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Scrounging around for minimalist stuff

I am still preoccupied with my building stuff in SL. How to improve on it, how to bring myself up to scratch. The complex mesh stuff is really not for me. So, maybe taking the minimalist route I was talking about before is a good idea. But how? Same as before? I think not.

Wandered off to one of my favorite hangouts, Vecteezy, to see what they have on offer that might inspire me. Do not let what they display on the homepage (Christmas paraphernalia right now) fool you for a nano-second. This is a great place.

I found...

Super cool backgrounds...

dot arrays...

and link and node diagram abstractions.

So, what can one make out of this stuff? How does one combine it? And, more to the point, what else would be needed to make this come alive like a 'storyworld' does? Or should one even try for that? To make it come alive?
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Going back to minimal?

While I was putting together images for the new ShapeShifter 2012 site I re-rezzed some of the stuff that was on that sim in order to photograph it  (yes, don't ask - I was inexperienced and silly enough not to have made an OAR). And I remembered that I really liked what I had done back then.

I am not sure if this stuff was as popular with visitors as the more 'storyworld' type of stuff that I also do. I am fairly certain that when this stuff was rezzed at alpha.tribe there were not too many photos of it on Flickr, which is always a good indicator as to how much people like what you make.

Does that matter? Well yes, of course it does. I want others to come and enjoy my sims, tell their friends, come back to play some more.

But, I do want to make more minimal things. Because I really like them. Truth be told, I like them much better than the storyworlds. So, could there be a way to combine these two really different approaches?
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The Symmetry book

Thinking of things I could do next, I keep coming back to graphic design. I made these pages a year ago for a project that was later published as an insert in a Turkish art magazine. We did not use this set but something else entirely. But, I liked these. More so than what the curator actually decided to go with. So, I sometimes look at them.

So, maybe I should do an imaginary picture book? But, no, somehow I do not think I want to do this. Too intellectualized. Too artsy somehow. I want to do "real" graphic design. Logos, packages, branding applications. And then the question becomes - what would you do a branding of? What's your product? Have to invent one I guess. 

I have been sitting right here on the sofa, listening...

... to progressive commentators. For almost 3 years now. Turkish progressives. British progressives. And especially American progressives. Real ones. Not a bunch of mealy mouthed faux-liberals and such.

On youtube - given that none of them are allowed on regular TV. Anywhere. I thought that it was just here in my country, where we do after all have an acknowledged authoritarian at the helm. Turns out it is the same everywhere. Why am I not surprised?


So, why these wilted flowers inside what appears to be a fancy porcelain jug?

Because I think they do a very good job of symbolizing the end point we are at. Not just here or there, but everywhere. Not because of Trump or Macron or Orban or our own fearless leader over here. It is game over. Globally. But the thing that is dead - dead like these once beautiful roses - is still being presented in precious receptacles. "If only we could get rid of Trump (or x y z - doesn't matter)" - that is what that signifies. "Actually", they say, "this is just this one guy. Get rid of him and all will go back to how it used to be - which was great, wasn't it?" "After all, we still have the lovely jug, don't we? We will go find something acceptable to put in it."

No, we won't. Sorry - but we won't. Oh yes, some of us will find something to put in the jug. But, it will be just as wilted, just as rotten, just as decayed as what was thrown out.

Because it is the system that is kaput folks.


And that is what progressives are screaming about all over the globe it appears. Mostly they are much younger than I am, and consequently they are also more naive than I am. Age does teach you to be somewhat careful with your optimisms, you know?

They think that something may change. I, sitting here on my sofa on the other hand, know that it is extremely difficult, almost impossible for this to happen. At least for it to happen without some cataclysmic event that will destroy the horrifying edifice that has been built over the past 50 years or so and that has come to bear full fruit over the past decade. A war. A total economic meltdown. Something like that.

It won't happen through elections. That, to me, is very obvious. And I do not think that mass movements that aim to overthrow the status quo in its entirety are likely to happen either (this is what quite a few of these youngsters seem to be pinning their hopes on). Small movements will of course happen here and there. But when they do, they will be suppressed brutally enough for them to not to take hold any further. And please don't say yellow vests to me - those people are so not about overthrowing the system. They simply want more "in." More goodies.

What we have facing us now however is not about more goodies. Or forget goodies, it is not even about the necessities of life. We are facing something far more fundamental. And again - I am NOT talking about Trump or Putin or this person, that person. I am talking about a whole comprehensive, systematically built and propagated "thing." Not a person. A thing. They built it very efficiently. Planned its workings down to the tiniest detail. Took their time putting it together. No conspiracy theory or anything this, btw. It is there to see with the naked eye. It is called neo-liberalism.


I will probably write more about this later. For now, it is what it is. I am not hopeful.

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The Miro Sphere

I had forgotten about this. It was a self contained environment inside a sphere filled with 3D objects that were inspired by Joan Miro's critters. I made this 4 or 5 years ago and the objects were in fact mesh. Made in photoshop where I could be intuitive, by which I mean following what coincidences or even accidents give me. And back then they gave me these guyz. Could I reproduce them or make something similar today? Probably not.

