Saturday, November 7, 2009

erasing the spiral

poster by helfe ihnen, 2009
Opening Nov 7, 2009, 1pm SLT at East of Odyssey. Curated by Helfe Ihnen. Text for the exhibition (see below) by Nusch Ray.
Blogged by soror nishi, tangoafton apmel, and alpha auer. further pictures taken at the opening by Helfe Ihnen, and machinima by Helfe Ihnen, bark Aabye, Saveme Oh!, and Siss Criss. Recommended in Linden Lab's destination guide. yet another blog by apmel about positive!
"A dormant earthquake spread into the fluttering stillness, into a spinning sensation without movement."
Robert Smithson, 1970
In 1970, Robert Smithson constructed the Spiral Jetty, a large earthwork in the Great Salt Lake, Utah. The Spiral Jetty was visible only for two years and then became submerged in the water of lake. Even though Smithson didn't anticipate the drowning, the idea of entropy, of the inevitable change of his sculptures by the forces of natures was a central element of his work.

"Erased de Kooning Drawing is iconic because it stands for an era when something seemingly negative could, in fact, turn out to have positive repercussions."
Vincent Katz, 2006
In 1953, Robert Rauschenberg asked Willem de Kooning, whether he could erase one of his drawings as an act of art. De Kooning agreed, and, playing his part in the performance, gave Rauschenberg a drawing that was specifically difficult to erase. This "Erased de Kooning" has become one of the most important works of art of that period. In an interview, asked what this act meant for him, Rauschenberg answered: "It's poetry".
Selavy Oh's work erasing the spiral consists of scripted terraforming covering almost the whole area of the art simulator East of Odyssey in the virtual world of Second Life. A spiral slowly emerges out of the virtual water, white spheres cover the ground like pearls, structuring the ground and reminding of the salt crystals in Smithson's work. And suddenly, like a splash, a huge wave consisting of virtual ground forms and propagates over the water, erasing the subtle traces of the spiral. Then the cycle recommences and the spiral is slowly rebuilding.
Apparently, Selavy Oh's "scripted landart", as curator Helfe Ihnen calls it, refers to both these icons of modern art. But what could be more pretentious than attempting to re-enact Smithson's work, so depending on the context of nature, in a virtual setting? And, if that was not enough, to erase it by an earthquake simulation, pretending this to be a reference to Rauschenberg?
Or did we fall into Selavy Oh's trap when asking this question? Is this the question we should ask ourselves, just to realize that we are looking at a piece of software, producing an illusion of water and earth, of creation and destruction? The reference as an illusion, pretension as calculated or simulated provocation?
But there's more about it. We, as visitors, can also trigger the wave: when we let our avatars fly and land in the shallow water, the wave is released and erases Selavy's spiral. Even the small platform, a simple representation of the space, can be used to trigger the wave by clicking on it. Doing this several times may eventually lead to complete chaos, uncontrolled waves emerging everywhere, erasing the spiral before it is even drawn.
Admittedly, this playful destruction is amusing, and watching the intertwining waves shovelling avatars and white spheres around is an enjoyable experience. Perhaps, it is this tension between sophisticated pleasure and ironic reference to art history that makes this piece an excellent contribution to Odyssey's programmatic role in the yet underestimated world of virtual art.
Nusch Ray, November 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009


irregularity, conceived for burning life 2009, consists of 1872 identical poles. the poles are arranged so that they form edges of a three-dimensional regular grid of 2.5x2.5 cubes. by omitting cubes and edges, the remaining poles, still organized in a regular grid, form a hollow sphere. thus, constructing the sphere can be conceived as removing those parts of the grid which do not contribute to the shape, like a sculptor carving wood.
initially, the structure is completely symmetric and regular, but becomes more and more irregular over time. each visitor actively participates in this transformation: when avatars fly through the structure and collide with it, the edges touched fall down and the structure temporarily becomes damaged. after a certain time, which depends on how many visitors are present, the edges will start to rise and slowly move back towards their original position. however, they never end up in exact the same position, thus resulting in an accumulative disarrangement of the structure. read also bettina tizzy's NPIRL blog post, poid mahovlich's metanopsis blog (with interview), ana's blog, and michele hyacinth's blog with her picture of the work at the end of burning life after a week full of visitors, showing the avatar-induced distortion of the installation.
a slightly different version was shown at Brooklyn Is Watching and was discussed in podcast 74.
sounds: samples of Kurt Schwitters' Ursonate (performed by Kurt Schwitters, original recording May 5, 1932)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

