Monday, April 16, 2007

New Blog

Becoming...Everything Else is a new blog written by composer Michael Boyd. Mike began the piece in 2004 during a composition seminar that we were both taking at the time. He had begun working in a highly improvisational style that requires/allows performers to take an active role in the compositional realization of the finished performance. Becoming...Everything Else is an attempt by Mike to rectify his interest in this style with an effort to incorporate a public art element. I was fortunate to have participated in two different performances of this interesting work, one in College Park, MD and the other in Catonsville, MD.

On the blog you'll see examples of the graphical notation that each performer must interpret, relaying the "essence" of each card. One of the most appealing aspects of Mike's work is that it is highly visually suggestive, and sometimes even required. For example, in another work, "Bit of Nostalgia...", Mike requires the performer to set up a grid with a limited number of sound-producing stations within. The performer then moves about the space, and is encouraged to use visual elements to assist in the portrayal of the essence of the page of score. In my own performance I found myself choosing events that had both a visual and sonic element or adding a visual element to the sonic performance. In the end, I find this music both fun to participate in as well as listen to - the creativity that Mike is able to coax out of the performers is always amazing.

The blog is new - so far containing only one post - but Mike plans on keeping it updated as this piece is performed over the next month in the Washington DC area. Check it out!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

3D, Navigation and Browsing

Some of you know that I've managed to squeeze in a little Second Life time, looking for interesting things. As I mentioned earlier - SL is, at its core, an economical game. The cost of purchasing a suitable area for experimentation is prohibitive and nearly everything costs Lindens, which can be expensive. There are some jobs available, but for the most part these center around a very healthy virtual sex community. (Much has been writeen about this already, but it cracks me up that the "World's Oldest Profession" is also "SL's Oldest Profession").

At any rate, I thought I'd take a moment to discuss some of the interesting models of navigation that one encounters in SL. First, the default view is that of a camera suspended behind your Avatar (av for short) and slightly above.

It is possible to see the world from your av's point of view (called "mouselook". This can pose problems for new folks because the method of navigation changes from simply using the arrows to move to heading in whatever direction you look. I tend to use both depending on the situtation.

But one of the interesting aspects of SL (and many such virtual worlds, like WoW) is the ability to "pan and scan" your camera from its default position. If you see something interesting but don't want to walk over to it, or if it too high, you can zoom in or out quite a bit. Here are two examples, a close up and then a zoom out. These shots were taken from the same location as the one above (my latest favorite place to visit, Ethereal Teal (Ethereal Teal, Teal (127, 122, 30).

Closeup (forgive my moment of vanity):

Zoomed out (can you see me waving?):

The more I use this interface the more interested I become in this as the future of virtual 3D navigation. Imagine a browser in which you could "fly" around the links, or a news site in which related stories are positioned strategically around the story that you are reading...or better yet, art in which the viewer maintained some control over what they experienced.
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