Sunday, 21 May 2017

Virtual Environments: Is one life enough? Week 13

Virtual Environments: Is one life enough? 

Week 13

Our big night finally arrived and our class eagerly attended the Cape Able gallery with butterfly filled bellies! The exhibition looked amazing thanks to the Cape Able crew, VAI members and our own Fayebubba, Whatya, Burnsey and Freddy! The work they put in over the last few weeks has been incredible. I honestly don't know where our classmates found the time to get everything organised in the midst of our real life assessments. I'm so proud of them and so grateful too.

The Cape Able gallery with local artist's work displayed outside

There was a brilliant turn out for the exhibition with lots of familiar faces as well as some new ones. 
We were welcomed by Gentle and Treasure and the local artists iSkye, Suellen and Slatan explained to us where the art could be viewed. They invited us dance, to explore and to mingle, it all felt very real! The art looked really well and it was fantastic to have music playing. There was a great party atmosphere and you could feel the electricity in the air that excitement creates even though this was a virtual environment.

DIT student work hanging inside the gallery space

After walking around for a while John called us together, welcomed everyone (like you would expect from someone opening a real life exhibition) and explained how the evening would proceed..... 
firstly there would be a presentation of the work by the DIT student teams followed by a crit. This would all be assessed he explained to the guests. He thanked everyone for their hard work in preparation for the exhibition and congratulated us all on a very successful and enjoyable module. 

John's opening speech

With great excitement we moved into the gallery space for the presentations. One member from each team spoke about the artwork while the other team members answered questions via the chat box. The guests and tutors then gave their feedback to the paintings. Everyone spoke confidently and were supported and encouraged by all in the room. It was a wonderfully positive (though nerve wracking) experience!  

Overall I think the exhibition was a great success. I'm proud of my team and all of my classmates.
The entire SL module has been such a positive one for me, it made me think about (and engage in) the virtual world in a way that I never would have imagined. Our class and tutors bonded in a very unique way throughout this semester and as I said on our class fb page I think we laughed and learned in equal measure! I am also so impressed by the SL community that we  engaged with throughout this module. Each and everyone of them was welcoming, encouraging and open each time we met. They were always forthcoming with information and ever willing to help in anyway they could. What a pleasure it was to meet them all.

Our obligatory class photo proved to be a hilarious task as we all struggled to organise ourselves!
Some things never change!! 

Thank you to John and to Glenn for all the hard work they put into this module and for their patience with us as we negotiated our way though this wonderfully bizarre new world! "Is one life enough?", I'm not so sure anymore.....

Virtual Environments: Is one life enough? Week 12 continued.

Virtual Environments: Is one life enough? 

Week 12 continued

For our final assessment we are to collaborate with our SL team members on a group painting organised around a montage composition which includes reference to the concepts we developed during the module. e.g. Utopia, Heterotopia and Dystopia.

"For this project you are required to create a single artwork as a member of a team – a large-scale group canvas. Each individual team member will research and generate their own images which will be combined by the team into a final composite image for exhibition in Cape Able Gallery.....
For the opening of the exhibition each group give a short talk to present their work, and discuss the experience of working in a team, virtually, collaboratively. This will be followed by a crit."

We began our research at home and then on Sherkin Island where each of us took one theme each and made sketches, gathered ideas and images related to that theme.  Fayebubba researched Heterotopia, Inchy researched Dystopia and I researched Utopia.  

Inchy and Fayebubba researching images and gathering ideas

Unfortunately Inchy had to go home early from Sherkin before we made our final compositional decision. Our classmate Jackmittens felt ill and needed to leave and because Inchy travels with her she had to leave too. It was then that technology yet again stepped in to help! We stayed in contact with Inchy on Whatsapp as she traveled home, consulting her on ideas and making sure that she was involved as the project took shape.

Gathering ideas and images from our own sketches as well as online.

We then made thumbnail sketches combining all of our ideas before making a final decision on the composition of the piece. 

