Reflexive Script 03 Extended
January 30, 2008, 1:28 am
Filed under: reflexive architecture

Found this over on Mal’s SL-Edu blog (link).  Solid Aeon has taken script 03 to a new level.  Nice work! 

Reflexive Architecture Derivatives: Reactive Sculptures
January 23, 2008, 5:19 pm
Filed under: reflexive architecture

I realize I should start another blog about Reflexive Architecture, since the subject strays a bit from the purpose of this blog.  Until then, here is yet another exciting effort to build reflexivity into the virtual environment, posted by my friend mageEgo (who is lucky enough to have a voice that sounds a lot like Morpheus from the Matrix =)  I am always incredibly inspired by these works, and am grateful he has shared this with me:

“Machinima clip of a gathering of virtual artists in Second Life experimenting with reactive sculptures – objects which change color, size or shape in response to an avatar’s proximity”

Reflexive Innovation: Active and Dynamic is In, Passive and Static is Out
January 22, 2008, 7:12 pm
Filed under: reflexive architecture

I have had the pleasure of being blown-away by some incredibly innovative uses of the Second Life platform in the past few weeks, most notably those angling toward a more Reflexive experience. I will formulate more in-depth thoughts on these in a future post. For now, I will share posts by others who have described these installations more eloquently than I.

First, there’s the Parsec. My good friends Dizzy Banjo and Eshi Otawara teamed up with Chase Marellan to create this truly innovative installation. I couldn’t sleep after seeing this build! It is so refreshing to see this level of innovation derived from the native or inherent capacity of the virtual environment. They really have invented an entirely new kind of instrument, I think, planting the seed for a new generation of participatory and collaborative real-time musical composition. I wonder, who will be the Mozart or Beethoven of the Parsec?

Here is a very well-written post by Hamlet Au on New World Notes (link), please help promote the installation by Digging it HERE. There is a slideshow of screenshots I took during a demo HERE. Here is a machinima Hamlet created:

Finally, there is this installation I just read about on Dusan Writer’s blog (link). Amazing!!! I haven’t seen this in-world yet, but will let you know what I find.

Importing and Exporting in Second Life: Oh, How I Pine
January 15, 2008, 3:12 am
Filed under: import tools, ryan schultz, Theory Shaw

By Ryan Schultz (Theory Shaw in SL), cross-posted from Studio Wikitecture blog


I’ve been using Second Life for a number of years now to run experiments, through our ‘Studio Wikitecture’ group, to see if a Metaverse, such as SL might one day act as the platform for collective intelligence in architecture and urban planning. I’m also an active member of the ‘RL Architects in SL’ group. As you can imagine, most of the members that compose these two groups are architects. What I have found, participating in these groups over the last year or so is that new members are always excited about using Second Life as either a collaborative tool or as a platform to exhibit their work. Unfortunately, however, their interest soon wanes when they find out there’s no easy way to import in models from third party programs. I realize there’s a number of grass-roots initiatives out there that have developed rough and crude ways to import from the following:


Although, I give my utmost respect to the programmers that have developed these projects, to say they are crude, is to pay them a compliment. What invariably happens is that after sharing these links with the many people that ask, they come back (if they come back at all) even more confused and frustrated having labored through the elaborate and evolved process of copying and pasting pieces of code back and forth between one program and the other. The process is about as easy as painting with rice grains.

Having had a number of conversations over the year with people about this, I can say with confidence, that SL’s lack of portability is the number one hurdle for our demographic and the main reason why many people never come back. Although speculation, I would imagine this is a major hurdle for other groups as well.

What I don’t really understand is why this issue is not pushed more by the SL community at large. I have noticed there were a number of issues posted on SL’s Issue Tracker that call for portability of a number of various file types, such as .OBJ, .3DM, .3DS, .DXF, & .DAE.

What I don’t really understand is why, firstly, the overall SL community is not voting on this en masse and secondly, why have some of these grass-roots initiatives outlined above, just withered on the vine? Some of these projects are over two years old, with no sign of life or continued evolution since they were first posted.

Having been in the middle of this conversation for awhile, it seems the standard responses usually involve two factors: technology and/or SL’s economy—Technology, from the aspect that it’s currently still too difficult to do and economically, from the aspect that the sudden influx of new models would dilute the value of existing in-world creations, resulting in a negative impact on SL’s economy. Although I’m sure there are more reasons, these seem to be at the forefront of the discussion.

What confuses me, from my perspective anyways, is that these reasons still don’t seem plausible to me and I’m found wondering if I’m missing a valuable part of the equation.

First, although I have a limited background in programming, it appears from the existence of these grass roots projects, that portability is indeed obtainable. Having dabbled a little with each project above, I realize the process is laborious—cutting and pasting code from one program to the other.

I also realize that most of these conversion programs drastically simplify the form when imported into SL, such as textures being stripped off, and meshes and certain objects such as cylinders and sphere’s being simplified down to plain ‘box’ prims in SL. Although these are indeed hurdles, the technology is currently there to do this on a very limited basis.

What I don’t understand, is why these projects haven’t evolved into a more user-friendly format after the years they have been in place. This is just a lack of user-interface design verses a lack of back-end programming. Even though they are crude and might only import texture striped SL boxes in some cases, i know that I, as well has a horde of others, would still jump at the chance to have access to a tool like this and in most cases would actually pay good money for such a thing.

On to the economic end of the argument. I guess I can see on the surface, why a number of residences might be fearful of a world where seamless importing and exporting becomes the norm. I would imagine their argument springs from the fear that they either think their creations would be diluted by all these new models or that their creations could easily be exported and in turn imported, further diluting their value. I think these are legitimate concerns, but are there not ways of regulating this? Could you not add an additional layer of modifications rights that would give the owner of the in-world object the choice on whether they allowed subsequent owners to export out their creations?

