Today I did some exploring and research into universities that still have their sim worlds online. I was sort of hoping I would be able to find one that had some signs of life. I had read an article about the University of Western Australia leaving the sim after many years ( http://uwainsl.blogspot.com.au/) and also this article about touring abandoned universities by Patrick Hogan (http://fusion.net/story/181901/we-took-a-tour-of-the-abandoned-college-campuses-of-second-life/) and I got to thinking about whether they were all university ghost towns or not….Turns out, they mostly are. It was a thoroughly disheartening and lonely experience.
(Update: After I wrote this…THIS incredibly wonderful news came out on the UWA blog…http://uwainsl.blogspot.com.au/2016/10/uwa-sims-saved-through-31st-july-2017.html )
The most lively university campus was Harvard which I visited after reading this post (http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2016/09/harvard-berkman-second-life.html). There were 4 people (including me) in the sandbox. I am not sure what any of them were doing, I didn’t see any rezzing or building going on. I did a tour of the whole campus and met an Avatar (the movie) Ikran who did NOT want to be flown no matter how many times I jumped on him like he was a trampoline.
Then I got cheeky, thinking about squatting and building and how awesome it would be to have a little house at Harvard….turns out they have an auto return on items. So while I was learning to build a very blocky couch right near the abandoned admin building, my little prim house went POOF! Right back into my inventory. And so my hopes of being an eternal student resident at the second life campus of Harvard were dashed.
I visited one campus where I met someone in an empty classroom who just liked to go there for the “quietitude”. He said I was the first person he had seen there in 3 months. It was an incredibly well set out university with a set for making films, art gallery, classrooms ready to be lectured in with full facilities for a slideshow or PowerPoint. Another university I went to, I met a very strange fellow who thought to follow me around spamming me with hugs whenever I paused, which quite frankly got annoying and a little creepy so I teleported out of there quite quickly and didn’t get to see a whole lot. One campus had the best white trash set up in the forest I had ever seen, complete with trailer and backed up toilet.
One of the hardest ones for me to visit and bear witness to was the Southern Cross University campus. It was stripped bare, only a few chairs here and there in an otherwise barren landscape as a reminder that once great things were done here, and great minds thought together here. I had been reading through papers written by SCU academics on trials they had conducted on Second Life, what they had learnt and what they had achieved. What they did was inspiring and thought provoking but I was two years too late.
Mostly though, the campuses were beautiful and waiting. Waiting for the classes to come back. Waiting for the academics and people to come back, like a school let out for summer vacation that goes on and on. Outdated notices were still on signs proclaiming admissions procedures for 2009 or class timetables for a different year past. Relics of an era of such hope and promise and…creativity in education.
I ended my tour at a place I found on one of my very first days in Second life about a month ago now, because I needed it. I needed to be somewhere that still held that hope and promise and vision. Somewhere that had just recently come back with a bang and a whoop….it was UTSA Tejano Tech. If you only go one place, visit one academic institution or art gallery in Second life, go there. Go there and leave them a note. And then go to their blog (https://utsa-sl.blogspot.com.au/) and leave them a comment there too. Tell them they have an incredible vision and you are cheering them on. Let their people counter count you so they can show their statistics to other academics who are dreaming their dreams of a virtual learning platform and say, “It CAN be done. This dream is NOT over.”
Berkman and Sandbox (Harvard)
Ball State University
University of Derby
University of Western Australia
New World News
(PLEASE NOTE: I have not reproduced images of any of Dancoyote’s art because I did not have permission. But if you check out the articles and websites below or even do a google search, you will see LOTS of images of his work)
I have to admit to this…. Dancoyote Antonelli is one of the reasons I started a Second Life account and I am a squealy fangirl. THERE it’s said and it’s out there. Now you can all just take your superior hats of judgement and go sit on them elsewhere <GLARE>
For those of you who do not know…Dancoyote Antonelli is a LEGEND! You heard me…LEGEND!!!!! OK… before I go off on waves of bliss and have to hyperventilate into a bag again, let me tell you a little about Dancoyote and why I admire him so. You may as well find a comfy chair and some popcorn because this may take a little while…
Dancoyote Antonelli is the Second Life avatar of D C Spensley. I first came across him when I was doing a bit of research into virtual art and I came across this gem of an article, which actually led me into exploring second life art more closely and in turn getting an avatar and account myself.
