Entering Kerupa’s Hydrosphere at Nitroglobus

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Kerupa Flow

Open through the rest of February and into March at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is Hydrosphere by Kerupa Flow.

The name is a reflection of Kerupa’s fascination with water, which has been – as she notes – a major theme in her art for a long time.

Creatures can not live without water, everyone knows. However, we forget what water is. Water is infinite, it’s a huge force beyond humanity, which enables us to stay alive …. but it also can destroy us.

– Kerupa Flow, introducing Hydrosphere

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Kerupa Flow

This description might suggest the art on offer comprises images with a water theme – and so they do; but not in the manner one might expect. These are images that reflect our complex relationship with water, richly personifying it. In one sculpture, it is celebrated as the place from which complex life evolved, the mother of all that life on Earth has become. In another it appears as a whirlpool drawing a body in to it, a reminder that it can be a destroyer of life; the most powerful demonstration of nature’s power, as Kerupa again notes.

The earthquake and tsunami disasters that occurred in 2011 in Japan were exactly the power of the earth itself. The way the tsunami moved over a long distance with the overwhelming power until it stopped inland, is a terror that can not be forgotten.

– Kerupa Flow, introducing Hydrosphere

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Kerupa Flow

The images present many facets of our relationship to water, a relationship which is so complex, it is easy to arrive at more than one interpretation for some of them. Take the second sculpture mentioned above, Minawa. On the one hand there is that sense of water’s power to kill, but it also perhaps personifies that origin of life also mentioned above – and even that of birth; that is, rather than being pulled into the whirlpool, the figure within the piece is coming forth.

The theme of birth might also be evident which might be seen in Twilight dreams. On the one hand, this piece might serve as a reminder of the soothing influence the sound of the ebb and flow of water can have on us, encouraging rest and dreams. On the other there is a suggestion of the womb, and the security it represents.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Kerupa Flow

Elsewhere in the collection, the nature of water is more directly personified, through Merman – Voice of the Sea, for example, or the marvellously animate Water of the Erebus.  In this latter piece is another marvellous intertwining of ideas: water is given a face – but not just any face. It belongs to the primordial deity personifying darkness, a child of Chaos – a further referencing to natures raw power through water and the seas around us.

All told, Hydrosphere is another fascinating exhibit at Nitroglobus, rich in context and narrative (I’ve not even mentioned Water Dragon and how it would appear to have a tie with Kerupa herself – but I’ll leave you to read her byline for the exhibition and draw your conclusions on this 🙂 . All I will say is that, as always, this is not an exhibit to be missed.

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Back On The Other Side in Second Life

On The Other Side; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrOn The Other Side – click any image for full size

We first visited On The Other Side in October 2018 (read here for more), and on the suggestion of Shakespeare and Max. At that time, we enjoyed our visit to this Homestead region designed by Michelle (xxMichelle20xx) and Indriel (Indrielx), so when Shakespeare nudged me with the news the region has been updated, we hopped back to have another look. What we found was very different to the settings presented in October 2018, but a place still with its own eye-catching design.

The Landing Point sits in what appears to be a shallow cavern – although one obviously with an opening to the outside world, given the volume of butterflies that have made the cave their home. I confess to being flattered in seeing one of my photos from our October 2018 visit used on the blogger link board before stepping across the water to the “outer” part of the cavern, where a Flickr link can be found together with teleport board up to the {JAS} main store.

On The Other Side; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrOn The Other Side

A large slab of cut stone blocks further progress until touched, when it will slide side to reveal the region beyond. Stopping outside reveals the cavern is in fact beneath the ruins of a stone structure, its form suggestive of an ancient place of worship, the door itself faced by an ornate, teal-painted rune.

At first glance, the land beyond the door looks to be a simple rural scene: lavender grows on either side of a path that is itself is bordered by water. More water breaks the land – most of it low-lying  – into a series of islands. Birds can be seen, together with a tall wooden tower close by, a windmill further away.

On The Other Side; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrOn The Other Side

But look again. A dragon hovers close by the roof of the wooden tower, while on either side of the ruin behind you are two odd-looking structures: green pillars topped by disc-shaped objects. These have attracted the attention of … visitors. A flying saucer floats close by one of the pillars, a possible rescue mission for the one lying crashed in the long grass to the side of the ruins. The pilot of the latter prowls through the grass, possibly annoyed at losing his vehicle.

