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  ‘Warcraft’ Corpses Speak  
Posted 2006-11-01 by Tony Walsh
Players of World of Warcraft have been swapping stories about the art of "corpse graffiti," a phenomenon I've seen before but didn't realize had a name. In my first few months of play, I regularly spotted a corpse named Jeff Buckley floating face-down in a pool of water in the dwarven city of Ironforge (Buckley was a real-life recording artist who drowned in 1997). Others have found lighter fare, such as "a pile of gnomes with names like 'Oompalumpa' outside Orgrimmar. At the top was a dead [Night Elf] named Willywonka."

Corpse graffiti, a form of emergence, is created by building a character with a clever name, i.e. "Mailbox" and dropping dead in a contextually-appropriate location, i.e. a mailbox in a high-traffic area. As long as the player refuses to resurrect the character (a feature in the game), the named corpse remains for all to see. The primary use seems to be humour, but some players have used corpse graffiti to criticize the game design of World of Warcraft. I don't think it's a very effective form of criticism, but it certainly is a novel one.
  2006 Machinima Fest Goes Mixed Reality  
Posted 2006-10-30 by Tony Walsh
This year's Machinima Festival takes place at NYC's Museum of the Moving Image and inside the virtual world of Second Life--the latter being a particularly suitable locale, considering the nature of the machinima art form. Starting November 2 at 8pm Eastern time pm, the Laguna Beach sim in Second Life will pre-screen films by 33 Mackie nominees, 4 of whom are also SL residents. On November 4, the real-world Mackies are handed out in NYC. The ceremony will be simulcast in Second Life.
  ‘Endless Forest’ Gives Thumbs-Up To Fawns  
Posted 2006-09-29 by Tony Walsh
Tale of Tales, an innovative, creative group of game developers, is exhibiting their unique virtual world Endless Forest this Sunday in Roeselare, Belgium. A new avatar will be added to the world in a nod to the exhibition's focus on teens and technology. According to an emailed announcement, "Pixel Me is an art exhibition for young teenagers about communication (technology). It features The Endless Forest next to works by Wim Delvoye, Pina Bausch and Chantal Akerman, Guy Rombouts, etc. For the occasion of this exhibition, we have created a new player avatar that the visitors of the show will be using: the Fawn." In addition to the standard exhibition, the creators of Endless Forest will be performing "ABIOGENESIS," an in-world presentation of twin gods at play. The fun begins at 2pm, Sunday, October 1, 2006.

Tale of Tales will be presenting their Realtime Art Manifesto during the Mediaterra festival at Technopolis in Athens, Greece from October 4 - 8, 2006; Endless Forest is being exhibited at Edge Conditions in the San Jose Museum of Art in California, USA until the end of November, 2006.
  Eyebeam Looking for Residents  
Posted 2006-07-21 by Tony Walsh
Creative technology lab Eyebeam is calling for applications for residence opportunities at their NYC (Chelsea) facility:
    "Artists, hackers, designers, engineers and creative technologists are
    invited to apply to be Residents at Eyebeam, to work for six months on
    projects or research of artistic endeavor or creative expression. The
    ideal Resident has experience working with and generating innovative
    technological art and/or creative technology projects and has a passion
    for interdisciplinary exchange."
The application deadline is August 21, 2006. Successful applicants will be afforded 24/7 access to Eyebeam's facility, equipment, and staff expertise, as well as a $5000 honorarium. The program term is approximately from September to February and March to August with the potential for extension and/or re-application. Eyebeam has previously graced the pages of Clickable Culture for its work on 3D "screen capture" software and fabrication of extracted virtual-world objects.
  2006 Machinima Festival Calls for Entries  
Posted 2006-07-17 by Tony Walsh
Calling all machinimists: The Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences (AMAS) has announced that the 2006 Machinima Festival and the 2006 Machinima Awards will take place on November 4 and 5, 2006. According to AMAS, the two-day event "will include screenings of Machinima films, Q&A with machinimators, special presentations, and seminars about Machinima production techniques...The hosting venue, the Museum of the Moving Image (, will provide an excellent location once again, with its diverse collection and exhibitions of motion picture, television, and digital arts." AMAS will begin accepting Machinima Awards entries beginning July 24, 2006--for more details, check the official site.