state of formation

state of formation
presented by IBM EXHIBITION SPACE (IBM 3, Secondlife)
Curated by Andrew Sempere (Tezcatlipoca Bisiani)
OPENING: 2pm SLT (5pm EST) SEPTEMBER 16th, 2009
SLURL: IBM 3/83/39/22
IBM SPACE: Gallery Information

UNTIL: December 1st, 2009

blogs about state of formation:
notecard text for the show by Mab MacMoragh:
An expressionless blank avatar turns, seeming to be a fountain statue, centered over a dark round basin.  Around the well, little black cubes crawl on a white ground splattered in black, a big white cube orbits the air generating a suspended vanishing trail in its wake, and five identical white chairs await.  All is enclosed within a constantly transforming structure of semitransparent panels screened with typeface characters.

Selavy Oh's state of formation reveals itself only to the one willing to explore the installation beyond its superficial appearance. Beginning outside, the visitor walks through moving lettered planes and leaves behind short-lived traces of landforms risen in the water ringing the center.  Finally, the visitor reaches the inner boundary to sit on each of the chairs facing the fountain--and to surrender control.  The visitor's fixed gaze is taken over in a brisk encounter with changing viewpoints and flashing images.

Monday, September 14, 2009

fourty four flowers

forty four flowers is a sound piece for mab macmoragh's sim eryri, and has also been shown at the artificial lawn of brooklyn is watching (mentioned by jay in a comment to this blog, but erroneously attributed to another work, see other comments). invisible moving sound sources play the names of forty four flowers, whispered by two different speakers. the visitor is confronted with the contradiction between the simulated environment, the invisible whispering human voices, and personal memories evoked by the flower names.
voices by amy freelunch (amy wilson) and arahan claveau (steve millar). arahan also made a video (well, more a sound recording) of it, see it here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

dancing mountains

the dancing mountains are the first artwork in Second Life using scripted terraforming. dancing mountains, being more a sketchy proof of concept than a fully developed piece of work, gained much attention for pushing the boundaries of artworks in virtual worlds. thanks to bettina tizzy for the blog at NPIRL, and mab macmoragh (see soup blog) for giving me the possibility to realize this work.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

the galleries: final show

machinima by penumbra carter
contribution for the final five show of Brooklyn Is Watching, on display in SL at East of Odyssey and in RL at Jack The Pelican Presents in NYC (picture of the gallery setup).
contributing artists:
  • Arahan Claveau – "Adrift"
  • Dekka Raymaker – "Artbortion"
  • comet Morigi – selected works
  • Oberon Onmura – "Fight for Order"
  • Misprint Thursday – "Suspended Hang-Ups"
see also mab macmoragh's soup blog, comet morigi's blog, moncherie afterthought's blog post at BiW, and the interview with jay at the npirl blog, and it was mentioned at art:21 by nettrice gaskin.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

talking art

there are no pictures of this work, because it was an invisible chatbot specifically written for brooklyn is watching. you can read about it in jay's blog post "art critical chat bot" and hear what they said in their podcasts 58 and 59. the bot scanned the environment for objects, and made specific comments about them on the chat channel, mentioning the title and the owner of the work embedded in a statement such as "did you see XXX by YYY?".
here's part of my comment at the BiW blog to some of the reactions to the work:
what the bot chats is “rather empty”, it lacks subtlety, it quickly becomes “boring and annoying”. yes. this was my intention. the bot’s phrases are dull, repetitive, and uninformed. that’s the reason why i used a pretty simple ‘algorithm’ for generating the phrases, about 20 prefabricated ones (including one with a typo) with a placeholder for the work. far from anything intelligent. i even chose a fixed delay between each utterance, which adds to the machine-like stupidity.

why creating such a work? this spambot was my reaction to the decreasing quality of discourse at BiW, a reflection on the current state of BiW, and as such it should mention the names of the objects on the sim and their owners, but it was intended to be uninformed and annoying (again: i really like the comment in the podcast: smart but uninteresting, yes!).

