Bryn Oh

Bryn Oh, who provided the heads-up for the Bread and Roses Strike exhibit. Please click on the picture for a larger version.

Last week, celebrated SL and RL artist Bryn Oh notified us members of her Immersiva in-world group about an academic / historic exhibit titled The Bread and Roses Strike at LEA13. The exhibit started out as an exercise for Dr. Sharon Collingwood’s Women’s Studies 110 distance class at The Ohio State University in the winter of 2013, spawned by the centennial of the Bread and Roses Strike which took place in January 1912 in Lawrence, Massachussets, USA.

The exercise itself grew over successive courses, and continues to grow and evolve even now. It is now available to the public, hosted at LEA13, one of the regions provided by the Linden Endowment for the Arts. As is admitted in the informational notecard provided by the exhibit’s team, the exhibit is not complete. It will continue to evolve while it is on display at LEA13, and the students involved will continue adding their projects in the meantime, hopefully providing further historical depth and more perspectives.

The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13

A workers’ dwelling as shown at The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

The exhibit, which will run until December 31st, 2014, does not aim to analyse the strike in detail, but rather examine a point in history. Students and other visitors are asked to think about the similarities between 1912 and or own time, and to think about the conflicts of gender, class, race and culture that arise in this and any historical period.

The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13.

The “better” part of Lawrence at The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

To achieve this, the exhibit recreates the atmosphere of Lawrence as it was in 1912, and juxtaposes the workers’ tenements with those of the higher classes, as well as with the texture mill owned the American Woolen Company. It also makes extensive use of Second Life’s interactive and immersive capabilities, by providing the visitors with four types of avatars they can wear in order to “fit in” with their role in the era’s social and political context, and also by assigning them with tasks that need to be done during their visit. Furthermore, almost ghost-like black & white cutout figures provide insights into the opinions that were expressed back then by various members of the society of Lawrence.

The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13

An upper-class house in Lawrence, as shown at The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13. “My dear, if your husband strikes you, it means that he cares about you. Try not to make him jealous.” – “Patience, dear. Your own peaceful demeanor and moderation should help him model his behavior.”: Words women were supposed to live by at the time. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

While the exhibit may seem “old school”, to compare it with the professionally-made houses and pieces of décor provided by various content creators would be unfair; it is an educational project, which touches upon issues of income and gender inequality, workers’ rights, child labour. All of these issues have reared their ugly heads again in recent years thanks to our complacency and – silent or vocal – acceptance of ideas like Murray Rothbard’s “free baby market”.

The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13

The proclamation of the striking workers: “We, the 20,000 textile workers of Lawrence, are out on strike for the right to live free from slavery and starvation; free from overwork and underpay; free from a state of affairs that had become so unbearable and beyond our control, that we were compelled to march out of the slave pens of Lawrence in united resistance against the wrongs and injustice of years and years of wage slavery.” Source: Proclamation of the Striking Textile Workers of Lawrence (1912). The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

In all, it is a very thought-provoking, important and politically challenging exhibit, which should remind us of a landmark in the history of the worldwide labour movement, and of the inconvenient fact that these rights we now take for granted (and which are being taken away day by day) have been won through hard, bloody struggles by unionised workers and not through the non-existent “trickle-down” effect.

The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13

The textile processing machinery of the textile mill at the Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

As said earlier, the exhibit is of an educational nature. It was designed mostly for university classes that will complete assignments there, and the informative notecard provided not only helps the visitor get their bearings around SL and the exhibit, but also offers a number of questions as a test; further questions are provided by the blue buttons placed on various walls of the exhibit’s buildings.

The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13

Child labour was extensively used in the American Woolen Company’s textile mill in Lawrence, MA. The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

Although the workers won their fight, it is noted in the Wikipedia article that they “lost nearly all of the gains they had won in the next few years. The IWW disdained written contracts, holding that such contracts encouraged workers to abandon the daily class struggle. The mill owners proved more persistent, slowly chiseling away at the improvements in wages and working conditions, while firing union activists and installing labor spies to keep an eye on workers. A depression in the industry, followed by another speedup, led to further layoffs.”

A private classroom for school groups is also available, and can be booked by contacting Ellie Brewster in-world.

