Saturday, January 31, 2009


This is a 30 second demo of what a music video made in Second Life could look like. The song is from Tammy Patrick's fab new album, Red River Valley.

Monday, January 26, 2009


L1 just fell from a great height, because recently I have been enjoying falling, or watching her fall, secure in the knowledge that no harm will come.  BUT this time, as she hit the ground, instead of getting up and dusting herself off with that cute animation, SL crashed when she did.  Curiouser and curiouser.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Barack Obama is going to clean up the mess . . . in our house!" Sammy, 3 1/2 years old

Well, Sammy's idea for how far Obama can reach might be a little overstated, but I guess he understands the general feeling that his mother has on this inauguration day.  I feel optimistic and hopeful not only about politics for the first time in a long time, but about humanity.  Enough people chose hope instead of fear, chose change instead of retrenchment, chose the future instead of the past.  I feel great hope for race relations in America; Obama's election is a game-changer in that breaks open perceptions and creates new possibilities for collaborations and dialogue.  Studies show it doesn't take much for people to drop their prejudices, and that tolerance spreads fast.  We have an amazing opportunity to take huge steps that will make a big difference in our children's lives.

There is a Second Life angle to this: two of my friends and I hosted a party to celebrate the inauguration in SL this past Sunday.  It was at lynsey Fleury's Woodstock sim, with a live performance by Angelndskyz Galicia.   It was like a real party: I introduced friends who didn't know each other to each other, and, because it was SL, was able to keep dancing while I shot some video!  Didn't have the space navigator hooked up, so the video is choppy, and it is just one take, no cuts, but it gives an idea of what it was like.  You can see the awesome ice ramp Maya Paris created, with the congratulatory message to Obama that we all felt so strongly.

and now Joseph Biden is officially VP.

12:04 pm: Obama comes to the podium for the oath!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Love Lucy moment in SL

Can you see what is behind the fabulous Bryan Mnemonic, just to the right, on the floor?  It is L1Aura Loire's hair!!!  I went to shoot footage of him in his Virtual Harlem sim, where he is doing just about the most interesting and innovative teaching in Second Life, and this is what happened:

I turned off L1's user interface so it wouldn't show in the video footage.  I clicked around and must have somehow detached her hair!  So I hurriedly put on some more hair once I realized it, and of course Bryan was very nice about it all and we had a good laugh and did the interview.  BUT I must have actually DROPPED the hair, not detached, because as soon as we were done and I eager went to check the footage, I could spy L's hair in the background.  GASP!  

L1 sent Bryan, who was teaching there in his Virtual Harlem space, an instant message alerting him to the abandoned hair, and being the gentleman and scholar that he is, he immediately returned it, hopefully before any students could see.  

Only in Second Life.  But this is what would happen to Lucy Ricardo if she were bumbling around in here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First Machinima Footage Posting!

Here is the a very rough cut of the footage I shot yesterday with Maya and Lynsey at the Bicylorama in Woodstock.  The sound is not done, it is not really edited down to a real piece, which will be much shorter, but you can get the idea of what I am up to making machinima.  There is a lot of footage of the bikes and the bicylorama in the middle, but some interesting interview takes with Maya towards the end.  There will be a voice over throughout, maybe with Maya's narration, too, from a voice interview.  Maya and I will also reshoot the interview, and maybe have a voice interview with Lynsey, too, to replace what we shot at our happy accident meeting late at night here/early in the morning there that I put at the end of this cut.

It has been a real learning experience getting this far with this piece.  First time working with others, which is much more fun and rewarding than with my alt avatars, but also adds an element of pressure.  Of course the lovely ladies in the video and who I am now lucky enough to have in my second life are nothing but supportive, encouraging, and well-humored no matter what time of day or night it might be in Holland or England, but I am relieved to actually have something to show them (and others) that gets this project out of my head and glimpsed by someone else.  

I am also desperate to turn off L1Aura's speech gestures, which are no longer active, but persist.  In a year when I have no students and I am not lecturing at all, my avatar is in constant lecture mode as soon as she goes into voice chat, gesturing and opening her eyes, leaning back self-importantly, blathering on and on, interminably.  After a whole day spent filming her, trying to get her to look in the right direction, staring into her face with her flip-flapping mouth, I wish she would shut the f*** up.  How's that for a person-avatar relationship?  What's the Proteus effect there?