I'm personally rooting for BloodSpell, a feature-length machinima project made in 3 years using BioWare's Aurora Toolset (used for the game Neverwinter Nights). The film is alleged to be the longest piece of machinima ever made. Like most movies in its genre, it squeezes the most out of a limited palette, and is a fine example of overcoming technology constraints (in this case an aging game engine) creatively.
  Art Project Carves ‘Second Life’ Scenes Into Reality  
Posted 2006-07-12 by Tony Walsh
Art Project Carves ‘Second Life’ Scenes Into Reality
The avatar in this piece "had been dancing for 8.5 hours for the meager sum of $68 lindens—worth about a quarter of a U.S. dollar." Image and subtitle credit: Recursive Instruments.
Vignettes from the virtual world of Second Life have been digitally processed, automatically milled into wood, slathered with ink, and pressed into abstract representations of the metaverse. The prints are part of a real and virtual body of work created by two Chicago Art Institute students known collectively as Recursive Instruments. The team's show is suitably entitled Recursions, and according to the artists "depict[s] situations you will find every day in Second Life, from play to punishment. The trappings of technology are both removed and exploited to examine the evolution of media's effect on the evolution of self." I don't know about crazy art-speak, but I know what I like. And I like Recursions. If you think you might like Recursions, too, the prints can be seen in Second Life on the island of Learning.
  Physical Avatar Indicates IM Presence  
Posted 2006-06-26 by Tony Walsh
Physical Avatar Indicates IM Presence
London-based design shop Schulze & Webb has created a toy-like physical avatar that is intended to indicate the presence of an instant-messaging buddy. Dubbed the "Availabot," the USB-controlled avatar is flaccid when one's IM buddy is not available to chat, and stands at attention when one's buddy is chat-ready. Furthermore, the little critter is customizable, combining standard and rapidly-prototyped body parts. Thanks to currently-available 3D-ripping software and rapid-prototyping tools, creating out a custom Availabot based on one's virtual world avatar or videogame character shouldn't be too difficult.

Realistically, the Availabot less represents consumer-oriented technology than artist-level technology. Most people have too many IM buddies and too few USB ports to make the Availabot a practical tool.
  Digital Media Cattle-Calls  
Posted 2006-06-15 by Tony Walsh
A handful of calls-for-papers and other solicitations caught my eye today--at least one of which I'd love to respond to, but an overabundance of professional work has tied me up for the rest of the summer. I enjoy researching and developing long-form material, but it's just not possible in the short term. If you have more time than I do, perhaps you'll submit to one or more of the following call-outs:

perthDAC 2007 - The Future of Digital Media Culture
7th International Digital Arts and Culture Conference
15 -18th September 2007, Perth, Australia.
Call for Papers: "Papers are sought for PerthDAC 2007 that will illuminate both the near and long term Future of Digital Media Culture...perthDAC 2007 accepts submissions from fields such as the humanities, social sciences, human-computer interaction and computer science studies, as well as those working both practically and theoretically in specific areas such as: digital/interactive art, digital/electronic literature, game studies, online communities, new media studies, affective computing, experience design, virtual environment design, etc." [more info]

Continue reading: Digital Media Cattle-Calls
  Is This Virtually Hot, Too?  
Posted 2006-06-08 by Tony Walsh
There was once a sex game called Virtual Hottie that was so sextacular that they made a sequel called... brace yourself... Virtual Hottie 2. I gather that Solark, makers of the game, put a lot of effort into giving their Virtual Hottie hyper-realistic skin-pores and bleach-blonde hair. But I guess someone forgot to show their art department what a real woman looks like. In a promotional picture for the game, a skinny white woman is shown clutching her bosom whilst thrusting her ass backwards in a painful-looking manner. Behold, the artwork below...

Continue reading: Is This Virtually Hot, Too?
  Wii Controller as Performance Tool  
Posted 2006-06-06 by Tony Walsh
Game designer Patrick Curry posted a great concept for a performance-oriented game as part of his ongoing one-idea-per-week frenzy. Entitled "Puppet Show," the game would involve the design and construction of digital characters and sets. Characters would be operated live (and collaboratively, optionally), for one-shot performances or for recording. Curry speculates that the game would be playable on the Sony PS3 and the Nintendo Wii, but I see the latter as the vastly superior option. The Wii's controller seems to have a much greater range of motion-detection.

Blogger Brian Stokes is rooting for the use of the Wii in puppetry, too. "This thing could make a great virtual rod control," he writes. "Imagine four of these per box, which would be connected to other performers on the Net, performing in the same scene, or watching and providing virtual applause!" Being an audience of a digital environment, viewers could become participants, ideally able to watch from any angle, switch views with ease, record their own version of the show for later viewing or remixing or re-broadcast. Puppetcasting, anyone?
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