Thumbnail sketch 
Our next step was to start painting. This was challenging physically as we needed to organise who did what and how not to get in each other's way! With a little discussion though we sorted this out and soon our plan was in full swing.
We took pictures of the process and sent them to Inchy who encouraged us each step of the way with positive and enthusiastic comments. Fayebubba was also a pleasure to work with and we spent our time chatting and laughing and pondering on the meaning of life itself!!! Though daunting at first, we really enjoyed our time together working on this large scale project.

A perfect Utopian shape that also resembles a football.
The game of football brings so much joy to the player and the spectator.
The game itself could also be seen as a heteropic space.

We had a good laugh while making our rocky brain landscape.
We called it "The Brain Storm", "Brain Matter" and I found myself singing "Its raining brain" (instead of men) all day!

Combination of Inchy's dystopian image- shackles from the slave trade
with my hetertopic sketch of archways from The Abbey on Sherkin.
The shapes merge well together,

Close up of Faybubba's rocky landscape which is actually a brain! A brain can be seen a heterotopic space
but also a Utopian or dystopian space depending on how one thinks! 

The finished painting combining all three elements, Utopia, Heterotopia and Dystopia.

I was very happy with how the painting turned out. It had a quirky surrealist feel to it which really pleased me.  Thanks to this collaboration I can now say that I've dabbled in that genre! Overall it was a fabulous experience and I can honestly say that I'd happily work with both Inchy and Fayebubba again on future projects.

Virtual Environments: Is one life enough? Week 12

Virtual Environments: Is one life enough? 

Week 12

Had to pinch myself on a number of occasions during this weeks SL class. "Is this real?" I asked myself (even though I already know SL isn't real!), it was just so entertaining!

We were introduced to Sitearm, a (male) engineer in the oil industry in the US in real life. In SL however Sitearm is a very glamorous and sexy lady avatar who readily admits that he enjoys being courted my male business men who shower him (her) with jewellery and clothes while negotiating business deals online. He spends hours on developing his avatar's look, personalising the face and body shape and shopping for just the right clothes for different occasions. Like the singer Madonna, Sitearm's avatar has had many different images over the years!

Sitearm in a sheer dress talking us through pictures of his varying image over the years

People were not aware that Sitearm was actually a man for a long time as SL did not have the microphone tool in its formative years. Sitearm found that business men were more polite and easier to work with when they thought he was woman. He spoke about how he enjoyed being told that he was beautiful but would get upset when men would come on to him in a way that wasn't gentlemanly.
When Sitearm did come out as a man it left some of his business partners confused, angry and embarrassed but mostly he said that people understood that he was experimenting with the idea of the self online, transcending identity and the limitations of the ego. He said he was also playing tribute to his single mother who reared him to have a very sincere sense of respect for women.

Sitearm morphing into different dresses and body types as he discussed his different looks.

Sitearm has more than one female avatar on the go! We could all do with a clone or two I suppose!
We had a lengthy discussion about identity which led Glenn to mention Donna Haraway's 1984 seminal feminist text A Cyborg Manifesto. Immediately Sitearm was reminded of the Museum of robots on SL and he morphed into a female yellow robot which was inspired by Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, No.2

Sitearm strutting in a yellow robot ensemble!

In this country men are slow to show emotion, having been brought up believing that their feminine side is weak and should be repressed so it was intriguing to listen to someone speak so confidently about this side of their personality. The entire class was refreshing even though a little bizarre at times! 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Virtual Environments: Is one life enough? Week 11

Virtual Environments: Is one life enough? 

Week 11

What a fantastic class we had last night on SL! We all met in our DIT classroom to present our exhibition to our tutors John and Glenn and to our guests from Virtual Ability Island and the Cape Able Gallery. Everything went very smoothly in the lead up to last night so the exhibition itself was a great success. 

We all took turns to explain the inspiration for our heterotopic paintings and then welcomed feedback from all in the room. It made for some very interesting interpretations and reactions. What surprised me the most was how real this exhibition felt, only for the fact that we were missing some wine and nibbles!

This was one time that I was glad to use the chat box as it was quite daunting speaking about our work. Everyone was very encouraging however so this was an immensely positive experience. We should be very proud of our collaboration as a class on our first ever group exhibition! 

