Welcome to Issue 6
“Sitting on our shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe” said Michio Kaku, who is a well known futurist and theoretical physicist. Our brain consumes only 30 or 40 watts of power, yet has a capability of more than a super computer. What if we’re able to interface our minds with machines and enjoy a symbiosis?
That, in one sense already is happening. We’re already cyborgs.
Every time we use a cell phone, a watch, a computer or other devices, we’re acting as a cyborg. One definition of Cyborg goes back to this— “an organism to which exogenous components have been added for the purpose of adapting to new environments.” . So these components may allow us to go deep sea diving, explore space or climb high mountains.
Tool use from the beginning of time started with extensions of the physical self, allowing us to reach further or hit harder. Now we are using tools that are extensions of the mind, allowing us to do calculations faster and predict things with more accuracy. Modern communication has already created a “borg” like hive mind; we can connect instantaneously to virtually anyone on the planet that has a cell phone or computer.
Since we are pouring a fair amount of our identities onto social media sites, we are creating a “second self” that others are interacting with. To take things further, you can have a whole “second life” played out virtually, using the same named largest ever 3D virtual world created by users. See our interview with Tara De Vries giving an excellent tour of the Second Life world and culture.
As cyborgs though, we may need times where we can disconnect ourselves from our mind extending and communication devices, allowing time for self reflection, creativity and art. These are the times that may be best for defining our selves, rather than reacting to all of the input we gain at an ever-increasing rate. Once we’ve had time to gain extra realisations about who we are, then there’s an opportunity to plug ourselves in again and reflect this back to our fellow cyborgs.
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In this issue:-
TARA DE VRIES
Digital Art LIVE straps on the shiny cyber-suit and flies into the virtual world of Second Life !
SECOND LIFE | GAMES
“The allure of virtual worlds has been ingrained into me since I was really young. The Virtual Boy from Nintendo may have been a commercial failure, but just the idea of a digital world inside of this little headset…”
Digital Art LIVE interviews Eliane, on her sci-fi style and her creations using DAZ Studio.
CARRARA | DAZ STUDIO
“The secret is often just in simple observation. Many objects come to life with a certain light or shadow. You can brighten up a simple apple with a play of light and shadow…”
Digital Art LIVE talks urban exploration, dark music and Poser 11 with Anders Plasgaard.
POSER | PHOTOSHOP
“I am also a ‘Urban Explorer’ and love to find new abandoned places to explore. I take a lot of photos of places like that, and use them as elements in my textures and pictures.”
A Segment from the Tara De Vries Interview
Our expert guide on Second Life is Tara De Vries, editor of the Second Life sci-fi magazine Bright Metallic.
What is Bright Metallic?
Bright Metallic is a science fiction magazine created in the virtual world, Second Life. It features art, photography, short stories, poetry, locations, events, news, and builds by Second Life residents following a broad science fiction theme. Our definition of “science fiction” includes, but is not necessarily limited to: dystopia, speculative futures, steampunk, cyberpunk, atom punk, slipstream, military sci-fi, tech noir, weird west, hard sci-fi and the countless other sci-fi genres.
DAL: Tara, welcome to Digital Art Live magazine. 2016 is set to be the year the world gets consumer VR headsets — and their demo games and worlds — so we thought it would be great to interview an expert on the virtual world of Second Life. Specifically, on making science fiction ‘come alive’ as an experience in Second Life. You’re also the editor of the excellent and regular Second Life sci-fi magazine Bright Metallic, so you’re an expert on the art and aesthetics of SL.
Let’s start by asking — how you first became interested in virtual worlds?
TDV: Hi! I think the general allure of virtual worlds has been ingrained into me since I was really young. The Virtual Boy from Nintendo may have been a pretty miserable commercial failure, but just the idea of a digital world inside of this little headset…
That started dreaming of what it could be in the future. Obviously, things have come a long, long way since then.
I spent time as a teen in graphics-based chat rooms, a 2D version of what I dreamed would be possible eventually. Then I moved on to modding video games, which I think gave me a more solid sense of what virtual worlds in general could offer people, and what voids it could fill.
DAL: Yes, all modders seem to say, after, that it was a great training for what they later went into. And then you progressed to Second Life? So, what were your first experiences like in SL?
TDV: Honestly, they were awful. I first joined about seven years ago, and it was just not friendly to new users at all. I moved around awkwardly, never knew where I was, and almost immediately got banned from a plot of land while trying to get my bearings — and before I’d even spoken to my first person. Luckily, I eventually met some people, and they helped me get the hang of things.
DAL: I tried SL for six weeks or so, a long time ago. I remember various virtual raves, and wrestling with trying to fly, lots of half-empty islands and tasteless stores, and not having the Linden dollars [the in-world money] to buy cool gear. Then I got caught up one night in some kind of pseudo-terrorist attack by ‘griefers’… and after that I rapidly drifted away to open-world storytelling games like Morrowind and Oblivion.
So… what was it about SL that then made you stay on and become a part of the community?
bYour first experiences are what a lot of people first experienced, and I think that steep learning curve has been the hardest part of selling the idea of Second Life to “outsiders”. If I hadn’t met people early who helped me learn my way around, I don’t think I would have stayed. One of those people was Thohi Torok, a talented scripter and my original mentor in creating in Second Life, who is now my business partner and one of my closest friends.
Once I got past that initial shock of being dropped into a new world and actually got to exploring, I was amazed at what people had created. Even back then, before mesh was implemented, people made these amazing creations out of very basic tools, and it was akin to the amazing things humans built in the real world early on in our world history. Once I got into creating things there myself, I was hooked.
DAL: So, more widely, how has SL changed and developed aesthetically, and experientially, over the time you’ve been a participant?
TDV: Depending on who you talk to, it’s either gotten better or worse. I just think it’s evolved and refined over time. Social dynamics are a little different, but it also seems like the artists who have been working with SL as their medium have really got a grip on creating in a virtual space.
The biggest change happened when mesh was finally implemented. Like I said, I was a video game modder way before I got seriously involved with Second Life, and it seemed for a long time that SL was woefully behind the times when it came to creation tools. Sculpties, the closest equivalent before mesh, were just not practical for a lot of things. With mesh, we can import our 3D models as they should look. We didn’t have to “dumb them down” anymore. Then there was the implementation of materials, which is my favourite addition to the SL creator’s toolbox. Though it’s restricted to just the standard 3D diffuse, normal, and specular maps, I think it’s one of the most important improvements implemented for creation for Second Life, aside from mesh itself.