Sunday, July 12, 2009

the circle (chain reaction)

the circle is the centrepiece of my level at the museum of hyperformalism curated by dc spensley. it evolved from several experiments with uniform units influencing each other locally, that is, within a certain range. each of the 180 cubic cells of the circle is identical, and touching anyone of them will start the chain reaction, which slowly will destroy the whole circle. upon touch, a cell will spawn rectangular prims, which slowly float away from the mother cell. when one of the child cells collides with another cell, that cell will also start spawning. each cell can only spawn a limited number of children before it vanishes. once all cells have vanished, the circle will start its life-cycle again by rebuilding itself.
a modified version of the circle can be seen at imagine plus: 180 portraits together with bark aabye, see the video by bark!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

rebuilding structure

random distributionstructure rebuilding
work for the show THE POST-CRISIS ERA curated by aino baar (for that occasion, i called it resurrection, but i prefer the more descriptive title). a chaotic pile of simple white poles slowly configures itself to a perfectly regular structure when an avatar comes close enough, and breaks down again when the avatar leaves. the work was also shown at BiW, but with an additional component: each breakdown caused some poles to get lost, because they went off-world or ended up on adjacent parcels from where they could not return. thus, the structure became more an more incomplete, slowly loosing its form, and never returned to its initial perfection. see machinima by DC Spensley.

Monday, July 6, 2009

the basic cube

sketch by sol lewitt. particle cube by selavy oh.

the particle cube consists of one base prim and one moving prim for each edge (12 prims). the edge prims draw the edges by dropping so-called particles, i.e., two-dimensional texture patches.
a larger interactive version of the basic cube is on display now at the museum of hyperformalism curated by DC Spensley (aka DanCoyote Antonelli).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

mapping space

work for the contest of the Spencer Museum of Art of the University of Kansas. a slightly different version than the one in the image was submitted, and was awarded the second prize. the work consists of 27 prims and is 2.56x2.56 m. the whole area of the sim is represented by 26 prims, which scan the space, collect data on cloud density and ground level, and display these data as particle relief, scale 1:100, with the particle luminosity reflecting cloud density. since all prims are completely transparent, only the particles are visible as flickering three-dimensional pattern.
the black&white version is on display at mab macmoragh's soup project.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009



site-specific installation for Brooklyn Is Watching consisting of a miniature version of the exhibition space, an avatar tracking system, and modifications to the original exhibition space. the installation was discussed in podcast 57, but unfortunately the severe modifications to the exhibition space (hedges, stage, tower, stairs) escaped the panel. in my comment to the podcast, i mentioned that
there was actually more about the miniature version of the BiW space. the mini-space was an abstraction of the original space. just as the visitors, the avatars (not being but representing the visitors), were represented by their appropriately scaled bounding boxes (their virtual-physics representation). when i worked on achieving an appropriate abstraction/representation of the original space, i realized that the easiest way would be to also transform the space itself. i placed green prims around the hedges, covered the stairs, and placed appropriately colored prims around parts of the tower. thanks to these transformations, the original, but modified space and the representing miniature space were almost exactly scaled versions of each other. constructing the representation modified the original.
modified base and stairs of the BiW towermodified upper part of the BiW tower (the cabin was no longer visible)

Sunday, June 28, 2009


the pseudo-giants are based on a freely available avatar model, the noob, which has originally been created by art laxness. my version shrinks when approached by an avatar, thus contradicting the normal laws of perspective, just like mr. tur tur, the pseudo-giant in michael ende's fantasy novel for kids "Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver".
shown at formes nocturnes and later at brooklyn is watching.


