07 December 2016

StormEye Reigns Again

Recently Lemonodo Oh invited Douglas Story and Desdemona Enfield to use part of his LEA sim to install one of their works. They chose StormEye, which they first presented in February 2009. In Second Life time that seems like ages ago -- in fact it was somewhat over two years before mesh was introduced. It was a time when artists and "creative types" explored the magic they could perform with prims, scripts, and maybe an animation or two. It was perhaps the pinnacle of the period when people discussed the creation of art that is impossible in real life.

In StormEye, the visitor walks through a slightly undulating corridor as the weather passes from clear and sunny to a thunderstorm and then clear again. The corridor is composed of around an thousand curved surfaces, giving a scalloped effect. On them, video of the storm sequence plays, occasionally there's a burst of lightening, and one can hear rain and thunder. It's a highly immersive experience. If you like, there are pillows here and there, so you can sit and read while the storm rumbles around you. And although you won't actually get wet, near the entrance there are umbrellas available (made by Bryn Oh) to add that final touch to the downpour. (Look inside the umbrella for a couple of Bryn touches.)

StormEye by Douglas Story and Desdemona Enfield (click to enlarge)

The StormEye construction floats above a red sculpty landscape that Desdemona designed with mathematical data. The color derives from a flower photo taken by Doug's typist Dennis Schaefer. For more information, see the website for the original installation at http://slstormeye.blogspot.com.

To experience StormEye, you need to play media (use the camera icon). Originally media in SL required installing Apple's Quicktime player, but supposedly it's no longer necessary. Also, Apple no longer supports Quicktime. However, I had a problem getting the video to play so I had to install Quicktime anyway (from here). If you turn on media and the build just turns white, install Quicktime. Note, Quicktime for Windows has security holes, so if you need to install it on a Windows computer, Apple recommends that you remove it again as soon as possible.

Also, be patient! The entire sequence from clear skies to storm to clear again takes about five minutes. If it isn't raining inside (yes, Doug and Desdemona intended that joke), then take a seat and wait.

If I sounded a bit nostalgic in the first paragraph, I am. Along with the departure of many artists from that period, I think the sense of exploration and the impulse to discover the possibilities and limits of art in virtual worlds have faded somewhat. I'm not sure if that simply means we've more or less found those limits, or that emphasis has shifted to other things (skill with mesh maybe?). The question "What crazy thing can I do here?" is a good one for making art in Second Life.

StormEye will only be open until the end of this month, so don't delay: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA24/120/115/25

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