Transcending Borders (1): celebrating the artists

The UWA-BOSL Ampitheatre: scene of the Transcending Borders Grand Finale
The UWA-BOSL Ampitheatre: scene of the Transcending Borders Grand Finale

On Sunday, December 14th, 2014, the Grand Finale of the University Of Western Australia’s (UWA) Transcending Borders was held at the impressive UWA-BOSL Grand Amphitheatre. During the event, over L$1,000,000 was awarded in prizes to artists, machinima makers and those who took part in the audience participation competitions. With some last-minute additions to the prize pools, and some additional special awards, the event was a very special celebration of artistic expression in Second Life.

Transcending Borders challenged entrants to interpret the title of the competition in any fashion they deem applicable, and produce a 3D artwork (in no more than 150 prims) or short film based on their interpretation, be it on transcending borders of space and time, love and loss, nationally or culture or language, or the real and the virtual, and so on. The result was a glittering array of 67 artworks and 38 machinima, representing a broad diversity of interpretations of the theme.

The Grand Finale was hosted by the UWA’s Jayjay Zifanwe, with the UWA’s art curator, FreeWee Ling also on hand to announce the special Curator’s awards in both the art and machinima categories.

JayJay Zifanwe
JayJay Zifanwe

Opening the event, Jayjay said:

It’s been an absolute pleasure for me to work with all of you over the course of these challenges, and especially to those who went above and beyond the call of duty to make all of this a success. Thank you FreeWee Ling, curator of art at UWA & RL Honorary Fellow at UWA. Thank you LaPiscean Liberty, co-host for MachinimUWA VII, champion of machinima of Second Life. Also much thanks to those who have provided support and sponsorship which sees the overall prize pool standing at more than L$1,000,000 across both art and machinima. Special mention needs to be made of all who have been such strong supporters.

These challenges are sponsored by Tom Papas and SciFi Film Festival, LaPiscean Liberty and SL Artist, AviewTV, Arrehn Oberlander and MetaHarpers, Kip Yellowjacket and Virtlantis, Taralyn Gravois and Arts Castle Gallery, TheDoveRhode and Peace is a Choice and S&S Gallery of Fine SL Art, Barbie Alchemi of Creations for Parkinsons, Jon Stubbs and UWA Student Services, as well as The UWA Virtual Worlds Project.

I want to thank all of you for being here today, bringing the world together. The UWA Art, Architectural & Machinima Challenges, the teaching & research have seen people from all corners of the globe involved with students, artists, builders and machinimatographers hailing from Lithuania, Singapore, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Finland, Greece, India, Colombia, Poland, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine, Taiwan, Hungary, Latvia, Russia, Venezuela, Belgium, Mexico, Wales, Canada, the USA, the UK, Uruguay, Scotland, England, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, France, the French Caribbean, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Denmark, Holland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Cuba, Serbia, Tunisia, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and parts unknown. More than 45 nations with 6 of the 7 continents of the world represented.

The following is a run-down of the winners of the 3D Art challenge. The MachinimUWA VII: Transcending Borders awards are presented in a further article in these pages.

Audience Participation Prizes

Alongside the “main” challenges focused on artists and machinima makers, Transcending Borders included two audience participation competitions. Anyone who was not on the official judging panel was invited to provide what they thought the top 10 would be as decided by the actual panel, and those with lists which most closely matched the final list of prize winners as determined by the judges, would receive a special prize.

In all, there were two groups of audience participation prizes for the 3D art challenge. As an entire art degree class from York University entered the competition, and the overall prize pool had been increased from L$57,500 to L$62,500, the audience participation prizes were altered, with 3 awards specifically for York University students, and four for members of the public. These prizes were awarded as follows:

  • Joint second in the York University student prize: Vickar Tran and Stefano Onorati (L$2,500 each)
  • Overall winner, York University student prize: Abisola Okiwole (L$5,000)
  • 4th place, audience participation: Rosie Dimanovic (L$7,500)
  • 3rd place, audience participation: Sheba Blitz (L$10,000)
  • 2nd place, audience participation: Sueworthy (L$15,000)
  • Overall winner, audience participation: Temi Sirbu (L$20,000 and a place on the official jury for the next grand art challenge

All of the winners will additionally receive a physical prize from the UWA.