a reaction to a discussion about the future of odyssey and to work by gazira babeli at odyssey east (the meteors in the image), this temporary large scale installation dealt with a specific aspect of space in second life: the number of available prims (building primitives). once that number is reached, building becomes impossible. the community of flexible poles, swaying gently in the virtual wind, occupied all available prim space. the space was already almost inaccessible due to gazira's work; after installing community it was not only inaccessible, but also unusable. however, every visitor, who managed to access the area despite the meteors and the slowing down of the user interface caused by the number of flexible objects, destroyed part of the installation, not temporarily or reversibly like in previous work, but irrecoverably. every member of the flexi-community, which was touched by a visitor, moaned about the intrusion and floated away for once and ever. the visitor had the choice: creating new space for new work, but acting as an intruder, or staying away from the work accepting its occupation of the space.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

three samples

three samples
three samples was conceived for the primavera exhibition at angelgate. after my previous experience at that sim, where i had to create a work without scripts and came up with decomposed, i decided to make another unscripted work, but this time completely non-interactive. it is a recording, a frozen moment in time, the application of the physics engine to a couple of prims stopped in time, and caged in a simple white box. read also soror nishi's blog post. a notecard offered a brief explanation:
"three samples" is a small static work composed of 30 white prims presented in a small white cube. The composition of the work results from a simple experiment: three poles of 10 rectangular prims each are exposed to the effect of the physics engine for exactly one second.
for the interested reader, this work is once more a reference to marcel duchamp, this time to his work on chance, the trois stoppages etalon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

space occupied

misprint thursday invited a couple of artists, among them oberon onmura and four yip, to show work at her artpounce gallery. my installation was relatively simple: part of the space was occupied by a kinetic object, the scanner, which moved in regular time intervals to a new location in a space restricted by a transparent cube. the space occupied by the scanner was not accessible to the avatars. a simple chair was placed in front, as if to provide a seat for watching the scanner. however, sitting on the chair directed the viewpoint to the avatar's face, which underwent distortion upon sitting down. here is a short text by nusch ray about the work:
When we enter Misprint Thursday's Artpounce Gallery, the left side of the first room, providing a nice view on the virtual ocean, is occupied by a moving object that reminds of a three-dimensional plotter: a small cube intersected by three bars, all moving together within a semi-transparent cubic volume of space, adopting a new position every now and then. A simple chair invites us to sit down, perhaps to contemplate the motion or to discover its underlying meaning. But upon sitting down, we first see our avatar's face undergo a horrible distortion. After that initial shock, which effectively perturbs our so accustomed feeling of embodiment, our view remains on the face of our digital representation, as if our screen turned into a mirror showing us our digital appearance. On one side the cube, carrying its own coordinate system, travelling on its random path unable to escape its impenetrable transparent cage. On the other side the viewer, thrown back to solipsistic self-reflection. This installation, simple and unpretentious, effectively works as an allegory of the medium, opposing work and viewer to each other, but separated and confined to their self-referential universes.
Nusch Ray, January 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

a study on space

a study on space
when odyssey was declared to be open for building for all members, i contributed a grid-like structure at the main exhibition area, calling it new structure for odyssey. my simple, regular grid interfered with the huge, almost chaotic and constantly transforming work of alan sondheim that was already present. alan asked me to first remove the grid to document his work in isolation, but then to put it up again. the resulting installation was constantly modified by alan, and photos from different stages can be seen at the odyssey page. for me, this collaborative work reflected the uncertainty about the future of odyssey, the past confusion, the need for a new administration, new rules, but at the same time transparency and freedom of work.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

incomplete cube

incomplete cube
incomplete cube
the incomplete cube consists of 9 small cubes which can be used as seats. given that enough avatars are present, the 9 cubes change position to occupy the 8 corners of a cube and its center. the avatars are then used to form the edges of the cube. since a maximum of 8 edges can be formed, the cube created by the avatars' bodies will ever be complete. the first version, used during my talk for the finissage of systems of reference, used a triggered command, the second version shown at BiW (but unnoticed by the critics) was self-triggered once more than 5 of the 9 seats were occupied.
the incomplete cube was now nominated at the BiW wiki and here's the text written for this nomination (see also jay van buren's comment at my flickr stream):