After our own exhibition we were invited to Cape Able Gallery where one of our guests, Suellen Heartsong, showed us her exhibition of SL photography. The photographs document her romantic journey with her husband who she met on Second Life.

Our other guests Slatan Dryke and Iskye Silverwed then razzed us some of their artwork treating us to a visual feast of photography and moving sculptures on the lawn outside Cape Able Gallery. It was wonderfully inspiring to see how people create art in this virtual world.

Slatan explained that he in not a artist in Real Life but on SL he creates all the time.

"SL offers a bunch of opportunities to free your creativity. In RL I am not an artist, I don't paint or sculpture, but here I can do it"

What a liberating place SL must be for him. Another testament to the "can do" attitude that seems to thrive here!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Virtual Environments: Is one life enough? Week 10

Virtual Environments: Is one life enough? 

Week 10

This week on SL we had a great discussion on team building. Sitearm Madonna, a lecturer friend of John's was unable to make it to class but sent on his powerpoint slideshow for John to discuss with us in his absence. Team Building, more often than not, follows a formula....... Form, Storm, Norm and Perform! These steps explain what happens to most committees/groups with or without their knowledge. Firstly a group is formed. In the beginning things can be quite stormy as a "pecking order" is formed and someone emerges as a leader. Once things settle down and begin to flow it is called the norm stage and finally it moves to the perform stage when the group really gels! If I had known this I might have stayed longer in a past committee experience. The storming stage really upset me so I left!

Class discussion

By accident I moved my camera to behind a chair in the  room.
It created a cool view-finder effect through the back of the chair!

The powerpoint also explains that collaborations can sometimes be at the Perform stage but can go back to the Storming at any point. For a collaboration to work different members need to take the reigns at different times, depending on what is needed to move a project forward. It is also important and to have many different skill sets in any collaboration. For example "ideas people" are great to get the ball rolling but sometimes they lack the motivation to actually finish a project so you also need someone who is goal orientated to reach your deadline.
We learned so much in this class, I'm positive this info will come in handy over and over again in my life!

In other business, we were brought up to date on our exhibition plans and on what is expected of us over the next few weeks for our SL assessment. From here on in we will be working closely in our SL groups but also as a class. We have decided to have a dry run exhibition in our DIT classroom during our next session so that we have the opportunity to iron out any problems we might have for our real exhibition on Cape Able in a few weeks time. For this dry run we are to upload an image of our heterotopic painting to SL,  learn how to build a virtual canvas, apply the image to it and hang it on the classroom wall.

My heterotopic painting of Monte Bretia
flowers in my garden.

Fayebubba who is a whizz kid at building and all things SL related, offered to teach us all how to do this and she went out of her way to write detailed instructions on our class fb group for us to follow. She also arranged to meet people in the classroom who were having difficulty following the instructions to talk them trough it. She was such a good teacher that she enabled others in the class to help each other when she was not available.


Hanging my work @ DIT
Interesting to see the painting on such a huge scale seeing as it is only A3 in real life!
Playing with scale
My virtual "artist with my work selfie!!"

On our next visit to Sherkin (in real life) we will be working in our SL teams to collaborate on a group canvas painting. Visiting lecturer Mark Garry will be guiding us so I'm sure this will be a fun exercise! Once this is complete we will take a digital photograph of it and then that image will be uploaded for our final exhibition on Cape Able along with some other individual images. We will be assessed on the work, how we present it, how we work as a team as well as how we capture the experience in our blogs.

"For the opening of the exhibition each group give a short talk to present their work, and discuss the experience of working in a team, virtually, collaboratively. This will be followed by a crit.

Each participant must also describe the progress of the project in a weekly blog post with particular emphasis on their contribution to the project. (What are you bringing to the group and how does it fit into the team’s work?) Discuss the details of the project and also the issues that arise in working collaboratively online. How easy is it meet up virtually and plan the project? What difficulties arise in development? How easy or difficult is communication? What particular problems arise and how do you deal with them?"

Its all very exciting! Wish us luck!

The exhibition is looking great - well done everyone!