Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Art I like lately - lots of Second Life stuff and more.

I've been finding a lot of fantastic art these past few weeks.

Earlier this month, I read about artist Adam Makarenko via the website PDN Photo of the Day:
"...Influenced by science and nature, Makarenko creates a vivid tableau vivant through miniatures, which he photographs into poignant visual narratives concerned with human intervention in nature..."


Not only are his miniatures amazingly well-crafted and minutely detailed, the photographs he takes of his work are evocative and haunting. More of his art can be viewed on his website, adam-makarenko.com.


Right around the same time I found Makarenko's miniatures, I came across miniatures by a different artist, this one working in Second Life.

PatriciaAnne Daviau's miniatures - 6

PatriciaAnne Daviau creates tiny villages and scenes, working with the smallest prims (SL's building blocks) imaginable. I was lucky enough to see her miniatures up close. [Those are my legs & feet in the picture; I stood close to this scene to give a sense of scale.]

PatriciaAnne Daviau's miniatures - 5

These builds are so impossibly small that one has to learn how to maneuver SL's camera controls with a bit of skill in order to see any of the details. Check out the slideshow to see more snapshots:



Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure this installation was only temporary, so I don't think there are any current locations to see it in SL. However, Youtube member chenderson33 has made a video dedicated to PatriciaAnne's work:



-------------------------
AM Radio's The Red and The Wild was another build I was fortunate enough to see for myself in SL, during a preview of the show for members of NPIRL/ImpIRL.

AM Radio's 'The Red and The Wild'

As all of his works are, The Red and The Wild is rich with imagery, detail, and genius loci (spirit of place); it is intensely evocative. AM talks about the build in an excellent interview on the NPIRL blog:
"...I had the courage to say that this abstraction means something, that here is a symbol of something, that we have these abstract parts of ourselves, these fears, these wild things we try to bury, and without them, we don't become who we are..."

Excerpt from A Burst of Conversation: AM Radio's "The Red and The Wild"
Words and mere snapshots cannot adequately do it justice, so if you are in Second Life, do yourself a favor and spend some time immersed in The Red and The Wild, which is now open to the general public. Explore every detail, make sure to read the notecard given to you upon arrival, click on everything, look at everything.

SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/IDIA%20Laboratories/15/154/20

More snapshots from my visit are in this slideshow:


-------------------------

I've also spent a bit of time exploring Enluminuria, a collection of artists whose work is bright, colorful, and abstract:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Arthole Radio this week - Wednesday, April 29th

Arthole Radio flyer - April 29, 2009




Arthole Radio returns this month with an exciting line-up of music, chat and very special guests.

Tune in from 1pm Second Life time
(1pm US-PDT / 9pm UK-BST / 4pm US-EDT)

Arahan Claveau has asked a number of Second Life artists to select a favourite piece of music; the artists themselves will introduce each track and talk about what inspired their choices. Guests include AM Radio, Adam Ramona, AngryBeth Shortbread, DanCoyote Antonelli, Dekka Raymaker, Dizzy Banjo, Douglas Story, Gore Suntzu, Klink Epsilon, Man Michinaga, Misprint Thursday, Nebulosus Severine, Oberon Onmura, Penumbra Carter, Sabine Stonebender, Selavy Oh, Tanith Catteneo, Tuna Oddfellow and Juria Yoshikawa.

Nebulosus Severine will discuss some of her recent art findings both on the web and in Second Life, interspersed with a selection of her current favourite tunes.

Amy Freelunch's show will feature a conversation with Jeff Edwards discussing his graduate thesis for the Masters in Art Criticism & Writing program at the School of Visual Arts. There will also be a short lecture given on German artist Gerhard Richter's Baader-Meinhof series of paintings, delivered by a robot.

To listen to the live broadcast copy and paste this link into your media player: http://slan13.ipr365.com:10320
(e.g. in Windows Media Player press CTRL+U or in iTunes CMD+U)

________

Download PDF here

*after the live broadcast recordings of the shows will be available in the archives.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Squirrel

I passed a window on my way to the bathroom to get a drink of water, and saw a squirrel sitting at the corner of a rooftop a couple of houses over. Don't know why, but I felt like crying. Not because it was beautiful or touching in some way. No idea why. Lack of sleep, maybe. I saw an illustration today of a figure caught in a storm, the words "It will all be okay" written over the scene. I hope to god it will be.