Sometimes there is work at Brooklyn Is Watching, which is continuously overlooked. And sometimes there is work which appears to be a litmus test of curiosity. Selavy placed nine small white cubes in front of the stage, and you could sit on each one of them without anything happening. Only if five avatars would sit at the same time, the nine white cubes would reveal their mystery: they suddenly would start to move, animate the avatars, transforming them avatars into a 'living' sculptures, forming the edges of a larger cube with their bodies. Eight cubes for the eight corners, one for the center, but eight avatars being never enough to make the cube complete, to provide all its twelve edges. A social sculpture? Or a complete failure, conceptually embedded in the work? Even though there was a notecard handed out to every avatar sitting on one of the cubes, even though the nine cubes were at BiW for three weeks, the "Incomplete Cube" was only activated once when Selavy spontaneously called a group of friends to help.

-- Nusch Ray

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


the final appearance for nur moo's sim formes nocturnes consisted of a sim-wide grid, which was broken in the center, a central structure used as dancefloor (see below), and a couple of smaller features, such as an interactive gallery for nur's pictures, a gray forest by soror nishi, later on the pseudo-giants (see also blog), and the dance party environment from sintetika.
frozen moment
the central structure

the installation at formes nocturnes was featured in several machinima, for example by colemarie soleil (her blog) or by lyric lundquist.


when nur moo offered me the possibility of taking residency at her newly acquired sim formes nocturnes (see npirl blog), i gladly accepted. after some considerations, of course, but i felt that the chance to use a full sim as playground wouldn't come very often. the poles, a sim-wide installation, was one of the first pieces, only shown for a very brief period of time. for those interested in the art historical reference: check out walter de maria's lightning field.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


sometimes, a piece is overlooked, even though it is set up at a prominent location. this one, a white featureless cube, is such an example. it has been at the kiss the sky exhibition curated by dc spensley at one of the NMC sims for several weeks , but it perhaps looked too simple and unspectacular. it is one of a series of works playing with the aspect of freezing time or taking a 3D snapshot, but also belongs to my examinations of the cube as a metaphor for three-dimensional space. once touched by the viewer, it exploded into 125 small cubes, which stopped their travel in mid-air. touching any of the small cubes again reverted the work, just like pressing an undo-button, so that the visitor determines the appearance of the work, and leaves that as initial appearance for the next viewer. bistability can now be seen at the museum of hyperformalism curated by dc spensley, and here it is noticed: bryn oh was so kind to write about it.

Friday, May 29, 2009


all black and white
environment (see more pictures here) was created for nur moo's poetik party at the sintetika sim as commissioned work. it consisted of a dancefloor inside a large box with several interactive elements, which allowed the party goers to actively participate in forming the appearance of the environment. so-called dance balls, which allow the avatars to dance, were positioned at the walls in various orientations. one lounge with furniture was placed on the wall, another one hidden in the cubes, which formed the walls. the whole installation was laid out like a labyrinthine cave, with many enclosures and hidden elements. it was covered by many bloggers, just to mention a few: don hosho, soror nishi, comet morigi, hamlet au, and a video by opensource obscure.
for comet's blog, i gave some additional comments:
just a few additional comments about the environment for the "poetik party". i transferred some of the conceptual ideas that i'm using in my work to this installation. of course, first of all, i'm playing with the notion of "virtual space", when i make the visitors dance on the walls or even upside down, or when i put sofas at the wall where you can sit. the orientation of the avatar while walking or running is defined by the rules of second life, but there's no reason why avatars shouldn't, for example, walk on walls. a virtual world is not about recreating reality.
another point is interactivity (see also, for example, my nested cubes): the interactive nature of the space makes you a participant in defining how the space looks like. you as visitor can change the light effects, click on the cubes which make up the wall, some of them will start changing color, or start flickering, or even explode into smaller cubes. click again, and it'll revert back. i just give the structure, you can change the details.
finally, a note about the way in which it is built: it started off as a solid structure without any space inside, a block of regular solid cubes, and then i carved it, i removed cubes instead of adding them, just like a sculptor would do when she makes a sculpture out of marble, and quite the opposite of how an architect would work. when building in a virtual world, there's no need to follow any of the rules that hold in reality.