1. Dancoyote was one of the people who made being an artist serious and relevant in SL. Now THAT is a polarising statement so please let me explain. The economy for artists was very low and Art for Art’s sake was not really a viable career choice for Artists in world. DC brought about a new push in world for art being one offs instead of reproductions. If you brought a DC it was an original and there were no others like it.
2. He started an ART MOVEMENT. Hyperformalism. It is the classical use of abstraction and formalism in a hyper reality state. http://www.dancoyote.com/?page_id=17
3. Zero G Sky Dancers!!!!! What incredibly inspired and inspiring art. This took performance and installation art to a whole new level of ecstatic awe. If you have never seen it, do a search on Youtube and WATCH it then sit down and have a weep with me because neither of us got to see it as it played out in world.
So, like a super sleuth, I traced the history of Dancoyote and watched it unfold before my eyes. From the beginnings when Ars Simulcra tempted him into the world. I got angry when someone tried stealing his art. I laughed out loud and joyously when he had a script commissioned to stop that. I watched the rise and rise of the Skydancers and the explosion of articles that proliferated from the success of this incredible talent.
There was one last post in 2013 and then…
And I thought he had gone from Second Life forever. It felt like DC was Willy Wonka and he was closing the doors of his chocolate factory. My heart broke a little and I mourned for the loss of a beautiful story unfinished and a joy that had been and passed into the meta….
DanCoyote Antonelli, Thank you for your donation of $L1000.
This hope of a story yet to be told and a wonder yet to be seen…
Dancoyote had been HERE.
Community Virtual Library
Second Life Profile Dancoyote Antonelli
DanCoyote The Sixth Finger
The Artworld Market Report Dancoyote Exhibition
Dancoyote Antonelli Seondlife Wiki Fandom
Not Possible IRL: Dancoyote Antonelli
The Fibreculture Journal 11. Art and (Second) Life: Over the Hills and Far Away?
So at the end of the first week, here are some of my thoughts. These are some of the things I wish I could most go back and tell myself….
Hello Adventurer! How YOU doing? So you want to join Second Life? Well…Sit down and make yourself comfortable in the chair over there by the fire and let me give you a little bit of advice….
This is not a game…it is a simulated world. That will be the first and hardest thing to wrap your head around, coming from a gaming background like you do. There are no goals except the ones you make. There are no achievements or levelling up. There is just you and the choices you make.
The interface is really not very intuitive. Once you are thrown off noobie island, that is it. You are on your own buddy. There are some places you can go and if you decide to visit here I would direct you to them quick smart because they are the places where you will actually learn the things you need to know…like how to change your clothes without embarrassing yourself. The best place I visited was New Caledon, the steampunk sim that has Caledon University. The tutorials were really easy to follow and the people there were friendly and welcoming.
Without a goal, you will feel lost and will quickly become bored and despondent.
Don’t assume everyone in world is creepy and out to get you and grief you. You will not meet one person who treats you badly or even annoys you in this first week. There will be no drama and no griefing. People will be genuinely friendly and are often happy to give you advice, especially if they know you are new.
Don’t read the bad press from years ago. Go in and make your experience about what YOU want. Think about what you like to do, what you might want to do, who you want to be and live that life. Stay away from the “adult” areas (unless that is where you actually want to be) and take a class in safety at the Caledon university.