"I think Americans need to realize how easily they can be led and lied to..."

I know that it's easier for people to just love their country and to never, ever question the judgment of their elected leaders.

I know it's easier to just pretend that everything's okay, that the government always knows what's best for its citizens; it's easier to simply not think too hard, to deny that anything bad could be going on behind the scenes; to trust that the people on TV are telling the truth all of the time. I realize that people don't WANT to think about uncomfortable, disturbing issues. They just want to live their lives and pursue their own version of the American Dream, or whatever.

"Let’s say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link."
-- Paul Krugman
(link)

I browse the stories on Reddit frequently, and came across this discussion about the Bush administration's use of torture to interrogate. The article it referenced was very brief, but the resulting comment thread on the Reddit page is worth reading and pondering.

This comment in particular:
It's a bit hard to say, "We're better than those guys," when we do similar shit.

It may not be the worst of the worst, but seriously, it's still disgraceful. It taints everything else. Just because we aren't skinning them alive or burning them half to death doesn't mean it's OK.

I think Americans need to realize how easily they can be led and lied to. Wave a little war flag over their heads, shout "USA USA" a few times, wear a nice suit on a flight deck, and they eat it up and shut up. They shout down anyone who says, "Hey guys, we might want to look at this a little closer..." as being "unpatriotic" or "unAmerican". Later on, when they wake up from the patriotic masturbation fantasy, they wonder, "Wow, that was kinda stupid. Someone should have been doing something about that..."

Well yes, people were. But they were being ignored, or called names, or lambasted for being "pinheads" or whatnot.

The sad thing is that it'll happen again. And again. And again. It's human nature. :(
(link)

Well-said.

And I think we need to keep an eye on EVERYBODY who gets elected to public office, whether we personally voted for them or not.

And we need to wake the fuck up and realize that certain acts against human beings are wrong, even if they ARE the enemy.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The gRiM cOuTuRe Artist Grant

gRiM cOuTuRe, in partnership with the Art & Artists Network and the Artist Mentors Group in Second Life, present The gRiM cOuTuRe Artist Grant.

The goal of this grant is to aid newer artists in establishing their place within the SL arts community.

Artists are encouraged to complete the application process which will entail a general application, submission of art work, statement of authenticity and a summary of thier artistic vision with in SL. Applications can be found at:


A grant recipient will be chosen by officers of gRiM cOuTuRe magazine, the Art & Artists Network, and Artist Mentors groups.

The recipient will then be given an option of

1) 30 days tier paid on an approved art space

or

2) Financial support, organization and promotion of an SL art event featuring their work.

Grant recipients will also receive one on one business and artistic mentoring through other SL artists involved with the program. Their artwork will also be showcased in an issue of gRiM cOuTuRe.

Please send a NoteCard to Tricia Aferdita, Elysia Ashbourne, Nebulosus Severine or Sasun Steinbeck for more information.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The dangers of "adult" classification.

Amazon.com has recently adopted a baffling, backwards new policy:
In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.
[Source: http://markprobst.livejournal.com]

Just how the hell does that work?
...Basically, any title that Amazon consider "adult" will no longer be included in the "Best Sellers" lists – or ranked at all. These titles will not show up on all searches, even when the exact title of the book is entered. Who decides what books are "adult"? That’s not at all clear. But whoever’s making the choices is casting the net far and wide, and hauling in an awful lot of GLBT books...
[Source: http://www.dailykos.com]
A comment to the article about this issue on the SeattlePi site says:
It's not that the books are no longer listed. If you search for a book by title or author, you will still be able to find it.

Rather, it's that those of us with books that have been deranked no longer have our books in the bestselling book ranks, where they appeared before (and would still appear, as that is based on our sales) nor listing under the subject headings in lists for our subjects/genres.

So, unless someone is coming unto Amazon and looking for our book by title or author, they are unlikely to find it. That's a huge issue for authors -- especially those of us who are marginal in some way to begin with -- as often consumers browse those lists to find our books.


Here is a disturbing example of the results for searching homosexuality on Amazon:
This is what currently happens when you search for "homosexuality" on Amazon.
(view full-size)


Who the hell gets to be in charge of defining exactly what is considered to be "Adult," anyway?