I have made quite a few things in SL that were based on Miro's paintings. 2 avatar outfits, the second of which actually carries some of these 3D critters. And I may make another one at some point.

I am not sure if liking Miro is still considered to be cool. Too many reproductions and posters of his paintings floating around and so his work is probably considered to be somewhat banal by art aficionados. But since I am thankfully not an art aficionado, what do I care? I have always thought he was great. And still do. 
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So - what next?

During these past few years that I was away from virtual worlds, it wasn't just making things in virtual worlds that I lost interest in. I lost interest in making things - period.* What has been happening recently however is that my appetite for making things has been coming back with a vengeance. 

The island is now done and I am scrounging around as to what to do next. And, probably also because of what I wrote about my lack of 3D modelling skills for present day SL, I keep going to graphic design. And I do mean graphic design, with typography and everything. And not some abstract stuff either. Real design work with problems to solve, designer briefs, products and what have you. The stuff I that I teach my students, in other words. 

In order to do that I would have to become my own client. And that is what I am now thinking about. What project should I give myself? What product? A branding project maybe?


* My country was (and still is) going through turbulent times and I wound up spending most of my time watching opposition discussion programs on youtube. Initially just local stuff, from where I moved on to international things. Especially the USA. The American progressives. I will probably write more about this at some point, but not now. 
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Self Evaluation in SL

The new island is more or less done. It looks OK, but it is nothing like what I achieved with Fool's Gold in 2015. The dark sky level is probably the best part visually speaking, and the ground level seems to work, if not entirely from a design point of view (lots of flaws that I see but can't figure out how to fix), then in terms of being a weird little playground.

However the thing that makes me write this is not really about my building skills. It is the way in which the whole SL platform has progressed during the time that I neglected it. When I look at the work of someone like Cica Ghost for example, I do see that I fall short. Not so much in terms of concepts, or being able to create playgrounds or storyworlds (which, at the end of the day, is still what SL is all about for me) but in terms of technical skills.

The world has transitioned to mesh. And very skillfully created mesh at that. And I do not have that skill. It involves learning a confounded software called Blender, which is the one that seems to meet SL requirements the best. I suppose 3D Studio Max or Maya would do as well. And they do have much friendlier user interfaces than Blender. But still, even contemplating learning them gives me the chills. Blender, I don't even want to think about.

Computer software has always been about intuition for me. Which is why I adore photoshop. And, if I say so myself, that is why I am also very good at it. Because photoshop is an intuitive software. These 3D softwares, on the other hand are not. Blender is a complete nightmare anyway, but the others are not exactly monuments to intuition either.

So, I do not know if I want to torture myself to learn them. But without that skill I am not at all sure that I can continue to build in SL. Well, I can continue to build, but would anyone ever come over to look at what I made? And while I build primarily because I have fun while I am doing it (major fun, in fact), I am not going get all snooty and say "who cares what others think?" Because, of course I do.

So... This last build may in fact be a natural parting of the ways between me and SL...

We shall see.
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Arcadia's avatars...

As I wrote before I have used Arcadia Asylum's prims for many builds. Fool's Gold, the best sim I think I ever built was made almost entirely out of them, and this new one has quite a few as well. I am a big believer in remediation, in reworking and modifying things to make my own stuff. Not to make everything from scratch but to build upon the foundations that others have set for me. Which is actually called Produsage, and I have even written academic papers on it.

That said, when it comes to Arcadia's things everything I use gets completely retextured. Amazing builder that she was (probably still is somewhere away from SL) her textures leave quite a bit to be desired, I find.

I feel funny saying this even, given how much I like her stuff. Indeed depend on her stuff for my own things. But, if you look below you will probably agree with me.

I filled the grab-a-duck gallery with a lot of free avatars this time around. And almost all of them are retextured Arcadia Asylum products. I am so grateful to her that she made these. Not to even mention her generosity in just putting them out there for the likes of me to play with.

God bless Arcadia Asylum!
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Midnight Wastes

I have gone back up to the towers that I had started to build a few weeks ago. But, like most of what I do, things did not go quite as planned and I ended up adding things that I had not thought of when I was first thinking about this level.

There is a legendary builder in SL called Arcadia Asylum. She built many many different things, from avatars to whole cities. And she had this thing about giving it all away for free - to be used and redistributed as one saw fit. With one caveat - one could not charge any money for it.

One of the "cities" that she built had to do with pirates for which she made all these buildings, from shops to bars, to a whole courthouse, that have this nautical theme. So, her city has snuck its way among my weird towers. They are still there, as is the transparent city plan through which everything is reflected, and as are all the trees. But now the center stage are these hilarious pirate buildings.

I made this level quite dark by using a sky preset in the SL library. And since this preset is called "Midnight Wastes" now this new city is called that as well.