Soul Portraits in Second Life

Itakos Project: Soul Portraits

Currently open at the Itakos Project, curated by Akim Alonzo, is an exhibition entitled Soul Portraits. Featuring the work of ten individual photographers and one couple, it’s an exhibition that evokes – for me at least – mixed feelings.

To frame the exhibition, it is easiest to quote the introductory note card:

With this exhibition we celebrate 4 years of life of the Soul Portraits-Itakos Art Gallery group on the Flickr platform, with more than 5700 photos published by about 250 photographers registered in the group. A collective exposition that focuses on female portraits, and the selected artists all have a particular and personal eye on the emotions that a second life avatar can express. Feminine looks that touch, sometimes deep and inextricable, or tender, half-closed or hidden eyes, looks that wander beyond or that stare at you, questioning your soul.

Itakos Project: Moloe Vansant

The selected participating artists for the exhibition are: Mr. S, Sonic, Roberta Barineaux, Miuccia Klaar, Katia Lavecchia, Charlie Namiboo, Izabela Navarathna, Maloe Vansant, Lula Yue, and the pairing of CFaleny and Moki Yuitza, who between them have a total of 30 images on display, with the majority having three images apiece within the exhibition.

I will admit that in viewing the works, I tended to have something of a personal bias; three of the artists participating in Soul Portraits – Mr. S, Charlie Namiboo and Moloe Vansant – never cease to fascinate me with their work; they have the ability to frame entire stories within their photographs I find incredibly alluring. As so it is the case here, where I immediately gravitated towards Maloe’s four pieces as they formed pair bracketing the three from Mr. S at one end of the gallery’s  Grey Pavilion.

Itakos Project: Akim Alonso

Which is not to say narrative isn’t present in any of the other pieces on offer; far from it; there are stories or threads of stories to be found within many of the pieces in the exhibit; and those that don’t perhaps carry a full narrative do convey emotions and provoke a subjective response – which as the liner notes indicate, is the goal of the exhibition.

However, I do confess to finding the similarity in approach to many of the images – a close focus on head shots sans broader background – coupled with their close proximity to one another, for me tended to lessen the overall impact of individual pieces.

But this aside, Soul Portraits is a further engaging exhibition at Itakos Project.

Itakos Project: Mr. S

SLurl Details

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Sansar Product Meetings week #19: R32 updates and LOD support

Sansar: Eternity

The majority of the following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, May 9th, which covered updates to the R32 release and an overview of the upcoming deployment of initial level of detail (LOD) support in Sansar.

R32 May 7th Update

The R32 Movement release (overview here) was updated on May 7th, which offered a number of improvements and fixes and two additional features:

  • Toast notifications for Events: users now receive notifications when adding and removing events from their calendars
  • People indicator for Events: a new people indicator shows the number of users in an Event.

LOD Release

  • This is an update that is coming “very soon” and “before the next major release”.
  • It will mark the first time the Sansar level of detail (LOD) system will be enabled, and will initially only apply to avatars.
    • This will be an automated process, which will take place after the avatar has been dressed and hidden surfaces removed as the avatar is baked (after something like selection in Look Book or a change of outfit).
    • Five LOD versions of the avatar will be created with different tri counts
  • LOD models will be selected based on the distance between the avatar and a viewing camera (e.g. the further an avatar is from your camera position, the lower the LOD version for that avatar that will be used).
  • Effort has been put into trying the minimise the sudden increase in detail (which can cause an avatar to suddenly “pop” into shape) when moving to higher LOD models as an avatar in approached.
  • It is hoped that this will have a “non-trivial” effect on improving performance in experiences / events where there is a high avatar presence.
  • In the future:
    • The system may be opened-out to give creators more control over the LOD models that are generated and / or users greater control over when the different LOD models should be used within their view.
    • An avatar imposter system might also be implemented.
  • LOD options for objects and terrain are under consideration, and will become available in the future, and the Lab is looking to consider issues of (again) creator / user control; management of objects taking up large amounts of screen real estate, texture loading, etc.

Experience Stress Test

The meeting included an experience stress test  – users were requested to come in one of three avatar types in order to help the Lab gather data on experience instance performance under avatar loads. The test was similar to those that have been carried out internally at the Lab, and are specifically aimed towards gathering data to help the Lab expand the numbers of avatars an instance of an experience can comfortably handle.

A second part of the exercise was to gather feedback on how people feel about being asked to wear a specific type of avatar to an event. Apparently one of the ideas being looked at is that, in order to manage avatar loads, people attending a large-scale event will be asked to (made to?) use a pre-defined avatar & outfit.

In Brief

Featured Experiences in the Atlas

It should be noted that the new format for featured experiences in the Atlas is still to be deployed. However, he plan remains for this to be:

  • Three featured experiences reserved for the Lab’s content partners.
  • Three featured experiences that align with other internal goals the Lab has which “may or may not be obvious”. These might, for example, focus on live music concerts.
  • Three  featured experiences open to Sansar creators, and will be changed on a weekly basis, and selected through a TBD criteria set.

Avatar Contest: New User Carousel Edition

  • To encourage creators to make custom avatars suitable for presentation to new users through the carousel, Linden Lab launched the Avatar Contest: New User Carousel Edition in April.
  • As of the closing date (May 9th, 2019), no entries had been received.
  • Feedback was offered at the meeting on why there had not been any entries. This ranged from some creators not feeling confident in competing with more experienced avatar creators; some creators feeling that the amount of work involved in developing a fully dressed avatar was beyond their usual avatar design remit given the value of the prize; some felt that new users would be more attracted to customisable avatars that could be dressed / use other clothing off the Store, rather than being supplied “complete”. Even the length of time of the competition (a month) was considered problematic.
  • This feedback was taken by the Lab and will be used to determine how this and competitions might be revised to make them more appealing.
  • It was also pointed out that there is nothing stopping creators from selling undressed versions of a “new starter avatar”, or from selling the avatar itself through their store when it is not featured on the avatar carousel for new users (when it is on the carousel, it must be free).

User-Generated Documentation

  • A new Help page has been created for user-generated Sansar documentation.
  • If this proves popular over time, then effort may be put into developing a formal Sansar wiki.