Also remember, YOU CAN’T DIE IN WORLD. That was something you will have to wrap your head around because, coming from games like WOW and Subnautica and such, avatar death is something that happens with enough frequency to make you jumpy. So let me repeat it because it took me a little while to fully comprehend it…You CANNOT die in world!!!!!!
One more point about safety, if someone is annoying you…just teleport away. Mute them, block them and go somewhere else and do something else…don’t let someone else’s bad attitude ruin YOUR experience.
You’re gonna be ok. You are going to get frustrated and the learning curve is going to be steep. You will accidentally get naked in public and not know how to get dressed and be so mortified you mention it over and over again. You are going to run into walls and people while you are learning to move around in the world. You will not know where to go or what to do. You are going to freak out the first time you fall from great heights while flying. You are going to doubt your ability to translate your first life art into second life art and you are going to have a hard time talking to people because that’s just you. When it all gets a bit much, just stand up and walk away from the computer. Go outside. Breathe fresh real air and live your first life. Your second life isn’t going anywhere without you.
And lastly, adventurer….Explore, Explore, Explore. Remember that book written by Enid Blyton? The Magic Faraway Tree? The one where different lands would come to the tree and the kids got to visit them and have adventures in incredible, fantastical, WONDROUS places? You always wanted to be one of those kids…and in Second Life, you will feel like you are.
Botanical Gardens Infohub
Day 5. Time to build. What shall I build? Got to start somewhere. Lets start with a box….
Handy Dandy BASIC Informational Interlude while building…..
The basic building blocks using the in world building tools are called Primitives or prims. They are three dimensional shapes that can be pushed, pulled, stretched, rotated, skewed, sliced…they can be given new textures, made transparent, be made to glow. They can be given physics in order to move in certain ways and each prim has a weight in the world.
Some things are measured in prims. Land for instance, is measured not just in size but also in the amount of weight in prims it can hold. This has been since superseded by the measurement Land Impact (LI), however, a rough rule of thumb here is that 1 prim = 1 LI (unless linked to other prims and then the formula gets a bit complicated and I am still unsure of that so I am certainly not going to try to explain that right now).
In the past few years, mesh has become a really popular way of building, especially with clothes. You will see a lot of mesh furniture and landscaping items as well for a number of reasons but one of the most useful applications when you are watching your LI value, is that you can make very low LI and prim value items with mesh as well as making them more finely detailed and realistic looking. These are usually made using third party programs such as Maya and Blender and uploaded into the world using some sort of computery type magic that once again, I am not knowledgeable enough to talk about at the moment. 😉
And one last thing, there are two really important groups in world that I found who are incredibly helpful and active and do not mind at all if you ask the most basic questions that they have probably heard a million times before (blush) and who also run building classes and games (like Primtionary, a game similar to Pictionary but instead of drawing, you build your word with prims!)…they are Builders Brewery and Ivory Tower of Primitives. If you get in world and you want to build anything at all, do a search for them in groups and JOIN. The SLurls to their sims are listed below in the references.
…4 hours later
Ok I ended up with a MONOLITH . I took photos and then accidentally ripped the base off. Yup. THAT happened. Because of course none of my pieces were actually linked up together like when you build textboxes and clip art together in word in a lovely and artistic way and then have to group them together so they stay together. <sigh> Then I spent a lot of time trying to fiddle it back on.
With a LOT of help from the lovely people in the Builders Brewery Group, I managed to get all my bits linked up and packed away. So now I give you….PRIM AND PROPER! TA DA!!!
You’re impressed. I can tell. And amused because it’s all made out of prims…and its prim and proper…get it? GET IT?!!! Oh nvm….
Builders Brewery Sim and School
Ivory Tower of Primitives
Second Life Knowledge Base: Build Tools
Second Life Wiki Articles: Good Building Practises
Basic Building Tutorial for Second Life Part 1 (of 2)
Basic Building Tutorial for Second Life Part 2 (of 2)
You know who I am and why I am here by now. If you don’t, go back and read Posts 1 & 2 ya big slacker! Let’s get started shall we….
