FIELD TRIP: Virtual Gallery Weekend Berlin

BERLIN, 28 April — Silent since the demise of Blue Mars, the VBCO Travel & Safari Co. launched a field trip to the temporary virtual world of Gallery Weekend Berlin 2012 today. 10 started out on the journey and 4 were delivered to the promised land. 4 died quickly at the hands of MacOS 10.5.8 and 2 suffered longer with the vagaries of Windows hardware/software. For the 4 that reached the promised land, the virtual gallery riches were as promised, and while sad at the loss of their comrades, they rejoiced at their arrival at the shores of this new land.

Tim, Fish, and I at the Welcome Area with Nathalie and other Virtual GWB Staff members

P A R T I C I P A N T . L I S T

Agnes Sharple
Bejoo Cerise
Calliope Lexington
Fish Fishman
Gina Broono
Kikas Babenco
Marmaduke Arado
Nathalie Fougeras (event staff)
Pixel Reanimator
Tim (Fross Maruti)
Vaneeesa Blaylock

Nathalie got a cool girl "Crew" shirt with a scoop neck and cap sleeves! But I guess they ran out (they never print enough for girls, grrr) so Beatrice had to wear a boy Crew shirt. It didn't really matter though, everybody looked great and was super friendly and helpful. Well, almost everybody looked great... Agnes felt that her butt was too big and she didn't like her bow-legged "cowboy" walk...

10 of us embarked for Virtual Gallery Weekend Berlin, and we were joined by many friendly staff there, but especially Nathalie Fougeras who schlepped around to some of the galleries with us.

Pixel, Gina, Kikas and Marma were all running MacOS 10.5.8 and it turns out V-GWB requires MacOS 10.6 I think it ran on most WinOS, but for indeterminate reasons, Calliope and Bejoo were not able to run it. Fortunately, Agnes, Fish, Tim, and I were able to successfully arrive and look around. We were all pretty excited about the environment. Fish thought it was cool but the UI needed a bit of work. Agnes loved the “gallery feel” and thought that even though the work was 2D images, that it was presented much more powerfully than a website could do.

It seemed that the choice of an almost all white with lite shadows space, including the avatars, gave it that gallery “white cube” feel and put the focus on the artwork in a way that even web pop-up widows don’t do. I noticed that for small works, they were “physically” small on the wall… but then you’d zoom in on them, so that you understood the scale of the work, but then as you would in a physical gallery, you’d walk up close and lean in to examine the detail.

Our party's complete... time to fly!

V-GWB is an application by Spinningwire powered by Adminotech & Playsign, and is based on the open source project realXtend.

If you’d still like to visit the installation, the “hosted” V-GWB runs concurrently with GWB on 27-28-29 April, and then we’ve heard it will run “unhosted” (without the friendly help staff) for another week. And then it becomes virtual history.

As many of our adventurers are familiar with Second Life where regardless of what server your avatar happens to be on, you have access to all in-world avatars, we were surprised to learn on our Field Trip to WoW that there are different servers that cannot access each other. In the end, whether our field trippers were in Europe, North America, or elsewhere, we all signed up for the EU Argent Dawn server so we could travel together and meet up with our tour guide Ironyca. Ironically, later on, when she was a judge on The WoW Factor, Ironyca had to sign up for a USA server and judge the height of WoW fashion in a noob avatar.

Similarly, V-GWB is limited to 20 avatars per server. This time it’s not geographic like WoW, they just launch a new server every time they have 20 avatars on the current server. This was kind of interesting today as Tim and I were in the Welcome Area on one server… and Agnes and Fish were in the very same Welcome Area on a different server. Just like parallel universes we stood in the same space, yet had no access to each other’s existence. With a bit of relogging and some help from the staff the four of us managed to actually meetup in the same time-space dimension! πŸ™‚

The staff told us the software could support up to 70 avatars on a server, but they were keeping it low to keep lag low. That’s understandable, but on a “social” space, having trouble meeting up with your friends is a real drag. We’ve all critiqued Second Life’s servers at some time or another, but the way they manage to give an entire world of users access to each other is pretty great.

Agnes, Tim, and I at CFA Berlin
"Slide Show" view on one of Julian Schnabel's paintings at CFA Berlin

One staffer told us that you can build your own content in environments like Maya, 3DS Max, Blender, and then import them to realXtend. My fantasies of diving into 3D modeling over winter break came and went… perhaps I’ll fare better this summer.

Thanks to Nathalie and the many friendly and helplful staff members for showing us around and chatting about ideas with us. It was a great field trip for those of us who were able to make it. For the others I guess the pix and vids on this Trip Report and elsewhere will have to do… till Gallery Week Berlin 2013 anyway! πŸ™‚

Tuna, Nathalie, Tim, Agnes, and I... all in the same place at the same time... so awesome!

M U S I C (on video)

Mine + Yours = Ours
β€’ by George_Ellinas
β€’ featuring Snowflake

R E L A T E D . M A T E R I A L S

β€’ Ironyca’s adventures hopping WoW servers
β€’ VB/CO Field Trips
β€’ Vaneeesa’s 1st look at Virtual GWB

β€’ Gallery Weekend Berlin 2012
β€’ Virtual Gallery Weekend Berlin

β€’ Spinningwire
β€’ Admino Technologies, “Extending Reality”
β€’ realXtend

As a virtual public artist my work invites avatar communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.

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