It seems that a lot of books with homosexual themes, or authors, are falling into the "Adult" category, even ones that don't contain any explicit sexual content. However, many books featuring graphic heterosexual content still get to keep their sales rank. But that pattern is not consistent; it doesn't follow any apparent logic. Maybe it IS a bias, or maybe it's a faulty automated system.

The L.A. Times blog compares title lists:
Our research shows that these books have lost their ranking: "Running with Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs; "Rubyfruit Jungle" by Rita Mae Brown, "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic" by Alison Bechdel, "The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1" by Michel Foucault, "Bastard Out of Carolina" by Dorothy Allison (2005 Plume edition), "Little Birds: Erotica" by Anais Nin, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" by Jean-Dominque Bauby (1997 Knopf edition), "Maurice" by E.M. Forster (2005 W.W. Norton edition) and "Becoming a Man" by Paul Monette, which won the 1992 National Book Award.

Books that remain ranked include: "Naked" by David Sedaris; "Tropic of Cancer" by Henry Miller; "American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis; "Wifey" by Judy Blume; "The Kiss" by Kathryn Harrison; the photobooks "Playboy: Helmut Newton" and "Playboy: Six Decades of Centerfolds"; "Naked Lunch" by William Burroughs; "Incest: From 'A Journal of Love'" by Anais Nin; "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" by Jean-Dominque Bauby (2007 Vintage International edition), "Maurice" by E.M. Forster (2005 Penguin Classics edition).

Certianly many of the books that are no longer ranked are no more "adult" than many of those that are...
[source: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/]

Here's another reason why this new policy doesn't make any sense:
This sounds like a big old bowl of BS, does it not? Especially when you consider the fact that Amazon has vibrators, clitoral stimulators and anal plugs available in their search system with sales ranks attached. One wonders why these items are allowed to remain in the system with sales ranks while books including gay and lesbian content, themes, and even, as a commenter points out, autobiographies of gay and lesbian authors such as Stephen Fry, are deemed too "adult" for such things.
[Source: http://jezebel.com/]

Regardless of WHAT Amazon is marking as "Adult" -- why the hell does it feel the need to implement a system to "protect" its customers in the first place? It's a thinly-veiled way of censoring certain content or products, and censorship is one of THE worst assaults to human freedom, ever. I'm against the exclusion of ANY book from search or availability, even titles I don't agree with, like Mein Kampf, or BIRTH CONTROL IS SINFUL IN THE CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES and also ROBBING GOD OF PRIESTHOOD CHILDREN!!

One thing's certain; Amazon will definitely be "protecting" itself from lots of its customers' money (including mine).

Are online petitions worth it? Maybe, maybe not. If you are so inclined, there is one you can sign here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/in-protest-at-amazons-new-adult-policy

Ultimately, the best way to show your dissatisfaction is to boycott. I won't be spending a fucking dime there unless they fully eliminate their policy of censoring content.

Suck a fat one, Amazon.com!

Sources:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/
http://blog.seattlepi.com/amazon/archives/166259.asp
http://markprobst.livejournal.com/15293.html
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/4/12/719278/-Amazons-New-Moralityfor-your-protection
http://jezebel.com/5209088/why-is-amazon-removing-the-sales-rankings-from-gay-lesbian-books
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/in-protest-at-amazons-new-adult-policy

"...what/who IS Bunnyken, anyway??"

This post is long overdue. I can't tell you how many times I've had to explain the story behind Bunnyken, so I'll make an entry here for posterity.

Simply put, Bunnyken is a half bunny, half chicken creature -- hence the name. Although I often refer to it as "he," it is of indeterminate gender.

But the mythos of Bunnyken cannot be explained that easily. Not by a long shot.

It all began about 5 years ago, when I came across a very strange item for sale while searching weird auctions on Ebay just for the hell of it:


(image copyright: the original photographer, whoever you are...)

It was listed as Bunnyken, and I thought it was funny & creepy and odd, so I saved the pictures of it.

Fast-forward to a couple of years later, when I was pondering what avatar to wear to W-hat's Third Birthday celebration (April 27, 2007) in Second Life.

Arahan, CickMy Lunt (now known as CensoredMy Lunt, due to SL's ridiculous, crybaby policies) and I were set to DJ for the event, so I wanted something funny and weird to wear.

I somehow remembered the pictures of the bizarre bunny/chicken doll I had saved, and I thought I'd try to recreate it in Second Life.