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With thanks to Bryn Oh

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-G6

Blizzard Entertainment logoIn a recent blog post, Ciaran Laval wrote about Blizzard’s cancellation of its extremely ambitious project Titan, and opined that it could affect the fate of the new virtual world platform that Linden Lab is working on. What makes the cancellation of this project important is that it’s been in the works for about seven years now, and what makes it seem relevant to Linden Lab’s actions and product portfolio management is that Blizzard and Linden Lab both have MMOs as their main source of income, and that Titan was touted as the “next big thing”.

In comments to Polygon, Blizzard co-founder and CEO Mark Mohaime and Chris Metzen, Blizzard’s senior vice president of story and franchise development, offer partially useful insights into their decision to axe this big-budget project. Note that I say “partially”, because at least some of the real reasons will remain for a considerable amount of time with the people involved. Truth be told, it’s rare for any company to cancel without very serious reasons a large project it’s been working on for years.

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OK, I’ll admit it; the default SL avatar has a lot of problems, many of which have been pointed out in the past. For instance, see STORM-1800 in Second Life’s JIRA, or this post by Firestorm developer Tonya Souther. We’re all painfully familiar with several of these problems. The deformation in the shoulder-blade area is horrendous, the elbows and shoulders bend really badly, your legs look like they were nearly severed from the waist when your avatar kneels or is put in the lotus position, and, when your avatar spreads its legs, it looks like you’ve lost control of your bladder and / or large intestine. You can thank me later for the mental images.

With 10-cm heels on.

My avatar, wearing 10-cm (4″) heels. I typically wear Slink’s AvEnhance Mid Female Feet. As you can see, the foot appears as it should in RL. But there’s more at work right here… Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

But let’s get back to the matter at hand, shall we? Besides the fact that, even in 2003, the SL avatar was already horrendously sub-par, it has a glaring anatomical error, which affects the way animations make the avatar look. The error is, as you’ll have guessed from the article’s title, the ankles and the way the foot shaper for high-heeled shoes is created by the system.

foot-shaper

I took off the mesh feet, the shoes, and the alpha layer to show you the “foot shaper” for the shoes I wore for this example. You’d think the avatar’s ankle articulation rotated for this look to be achieved, but that’s not the case. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

We all know that, in real life, when we want to wear a shoe that isn’t flat, our ankle flexes downwards and is at an angle compared to its flat position. This is, of course, more obvious when we want to wear a shoe with a 10-cm (4″) heel, or a 12-cm (approx. 5″) heel, and don’t even get me started on the extremely challenging ballet heels.

foot-shaper-ankle-downwards

As I said earlier, the ankle was not rotated to create the foot shaper. Instead, the foot was simply stretched downwards, while the articulation remained flat. Please click on the image for the full-size version.

Now, the ankle can only bend downwards so much. Already when wearing a 10-cm (4″) heel (in in-world terms, this corresponds immediately with Slink’s AvEnhance Mid rigged mesh female feet). And when we wear a 12-cm (5″) heel (an in-world example of this is Slink’s AvEnhance High rigged mesh female feet), it maxes out. It’s gone as far as it can, and there’s no way it’ll bend downwards (or backwards – perhaps this would be a more appropriate term) any further. Period.

foot-bent-badly-backwards

And here, you see how bad certain poses and animations look when you’re wearing high heels, because of the anatomical error I described. It looks as if someone’s broken your ankles (perhaps using “enhanced interrogation techniques”). Please click the picture for the full-size version.

Yet, several animations have the avatar bend its ankles much further, making it look like the articulation has been broken. This looks really bad, and it’s terribly unrealistic. As I wrote earlier, I believe this has to do with the way the “foot shaper” is created by the system. When the “foot shaper” is created, what’s performed is not a downwards (i.e. around the transverse axis of the avatar) rotation of  the ankle, but a stretch of the foot. So, to the system, your avatar still has its feet lying flat, which in turn allows it to take these unrealistic angles.

Also, a degree of freedom is missing: In RL, we can flex our ankles on the longitudinal axis (how many times have you twisted your ankles because you misstepped?). In SL, we can’t. So, when we spread our avatar’s legs apart, our ankles don’t twist inwards to maintain proper contact with the ground.

I really hope LL will address this issue (and all the other issues with the default human avatar) in its next-generation virtual world platform. For SL, I think it’s just too late, because there’s too much content for the default avatar, so making significant changes now, after 11 years is pointless. To help you see what I’m talking about, I took a few snapshots using my trusty AnyPose BVH Pose Stand, and you can see them accompanying the text.

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-FK

NOTICE: The article below deals with adult topics and fantasies and contains fetish imagery. If you are offended by such topics and / or are not a legal adult, I suggest you leave this instant.

