish, following the background of the sim. The ones we created are just an idea to help RP, the only limit is their fantasy.

Is there any competition between you and the other designers in second life?
Well, I can’t speak for the others, but personally I like to explore and look at what others do and create. I like when people create here, I don’t see that as competition but as a source of inspiration and a way to see new ideas. But for sure it’s a personal thing.

In real life, some people want to escape their life and continue it in second life. Do you agree that escaping from life would be a good thing?

Hmm. No, but I think this is something a lot of people think about second life. People can escape real life with a videogame, with Second Life, with a hobby, and a lot of things. It’s simply their problem. Second Life is part of life just like anything else and saying it’s an escape is usually from those un able to use it. 

I wish I could do that. There must be a lot of compliments and people who want to meet you. Do you find it frustrating and satisfying?

Yes, we get many messages. Personally, I find it satisfying. It depends if I’m busy when they contact me. But no, it’s not frustrating.

Why should more people come to the Next Day as a destination?

It's mainly a RP sim, but many just come to visit the place, as the build is quite accurate and took 1 year of work.  Many come here to take photographs and so on. There are clubs with events with live DJ mixes. There’s even an art gallery, where we allow monthly an SL artist or photographer to display creations for free. Most people come to immerse in the town life and start RPing, create their own character and play in the town.

Thank you for reading.

Press Pass Reporter

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tiny Products mean Big Business for Peaches Latrell

September 2, 2010

 Peaches Latrell's Lilliput Store

With long experience as a Tiny in Second Life®, Peaches Latrell has seen the beginnings of the Tiny culture and helped to expand on its influence. As she created products that she personally desired, she discovered others interested in her creations. With the opening of her store and later projects, Peaches has founded many various areas in Tiny society that will prove exciting in the future.

Peaches Lattrel wearing some of her designs.

A Tiny for almost four years now, Peaches began creating her own dresses and accessories due to the lack of variety in clothing available at the time. This urge toward innovation has helped Peaches throughout her career as a content creator in Second Life. As friends enjoyed her clothing, she decided to open her own store, Lilliput. She continues:

“Lilliput products have always been things that I wanted for myself and couldn't find. For example, back in 2006 I created SL's first rideable horse for Tinies because I wanted one! Everything in my shop is something that I wanted or needed for myself, so I guess you could say that my own tastes and desires are my inspiration.”

Peaches wearing a dress of her own design.

Her products, including the horse, outdoor furniture, and clothing, have become popular in Tiny areas such as Raglan Shire. As her business has expanded, she recently opened a new and bigger Lilliput. In addition to her current products available at the original store, she will soon offer many more products:

“I have started to focus more on my tiny animations and am working on some new tiny dance sequences along with my rl/sl husband Apollo Kronos. Also in the works is a new furniture line and some posh, trendy clothing. Another exciting project that I am currently working on is a collaboration with the makers of RendeZvous - Avatar Animation & Mobility Technology. We are experimenting with a Tinies version to add to their current family of products which includes their wildly popular couples’ animator for humans.” 

Having been in Tiny society for quite awhile, Peaches has seen the changes in Tiny culture, as well as trends in fashion. When asked what upcoming trends she sees in Tiny fashion, Peaches responded:

“One welcome trend that I have seen growing in the Tiny community is more diversity in general. Many new designers are representing styles like punk, goth, trendy casual, etc. This is a huge improvement over the days when our choices revolved around big frilly dresses or t-shirts. While I do still enjoy wearing a fancy dress, a girl likes to have wardrobe options! My male friends have also expressed appreciation for the growing selection they have in fashion. Male clothing and accesories have traditionally been an underserved market in SL and male Tinies have expressed appreciation for all of the new designers and styles.”

Inside Lilliput

While Tiny fashion is becoming more varied, much of the fashion is very similar, especially Tiny shoes. Peaches states that she would love to see more “hair options and more shoes.” Indeed, this is happening as more people like Peaches become involved in the world of Tiny fashion.

Perhaps her most exciting new venture is Tinywood, a new sim influenced by Hollywood. Peaches is a big fan of movies in real life, and so this influence was a natural one for her. Although the sim has not yet opened, Peaches describes some features of the new sim:

“We will have Tinywood Boulevard for our shops and attractions, including my new main shop Madame Latrell's Wax Museum, Grauman's Tinese Theatre, an Ottertorium, and even Frederick's of Tinywood which is a fun tongue-in-cheek venture. Lining the streets of Tinywood Blvd will, of course, be the Paws of Fame display with the names, pawprints and pictures of tiny visitors and friends. Everyone will be a superstar in Tinywood!

The Lilliput Miniature Horse

“Aside from the shops, we are creating faux, interactive movie lots where Tinies can jump into famous scenes for picture-taking fun. Some of the first ones will include an 'I'm the King of the World!' scene, Tiny Kong, Gone with the Prim and some more fun surprises. We have fun contests planned for the community including 'Build Your Own Set' with a rotating, specific movie genre.”

In addition to the shops and movie lots, Tinywood will also include its own television studio, where Tinywood shows will be produced and later published on Youtube. Other attractions will be the Music Hall of Fame and Tinywood Bowl. Tinies will surely find many fun activities in Tinywood.

One of the features of Tinywood will be Sweet Pea’s, Peaches’ Tiny bakery. Her first creations can be viewed already at Lilliput, but they will soon find a new home in Tinywood. When asked her inspiration for the bakery, Peaches responded:

“I created Sweet Pea's when my friend LittleBlackDuck Lindsay asked me to make some tiny food for his cafes in The Nation of Victoriana and its tiny sim Tinytoriana. I enjoyed it so much and had such a favorable response from customers that I have decided to expand my menu and make the shop a permanent fixture in Tinywood.”

Although a new Lilliput store and the Tinywood sim would be enough for some, Peaches also has plans for another new project, Muse Isle Productions and Tinywood Studios. This is a joint venture with her friend, JenzZa Misfit, owner of the Muse Isle sims. After working together on a wedding gift video for a friend, both decided to produce more. They have several movies in the works, including Harespray. They will be shooting their videos at the new Tinywood studios and at scenic locations throughout Muse Isle. The friends’ first collaborative effort, “A Very Tiny Wedding Thriller Dance in Second Life® - Michael Jackson Tribute,” can be found on Youtube. Their mutual enjoyment in the productions will surely come through in their upcoming movies.

As Tiny society has grown, Peaches Latrell has shown a creativity and ingenuity that has added to the unique character of the Tinies. Beginning out of necessity, Peaches’ work has helped others enjoy their Second Life.

Thank you for reading.

Press Pass Reporter
Satori Marat