Petrovsky’s future in Flux?

A Petrovsky Flux by Inara Pey, April 2014 on FlickrA Petrovsky Flux, April 2014

A Petrovsky Flux, a collaborative piece by Cutea Benelli and blotto Epsilon and curated by the University of Kansas at their Spencer Art Museum region in SL, has been a popular destination since it opened in around 2010. It’s also, I’m somewhat ashamed to say, a destination that has been on my list of places to visit for a good while now, but I’ve never actually managed to get there.

However, as it has been in the news of late, both in notices circulated in-world and in blog posts. So I decided to hop on over and take a look – and see if I could find out what was going on.

A Petrovsky Flux by Inara Pey, April 2014 on FlickrA Petrovsky Flux, April 2014

For those unfamiliar with the installation, I’ll borrow some words from Steve Goodard, the Spencer’s associate director/senior curator of Prints & Drawings, who overseas the Museum’s region in SL:

A Petrovsky Flux is a cluster of devices that grow, assembling themselves from modular units, only to blow apart and rebuild themselves. Each time they rebuild differently so the overall flux is, as the name implies, constantly changing. Visitors … can also explore the inside of the organic architecture, and they also receive a free “noggin protector” — a miniature version of the flux that is worn on the head to protect against falling debris. The project takes its name in part from a previous project, the “Bogon flux,” and in part from the “Petrovsky lacuna,” named for Russian mathematician Ivan Petrovsky.

The “noggin protector” is well advised, as this is living art in the most literal sense. As Steve states, it is constantly building and falling apart, building and falling apart, and each rebuild is unique compared to the last. “Organic” is also an appropriate term to use with the installation, many of the elements are spherical in form, and when joined, result in undulating, hollow structures you can travel through and which from the outside resemble segments of a gigantic worm. These are often topped by dodecagon-like pieces which look like they could be maws and  / or multiple compound eyes.

A Petrovsky Flux by Inara Pey, April 2014 on FlickrA Petrovsky Flux, April 2014

There is also something a little Gilliam-ish about the installation. Sheep and pigs are prone to flying past suspended beneath clover-like rotors (you are offered a tiny version of one of these “Henrycopters” to wear as a gift, along with your noggin protector). There are also spring-loaded armchairs that will carry you around the region, boucning randomly here and there.

Amidst all the chaos are islands of relative calm which survive the construction / destruction cycles, offering places to sit, including outdoor cafés where the unfolding spectacle can be observed; and places of reflection, such as a little Buddhist shrine. Do be warned, however, given the industrial nature of the design, there’s as least one dump which may be toxic in nature…

A Petrovsky Flux by Inara Pey, April 2014 on FlickrA Petrovsky Flux, April 2014

The installation has been in the news a fair bit of late, as mentioned towards the top of this piece, with notices circulating over its impending closure, together with blog posts on the matter. Quite why it should be closing has been a little confusing, as information has been prone to shifting and changing over the last few days. Initially, it appeared to be due to an issue of billing; however, I’ve been in contact with the Spencer Art Museum, and assured this is not the case.

Right now, and without delving into specifics, it is reasonably fair to say that any decision over the future of the Flux still lies with the Museum and with Cutea and blotto. It may yet be than in order to survive, the Flux will need to find a new home; it may equally be that it is safe where it is. I’ve been promised I’ll have word as soon as decisions have been made by the Museum.

Whichever way it goes, this does open-up a wider issue regarding the preservation of long-standing builds and installations which have come to be regarded as a genuine part of SL’s history. As Saffia Widdershins correctly points out – Keeping great sims on the grid is not Linden Lab’s responsibility. It is ours. But how this can be achieved is a complex subject in its own right; even if some form of resident-led funding mechanism can be established to fund regions, there are many thorny issues remaining, as Saffia points out in responding to comments following her post.

A Petrovsky Flux by Inara Pey, April 2014 on FlickrA Petrovsky Flux, April 2014

For example, how it is determined what should be saved and what should be allowed to naturally die? Who should be the arbiters of fate? Why should they have more say than others? How are vested interested best avoided? Should the LEA perhaps have a broader remit where art is concerned? If so, what of all the other region types considered worthy of preservation – role play environments, public parks, and so on, which over time may have significantly contributed to the betterment of Second Life?

This is a subject worthy of debate and discussion. and while matters relating to Petrovsky Flux may not be as Ziki first thought – and through no fault of her own – she has also started putting some thoughts together, discussing ideas in person with others.  But in the meantime, and if you have yet to see A Petrovsky Flux – even if it does prove to have an assured future at the Spencer Art Museum’s region, I strongly urge you to visit sooner rather than later. You will not be disappointed.

To encourage you, I’ll leave you with Toxic Menges’ brilliant video of the installation.

Related Links

SL projects updates week 14/2: viewer, group chat

SL Server Deployments week 14 – recap

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread in the forums for the latest news and updates.

  • On Tuesday April 1st, the Main channel received the server maintenance package deployed to the Magnum RC in week 13.
  • On Wednesday April 2nd, all three RCs received the same maintenance update, which incorporates the bug fixes deployed to the Main channel and which also sees AIS v3 support returned on the Magnum RC alongside of BlueSteel and LeTigre.

SL Viewer

On Wednesday April 2nd, the Lab officially announced the SL Share 2 project viewer, which I’d managed to preview on Tuesday April 1st.

The Sunshine / AIS v3 RC returned to the viewer release channel on Wednesday April 2nd with the release of  version (download and release notes).