spiral reloaded

the spiral was shown at the ARENA event for one week. it was an interactive installation with 1001 cubes in a spiral pattern (see spiral at BiW) slightly above ground. when an avatar walked into a cube, this cube would gently fly away. every 15 minutes, all remaining cubes started to fly away, forming a spiral pattern in space. after that, the spiral was reconstructed automatically, and the lifecycle of the installation restarted. helfe ihnen videotaped the spontaneous opening performance by Gumnosophistai Nurmi and Humming Pera from the Avatar Orchestra Metaverse.
the spiral was shown again as part of the OPEN GARDEN interAction curated by arco rosca, which is currently part of the Museo del Metaverso.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


portraits with shadows
portraits was shown at Brooklyn Is Watching for about one week. each avatar, who accepted the offer, received an object, the portrait. upon rezzing, this object assumed the size of the avatar and called itself "portrait of ..." with ... being the avatars name. a notecard accompanied the portrait:
Dear Owner,

Congratulations! You are now the owner of an original artwork by Selavy Oh.
This object is a unique portrait of yourself, an accurate rendering of your “bounding box”, your physical appearance in Second Life.
You may give it to others, but it will remain your portrait.
But be aware that this is an original, uniquely created for you by Selavy Oh.
You will not receive a second version of this artwork.


Selavy Oh, October 2008
each avatar received only one offer. for a list of avatars that accepted the offer and actually rezzed the portrait, see here. for further explanation see my comment to jay's blog on BiW.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

sketch book

a sketchbook for the exhibition rinascimento virtuale at florence, italy. my first work as selavy oh, which did not use second life as medium. see also fabio fornasi's blog post featuring my sketchbook for a poster.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


the chain was an installation for brooklyn is watching, and it had a big, yet unintended effect: because of this work, i was banned for one day from second life. more about this incident on my flickr page and at the BiW blog post, where lots of people commented on it. the picture above was featured by beth harris in her blogpost About BiW.

attractive art

temporary installation at the corner of the "Brooklyn Is Watching" sim, see the blog post by jay newt, where i left some comments to explain this work, and the video podcast at smARThistory by beth harris and steven zucker. the list of attracted visitors can be found here. attractive art is certainly among my most important works so far. it has been chosen among the 30 best works shown at Brooklyn Is Watching during the first year.

systems of reference

systems of referencesystems of referenceshattered
systems of reference was shown at arthole gallery, which is run by arahan claveau and nebulosus severine. orginally, the show was supposed to be a collaborative work by ichibot nishi and me. but, due to several cirumstances, the collaboration did not work out, so that it ended up as a solo show. listen to the podcast accompanying this blog post by amy freelunch, watch the video by arahan claveau, or look at my own documentation video.
video by arahan claveau
during the last week of the show, i gave a lecture on some of the references associated with my installation. here's the list of slides:
  • Man Ray: Rrose Sélavy (Marcel Duchamp), 1921
  • Marcel Duchamp: Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912)
  • Gerhard Richter: Ema (Akt auf einer Treppe) (1966)
  • Eadweard Muybridge: Woman walking downstairs (late 19th century)
  • Sol LeWitt: Schematic Drawing for Muybridge II (1964)
  • Sol LeWitt: Corner piece #4 (1976)
  • Sol LeWitt: sketch in a letter to Thomas Dreher (1986)
  • Sol Lewitt: Incomplete Open Cube (1974)
  • Dan Flavin: "monument" 1 for V. Tatlin (1964)
  • Vladimir Tatlin: Monument to the Third International (1920)
  • Dan Flavin: untitled (to Janie Lee) two (1971)
  • Bruce Nauman: Corridor with Mirror and White Lights (1971)
  • Bruce Nauman: from Studies for Holograms (a-e) c (1970)
  • Bruce Nauman: from Studies for Holograms (a-e) e (1970)
  • Marcel Duchamp: Why Not Sneeze Rrose Sélavy? (1921/64)
  • Marcel Duchamp: Exterior view of Etant donnés: 1° la chute d'eau / 2° le gaz d'éclairage (Given: 1. The Waterfall /2. The Illuminating Gas) (1946-1966)
  • Marcel Duchamp: Interior view of Etant donnés: 1° la chute d'eau / 2° le gaz d'éclairage (Given: 1. The Waterfall /2. The Illuminating Gas) (1946-1966)
  • Gustave Courbet: L'Origine du monde (1866)
  • Albrecht Dürer: Der Zeichner des liegenden Weibes (1538)
  • Hans Holbein the Younger: Double Portrait of Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve ("The Ambassadors") (1533)
  • Hans Holbein the Younger: Double Portrait of Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve ("The Ambassadors") (1533) (anamorphic skull)
  • Marcel Duchamp: book cover for Andre Breton (1946)
  • Marcel Duchamp: Rotorelief, Spirale Blanche (1935)
  • Marcel Duchamp: Anémic Cinéma (1925/26, Filmstill)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