Days 3 and 4. Now what am I going to do? I have NO idea and no Money. Where are the quest markers? Where are the directions for where to go and what should happen? Why is it so hard to move around ANYWHERE? WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!?!?!??!?!?! I may have hyperventilated into a bag a few times. I am a girl that likes goals and structure. I thrive with something to aim towards and a plan to get there. This was not at all that and I was not at all thriving. So I did what I would usually do in real life when faced with a fork in the road of my life, I point my steel capped boots in a direction and stomp off down the road.
This turned this day and the next into the best and least embarrassing days of them all to date.
I started looking for art galleries and installations. I used the in game search feature combined with my old friend google. I read some blogs, got some ideas and off I went. I spent two days lost in a haze of, “OMG” and “HOLY MACARENAS!!!!” and <jaw on the floor>.
I visited worlds that were surrealist installations, I visited galleries that housed contemporary art works done by people far more talented than I and galleries that held traditional works from classic artists.
I visited the Musee de Louvre.
Musee de Louvre
I saw an incredible world that was a pop art gallery of the Artist De Moya
and was blown away by a trippy Ars Simulcra installation world.
Ars Simulcra entrance
I sighed that I had missed DC Spensley’s, “ Sky Dancers” by two years and that I had missed Bryn Oh’s, “ Singularity of Kumiko” by less than a month. I was inspired and thrilled. I couldn’t wait to see the next world and the next after that. I bookmarked them all with plans to return to each one and really LOOK at every little thing and every little detail.
I visited university campuses. The University of Western Australia where parts of the actual university campus have been recreated in Second Life and where they hold classes and exhibit the students art works. The University of Texas San Antonio (aka UTSA Tejano Tech) that also holds revolving art exhibits of their students work in their ultramodern looking gallery that dominates the world that holds smaller installations all over.
In the back of my mind a small thought grew and with that thought a smile. I wrote that thought into my Masters proposal draft and dreamed dreams that seemed way too big and smiled a smile that was way too joyful and went to sleep seeing a new reality building itself in my mind.
Musee de Louvre
University of Western Australia http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/University%20of%20WA/72/226/25
UTSA (University of Texas San Antonio)
I am a real life artist who has never dealt with digital art. I have never even used photoshop. I really like the feeling of a pen scratching over paper or the physical aspects of putting together a large installation.
So WHY Second Life I hear you asking. Well…I was exploring the nature of reality and playing with the idea of virtualities and virtual worlds as platforms for Art and Second Life came up the most in the articles I was reading. There are other places…Inworldz,and IMVU for instance, but I didn’t just want a social platform (which is what IMVU appears to be) and Inworldz at the moment does not compete population wise. Even though Second Life has been around for 13 years now, it has kept up and still holds a decent population base. (For a more thorough history and timeline check out Daniel Voyager’s Blog post Recap of Second Life History 1999 to 2013 or The History of Second Life Wiki)
And because I couldn’t really wrap my head around what a virtual installation would look like or how a simulation like Second life actually functioned in a cultural, creative, philosophical and economic sense,I read some more about it, asked some people….and here I am at…
Day 2. The Social Factor. With all the bad press about the sexual exploits of Second Life and the sordid tales of my teenage son telling me all about sexual practices I would rather have not known about at all ringing loudly in my ears the very first interaction I had with someone as I stood in a beginners area called Caledon went something like this…
Random Lovely Person: Hi!
Me: (hesitates for a very long time before cautiously typing) Hi
Random Lovely Person: I see you are new. Can I help you with anything?
Me: NO! I’m fine! All good here!! No worries at all!!!! Thanks anyway!!! BYE NOW!!!
Random Lovely person: OK. Well if you need anything at all, let me know. I am here to help.
U-huh. I was just congratulating myself on getting through my first social exchange without being recruited as a sex slave in a BDSM parlour and reading through the tutorials on how to change my clothes when the next thing I knew I was naked. Not just a little bit naked…but naked as the day I was born naked.