So here are some of my thoughts: Virtual subjectivity is even more individualized, more, well, subjective, than in real life, I think, because of how differently each one of can be seeing the same thing physically with the camera feature, how no one knows what any avatar is really doing or looking at.  Add in the lag, and we are not really experiencing the same thing even when we think we are.  I see the difference between my different avatars when they are together, what they see, sometimes what they are wearing, where they are in the space.  We are liberated from so much of the mundane in SL, but we don't really have synchronicity yet.  It is still a "consensual hallucination," as Gibson imagined in Neuromancer so long ago (1984!!!!)   The gap between our own and others' perceptions and experiences is one of the elements of real life that is made literal and visual and played out in Second Life.  OK, enough blathering with only 5 hours sleep  (the really good stuff comes from 4 hours or less).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Been Busy!

OK, I've been away from the blog for way too long, but if you notice the previous post, you will see that I bought a big piece of land in SL adjoining my original parcel, and so of course I have been very busy!  I have been spending a lot of time inworld, immersing myself in the place and experience as if I had travelled someplace for my sabbatical year.  I am living and working there.

Here are some things I have been doing, in no particular order, certainly not of importance:

1) Building an EduGolf Course for students to learn essential skills for being a student in SL
2) Making weird sphere sculptures that as often as not make me crash when I work on them
3) Experimenting with different kinds of video screens
4) Making some wonderful, very talented and creative friends and spending time with them
5) Meeting their friends
6) Making machinima single-handedly
7) Making machinima with others (as of yesterday)
8) Finding that having experiences in a virtual world is absolutely fascinating and constantly.  I am taking the approach that the Australian aborigines do to dreaming: it is another kind of experience that you can have in a different realm, no better or worse than everyday life.  
9) Spending more time changing my virtual clothes than I used to!  It is fun after all.
10) Discovering that I am a terrible driver in SL, but I do it anyway. 
11) Trying to adjust to how much and fast things change inworld--one day your neighbor has a big house, and the next day it is just gone.  The landscape changes, buildings suddenly appear, land changes hands, people look different in the blink of an eye, and so much that you can count on in RL is mutable and unstable.  It is beautiful and poignant and unsettling.  I am trying to flow with it.
12) Slowly, cautiously doing some scripting
13) Put a camera script in a diamond earring stud and wore it around--fun and fashionable!  I asked my artist friend Maya for help and just before she told me (in IM) to make a box for it before I started to edit the earring because otherwise I would lose it on the ground, I lost it on the ground!  Fortunately it is a huge diamond stud.  Every one should be so lucky; such diamonds really are a girl's best friend.
14) Gave L1 a makeover--new hairstyle, including a fair approximation of my silver streak.
15) Got a tour of the fantastic Virtual Harlem, where Bryan Mnemonic is breaking new ground teaching his students about the Harlem Renaissance and other topics in American literature and culture.
16) Been putting buildings in the sky, thanks to my neighbor's influence in showing me how nice things can be up there.  So I have a SkyOffice for students to come to, with a big video screen (where I have been filming lectures, too), an Art Deco house that can become a hangout for the increasing party of real world friends interested in SL but who don't know where to go, and another building that I think will be a gallery space.
17) Had a fantastic conversation with two talented folks from Mass Art who are doing fascinating things in SL--my teacher from the summer, the ever-fabulous Nettrice, and Vu Sosa, who is a professor at MassArt and getting ready to teach some parts of her classes in SL.  Her island, 4dmap, is an ongoing installation and an inspiration.  So I actually did what I wrote about in the description of my land when I first bought it: used it as place for conversation about the possibilities virtual worlds and digital media.
18) Getting ready to interview Ray Kurzweil on the big stage at the Berklee Performance Center as part of the annual BTOT (Berklee Teachers on Teaching) conference next week.  He is interested in virtual worlds, so I hope that is a topic that we can explore.
19) Thinking about how the camera feature creates a totally new kind of subjectivity.
20) Playing with a pet wolf.
21) Celebrating New Year's Eve.

See, that is a lot.  And there is even more.