Saturday, February 16, 2008

Economie 0 - Upgrade! Paris....

This pic was taken at the beginning of the artist talk for Upgrade Paris. The official website for the streaming live video of the event is listed right on the picture itself.

Hey there Parisian Upgraders, Senegalese Ultra-Nationalists, and bribed critics!

The intro pic above gives you the impression that our artist talk at Upgrade Paris went smoothly and on time but actually for the first part of the day, we were unsure if we had schedule at the correct time! There was alot of confusion between AM and PM and SLT (Second Life Time/Pacific) time zones. Were we supposed to meet at 5 PM or 5AM and was it in France's local time zone or in SLT? One of the curators, Toto Donat had troubles signing on apparenty, so we could not find her online...we figured that maybe we had already missed our talk like 12 hours ago...sigh! There was no sign of any curator nor any other speaker (including a bunch of curators and artists from Senegal who were scheduled before us).

It was a good thing that we killed some time at Club Neptune just in case one of the curators would sign on and tell us what was happening. Fortunately, co-curator Karolwojtyla Sobocinski signed into SL in the nick of time and apologized for being late.

Here is a pic of us dancing at Club Neptune while waiting for the curator to show up...

What better way to wait for a curator and discuss future shows than to dance your ass off?

Waiting for the curator(s) to arrive was a good idea because we managed to talk alot about our earlier performances and they even publically acknowledged that we are now an "established institution"! I guess it has been awhile since we formed in late 2006!

During the talk, it was slightly confusing as to exactly what was happening in Paris. There were two people in RL controlling Karol's SL avatar (Marika and Karol, one guesses) and they were also fiddling with the video camera in Paris which we could not fact, our SL audience only consisted of one avatar but that one avatar was a camera from which an indeterminate number of RL audience members were checking us out. Karol tried to keep us on topic with regards to the ways in which SL's economy influences our performance. We bribed Karol behind the scenes until he/she was content with our answer ;-) But basically, we talked about squatting abandoned corporate headquarters, delivering pizza for free, unintentionally interrupting stock market transactions, bribing critics and hiring bodyguards for disproportionate prices. No one in their right mind would actually think we were really inspired by something as banal as the economy, right? Heheheheheh...Speaking of sponsorship to stimulate the economy, it was great to see Ars Virtua's logo represented at the venue.

Wow! Look at that detailed Google Map! What is that doing on the floor? It does not look like Wall Street at all! ;-) Ok ok, actually it is a map of Beijing...The artist talk was held on the site of JC Fremont's installation, Imaging Beijing. As for the event itself, it was around this time that we were begging Karol (or perhaps Toto/Marika Dermineur if she happened to be behind the avvie) to get the audience to ask us some questions because we were running out of anything relevant to say...usually, it only takes us a total of 2 minutes before we give up on talking about anything and feel the compulsion to launch some rockets and/or explode over and over again! We were unusually patient and self-disciplined today...we even kept our clothes on...phew!

Bibbe Oh was finally able to join us to wrap up the Q&A session with Upgrade Paris...She left the Club Neptune earlier at a time when we all felt that we were too late for our own talk but then Bibbe heeded a desperate IM from us to rejoin the fray and answer a concluding question about the new European taxation system in Second did not seem to matter though since only one of us in attendence was living in Europe.

Second Wall-ker Art Center....

"Second Wall-ker Art Center or Dancing About Architecture" (ZKM Island and Director's Lounge, Berlin 2008). Ok, this snapshot was taken just when co-performer Man Michinaga was announcing the concept and context behind our dancing architecture performance. Because we announced all this, it comes as quite a surprise that some bloggers felt "upset" by our performance because they felt griefed by our dancing walls but it was not as if we did not tell people in advance what we were up to and it was OUR performance so there was nothing to grief. People were there to be a part of that performance so we did nothing out of context. When things are live, nothing can be predictable though...even after the context has been announced so when someone is invited to a Second Front performance, they need a little disclaimer typed out for them in order for them to understand what they are getting into. Anyway on another note, to prove that this event happened in realtime, you will notice that there was a tiny typo that says "mueum" rather than "museum"..If this was just a machinima film, you would see everything typo-corrected to look SLick so there you are...that was a screenshot live as it happened.

Hey there Blue Maomarines, Blue Berliners, ZKM-heads and wispy wallflowers!

Yes, the rumour is true! Second Front has managed to escape from rehab and have returned to creating new performance art classics in Second Life!

Second Front's performance last week called "Second Wall-ker Art Center - Dancing about Architecture" was a smash hit (hopefully the attendees did not get too sore from the smash hit...sigh)! This performance was actually a sequel to the original "Second Wall-ker Art Center" performance at the MART Museum.

