Monday, 31 March 2008

Joseph Cornell - "Collage=reality associated"

A while ago Roma did a lecture on Identities and the artist Joseph Cornell was mentioned. He was the artist that really reflected what our module would be about, so I did some research on him to get an idea on what his work is about and how it could inspire me.
Joseph Cornell made boxes. The unique visual art dated from 1903-1972 was assembled boxed collages. By collecting and carefully placing found objects in small, glass front, Cornell created visual poems in which surface, form, texture, and light play together. Using things we can see, Cornell made boxes about things we cannot see; ideas, memories, fantasies and dreams. 
He loved to scour old book shops and second hand stores looking for souvenirs, theatrical memorabilia, old prints and photographs, music stores and French literature.
Being a symbolist, Cornell used the found materials that reside in his boxes- page birds, clay pipes , clock springs, balls and rings- to hint at abstract ideas. A metal spring from a discarded wind up clock may evoke the passage of time, a ball might represent a planet or the luck associated with a playing game. Although his constructions are enveloped in nostalgia- the longing for something that happened long ago in the past and far away- the appearance is throughly modern and beautiful.
His work from the Surrealists in that, while they were interested in unexpected, he was more interested in finding poetic connections of meaning between disparate objects. The miniature world in itself has a unique charm, and when these few objects are isolated in such a way, they force us to really look at them, perhaps for the first time, and to think about their possible meanings. The spareness of the compositions also contributes to the exclusiveness.
This is one of the examples of the work Cornell creates. 'The Hotel Eden' The chief emblem is a caged parrot, the innocent resident of Hotel Eden. It can be noted that once more the image of a bird is represented in Cornell's work. It may symbolize an emblem of freedom, though the bird is secluded behind material frames, as if it is a cage.
The piece of black thread going through the box across the different inner frames, from the top part which seems to represent orbits, to outer space, to the birds beak, and down to the bottom of the box which leads to emptiness. This could be interpreted as a spiral link between the various universes depicted here and materializes Cornell's sense of interconnections in all luring matters.
Moreover, one can notice that the elements used in this box are filled with strong relating true qualities. The two pieces of paper stuck at the bottom of the box are worn out and degraded, they bear the imprint of the passage of time and the 'Hotel Eden' alludes to a paradise lost, while the egg may symbolize birth and the renewal of life.

Researching into Joseph Cornell has inspired me for the upcoming project and has filled my head with different ideas. How everything of Cornell's art work has a meaning or symbolizes something fits in perfectly to what we are doing.   

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Day 3 in Vside...

Every time i've been online on Vside i've tried to go on at different times of the day- hopefully finding out a different outcome and atmosphere than the last time I logged in. On the log in page there is a system status it current shows "VSIDE IS OPEN'. Obviously when there is maintenance work going on within the program they might not make the site available for the public. 
Again when I come the "Choose a City" page there is only 3 globes to choose from. There are others others faded in the background I cannot select for whatever reason. I chose NewVenezia to start with- as the status was 'hoppin' it seemed the place to be!

I selected 'The Loft' to explore first. It took me to a lift and you can choose which level to go to. I chose the first on the list which was 'The American Rejects' room. I thought this would be pretty cool but when I entered there was no-one was there- it was just room with a few posters of the band on the walls. You could also watc
h a video of them on the wall which was interesting for a short while, I then returned back to the loft to go else where. It gave me the selection of destinations to teleport to. I then went to 'The Pussycat Dolls' room- that was even quieter! With the same same layout as the last one. Each room is the exact same, but decorated differently to fit the identity of the room.
I then explored around NewVenezia area and found myself in a meditating area. The area reminded me of Japan very tranquil. I then sat down by the pond, across from me were two other people meditating. I wasn't sure how to do that, so, I walked around the pond clicking all the symbols until one was a meditating one. There was a girl sat across from me flashing blue and red continuously- I couldn't work out why or how?
I very quickly discovered that meditating with an avatar isn't that fun and wondered around the area. I ended up in a club called Lax. It was fairly quiet so I wondered around it for a while and sat down in the seating area, then my favorite band came on, Incubus, so I listened to that as I did other things.
I then went to the main plaza where I walked up some stairs into a lounge area and there were four men topless with flamed patterned trousers. Then one girl typed to me "BUTTON, SAVE ME', yeah... I left them to it. Around the corner was another little meditating area, I sat my avatar there for a while whilst I did other things and when I came back, my avatar was GREEN??? I have no idea how that happened, then it started flashing green. 
I went down the the main plaza again and a little man came up to and hugged me and told me he likes green girls. I was so confused, but that made me laugh. I tired to ask another girl why I was green and she replied with "You went in that green thing". What? What green thing?! I then logged off. 

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

VSide the new 3D Facebook?