These touches mark the magic of the region: an eclectic mix of vignettes, one or two of which  offer echoes of previous builds. To the north side of the region, sitting on one of the islands is a little outdoor cafe, for example. This offers a link back to the region design we visited in October 2018. Should you drop in for a snack, do take care not to disturb the couple of mice who are enjoying their brunch at their own little table.

On The Other Side; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrOn The Other Side

The north-east corner of the region is the only part that is off-limits. It is home to a private residence and access control is set. Diagonally across the region of this is a farm, home to the aforementioned windmill. This sits on another island and raises a slightly different warning; when crossing the water between islands, it’s probably best to keep to the paths, bridges and stepping-stones. While the water is shallow in places, in others it can be uncomfortably deep, so you might find yourself taking an unexpected bath!

All of this is just scratching the surface of things. The wealth of detail found within On The Other Side makes exploration a real joy; the mix of ideas means that you’re never sure what might lie beyond the next hedgerow or over the brow of low hill. Standing stones here, a little lovers hideaway there, an unexpected and sheltered beach (complete with an opportunity to surf), over there – and more.

On The Other Side; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrOn The Other Side

There are also more of the contrasts to be found throughout. Wander in the right direction, as another example, and you might come across a touch of the Far East mixed with a hint of Africa. A further hint of the Far East sits up on the hills behind the temple ruins, while another reminder of Africa can be found in the waters. For the adventurous who may want to explore the upper levels of the ruins, there is a crawl rope offering a route to them from the nearby wooden watch tower. And talking of adventurers, keep an eye out for the aerial critter braving the air over the crocodile waters!

With numerous places for people to sit and couples to share their company with one another, On The Other Side retains its appeal as a place in which to spend time. Throughout entire region there are numerous opportunities for photography, and pictures can be shared on the Flickr group. Rezzing in the region is permitted, with an auto return time of 60 minutes – but if you do rez, please remember to pick your things up rather than letting auto return take care of it. And, as always, make sure local sounds are enabled so you can appreciate the region’s immersive sound scape.

On The Other Side; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrOn The Other Side

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Sansar 2019 Product Meetings week #8

Tomb of Naktamon (“TT341”)

The following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, February 21st. The full official video of the meeting is available here. Note that in the video, not all comments can be heard.

There was no formal theme for this meeting, which took the form of a general Q&A session, and in these notes I’ve focused on questions and statements relating to the Lab’s thinking / planning with Sansar, rather than on specific issues individuals might be encountering in using the platform.

Could Sansar Support Import from Unity? Platforms such as High fidelity, VR Chat and even AltSpace VR have import mechanism that can work with Unity to allow scenes built within that tool to be imported and converted so that their own internal tools set can be used to edit / fine tune the scene. Could this be done with Sansar?

  • Being able to export / import scenes in this manner as viewed as potentially making Sansar more popular with creators. For example: if X builds a scene in Unity knowing they can use some set of SDKs that allows them to export the principal models within the scene (including rotation, placement, perhaps even material surfaces, etc), it might encourage them to share their work across multiple platforms.
  • There have been some simple tests, and a problem has been the volume of discrete asset  (.OBJ) folders created on export, and which then have to be individually imported. It is thought this might be down to a mix of scene complexity / scene construction in Unity.
  • While not audible in the video, Garth from the Sansar support team offered to look at any samples sent to him to test.

More on the Sansar Avatar:

  • Avatar scaling is still being discussed at the Lab, and no decision has been taken on how uniform scaling will be implemented. However the hope is that if an avatar is correctly rigged to the skeleton, it will be possible to scale any avatar proportionally up / down.
    • Any functionality for avatar scaling will most likely appear in the second half of 2019.
    • It might be possible to implement an interim means to allow larger / smaller avatar through the VR height mechanism used to visually scale the world around the avatar, but this needs investigation and testing.
  • It’s been suggested that LL should encourage (provide?) Mixamo support for the Sansar skeleton so that custom avatar creation & weight painting for Sansar could be made more accessible to creators.
    • Garth from the support team is actually working with some creators wishing to use Mixamo with Sansar.
  • Documentation updates:
    • The avatar reference and MD import pages have been updated.
    • The former represents a consolidation of information previously split across a number of pages. However, the .FBX files have also been updated, and should be re-downloaded.
    • The latter reflects minor changes in the MD import process
  • Facial expressions and speech: Sansar uses Speech Graphics to drive a lot of the facial aspects on the Sansar avatar: expressions, mouth, jaw and lip movements and speaking. This means:
    • Care has to be taken to ensure facial deformations preserve animations and speech movements without braking them.
    • Consideration has to be given to what facial bones must be rigged in custom avatars to again preserve that naturalness of movement when speaking, whilst allowing non-human characters.
  • Avatar movement options:
    • Jumping is being actively worked on and should be appearing in Sansar soonTM.
    • Crouching is also been developed, but is somewhat behind jumping in terms of readiness.
    • Avatar flying is not something currently being worked on.
  • Look Book clothing inventory: LL are evaluating how to improve the Look Book clothing inventory. Ideas include:
    • Having items of the same type replace one another, rather than being worn together (so skirt B will replace skirt A, rather than being worn with it).
    • The entire presentation of the inventory is being reconsidered to make locating and selecting items easier. This might include adding things like clothing categories to the inventory display.

Vehicles: there is a “lot of work” in progress to enable vehicle functionality in Sansar.

  • This includes defining object hierarchies, joint to allow avatars to be attached to a moving object and ride on it. Such a capability is unlikely to appear before at least Q3 2019; however.
  • “Pilotable / drivable” vehicles (i.e. vehicles directly under an avatar user’s control, rather than moving along a scripted path) are still much further out.

VR 3rd Person Camera Control:

  • The ability to manually zoom the camera in and out and track with the avatar whilst in VR is being worked on.
    • However, the Desktop mechanism for 3rd person view uses automatic geometry avoidance (so the camera avoids being placed in walls, etc., as the avatar moves around confined spaces). This requires the camera to make sudden adjustments to its position
    • When using this same mechanism in VR 3rd person, these sudden camera adjustments have induced nausea, so LL are looking for the best way to handle camera placement in 3rd person VR.
  • A suggestion has been made to make the geometry avoidance in Desktop mode a toggle on/off capability, and this is seen as a good idea by LL.

Quick Questions:

  • Gravity updates: nothing currently on the roadmap to allow for gravity axial rotation (e.g. to allow walking on walls / ceilings). However, this is something LL would like to add at some point in the future.
  • Mirrors: thought is being given to how to provide some form on mirror capability in the Home Space area to allow people in VR to see themselves and gain familiarity with how their avatar looks and moves. Mirrors that can be built and placed in scenes / experiences is not something on the current roadmap.
  • Model scaling: why is the scaling of model up/down limited to a scale of 0-10? Mainly to prevent really high poly count models being massively scaled up and impacting experience performance, or objects being scaled down to a point where they start causing havoc with collisions (most models only work well within a given size range based on their default size). As such, the scale is intended as a means to have creators be mindful of the models they build and their intended scaling  / triangle budget to prevent others over- or under-sizing their models when used in other scenes.
  • R29 script breakage: the R29 release introduced a particularly bad issue that could result in experience servers crashing. In the haste to fix this with a release update, certain tests may have been bypassed, rsulting in the observed bad script behaviour. Work is in progress to try to resolve the breakage.
  • Importing of MD zippers, buttons, etc:  (e.g. buttoning up or unbuttoning a shirt) not currently on the roadmap, but it is possible these features will be made available in the future, although this does depend on the MD developers providing a means for Sansar to take and use the options
  • Linking objects: this is being worked on, but will not function in the manner of SL linksets.
    • One mechanism will be the ability to select a group of objects in a scene and take them back to inventory as a single item (but once pulled back into a scene, they will all be individual objects once more).
    • Another option will be the ability to define / use “joints” between two objects to join them together.
  • Web Browser: there are currently no plans to add a web browser to the Sansar client (Steam users can always pull up the Steam overlay that includes a browser capability).
  • Customisable Home Spaces: being considered, but probably not going to be on the roadmap much before the end of 2019.
    • What is being considered, but no dates against it, is the ability to invite others into your own Home Space.
  • Sansar Store improvements: not high on the list of priorities, but LL do want to offer improvements at some point, including more information to merchants in their dashboards