Second Front with the curatorial help of Olga Wunderlich at the Director's Lounge and the ZKM Staff ensured that the topography of virtual space has been restored to its most pure and natural state - that of a completely segregated ghetto of walled land-plots....heheheheheheheheh! This event was part of the Berlinale in...yes! In Berlin!

We performed as an intermission of sorts for some other performance that had something to do with boxing philosophers or something somewhat profound like that...

Well, there will be a video all about it very soon so for now, this is just a preliminary summary of what happened... In the meantime, here are some more photos for you...

Speaking of realtime typos, this may have been a typo and/or an example of clever wit but it is quite interesting to hear Bobzilla Carnell say "hell all" when the walls began to dance at a frenzied pace. This picture was taken to show the title-text clearly and also to focus on the fine detail of one of the walls (bricks, mortal and all).

Here is a pic of co-performer Bibbe Oh getting "floored" by pressing the "h" key (h = horizontal)... Maybe people thought we were griefing them because some people felt as if they were trapped in the walls... This claustrophobic sensation should have only been temporary though unless they also had their eyes glued to that groovy disco Op Art floor...WHOA!

Bibbe was not the only person hooked on "h". Co-performer Great Escape enjoyed assuming the horizontal position many times over... Walled floors like this look really great when acting as a counter-balance to the Blue Mao ceiling tiles...time for a cultural revolution, comrades!

Here is AliseIborg Zhaoying showing off her new Post-Rehab look, that of an elliptical (or is it ecliptical?) doll-face....heheheheh...

Here is an aerial view of Alise showing the viewer how it is easy to peel back the veil of SLebrity rehabilitation. We can also see Tran Spire's supersized burger in the background...Was it a Quarter Waller? Heheheheheh.

This captured quote from SaveMe Oh is worth keeping on our blog-wall..."I will not hang my Rembrandt in this museum"....heheheheheheh. What about a kinetic Rembrandt? On a more formalistic note, this pic is a good illustration of how the speech bubbles were occasionally cropped into pieces by the imposing walls...

This pic was taken to show off the hamburger one of the many props used to show our pre-occupation with the aesthetics of prop-art...heheheheheheh.

This pic was taken to show aspects of the interface. For example, one of the dance moves is there for you in plain view... The fastdance2 move was one designed by Odyssey's Curator, Sugar Seville for the purpose of turning the entire audience into a bunch of puritan wallflowers, relatively speaking. This pic was also taken to once again brag about the amazing decor on Locusolus... How often do you get to see a palm tree juxtaposed next to an action carpet (Pollock style) close up outside of Las Vegas? I wonder if Gumnosophistai Nurmi was feeling somewhat Californian when he declared this architectural opus as "Radical Architecture!"?

How about this for a jazzy wall configuration? Maybe inspired by the sexiness of this wonderwall ensemble, Ze Moo felt compelled to say: "where are the orgy pose walls?"

If you look closely, you can see one of the ZKM Island Curators, Aristide Zabelin. Once again, Second Front have made a very aesthetically pleasing configuration. That faceball on the right is reminiscent of Tony Oursler's RL work, wouldn't you agree? I think you can see why we like to divide the seemingly open-ended virtual space using walls, right? The Avatar Orchestra Metaverse's instrument builder, Bingo Onomatopoeia had the zeitgeist all figured out when he said, "walls are prototypical in virtual environments".

Here is a sneak preview of Gazira Babeli's wall canvas and Wirxli's (me, the blogger) photograph of his/her RL clone, Phil Spector.

"No windows? (They) must be Mac lovers" - Chantal Harvey... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! GOOD ONE, CHANTAL! AWESOME! More great puns, more Great Walls and more orgiastic floor detail...Even the crowd looks great! So, what were all the griefing complaints all about? It was a perfect consensual moment shared by all, wasn't it?

Griefing even at its more artistic would never look as aesthetically pleasing as this...gaze at the interplay between angled walls and shadow Doesn't the crowd appear overshadowed by the walls while posturing like wallflowers... All and all, there is another brick in the ART!

This is yet another shot of the, Curator and token palm tree.

One of the best walls on display had a portruding pile of shopping carts being rammed through the pestle of the brick-laid pelvis...Was this Tran Spire's wall? If the pink flamingoes from the past are any indication, this was likely Tran's wall.

This pic was taken towards the end of the performance. The Blue Maos gave us the visual signal that it was about time to wrap up our performance. We did not get the hint though until the Director's Lounge curator, Olga Wunderlich in Berlin said, "the DJs are ready to go"...