So apparently according to Vside is the new 3D Facebook? Even they say it's got to be one of the best looking 3D social environments, if not the best. 'Vside is a beautiful space for teenagers to hang out in, socialize and listen to music. As Littlefield puts it- (founder of Doppelganger) if Second Life is Myspace puts it than VSide is Facebook'.
Apparently quoted again by this website again there are 15 things you should know about VSide:

1. vSide's Vision
The idea for vSide, previously "The Music Lounge", was sparked 10 or more years back when Doppelganger founder Andrew Littlefield was on a "boring programming project" in Frankfurt and spending time hanging out in primitive 3D environments with friends. He sees vSide as a social, entertainment venue and is not so "religious" about the the whole virtual worlds thing as some others in the industry. The simple, immediate goals of the space are to be easy to use, and highly attractive.

2. Professional Content Creation
Unlike Second Life or Kaneva, to which vSide has more similarity to, its environment doesn't allow for user generated content. There are no user built buildings, streets or general landscaping. They employ a team of virtual architects, some of whom have backgrounds with the Sims and Halo. Littlefield describes the visual quality of vSide as AAA, applied to a virtual social environment.

3. City and Social Planning
A great deal of effort has also been put into not just how the textures look, but how the buildings and walkways and shops and bars are arranged. All exterior development goes through an urban planning process with emphasis on natural grouping points, and distributed, natural foot traffic patterns between commercial and social venues. There are also many small, hidden details, or "secrets" that users can discover and earn "Respekt" points for.

4. User Sessions
In July this year, vSide users were averaging at around 78mins per session, with an average inworld hours tally standing at 11. Bearing in mind we're talking about teeenagers, who on average probably have a smaller attention span than even me, this is pretty impressive.

5. All About Music
There are over 40 different music channels, and matching locations where you can listen in groups to that music. They range from the practically unheard of to large, well known acts. Once you have an apartment, you can tune into your favorite channel without having to be present in its region. vSide also has video streaming capability, and in a coming release this will be available to regular users.

6. Text Based Communications with Powerful Animations
vSide avatars are extremely easy to set up. And though there are over 5 million possible clothing and skin combinations, it really only takes 2 or 3 minutes. Once set, the communications center around text and emotes. You can set your 'mood', and this in turn affects the actions your avatar performs when you type emotes. For example, 'rofl' when my mood is blue, is not nearly as enthusiastically acted out as when I'm 'upbeat'. This creates a pretty powerful way for teenagers to express themselves as there are a lot of different actions. Text chat is as simple as walking up to an avatar and starting to type and there also appears to be an AIM integration, though we didn't cover that on the tour and I've not experimented with it.

7. Creds and Respekt
Once you've checked your ability to spell at the door, your vSide avatar can earn 'Respekt' points by discovering easter eggs hidden in the architecture, making friends or visiting commercial stores inworld. A certain amount of Repekt is needed in order to claim an apartment for example, and as your Respekt increases, so do other abilities as you progress up through a WoW like leveling system. You can also purchase Creds at ATM's located inworld with your regular credit card, and use that currency to buy clothes and other virtual goods.

8. Shopping!
Like the architecture, clothes and jewelry are also created professionally by inhouse designers in vSide, though there are many branding partnerships to be spotted in the various stores. Purchases are made by entering and store and hitting the 'shop' button on the dashboard. This brings up a slick interface for viewing and buying the goods available. Many of the clothes are free, and indeed the default (large) set that comes with your sign up seemed pretty sufficient to me.

9. Tech Specs
vSides runs off of a Java server layer, using a heavily modified Torque engine as the front end. The system seems pretty robust, with it's first maintenance release since the rebrand/relaunch going out later today.. A vSide server can support between 300 and 600 avatars, which for live music, makes for a pretty good show.

10. Safety First
With that many teenagers active inside of vSide, safety and identity are of top priority. To that end, vSide staff are subject to the same inspection process as Californian teachers, and are required to identify themselves as employees when speaking with teens. The company employs live moderators, avatars with administrative powers that are on hand 24/7 to monitor the virtual world via a multi view interface as well as respond to help requests sent by users. Should there be an SoS sent out by a vSider, one of the 3 or 4 moderators who are always on can respond pretty quickly. Apart from all of this, it's actually quite difficult to be offensive in vSide: It's not possible to have a naked avatar, and there's an active profanity filter on the text chat as well as numerous warnings and safety tips embedded in loading screens.

11. Virtual Land
Right now, apartments, which are the only type of building or land an avatar can own, are being given on a first come, first served basis. Provided you have enough Respekt points to purchase one. In the near future, the company will be expanding its residential areas and making more available. At the moment, only staff members can edit the furniture and settings in their apartments. That too will be addressed in a coming release however. One thing Littlefield says that teens like is the ability to restrict access to '"friends only" on their own apartments. Once settled into your vSide apartment, you can tune into whichever music channel suits you.

12. 2D Social Networking
There's also a browser based social networking component to vSide. One neat feature of the profile system is the ability to add tags to describe your interests. This doesn't just tell people what you're into on your profile page, it acts as an ice-breaker inworld. When you enter a room and there's others with the same tag values present, the names of the avatars will pulse, letting you and them know that you share a common interest. Favorite bands is probably the most popular.

