If a Naked Mannequin is Shot from a Cannon in an Empty Sim is it still Art?

David W. Galenson describes two types of artists in “Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity.” The first starts with a clear internal vision of what she wants to express and then works to realize it through artistic work. The second type of artist undertakes the act of creation to discover the latent art within the emerging work itself. I’m neither an old master nor a young genius, but I tend to fall in the second camp. That’s why I’m a neoholic when it comes to creative tools and platforms. Creating on a new platform is like jamming with a new musician. The song that emerges may resemble each parent in a particular way, but is truly its own.

Cloud Party is a new virtual world out in beta. It has in-world building and scripting tools like Second Life, but runs in a web browser. Here’s how my improvisation with Cloud Party led to this video:

When you authenticate to Cloud Party through Facebook, you start off with a set of basic 3D shapes and handful of scripted objects. One of them is a cannon. After a little tinkering I learned that many of the paramaters can be changed. You can change the force of the launched cannon ball, choose a different sound, or select a different object to fire out of the barrel.

Another great feature of Cloud Party is that you can import 3D models from external sources. Before playing with the cannon script I had imported a number of models, including a female figure from DAZ Studio. You can see where this is going already, right? Of course, what would be better to shoot out of a cannon?

After playing around with the modified cannon on the island I’ve rented, I suddenly noticed all of the bodies lying on the ground. The juxtaposition between the silly act of shooting virtual mannequins from a cannon and the visual impact of what appeared at first glance to be a pile of corpses was pretty intense. The final piece of the puzzle came when the cannon sound brought to mind the 1812 Overture. The song ended up serving as the transition between the horrific and playful aspects of the machinima.

It was only after the video came together that I realized it was mostly about the joy of creativity transcending its horrific subject matter.

A beautiful thought experiment.

4 thoughts on “If a Naked Mannequin is Shot from a Cannon in an Empty Sim is it still Art?

  1. Amazing Botgirl! I know peeps have been playing with Cloud Party, but I haven’t been there yet myself and probably there are others who also haven’t tried it yet. Would you be up for leading a little casual “Field Trip” to Cloud Party?

    Yes on your different directions of creativity. Many contemporary artists do start from theory and then realize it in media. In a sense “Intermedia” art (different from “Multimedia”) is kind of about that. If you call yourself a “Painter,” then, so to speak, you get up and ask “what am I going to paint today?” But if you call yourself an Intermedia artist you would more likely ask “what do I want to express or explore today” and then what media might best think about that? So it could be a painting or machinima etc…

    Interestingly, as you say, a lot of work does come the other way, in playing with media. However in many cases, even though a body of work came from play, the artist will later backfit theory onto it. In some senses this is “Creative BS” but it’s also true that one’s intiutive exploration of media could be working through ideas coursing thru the cultural zeitgeist whether or not you’re aware of them at the time of creation.

    Anyway, this is an amazing video!!

    I’m really eager to look at Cloud Party now! Thanks for the detailed description of how you produced this piece.

  2. I’ve been seeing rumblings about Cloud Party. I suppose I better get in there and see what’s going on, but I’m not keen on the web browser interface (I’m on IE9… nuff said). If avies are modifiable and there’s great hair, skins, clothes, shoes, jewelry… welll, ok maybe.

    1. I took a few minutes to peek at Cloud Party. It’s got my interest but i don’t have time for it yet. I’ll prolly not need to shoot any mannequins out of cannons but will keep it in mind. hehe. Very cool.

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