Now, just to make this obvious for those of you who have never been here before, some zones in Second Life are strictly NO NUDITY ZONES. I was clearly in one of those zones. There were large signs everywhere telling people to keep their clothes on. There were also signs telling vampires not to bite people too but that is by the by….I could feel the blush on my real life face. I frantically rattled through my inventory searching for clothes to throw on while simultaneously trying to read the signs telling me how to put clothes on when this exchange happened…
Another random lovely person: Hi there. Is there any way I can help you today?
Me: Errrmmmm ummmmmmmm I appear to be naked. I am terribly sorry for my unclothed state. I am trying to put clothes on. Please don’t throw me out naked into the world. I was just trying to change my clothes as per the instructions on your board and….well….nakedness.
Another random lovely person: Yes, You do in fact appear to have no clothes on. Would you like to hop into a dressing room? It is more private there.
Me: I don’t know what they look like but I think I know how to put a shirt on….(fumbles around the settings a whole lot and manages to take off my skin)
Another random lovely person: No worries…Let me help you….
And that lovely person gave me quick step by step instructions on how to put my clothes back on. After which I thanked him very nicely and left very quickly.
New Caledon Oxbridge University SLurl
Daniel Voyager, Recap of Second Life History 1999 – 2013 https://danielvoyager.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/recap-of-second-life-history-so-far/
Second Life Wiki – History of Second Life http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/History_of_Second_Life
Well hello there! How YOU doing?
I guess I should introduce myself and tell you what I am doing here. My online name for as long as I have been online is Mangrovejane. You know…like the fish, Mangrove Jack only the female version. I chose this name a long time ago because at the time I was studying Environmental Science and had a great love for Mangroves. Yes. The trees. Don’t make me justify that. Just accept it.
I am an artist. And an arts worker. A creator of Fantastical Things. An explorer of virtualities and a philosopher on the nature of realities. I am currently in the process of applying for postgraduate studies in Art. I’ll let you know how that goes 😉
So….after reading a number of journal articles about art in a simulated online world called, “Second Life” and thinking about my Masters Proposal I came up with this BRILLIANT (ridiculous) idea of starting my own second life avatar to see what this was all about and whether it would actually be possible for me to make the mental leap from real life art to virtual art. I was also insatiably curious about what Art and Art Galleries and installations LOOKED like in Second Life. It is one thing to read about it and be told, but when you are in there…immersed into the simulation things are often very different.
So what have the past 5 days been like for me? To quote a song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…
“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination……”
Day 1. Make my avatar and play tutorial. No worries. Piece of cake. I am not a gaming noob. I have played the Sims! I have an active WOW account! Nope. Turns out, I am an idiot AND a noob.
I chose a standard avatar. One with Tattoos and glasses….YEAH BABY! Actually…I have tattoos and glasses and stupid hair in real life. I may have just picked me. Yup…I could have chosen to be Ms. Sexy McSexpot but nooo….I choose awkward nerdy socially maladjusted woman.
As my son said, “Just as boring in your second life as you are in your first life…” Thanks son.
So, the first thing after choosing my avatar and pondering the psychological implications of that, was to get through the tutorial. Now, I should mention that they make tutorials easy for a reason. They WANT you to be able to get through learning the most basic things without feeling like you are a complete noob so you keep on playing. I should also mention here that I have NEVER been good at jumping in games. Not ever. I feel like it is my disability. So when confronted with a test to jump over three gaps in a walkway during the tutorial, I had a small panic attack and then proceeded to fail 62 times. Yes…you read that correctly I said SIXTY TWO TIMES. I am not only jumping impaired, I am excruciatingly stubborn.
And once I had finally made my way out of the tutorial and got thrown into a place called social island, overwhelmed and exhausted from all that jumping around, my first day in my second life ended.
Second Life http://www.secondlife.com