W-Hat's 3rd Birthday Celebration in Baku (I)
Arahan (left) and me get ready for the big party!

The above picture shows the first incarnation of the Bunnyken avatar. I later improved it with better texturing, etc.


Bunnykens (II)

Bunnyken avatar

In Second Life, I began to make various prim sculptures of Bunnyken -- the first significant one being, of course, Bunnykenball at Brooklyn Is Watching, about a year ago:

Bunnykenball

I grew more and more obsessed with this mysterious character, and wanted to know more about it. I searched the web in vain for any information about its origins -- there is literally NOTHING out there, I have tried.

I kicked myself for not bidding on that Ebay auction! I didn't think I would ever be lucky enough to find one again... but lo and behold, about one year ago, I found ANOTHER for sale on Ebay, and I bought it.

BUNNYKEN ARRIVES! - 4

This is actually Bunnyken in its original form.

[The one in the yellow suit must have been someone else's weird creation -- a Bunnyken head on a decapitated doll body. Genius.]

It appears to be some kind of cheap plastic Easter toy. The head is easily removed and has a hollow tube neck. The button on the front of its body turns. I think it's some kind of candy dispenser -- fill it with jellybeans or other small candies, turn the button, and a single jellybean will be dispensed into one of the little indentations on the base, each of which has short phrase:

-- BE GOOD -- BE HAPPY -- YOU'RE SWEET -- I'M IN LOVE -- LUCKY ONE --
-- ROCK 'N ROLL -- SAY YOUR PRAYERS -- HUG ME -- KISS ME --



(image copyright: the original photographer, whoever you are...)

I asked the sellers if they knew ANYTHING about Bunnyken's background -- what year(s) it was made, where it was manufactured, anything. The sellers had actually brought this Bunnyken to Antiques Roadshow, and even the appraiser had no idea what the hell it was.

BUNNYKEN ARRIVES! - 2

From the Ebay auction page:
"It reads BUNNYKEN on the bottom so I am assuming that is who made it.

I took it to the Antiques Roadshow, they had never seen or heard of one before and thought it was pretty rare and very different than anything they had seen.

They apprised (sic) it between $75 and $100...."

Since then, Bunnyken has returned time and time again to my SL artwork (often with Arahan's help)...

ORIENTATION - 5ORIENTATION - 13Building XXX PRIVATE SHOWBunnyken In La-La-Land


I have since found and purchased yet another Bunnyken on Ebay, but I am no closer to figuring out anything about its origins.

Bunnykens

It is still as mysterious, creepy, and whimsical as it has ever been. And I am not really quite sure why, or how, but the character of Bunnyken seems to have taken on a life, and will, of its own. It is a godlike figure, and demands worship.

Pop Art Bunnyken


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Harvard & IBM's Clean Energy Project

I think that anybody with a computer and an internet connection should check this out --


From http://www.elrst.com:
"If you let your computer idle while you are away or asleep, you might consider to allow Harvard and IBM to use it to do calculations for the Clean Energy Project.

Due to find new ways to create more efficient solar photovoltaïc panels and later of batteries, this project already has over a million people donating some of their computer time.

This could shorten an estimated calculation time of 22 years to only two."
[Emphasis mine]


From http://www.reuters.com/
"Scientists at Harvard University and IBM are hoping to harness the power of a million idle computers to develop a new, cheaper form of solar power that could revolutionize the green energy world...

...Harvard scientists are hoping the project will allow it to discover a combination of organic materials that can be used to manufacture plastic solar cells that are cheaper and more flexible than the silicon-based ones typically used to turn sunlight into electricity."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dekka Raymaker's rebuilt installation - Adult Content Removed

“The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.”
– Henry Steel Commager

(quote found on the wall at Adult Content Removed)

I mentioned Dekka Raymaker's installation, Adult Content Removed, at Brooklyn Is Watching recently, but by the time I blogged about it, the work was already taken down.


Fortunately, Dekka was able to recreate at another location, so go visit it if you haven't yet had the chance.

Dekka Raymaker's installation at Fire Island

You might ask yourself, "Why is censorship in Second Life is such a big deal? It's only SL."
I think it's really, really dangerous for people to accept ANY kind of censorship for ANY reason. Don't ever let anybody ever convince you that it's "for your own good."