13. Advertising and Product Placement
vSIdes realistic architecture allows for ad placement in the same kinds of spots you'd expect to see them in the real world. Early on, the company experimented with dummy ads for fake brands and vSiders actually complained, saying that the real ads added to the overall immersiveness and realism of the environment. Contrary to my belief that these ads will be ignored, just as they are in the real world, Littlefield maintains that provided they are highly relevant, they'll actually be even more effective as they add to the overall experience. They also plan to make static ads more interactive in the near future, allowing for clickthroughs for example. Product placement comes in the form of inworld stores selling virtual goods, one example was shoes that could make you jump higher than normal, and I saw a whole bunch of fashion and music outlets (one or two of which I even recognized...).

14. Tapping MySpace
Despite likening vSide to Facebook, rather than MySpace, Doppelganger are still actively targeting Murdoch's gaudy community with an embeddable widget. The cut and paste code displays your vSide status of on or offline, as well as your location. I'd like to see a Facebook widget done similarly.

15. The Awkward White Guy Dance
vSiders can choose from a long list of pre defined dance moves when at clubs. One of those is listed as the Littlefield, after Doppelganger's founder, Andrew Littlefield. Originally this dance was called "the awkward white guy dance".

"There's no doubt vSide is impressive, in many ways, though it's still early days yet. From what I saw, I'd say that companies looking to engage teens would do well to keep a close eye on what happens with this world over the next six months. For music and fashion brands, it could well turn out to be a good investment if entry and runnings costs don't break the bank. The lack of creative tools in this environment is definitely a plus. It may not suit many of the creative types that will surely prefer the freedom of Second Life, but for a teen market interested in fashion and music, I think it's likely to prove a winner. vSide is absolutely stunning in appearance, and taking a lead from the Steve Job's school of design arrogance would seem a smart move".

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Day 2 in VSide...

Returning back to VSide seemed very simple as it remembers your username and password, then easily can just hit the login button. I came to the beginning page again where you can choose a city to teleport to. They weren't the same ones that you can choose from as last time I was on it. Maybe the worlds revolve around depending what time you login or what day? I'll try find out, I'm not a 100% how it works yet. I chose RaiJuku and went to the shopping area. As the screen loads up it gives you different tips. "TIP: Ignore- if someone is bothering you, right click and ignore".
I had a change of clothes, decided on a white shirt and black skinny jeans. Reminds me of being young and playing dress up with dolls.
Whilst walking around there weren't many people around, so I just explored and walked towards the south which lead me to the sea. I learnt how to lean (as in the picture above), by clicking on floating symbols they allow you to do actions. They also have these symbols in places where you can sit down (also in the picture above). 
I then got bored of this area as there wasn't much going on. So took myself to a busier area, which I thought would be the dance area, there was bound to be people there. I teleported my avatar to 'The Lounge', which was a dance hall and sitting area with club music in the background. I went to sit down at the bar, and then all of sudden about 5 people decided to dance on top of the bar! I wasn't sure how to do that so just kept sat down.
I then tired out my dance moves again on the dance floor. It's hilarious just watching all the avatars dancing. Then a man came and started dancing with me and kept whispering me questions. You can whisper things so just you and another person can talk without other people knowing what you are saying. Then started asking what my real name was- that scared me a little so I left. I don't like how people can hide there age to others. 
I then went for another explore before I logged off, I found myself on a small balcony which was located off 'The Lounge', it had another floating symbol you could press to make an action, this time lots of hearts came from it. Maybe for lovers to stand under?

Monday, 3 March 2008

Farewell Second Life, Hello VSide!

Every time I go on Second Life I found it tedious and ended up logging off within five minutes. I found it hard to understand. In my tutorial today I was told of an alternative, V Side. I looked at an introduction video to learn more about it and even that grasped my attention a lot more than Second Life did. 
I then downloaded VSide it took about 2 hours to fully complete. I created my account, username- Buttonx. I chose Button because that was my nickname in high school. As soon as the account was finalised music began to play in the background with the choice wether to have it on or off. I kept it on as I was enjoying what was playing, I realized there was a patten of popular songs which were all in the charts. As the program is American I assumed it would all be from the American music charts and what is popular to them.

I then had my avatar in front of me to play around with and make it my own. I began with the outfit and chose the closest thing to what I would wear. Then chose hair, skin tone, eye colour, facial shape etc to what looks the most like me without having to pay anything. 

I then clicked on the 'SHOP' button which gave me a selection of shops I could be teleported to, I chose PCD Boutique. It was insane it was so realistic! Th
ough, like in real life you had to pay for things. I managed to pick myself up free bracelet, there was hardly any free items as they were all sold out too! 
Walking around the different virtual lands was crazy, it is a million times fun than Second Life- very much more teenaged based with fashion, music and clubs to explore. I even found myself downloading music I enjoyed playing in the background.

I then went to check out more music that was being played in the DJ boxes. I really enjoyed some of the music so just kept my avatar there listening to music as I got on with other things.
I then wondering around and found myself in a club, Solja Boy was playing so I did some dancing. Apparently I was doing the 'taraboom', some kind of crazy dance move, then tried out the 'rising sun' - it looked like a dance move my Grandma would do.