A hypertetrahedron in space above the Medici University College of Avatar Architecture & Virtual Urban Planning at LEA1 in the virtual world of Second Life

Day 23: Thinking about Avatar Architecture

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Hello Avatar Architects & Virtual Urban Planners!

1st the Sim News:

CAA-VUP Moves 2 Phase 2 #

These 1st 23 days @CAA @LEA1 have been fantastic! Thanks to everyone who’s built, installed, danced, experimented, thought, and participated in other ways. It’s time to close Phase I so we can move on to Phase II. In a little more than 48 hours from now, at 11pm SLT on Tuesday night, I will return everything. 61 minutes later, at 12:01am Wednesday, you’re welcome to start creating again.

If you don’t mind a bit of returned stuff in your Lost & Found folder, I’d encourage you not to take your stuff in advance of Tuesday night, but just let me return it at 11pm. That way the campus can be as vibrant and alive as possible. Of course, if you do want to remove work in advance, that’s fine too.

Our first 23 days have seen beautiful design, Impossible IRL feats, social and political statements, and a wide range of interesting explorations. What I’d like to encourage you to think about in Phase II is Livable Space.

series of living pods in an arc through space
Count von Tsuki & Callie von Tsuki’s Sky-Bungalows

What is Livable Space? #

For me, there’s 2 ideas here, an idea about Architecture, and an idea about Urban Space.

Livable VR Architecture #

An awful lot of SL architecture is decorative. It’s beautiful, it’s often skeuomorphic, and we enjoy seeing it. But it often is not what I’d consider to be livable for an avatar in this virtual world.

For example, IRL the Tiny Home movement has been gaining momentum and it speaks to many people for a variety of reasons. But as clunky avatars, we don’t fit well in tiny homes. Yes, with a pose ball we can pretzelify ourselves into any shape and shoehorn ourselves into any tight seating arrangement. But for me that’s more like posing for a photo than it is living in this world.

In a tiny home a fleshvatar can crawl up into the loft above the dining table and read a book. I don’t think most avatars come to this world to read a book. Again, we pose with books in a skeuomorphic way, but it’s not so common an activity for our kind.

As an avatar I like open space.

Oh, and BTW, the default camera is too high. It’s partly why so many buildings have ridiculously high walls & ceilings. Is encouraging peeps to lower their default camera a part of the idea of architecture if it means a more immersed and engaged experience?

selenium toned print of Vanessa Blaylock at a hair shop
Vanessa Blaylock at Analog Dog hair salon

I love the old Analog Dog hair salon where you just looked at floating boards of hair as you stood ankle deep in water at the beach. The new Analog Dog is a little bit more “normal,” but it still retains some of it’s non-RL charm.

For me, creating Impossible IRL wonders is fantastic. But what I’m really interested in is not far out impossible things, but simple spaces that make it feel good to be an avatar and make me want to spend more time in this world, be it with friends, creating on my own, or in any other activity.

In CAA Phase II I’d encourage you to think not about heroic or even so much beautiful spaces, but spaces that work for avatars. Dance clubs are often relatively simple, just big floor areas to dance. That’s true IRL too, but I think for we avatars, a functional dance floor might be a better architectural achievement, than some intricate feat of building that recapitulates RL architectural traditions. I’m not asking for a sim filled with dance clubs! 😛 But I do encourage you to

think about architectural form following the function of avatar needs, living, and lifestyle.

A hypertetrahedron in space above the Medici University College of Avatar Architecture & Virtual Urban Planning at LEA1 in the virtual world of Second Life
Olive’s Hypertetrahedron. That tiny dot in the center is me.

Livable VR Urban Planning #

Here at 23 days in to our College of Virtual Urban Planning experiment, there is still a fair amount of ground space available at LEA1. And even more prims available. Lots of prims!

What’s interesting about the open and filled spaces at LEA1 is that peeps have claimed a vacant patch and plopped in the middle of it. Around each person’s build is an invisible moat buffering them from whatever the neighbors might be doing.

I think this is instinctive. It is also different from the much closer quarters we had with the assigned spaces @MU @LEA23. It’s also very different from Jane Jacobs’ vision:

The stretch of Hudson Street where I live is each day the scene of an intricate sidewalk ballet.

In Phase II I’d like to encourage you not to leave space between you and your neighbors. No invisible moats.

In Phase II go ahead and build right up against people. See how your architecture interacts with theirs. Throw in a bridge or a ramp to a neighbor’s place. Try something new. Try something different.

Don’t think only in terms of what you can create, but try to think in terms of how what you create interacts with the person you’ve just built up against. Let’s see if we can make a street worthy of walking.

Go Phase II, Go MU! #

So that’s my Phase II challenge for you:

  • Architecture that is functional for avatars
  • Urban Space that connects, promotes interaction, and community

Give it a try! LMK what you think!

CAA-VUP Stats 4 Day 23 #

Prim Heroes #

Here are our Top 20 Prim Heroes for Day 23:

  1. Yuri Nostol, 960
  2. Chris Craft, 934
  3. Count von Tsuki, 665
  4. Emma, 504
  5. Dreamer Kyrie, 274
  6. Rory Torrance, 266
  7. Olive, 258
  8. Arden Grendel, 233
  9. Isadora Alaya, 201
  10. Tango Rotterssman, 187
  11. Klaus Bereznyak, 181
  12. Art Oluja, 156
  13. Metal Panther, 144
  14. Elizabeth Taylor Swift, 139
  15. Pearl Grey, 137
  16. Elle Thorkveld, 119
  17. Trilby Minotaur IV, 119
  18. Savage Taurus, 100
  19. Sun Cat Mellison, 84
  20. R Marie Beedit, 84

Come on people! 23 days and nobody’s over 1,000 prims!? Where, oh where, did Neeva go!?

Prim Update #

  • Used: 5,954
  • Capacity: 18,901
  • Available: 12,947

Days #

  • 23 Days Down.
  • 68 Days to Go!

Thank you everyone for being a part of MU’s College of Avatar Architecture & Virtual Urban Planning.

See you on campus,

Vanessa Blaylock's signature

About Vanessa Blaylock

I was the Choreographer at Vanessa Blaylock Dancers and the Artistic Director at Vanessa Blaylock Company. Today my work focuses on Public Art projects. I’m interested in the mediation of perception and mixed reality performance works. I’m passionate about community and civil rights in cyberspace.

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