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Bronzeville Etudes & Riffs Moves from Second Life® to Unity3 Platform

Etudes & Riffs

This is an archived article from 2014.
For an update onthe work of Philip Mallory Jones,work, view his Vimeo and his website.

In a major expansion of concept, artist Philip Mallory Jones has moved the development of Bronzeville Etudes &: Riffs onto the Unity 3 game development platform, which will make it available on web browsers and on portable devices that use the iOS and Android operating systems. He now calls this work an immersive graphic novel. Open it and you step into the Chicago South Side and experience life there as a Black American from the turn of the 20th century to the 1950s.

Jacque Quijote is the avatar of artist Philip Mallory Jones in the Second Life® virtual world. We selected the work of Jacque Quijote In the Sweet Bye & Bye as a "Pick of the Week" in May, 2007, and featured this work in our 2007 print monograph, The Second Life Art World

Five years later I asked the artist about these developments:
AWM: What made you change platforms from the Second Life virtual world to the Unity 3 game development platform?
PMJ: Hit the wall of prim count. No empty full sim available, so development goes in different direction. I've always been developing the piece more or less simultaneously on both platforms.
AWM: Has the change from a massively multiplayer online system to a single player platform changed the way you script this work?
PMJ: Entirely, but I've always been thinking in that direction. Now I'm getting serious about it. The Unity environment, in several significant ways, simplifies some concept and design problems. As someone raised to me some time ago, what does it do to the illusion of the piece when an 8 ft leather-clad dominatrix is walking around? Or a Dragon? I'm enjoying thinking about narrative and navigation in this more controlled, yet open, environment.
AWM: In SL you could meet people from all over the world inside your virtual environment. This changes it from performance art, where you would be immersed in it with the "players" in real time, to being more like a multimedia installation. What do you lose or gain from this as an artist?
PMJ: That aspect to the transformation is accurate. The performance component to the SL installation was always a troubling aspect to me, as herding/rehearsing multiple avatars poses numerous challenges. On the other hand, I do see an approach that is feasible in SL, which is deeply impacted by experiencing Bryn Oh's extraordinary Rabicorn epic. Part of the delicious challenge of the Unity3D space is to make it alive for the visitor. I gain a sense of control in terms of the experience, and a precision tool set that also includes DAZ3D Studio, Carrara 3D, and Poser. The current development toward web browser app opens a different mode of accessibility.


AWM: Had you always visualized it as an "immersive graphic novel"? or when did that concept hit you?
PMJ: The concept was always immersive graphic novel. That was born in the In the Sweet Bye & Bye installation, envisioning those narratives as immersive scenes, into which one could step. SL was an indispensable sketchbook for Bronzeville Etudes & Riffs, whereas it was the raison d'?tre for In the Sweet Bye & Bye. The SL piece had evolved to the point where it was either going to get a lot bigger and more functionally complex, or stop in place.

First Life to Second Life

Mr. Jones has also written an extensive illustrated essay on his development of immersive technology art, beginning with his first Heathkit quartz crystal radio receiver as a youth in the 1950s. It is required reading for anyone interested in the creative process.

The essay, "First Life to Second Life: Notes on the Design and Development of a Synthetic World Installation, In The Sweet Bye & Bye: An Immersive Memoir:" can be read online.  Philip Mallory Jones  was Artist in Residence at Ohio University's Aesthetic Technologies Lab when he created In The Sweet Bye & Bye.
In April, 2011 he created a series of Mind Maps that visualize his current research and development for Bronzeville Etudes & Riffs. There are two kinds, one charts the narrative threads and navigation paths, the other is an accurate street map (in four parts) 1925-1955.

His current work-in-progress advances the development of narrative immersive space, and is a quintessential example of the artistic exploration of virtual technology. Click on the image above and read all about it. Then immerse yourself in it. 




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If you have missed any of our articles and reviews since December, 2006, many are archived in the Features section
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The Law of Futuristic Persons

The Terasem Movement, Inc. a not-for-profit organization that publishes two Terasem Journals. The focus is on the rights of people who will be revived from biostasis—cryogenic preservation of legally (but not irreversibly) dead or near-dead people waiting for a cure, and cyberstasis—people whose consciousness is preserved digitally. 

Does immersion in virtual reality involve similar legal issues? As the technology of personality archiving gets closer, VR citizens may opt to transition from DNA to silicon existence.  The legal/ethical issues they are dealing with might make you think of Arthur C. Clarke or Isaac Asimov, but relevance is relative, in light of current concerns about AI and FMRI

For example, one of the papers in The Journal of Personal Cyberconsciousness is "Pros and Cons of Corporate Personhood for Transbemans" by Dr. Martine Rothblatt: "Dr. Rothblatt imposes the legal notions of corporate personhood upon transbemans or futuristic persons, specifically those who transition from flesh-ware to software, and may lack the traditional DNA based biological substrate."

There are over 20 issues of the above journal and their Journal of Geoethical Nanotechnology, with articles by prominent scientists, lawyers, psychologists, etc. in the Terasem online archive.



Following the disappearance of Zero Point [read the article], we have been looking into how residents of the Second Life virtual world can protect their assets. click here to read
how to preserve your virtual investment

ArtWorld Market ALMANAC
Virtual Art Gallery Decline Continues

On January 6, 2014 there were 358 galleries listed on Sasun Steinbeck's Art Galleries of Second Life website. This is down from 442 in January 2013, and brings the number of galleries back to the October, 2007 level.

The growth rate of art galleries in the Second Life® world maintained a pattern of long term growth beginning in 2006 that was nearly linear, with a few leveling off periods but no significant decline through 2010, when there were nearly 700 active galleries. The statistics are kept by Sasun Steinbeck, creator of the Art Gallery Owners Group.

chart through 5/2010 courtesy of Sasun Steinbeck; redlines added by ArtWorld Market
As the chart above makes graphically clear, the number of confirmed galleries stayed near 400 from the end of 2007 until May, 2008. Growth resumed and crossed the 500 mark in September. After November 1 the trend briefly reversed, but quickly recovered. The summer of 2009 saw a slight decline in the number of galleries, which hovered at about 650. After that the number remained fairly constant.
    Confirmed galleries must display the Art Galleries of Second Life Kiosk, which dispenses the gallery list and HUD that enables gallery goers to visit every gallery in the Group. This is an awesome tool if you have not used it, and is the best way to discover what hundreds of artists are currently doing. It is possible that the gallery growth rate continued during the flatline period, but was not apparent because new gallery owners had not become aware of the Group or had not configured their kiosk properly.

click here for the Art Gallery Map



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