nested cubes

nested cubes invite II
helfe ihnen invited me for an exhibition at DESign Island, and after some considerations i came up with the nested cubes. here's a text about it, written by nusch ray, for a subsequent show of the nested cubes at angelgate:
There is a huge white cube, floating in mid-air, featureless, without any texture, like a forgotten artefact of an unknown civilization. Or is it the leftover of an oblivious builder? A skybox that has not been moved to its destination? And what about the geometric shapes in the water below, almost like holes in the sea?

These might be some of the thoughts rushing through your head when you arrive at Selavy Oh's "nested cubes". But you might as well encounter something different: an arrangement of walls and holes, gaps, breakthroughs and perforations, slightly glowing from inside in subdued coloured light. You might see white bricks gently falling down; sometimes one of the geometric holes would flash in glaring white glow, and below, under the water surface, a pile of white bricks, chaotic debris of disintegration.

What happened?

Selavy Oh has created an installation which is shaped by the intervention of the visitor, which only makes sense if you engage. You are invited to fly up to the white cube, straight into the featureless wall; your movement creates the holes and perforations, you fly through self-drilled corridors shining in rainbow colours. Selavy provided the material, you have to shape it, leaving your trace, trying to unveil the underlying structure, the light inside. But your intervention is destruction; you are subject to an observer effect. While you are intruding to view the work, enjoying the playful interaction, watching the bricks slowly sink like cubic snowflakes, you destroy the perfect arrangement.

The "nested cubes" never become visible. Only their shadow, the inaccessible negative space that is cutting holes in the water below, provides an idea about the interior structure of the white cube.

Nusch Ray, October 2008

the nested cubes have been shown at
  • DEsign Island (curator Helfe Ihnen), July-August 2008
  • Angelgate (curator Nepherses Amat), October-November 2008
  • Magoo (soup project by Mab Macmoragh), June 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

frozen moment

cubic tower - frozen moment
the first work of a series on time. well, not really, since time was the topic already in cube descending. again, i used physics to generate the movement, but instead of only turning the structure physical, as in the cubic fragments, i stopped the movement in mid-flight by changing the properties of the prims back to normal. i first had serious doubts whether it is possible to program such a three-dimensional snapshot, but it worked perfectly.
below the playground
my first collaboration with ichibot nishi, and i have to admit that it was much more his work than mine. it was based on constructing identity, and my part mainly consisted of the image, a couple of cubes to play with, some scripting, and a structure below the playground in ichibot's blue.plane.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

cubic fragments

physics again. as mentioned before, in several of my works i'm using the inbuilt physics engine of second life to create dynamic systems and exploit the complexity of the environment for unpredictable configurations. here, about june 2008 at BiW, it is a very simple effect: when you touch the white cube, composed of 8x8x8=512 small white cubes, it is set to physical, and due to the minimum required distance between physical bodies, it starts almost instantly to explode. the small cubes are scripted to return to their original location after a certain time, so that the work essentially becomes self-regenerating.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

the conditions of discourse

the conditions of discourse
you here now. the conditions of discourse.
inspired by an article about the work of sol lewitt.
implemented by an invisible moving object, which leaves traces, so-called particles, in mid-air.
on display at the museo del metaverso, together with cube descending.

