Switch on the Lights at DixMix in Second Life

DixMix Gallery: Switch on the Lights

Now open at DixMix Gallery is an ensemble presentation of art entitled Switch on the Lights, which appears to be wither sponsored by, or a co-presentation with, LUMIPro, the commercial photography  lighting system, and the first to use projection prim capabilities.

So far as I can tell, the participating artists are  Jr Feiri, Reneesme Portland, xxstanislasxx resident, Kimma, Cyrece Delicioso, Angi Manners, DixMix Source,  Trixie Pinelli, Toxic Valentine, Sedona Silverpath, Peep Sideshow Darkward, Tazara Bailey, Kira Ragged, Scarlett Rhea, Ornella Batriani, Space Hurricane, Ilke Huygens, Freekency Banx, Wiwi Swot, Marleine Magic, Kevin De’Cypher,  Bettina, Ember Wulluf, Calypso Keng, Fleur Imagines SL, U.Sabra, Sedona Silverpath and Abi Latzo.

DixMix Gallery: Switch on the Lights

As one might expect with LUMIPro’s involvement, the majority of the pieces in the exhibition are avatar studies. However, if I sound a little uncertain about this display, it’s because the information relating to it is less than forthcoming. The invitation I received contained only the Gallery’s landmark and a note card advertising LUMIPro. There is a similar dearth of information actually at the gallery as well. Thus I had to resort to editing each image to grab the artist’s name. Not ideal when reviewing.

There are other minor annoyances as well. The exhibition is referred to as “selected photographies” – but how were they selected and what role did LUMIPro play in it? Given some artists appear to have only one piece submitted, others 2 or 3, what criteria were employed in the selection process? Did some artists only submit the one piece, and other several? Were submissions adjudicated? If so, how? And so on.

DixMix Gallery: Switch on the Lights

These may sound like minor niggles, but having this information to hand can add depth to an exhibit, whether or not you are reviewing it; and it’s not as if providing background notes is a particularly difficult task. As it is, the lack of available information does diminish the exhibition somewhat.

Which is a shame, as this is a striking exhibition. I was particularly drawn to the wall-sized format images, such as Crisis by U Sabra, and Marita Karu pileup by Jr Feiri (above) – which I found utterly mesmerizing. The range of styles and subject presented (colour, monochrome, individual, couples; indoor, outdoor, nude, dressed, etc), is equally eye-catching, drawing one into the exhibition. Given this, it is possible to look past the niggles and appreciate the exhibition as very much worth viewing.

DixMix Gallery: Switch on the Lights

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Whither goes VR?

The Void, via Develop

2016 was the year of virtual hype whereas 2017 is the year of actual realities, in terms of what is achievable from a business sense related to market size, opportunities and potential revenues. Should developers or publishers get involved now? Absolutely but with an intelligent approach and realistic expectations of what these early days sales returns could be.

So considers Sam Watts, director of immersive technologies at Make Real, in a comment quoted by Jem Alexander, in the first part of his series penned for Develop looking at the hype, tech, hope, hang-ups and potentials of Virtual Reality.

Jem Alexander

The piece stands as a reasoned look beyond the hype of VR’s 2016 rebirth, thanks to the arrival of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Cardboard, Daydream, Gear VR and – perhaps most importantly of all, at least in terms of sales – Playstation VR.

Yes, there has been a lot of hype, which the first year of consumer facing VR really hasn’t matched. Some have seen this as cause to deride the VR movement as a whole, relegating it to the role of “fad” – which in itself is perhaps a tad premature.

In writing this two-part series, Jem Alexander avoids both extremes and instead offers a discussion which is reasonably balanced and reasoned – and offers a perspective from many of those at the sharp end of the industry. In the first part, entitled  Where are we now, they offer an honest assessment of the market which is both positive while carrying a solid note of caution for those considering taking the VR plunge, as shown in the quote from Sam Watts, above.

There are several reasons why VR’s first year hasn’t lived up to the hype. For a start, the hardware isn’t exactly off-the-shelf, as those talking to Alexander notes. There’s plenty of room for improvements in the tech and the quality of the experience and offer it at a much lower price-point than today. Thus, taking the first year’s sale figures as being indicative of VR’s future is liable to be misleading.

The approach taken by some of the big manufacturers also didn’t help: when the Vive and Oculus launched their supporting ecosystem of games and applications was comparatively weak. Only Sony really offered a substantive ecosystem for the Playstation – and even this was derided in some sections of the VR media for being “merely” VR ports of existing games.

Sansar a city street scene created by Paul Lapointe Credit: Linden Lab

Another aspect which potentially hasn’t helped VR to date is the “room-sized” versus the “seat” VR experience. As noted above, existing games ported to a VR environment is looked down on by many in the VR media, who have preferred to focus on all the juicy tech of room sensors, motion trackers, and associated gizmos which offer a “truly immersive” experience.

But room-sized VR predicates itself on people having the room to indulge themselves and / or the willingness to spend time setting-up / taking down their wonderful gizmos. And what does all this emphasis on freedom of movement say to those who aren’t gifted with good mobility?  So is room-sized VR really the be-all of VR at home?

Those Alexander speaks to tend to think not, preferring to point to VR needing both. This is something which is picked-up in the second part of the series, Where do we go?, which also brings Sansar into the frame of the discussion.

Unity CEO John Riccitiello

As with the first part of the series, Alexander opens Part 2 with another level-headed analysis of to how fast VR is liable to develop. Unity CEO John Riccitiello, for example, doesn’t see VR really starting to take off until 2018 or 2019.

His view is echoed  by Tim Sweeney, CEO at Epic. He again cites the need for improved hardware, with more favourable price-points  as being essential for the high-end VR market, something he doesn’t see forthcoming for a “couple of generations”. This puts his view in roughly the same 2-3 year time frame as Brendan Iribe at Oculus VR, who has indicated it’ll be around that long before his company will have their next generation hardware on the market.

The core of this part is an examination of two emerging aspects of VR: the “out-of-home” experience and “social VR”.

The former is the idea that rather than perhaps having dedicated space at home in which to experience VR, people will instead head off to the local “VR arcade” or “VR theatre” to enjoy a fully immersive experience of some description. This might sound fanciful, but The Void, a New York and London-based out-of-home VR experience has seen OptiTrack, the company behind much of tech used in the game, see an “explosion” of sales in the technology.

The Void is spectacular,” Alexander quotes says Unity’s Riccitiello. “I think we’re going to see hundreds of these dedicated locations for entertainment. Imagine a room four times this big. Here is the bar and there are six different experiences that are available around the room. I would definitely go. Imagine, In 1000 square feet you could have DisneyLand. All of it.”

When you think of the potential for not only immersive, group gaming environments, but things like group training and simulation, out-of-home centres could become a practical part of the entertainment and business landscapes, offering low-cost access to a wide range of VR environments and experiences for the public and clients.

For “social VR”, the emphasis very much turns to Sansar. While he doesn’t directly praise the platform, it’s fairly clear he sees Sansar, with its potential to truly democratise how people can build their own VR spaces as a potential cornerstone of the home VR market. If it can truly replicate SL’s “secret sauce” in giving users genuine creative freedom in bringing truly tailored and personal VR experiences into their homes, free from the filtering of how professional VR developers and studios think people want to have them, then the future potential with the platform could be enormous.

Through both parts of his examination of VR, Alexander offers much to read and consider, particularly for those who have extended doubts about VR and how it might fit the broader scheme of things (at least in terms of entertainment). As such VR Check-In Part 1 and Part 2 are well worth a side-by-side read.