On Thursday April 3rd, the Lab also confirmed that Facebook had lifted to block on uploading snapshot to Facebook accounts following updates made by the Lab to both the viewer (available in all RC versions of the viewer) and the back-end intermediary sitting between SL and Facebook.

Group Chat

“I think we’re pretty close to a deploy and test on the main grid,” Simon Linden said during the Server Beta meeting on Thursday April 3rd, in reference to his work trying to improve group chat. He then added wryly, “but I thought that last week too.” Not that any non-deployment of the code to Agni for controlled testing should be taken as a bad sign. Rather the reverse, as Simon went on to say, “The test last week was really good … it helped point out some existing bugs in the system which I think I fixed this week.”

A further test was carried out on Aditi during the meeting yielding further logs to be checked, the outcome of which we’ll doubtless get to hear about in week 15.

Aditi Log-in Issue / Inventory Update Issue

When changing passwords to sync inventory between the main (Agni) and beta (Aditi) grids, the general recommendation is to change your password and, while you can immediately use it to log-into the main grid, wait around 24 hours in order for your password and inventory on Aditi to synchronise (or you can continue to use your old password to log-in to Aditi, and use the “unsynchronized” version of your inventory).

This is because a script is run once a day during a period of relatively low platform use (said to be between midnight and 02:00 SLT) which carries-out the synchronizing of passwords and inventory. However, a bug was recently filed (BUG-5563) indicating that passwords and inventory weren’t updating on Aditi even after 24-hours or more.

Commenting on the issue on March 31st, Maestro Linden said, “There seems to be something wrong with the nightly script that is supposed to keep the beta grid synchronized with the main grid.” When the issue was raised at the Server Beta meeting, Simon Linden indicated that Maestro may well have fixed the problem.

The geometry of art

3D Fractals
3D Fractals

That fractals as art fascinate me is no secret. I’ve covered Gem Preiz’s work several times in this blog, and more recently enjoyed Mac Kanashimi’s marvellous Dragon Curves at the LEA. So when I heard by way of Caitlin Tobias that Mac had another fractal-based art exhibit opening in SL, I had to add it to my places to hop over to.

3D Fractals opened at SperiMenta on Monday March 31st, although I missed the actual opening. Co-hosted by SperimentArt & Tanalois Art, it is like Dragon Curves, located high in the air. However, it is also on a much smaller scale, not that this makes it any less interesting. It features two pattern generators which, over a period of time, individually generate a range of deterministic fractals defined by their Hausdorff dimension, and which – once rendered  – stand both individually or as a pair.

3D Fractals
3D Fractals

The fractal forms created by the generators include the greek cross, Hilbert curve, Htree pattern, Menger sponge, octahedron, Sierpinski triangle (tetrahedron / pyramid), solenoid fractal,  and Vicsek snowflake. Several of the shapes have additional complemented or inverted forms as well, and all are cycled by the generators in turn, each appearing for several minutes at a time prior to the next being rendered.

If all this sounds terribly dry, it isn’t; the shapes can be quite fascinating to watch and compare / contrast as they rez and are coloured, their structure a mix of prims and mesh. If you decide to visit, and assuming your viewer supports de-rendering, I suggest you temporarily de-render the black platform prims over which the shapes appear. This give a much better impression of them, as they seem to hang in the air, and allows for a spot of photography as well!

3D Fractals
3D Fractals

Related Links

Catznip R9 beta testing to commence; faster release cycles coming

catznip logoTrinity Dejavu of the Catznip viewer team provided me with a brief update on things relating to the viewer. The team have been working on the next release of Catznip (R9), and are already starting to look beyond it to future versions.

“We’re starting our beta test programme for R9 and beyond,” she told me on Thursday April 3rd, “And we’re going to move to a release often and early policy rather than a HUGE update once a blue moon.”

Catznip R9 has been in development for some time and is approaching a point where it will be released in the near future. With R8 having been released in July 2013, the news of a more rapid release cycle is going to be good news for Catznip users.

Catznip runs both alpha and beta testing programmes, and details of both can be found on the  Catznip wiki. However, in short:

  • The alpha group is to test very early versions of the viewer, and membership is by invitation only
  • The beta programme is not designed as an early means of gaining access to the viewer. Like alpha versions of the viewer, betas of Catznip are also liable to be incomplete, may have stability issues and will not be suitable for use as a primary viewer.

Those wishing to join the beta programme must be willing to comply with the following:

  • Use Catznip as their primary viewer
  • Be willing to undertake extensive (and repeated testing) of the viewer and viewer features
  • Have an account on the Catznip JIRA and be able submit reports
  • Be willing to allow the viewer to submit detailed crash reports to Catznip (see the team’s privacy policy)
  • Be willing to accept forced updates and have personal settings wiped
  • Preferably have a dual-boot Windows / Linux system and know what GDB is.

Instructions on how to sign-up as a Catznip beta tester can also be found on the Catznip wiki.

In reference to the next release (R9), the Catnip wiki states:

Catznip R9 is mostly feature complete, there are a couple of little bits we really want to get in if we can … The OSX version may be slightly delayed … cross your fingers.

Catznip R9 will have materials, new particles and fitted mesh from Linden Lab.

The major delay in getting the release prepped and out has been down to CHUI (LL’s Communications Hub User Interface), which had a number of unexpected impacts on viewer performance. As a result, Catznip have implemented a new chat interface, which they describe as:

Using a mixture of R8 and the best CHUI elements. The new chat interface is fast and tight with all the bells and whistles you expect (and maybe .. a few brand new ones).

There is currently no release date for the R9 version, but I’ll hopefully carry a review when it is launched.