Friday, May 1, 2009

15 seconds

a small work on privacy and public fame, only shown at BiW. it shows the avatar's profile picture for 15 seconds, and shouts the profile text. i integrated it in a scene set up by ford heberle, and ichibot nishi was the model for the image above. discussed in BiW podcast 15.
a modified version, integrated in a projector designed by dekka raymaker, was shown at arahan claveau's show Empire at season 3 of the Arthole Gallery 2009.

facial distortion

my first micro-performance done at BiW was a temporary distortion of the avatar's face, effectively disrupting the attribution of embodiment. one of the first viewers was jay newt (jay van buren), and he wrote an excellent blog post about it. since then, i used this work in slightly different form for my chairs, for example, in systems of reference, where the face of the viewer's avatar becomes distorted after sitting down.

Friday, April 24, 2009

self portrait

me with self portrait

the self portrait was created in response to a call by oberon onmura for the show the real me at his man-a-hatta gallery (see this blog post for info). it had exactly the size of the bounding box, the physical presence, of my avatar, rotated in synchrony with the avatar, floated slightly above ground when the avatar was flying, and changed its transparency when the avatar was off-line. in a sense, it is a realistic portrait of the avatar, since the only effect on virtual physics is created by the bounding box. the bounding box, in turn, could be viewed as the representation of the avatar, and the avatar is a representation of the user.


spiral, presented at BiW, was intended as horizontal work, covering and structuring the whole plane of the exhibition area, in contrast to the many artworks that used height as preferred dimension. see two blog posts at BiW, one by shirley marquez, the other one by amy freelunch. a later version of the spiral was shown at the ARENA event curated by roxelo babenco.

physics primitives

the physics engine in second life provides a valuable instrument for creating work, and i have used it from early on in my work. the example above, cubic hail shown at BiW, was, after cube descending, one of my next works working with temporary prims, physics, and continuous creation of objects. here, ichibot nishi added some color and additional dynamics.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


several works using so-called invisiprims, a visual effect first considered to be a bug, but soon used by many developers in sl. invisiprims cause the avatar body, the water surface, or other textures using the alpha channel to become invisible and have several other interesting visual effects.
the picture above was taken in my contribution for angelgate's radiance exhibition in 2008 curated by bau ur.
lose your head
see several blog posts, for example about spatial decomposition by amy freelunch, and loose your head by jay van buren.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

cube descending

my first work shown at a permanent exhibition in the virtual world of second life, an homage to marcel duchamp's famous painting nude descending a staircase. cube descending translates a method for depicting time, the use of consecutive snapshots first used in photography, e.g., by étienne-jules marey or eadweard muybridge, to the three-dimensional domain, using the illusionistic nature of a virtual environment. the specific technique used here, slowly fading 3D-snapshots of the falling cube, also relates to the one used in comic-book illustrations of dynamic scenes.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

soft structures

soft structureblue curtain
soft structure
soft structure
soft structure
soft double structure
during the following months, i created a couple of versions of the soft structure, all based on the same principle, exploiting the virtual wind and the virtual cloud density. some of them were shown at BiW. the soft structure was also shown at the 5th birthday event of second life (sl5b) as soft double structure, and, in an interactive version, at dc spensley's show kiss the sky (see this report about the show).

Friday, April 3, 2009

leaving traces

leaving traces
leaving traces, another work shown at BiW and discussed in the first podcast, had several layers of meaning. it used the scripting from the black cube to circumvent BiW's auto-return, and instead of just one week, it remained there for many weeks. it was scripted to become transparent over time, so that it would become an invisible trace after about two or three weeks. the texture was a scan of one sheet of a series of works on paper, which i did some years ago: ants first walked through a dish of black ink and then onto a white sheet of paper, leaving their footprints as traces. leaving traces was also a comment to all the self-declared artists leaving their work at the green lawn of BiW. random traces, which sometimes seemed to make sense.

constructing identity

family album I
family album II
family album V
family album III
a figurative work as an attempt to construct an identity for selavy. we continuously reshape our biographical memory, and pictures from family albums serve as some kind of fixed points, burning themselves into memory. as other memories, they need not be real to become part of what we call our identity. this unfinished work was only posted on flickr. later, i used the first image of the series for a cooperation with ichibot nishi, and reused it again in my installation systems of reference at arthole gallery.