Art Awards

Note that SLurls are given with the titles of all winning pieces, and all the entries into the Transcending Borders 3D art challenge can still be viewed at the UWA art gallery.

In an unprecedented result, there were no fewer than five 10th places winners, all tied on a total of 21 points from the judge’s selections. The five winners each receive a L$5,000 prize and are:

Pixel Sideways "Transcending Borderz" - joint 10th place winner
Transcending Borderz, by Pixel Sideways – one of the five joint 10th place winners

The 9th through 6th prizes, all of L$25,000 each, were awarded to:

  • 9th place winner: Event Horizon, by Blue Tsuki (USA)
  • 8th place winner: Saudade, by Giovanna Cerise (Italy)
  • 7th place winner: Primchords, by Haveit Neox (USA)
  • 6th place winner: Offworld, by Takni  & Misio2 (Spain and Australia).
Saudade, by Giovanna Cercise - 6th place
Saudade, by Giovanna Cercise – 8th place winner, Transcending Borders 3D Art challenge

The top five winners in the 3D Art Challenge were:

Never Say Never - Love Trasncends Borders, by sharni A, the Transcending Borders 3D Art Challenge Grand Prize winner
Never Say Never – Love Transcends Borders, by Sharni Azalee, the evocative and beautiful Transcending Borders 3D Art Challenge Grand Prize winner

As she was unable to attend the Grand Finale due to physical world commitments, JayJay had contacted Sharni ahead of the event to inform her she has won an award – although not which award! – in the challenge, and she replied with a short message Jayjay read out to the audience:

Thank you to UWA, JayJay, Free and everybody involved. I am sorry I cannot be there to thank you in person. So much is said about the negative soul connections in s/l and the beautiful ones are often overlooked. I wanted my piece to try and impart some of the feeling of those “magical meetings” and I hope that could be conveyed.  A few days ago the man who sat on the bench, writing to his love and inspiring my artwork, told me they are to be together in real life very soon. I am so happy for them and it is such a perfect ending and proof that we should “Never say Never” because Love does Transcends Borders. Thank you again.

UWA Special Prize and UWA Curator’s Choice Prize

In addition to the prizes above, the Transcending Borders 3D Art Challenge featured two further special prizes, each of L$25,000 apiece: the UWA Special Prize and the UWA Curator’s Choice Prize. These were awarded as follows:

The Paper Empire, by Pale Illusion - winner of the UWA Special Prize
The Paper Empire, by Pale Illusion – winner of the UWA Special Prize

Commenting on her Curator’s Choice Prize, FreeWee Ling said:

As always, I want to strongly encourage everyone to spend quality time with the art that you see around you. It is my greatest hope that the Curator’s Choice recognition will encourage you to revisit not only my choice, but also your own choices, and to experience them deeply. I had a long list of “favourites” from this show. Many of them I knew might not be prize winners, but they are outstanding pieces worth noting … The entry I selected blends energetic design, impeccable technique, an original soundtrack, and an intriguing mystical face that may be Buddha, or a Mayan god, or a beneficent deity from some other reality in an otherworldly temple of psychedelic mystery. I find myself returning to look at it often.

FreeWee Ling
FreeWee Ling

FreeWee herself deserves special congratulations. Over the course of four years, she has been curator of virtual arts with UWA’s 3D Virtual presence. Pioneering the UWA Studies in Virtual Arts Series, curating the grand art challenges, conceptualising and running the Artists Choice series, and the Tim Maley Butterfly Garden in collaboration with the likes of Disability in the Arts, Disadvantage in the Arts and others. For Transcending Borders, she has not only curated the art pieces, but is working on a physical book of all the entries, which will hopefully be available in the New Year.

In recognition of all her work, in November 2014, FreeWee was selected as the recipient of the  UWA’s 2015 Endeavour Executive Fellowship worth  approximately $18,000. The fellowship allows her to travel to the University of Western Australia in Perth for a four month stay, staring in January 2015. Congratulations to FreeWee!

Congratulations as well, to all the winners.

I would also like to extend my personal thanks to both Jayjay and FreeWee for the incredible amount of work they do in the promotion of virtual world art. Transcending Borders is not only a fitting theme for a UWA Grand Challenge, it is also a reminder that both Jayjay and FreeWee through their work in Second Life, also help artists, educators, students and virtual worlds enthusiasts transcend the borders between the virtual and the physical each and every day.

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