From the importing perspective, yes, I’m sure such functionality would initially effect the market. The problem is however, that in the long run, the longer SL holds out on this functionality, the more negatively it will impact the economy, that is, when they finally do implement it. I’m not an economist, but I would imagine this is the same phenomenon you see when age old tariffs are removed and the economy in which they were trying to protect in the first place, finds itself unprepared to compete in the more innovative and efficient economy that was growing up all around them the whole time.

The assumption here, of course, is that they will do this eventually. The reason being, I believe, is that they will be forced to from market pressures from other virtual worlds offering portability as standard service and perhaps. In the end, perhaps this is exactly the reason why SL hasn’t offered this service yet. There’s no real viable competitor yet.

Although part of the reason for writing this post is to rant a little, my main objective is to start a conversation around why you don’t think portability has become common place for the end-user by now. I just wanted to share my confusion with everyone and see if there are others that are either just as confused, or perhaps have a more nuanced answer to this problem.

And by all means, if this too is a thorn in your side, please place your vote on Second Life’s Issue Tracker. Pick your poison. .OBJ, .3DM, .3DS, .DXF, & .DAE. Voting is easy, just login in first.

And if you’re a developer, just know that I’ll be the first to put my order in and I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone. The market seems to be begging for it.

Raising the Bar for Reflexive Ar(t)chitecture: The DynaFleur
January 3, 2008, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Dynafleur, reflexive architecture

“Douglas Story & Desdemona Enfield
Dizzy Banjo – music and sound
Poid Mahovlich – terraforming

Harper Beresford – photography

Spanning an entire sim on Princeton University’s virtual campus, DynaFleur is the kind of experience that truly is possible only in Second Life.”

“…This magic is powered by complex scripts written by the talented and energetic Desdemona Enfield, which in turn were based on the open-source Reflexive Architecture scripts made available by Keystone Bouchard and his group.”

I was lucky enough to enjoy a sneak preview of this installation a while back when it was under construction, and I must admit – this installation is a jaw-dropper. I definitely plan on attending the opening this Saturday the 5th at 12pm SL-time. See you there!

For more information, visit HERE.

Architecture Course Ideas Using Second Life
January 2, 2008, 7:35 pm
Filed under: architecture curriculum, jon brouchoud, keystone bouchard

I was noodling through my computer this morning, and noticed these courses ideas I wrote up last June that include Second Life as an integral part of a university level architecture studio. They were primarily intended as a simple brainstorming activity, so I thought I would share them here for you to review, use, improve:

Course 1: The Augmentation of Architecture

Given the rapid growth of virtual worlds, it has quickly become a feasible and popular destination for a vast range of functions, from conducting business, teaching classes, networking, sales, holding conferences to a multitude of other purposes.

In some cases, virtual interaction compliments real life functions. In other cases, virtual counterparts are completely replacing certain kinds of real life interactions. In either case, the phenomenon of physical transcendence into a lower cost virtual medium has already started, and will inevitably and significantly change the way we think about physical architecture in the very near future.

This course will hypothetically consider a large world-class accounting firm that has hired an architecture firm to design a new headquarters. Like any company with employees stationed worldwide, they depend on local commuting, long distance travel and hotelling to accommodate a global work force.

As architectural plans for the headquarters are evolving, a group within the company starts holding their weekly meetings in Second Life as an alternative to long distance travel and commuting. Within a few weeks, they are able to save time and money using this virtual alternative and the concept starts to catch on in other departments throughout the company. As this alternative becomes increasingly pervasive within the company, they realize it could be a significant cost savings to reduce the square footage of the new headquarters in favor of a virtual counterpart.

The architects are informed that the building’s square footage can be decreased by 5%.

This course will ask and seek answers to the following questions through a series of research assignments and design charettes:

Who should be responsible for designing the virtual architecture?

Should it interface and share common characteristics with the architecture of the new physical headquarters?

Will such fundamental principles of wayfinding, scale, proportion, and hierarchy be important in the virtual counterpart?

Does an architectural background lend itself to designing this kind of virtual interface, or is the design of this environment a better fit for game designers, 3D modelers and computer programmers?

If construction and annual use of a certain percentage of physical architecture can be transcended into a virtual mode, could it be considered a sustainable or ‘green’ measure?

Course 2: The Virtual Workforce

This studio asks students to consider and propose a design solution for the virtual workplace described in the previous ‘Augmentation of Architecture’ course description.

How can the architecture of this virtual space facilitate this new virtual workforce? What kinds of spaces will encourage efficient interaction and communication? How can the architectural concept of the real life building be translated into this virtual interface?

Note: Because Second Life provides an environment where anything is possible, designing virtual spaces encourages (possibly even requires) a return to the basic fundamentals of architecture. When designing in a virtual medium, designs that do not have a strong sense of hierarchy, scale and proportion are unsuccessful and difficult to navigate. Moreover, when the design solution is complete, members of the public can be invited in to tour the design solution and critique the design. By enabling the design to be actually populated by avatars, the success or failure of design gestures becomes immediately apparent.

This course will utilize an in-world ‘jury’ of selected users who will be asked to inhabit and critique the designs at various intervals throughout the semester from practical, functional and aesthetic perspectives.

Course 3: Virtual Art Gallery

When designing in a virtual medium, concepts lacking a strong sense of hierarchy, scale and proportion are unsuccessful and difficult to navigate.

This course asks students to design an art gallery for use in an exclusively virtual environment. The aim of the studio will be to encourage and reinforce a ‘back to basics’ mentality of design that requires solutions to be both clearly navigable and functional.

The final presentation will consist of a grand opening of the galleries for public viewing. Members of the in-world community will be able to inhabit and critique the final projects.