31 December 2011

Selavy Oh's "Der Schauer" and Oberon Onmura's "Wave Fields"

I'm badly behind on blogging, which is a pity, since there have been some excellent builds recently. Unfortunately Haveit Neox's Second Libations is gone already; its destruction was quite a spectacle, I took lots of photos, and maybe I'll get around to posting them sometime.

But there are several builds currently on view that I've been telling friends about, and it's time I blogged them. I'll talk about two in this post, and try to get to some others later. I wish I could discuss them in more detail ... ah well.

Selavy Oh, Der Schauer at LEA24

In Der Schauer (The Shower, as in rain shower), Selavy brings together many of the strands she's been working on over recent years. She has also taken advantage of the new option of putting a windlight setting into an entire region so the sky is gray in all viewers, not just Phoenix and Firestorm (be sure you have the environment editor set to the default). In her blog post, she writes that "this installation has no static elements, everything is growing, falling, changing." By "everything," she means everything, and some things change in response to your own activities. Near the landing point there's a cloud of small cubes swirling around, leaving white trails behind them, occasionally bumping into each other, and sometimes changing color (you must have shadows on in order to see this, although you may find that it kills anti-alias). Larger cubes slowly shoot through the sky as well, leaving cubes behind them, bouncing on objects or the ground and taking off again. On some cubes, images flash on the surface. White towers like needles rise up from the ground, and occasionally collapse down again, making a clatter as pieces hit the ground; if you bump into or land on top of one of the towers, it will collapse immediately. Large sticks scattered about in piles will move if you bump into them. large circles of light form in the water and slowly disappear again. Step into the water, and land forms under your feet; land slowly changes on its own as well, so that if you return to the landing point it may have a different shape. Selavy also has two bots: Positive Hinterland stands motionless near the middle of the sim -- I've seen her get buried by the land -- while Negative Overland wanders aimlessly about the sim. (I'm not certain, but I think these bots are needed for terraforming operations, and when Negative bumps into things or walks onto the water, she'll alter the setting.) Along a circular perimeter there are occasional aurora borealis effects as well. Der Schauer is the ultimate expression of Heraclitus's dictum, "You can never step into the same river twice."

(Click images to enlarge)

Oberon Onmura, Wave Fields at LEA20

Oberon's build is all about motion too, but following his typical style, it takes a minimalist approach. He has split his sim into quadrants, each populated with a field of cubes floating above water, halfway into a large colored translucent screen. In each quadrant, one more or less random cube begins turning like a wheel. The ones next to it pick up this motion, and then the ones next to them, creating a diamond-shaped wave of movement across the quadrant, highlighted by the color sides that the cubes acquire when they start in motion (an interaction of the shaded cover over the quadrant, the black bottom side of the cube, and the angle of sunlight). Sometimes two cubes in different parts of the quadrant start turning one shortly after the other. Sometimes the wave stops at the quadrant's border; occasionally a wave passes through the border into the next quadrant; at other times; once in a while two waves interfere with each other. As the cubes turn, they stir up spray from the water, giving the waves' movement the sense of intense physical force. Once in a while, a field of cubes is switched off -- the cubes become translucent, shake out of their moorings, and in a thick mist of spray they sink to the bottom and disappear. The quadrant is repopulated with cubes in a different manner within each quadrant: methodically dropped from a dispenser in the air, emerging from below, randomly appearing and falling into place, or tumbling out from a jumbled flying mass.

(Click images to enlarge)

Although both Oberon's Wave Fields and Selavy's Der Schauer pivot around the concept of change, the two installations also contrast. On the one hand, Der Schauer is primarily oriented around randomness and arbitrariness; Wave Fields, on the other hand, begins with the seed of a random cube launching into motion, and sometimes quadrants are refilled in an arbitrary way, but its focus ultimately falls on the powerful yet orderly expansion of waves until they crash into their borders. You need to meander about Der Schauer in order to discover its many elements; Wave Fields, however, calls for stillness and observation, even meditation -- in fact Oberon provides a tower where one can take a seat scripted with camera control, giving you a perfect view of the wave patterns. These are two of the many "must see" installations currently on view.


  1. Nice. I'm so glad to be next to Selavy's amazing build. As always, she's an inspiration.

    I'm so glad you noticed that the waves sometimes stop at the quadrant border. They only propogate across borders when the "receiving" quadrant is completely populated with all its 400 cubes.

    Thanks for the nice review!