The StG (Surrender to Gravity) Neuropuppet

The StG (Surrender to Gravity) Neuropuppet, an RLV attachment designed by Sian Pearl; a recent blog post by her prompted me to discuss certain points, as well as certain aspects of sexual exploration within Second Life. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

It’s been a long time since I last posted anything related to D/s and fetishes. Truth be told, events beyond my control have meant I’ve had very little time, and even fewer opportunities, to indulge in moments and thoughts of this kind. Also, the blog had taken a more “mainstream” direction, towards which I’m rather ambivalent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m usually content using my blog to express my views on topics that have nothing to do with sex, romance, or sexuality, but there are times when I feel I keep pushing certain thoughts back.

It was a recent post by Sian Pearl over at her parthenoid blog that set the gears into motion again. In that post, Sian expressed her extreme distaste for the Neuropuppet (pictured above): A cyberpunk drone play attachment for female (mostly) Second Life avatars she had made on request, based on drawings by Dreampaint Loon. To cut a long story short, this attachment consisted of a face-concealing mask with a drone communications light source on its forehead, and a spine-like rigged mesh attachment, which ended up covering the nether regions. The entire rig also penetrated the female avatar in all three orifices.

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On the 3rd of September at the Rift Horizon Gallery, an exhibit by Chance Acoustic (aka Cath Cole) titled A Room for Ferrisquito opened. This exhibit focuses on famed virtual artist Bryn Oh’s early work, i.e. the period from 2008 to 2011. For the opening, artist Art Blue gave a special 20-minute presentation titled Knowing, which he described as “a one-man theatrical performance”. The room containing the exhibited artwork is also part of the “VULCANICUS” time capsule in OpenSim.

The Ferrisquito Exhibit

The Ferrisquito Exhibit – A Room for Ferrisquito

The exhibit is situated above the gallery, which is the actual landing point. So, the landmark provided in the previous paragraph will actually take you to the main gallery rather than directly to the Ferrisquito room. To go there, you need to use the teleport sign. Once in Ferrisquito, you will find yourselves in a somewhat confined (by SL standards anyway) oval room; the curved walls, which have been curiously left sporting the default plywood texture, are decorated with photographs of Bryn’s works taken by Chance. On one side of the floor, you can see the Consumerist Sherpa. A staircase leads to an upper area overlooking the main room; there, Beetlebot is watching from its high perch. In the main area, you can also pick up a special one-prim book about the exhibit, which you can keep as a memento of your visit.

Ferrisquito showing Bryn Oh's artworks

Ferrisquito showing Bryn Oh’s artworks – A Room for Ferrisquito

I mentioned a theatrical presentation by Art Blue titled Knowing. It was narrated by an owl named Nervual and consisted of a story revolving around time travel, an attempt to uncover the secrets of life, and the discovery of Bryn’s work.

The centre of the exhibit, though, is Ferrisquito herself (operated by a student working with Chance). Her name is a reference to the icon that represents the robot theme park in Immersiva. Her appearance is based on Sian Pearl’s angel audience avatar designs for the Basilique Performing Arts Company’s in-world production of Paradise Lost, and you can summon her by pushing on a button on the wall near the table where you can pick up the book mentioned earlier. If she’s online, she will acknowledge in chat, and will come to the exhibit, where she will pose and begin rezzing the pieces of Bryn’s art that make up the exhibit; the works of art are presented not only on the floor space around him, but also in the otherwise rather empty upper area. You can either walk upstairs or cam up to the pieces to see them.

Run like a fawn

Run like a fawn – A Room for Ferrisquito

There are, in all, twenty-five works featured in the exhibit. They are as follows: Under the Poumbrella [poembrella], Mayfly machinima, Downloading …, The Violinist, Run like a fawn, Run Rabbit Run, Mother, Feed me, Steamdragon, Wee little Steamclock, Standby, Carriage, Consume, Poumbrella, Pouncing fox, Confused eyes, Bryn Oh´s bicycle, The Rabbicorn, 26 Tines, Cerulean, Willow, Angler Girl, The Violinist, and Night mare. Many of them are now hallmarks of Bryn’s presence and work within Second Life, like the Rabbicorn, Wee little Steamclock, or the works featured in Bryn’s The Daughter of Gears build and machinima. For those of you who have not yet discovered Bryn’s early works, I think now is a good chance to do so.

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-EP