This pic was taken right at the climax of our performance...There is nothing more sublime than a floral firework explosion of Blue Maos. Even the Cultural Revolution never reached this pinnacle of pixellated perfection.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Gaz and fish from "I Want to Eat Fish & Chips", Tate Modern, January 15, 2008

 Man in Ze Moo's cage w/Ad Breda
Montevideo MediaArt Center, Amsterdam (RL)

Virtual New Year and Second Front

Hello, Second Front Fans!

Man Michinaga here - They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, "No, no, no..."
Let's see if I last as long as Any Winehouse.

I: Update -
Last Fall was really amazing, Second Front was in tremendous demand, we were globetrotting like mad. That's the source of the Chinese curse, I think "May you get what you wish for." By the end of December, the major performance twice a month had us mirroring great acts like Blondie and Metallica. Whew. Virtual rock stars are not unlike the tangible ones. No use in talking about who, what or how it happened, we took a break over the holidays.

It's funny, in the virtual, taking a normal holiday seems like taking this big hiatus. Strange how virtual worlds have a different sense of time than the physical world. But now that the holidays are over, there is a ton of things going on with SF, although many of them are not necessarily under the SF banner. Nothing top secret here.

Next week, Great Escape (Scott Kildall) and his partner Victoria Scott are showing their Imaginary Objects as part of the Mixed Realities show in Boston, Lizsolo just got a grant for some machinima, and I'm working on some small pieces and the backlog of machinima pieces from last fall, including Wrath of Kong, Russian Roulette, and more.

We are doing a piece on ZKM island for Director's Lounge in Berlin in February, and also another piece in Paris... More on that as they happen. In addition, there will be a small piece in Kansas City in March.

II: The Premature Reports of SF's Death, & SL Art as a whole.
Yes, there were rumors of our demise after Miami. Not so, but our focus and ways will be 'different' than last year. Imagine performances with 2-3 artists, unannounced interventions, traditional SF performances, as well as possibly fully "re-formed" forms of SF. It was just that it's hard to have a full-time first and second life...

Marco Manray and I were talking about the nature of SL art, and we seem to agree that the first era of SL art passed late last year. This is because most of us (Gaz, Marco, the Twangs, myself) have upcoming RL shows of SL work, signalling the bleed-over of SL work as contemporary art. The first Generation, who we called Virtualists, set the foundation for contemporary art in virtual worlds. We are in the second generation now, and it's a real challenge.

I believe there will be three main groups - the SLart crowd, who will focus on the SL community as a primary audience, the RL/SL artist who is the contemporary artist using SL as a tool, and the ones who try both. I tend to be inthe first category, but SF as a whole might be between 1 & 2...

3: SF in Europe
"I Want to Eat Fish & Chips", Tate Modern, January 15, 2008
Fau and Man got together in London (the REAL one) and went off to the Tate Modern to answer MTAA's sponsored piece in NYC "I Want to Make Tamales" by Elaine Tin Nyo. ( We invited friends involved with, and went up to the 7th floor, where we commenced to get tamales, and through the Wi-Fi, Gaz Babeli was on Losoculous in SL with many fish on sticks. The good-old-fashioned cod was amazing, as was the Dandelion and Burdock Soda...

"Hacking the Cage" with Ze Moo
When Man went to Amsterdam to speak (in part) on Second Front at the Video Vortex conference at the Institute for Networked Cultures, he suddenly wound up at Ze Moo's "Couple in the Cage" installation in the Amsterdam district which was also in the Video Vortex gallery installation in Amsterdam. Immediately, Patrick/Man grabbed a keyboard and invaded Columbia College's sim with the Male of the two, Ad Breda, The administrators were confused at Columbia, but witht he understanding this was a Second Front intervention, the alert was cancelled...

However, for the next two weeks, Man, Fau, GE, and Gaz visited the cage and even hacked their way inside to question the safety of the cage itself with anime figures, fire lizards, and robots.   Today, though, the cage was sold, and the two inhabitants were set free, now all we have to do is find them.

However, afterwards, Gaz and Fau interrogated Man from within a block of solid carbonite... Why this was done is still up to debate, but it seemed good at the moment.

Second Wall-ker Art Center at MART Museum
During the interrogation, an invite came from Pei Twang to come to an italian opening at the MART museum of art in SL. Since we have been working on a piece called the "Second Wall-ker Art Center", everyone donned 20 meter square walls and engaged in some "Dancing About Architecture".  Unfortunately, I don't know much Italian, but Gaz tells me that "bannato" is a very nice word...  Marco Manray liked the piece very much, and sent me some great images.

So, that's about it for now.  No mysteries, a few surprises, but some very human avatar-artists are going into the next generation of virtual performance art... 

I'll try to get more images up soon.