Sunday, July 22, 2012

Imagination- International Opening Inworldz

A crowd of avatars from many countries gathered to officially open the Imagination sim Inworldz on Sunday. It was a three hour event with 2 live performers and a DJ providing non-stop entertainment.

The crowd included elves, fairies, dragons and some very creatively dressed avatars, and all enjoyed the dancing and the music.

The garden was a spectacular setting for a party, although some found the need to wear sunglasses after a while.
There's more about the opening on Juanita Deharo's blog  on Flicker HERE and virtual world clothing designer Fuschia Nightfire has used the sim as the backdrop to show off her latest creations HERE.
Congratulations to the students from Caloundra City private School on the beautiful textures that have made up this sim. Thank you to Victor Vezina who also contributed textures for the sim, to Jeri Rahja for offering the sim, to the wonderful musicians, and to all who came to the opening.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Delightful Interactive Forest

Treeline 2012 is still happening over the next month but I'm already turning towards thinking about Floating Land next year and Treeline 2014. There's lots to inspire, lots to learn and many things I want to experiment with. I'll be posting some of the more inspirational things I find on this blog. Maybe that's just my way of keeping a diary, but I hope you enjoy them too.
I am interested in blending old and new media and real and unreal envrinments. The wonderful interactive piece called Night Bright (below) was created by Theo Watson for Bumble children's cafe in Los Altos, California. Knee Deep is another of Watson's interactive works, created in collaboration with Emily Gobeille of zany parade
Watching some of the videos of Watson's work I am encouraged to think that some of the immersive experiences I thought were confined to virtual worlds might be possible in a different context. I guess, at this stage, only children are unhinhibted enough to fully immerse themselves in the intereactive experience in a public place, but what if we had this sort of experience in the privacy of our own homes. Kinect comes close, but ...........

Knee Deep - Cinekid 2009 from Theo Watson on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Treeline at The River School - Treeline Opening Caloundra Regional Gallery

The collaborative residency at the Ananada Marga River School in Maleney is represented in the Treeline exhibition by a hard cover book 'Treeline at the River School'. Visitors can also read an electronic version of the book on a large screen.
The cotton cyanotype squares made by the children are on a table in the main gallery and images of these squares are used in a kaleidoscope projection that has been a great hit as part of the exhibition.
There has been general fascination with the process of cyanotype and the beautiful imagery that has been produced by students from both River School and Kawana State High. I particularly liked the way the projection inadvertently became another sort of artwork (below)  during the artist talks last week. It was the sort of thing we played with in collage at River School, and happening right there by chance, making an amazing outfit for one of the visitors.

It was great to see teachers from the school Joshua Boldt and Tracey Lewis (above) there at the exhibition, seeing the end results of the days we had spent with the children.
They are holding some of the free tree seedlings that were handed out to everyone who attended the opening, courtesy of Coolum Native Plants nursery.

The book 'Treeline at the River School' is available online in hard and sfot cover and as an ibook, from the Blurb bookstore.

Print version:

ibook version:

Treeline continues at Caloundra Regional Gallery until July 8th.

The Imagination Garden -Treeline Opening at Caloundra Regional Gallery

The Treeline Exhibition was officially opened on Saturday by Ross Duncan, Manager of Library and Gallery Services with the Sunshine Coast Council.

It was great to see so many people there on an afternoon of torrential rain, and to notice so many of the students and their families and teachers in the crowd.
The room showing the  Imagination video was a major drawcard, inviting people to come in and experience all the colour and fantasy of the virtual garden made with the work of students from Caloundra City Private School.

At one end of the room two comfy chairs invite visitors to sit down and enjoy the 23 minute video. At the other a series of panels explain the process of building the garden and the student's drawings are displayed on a table.

An inmportant part of being an artist is to work towards an exhibition, keeping the end product in mind and making decisions about how it will be shown. The students had been an integral part of this process and were justly proud to see their work as part of a prestigous and important exhibition in one of the Coast's major galleries.
Earlier in the week volunteers and friends of the gallery had a morning tea and sneak preview of the exhibition, with an artist talk explaining the works in the exhibition.This is important for new media works like the virtual garden, as it's sometimes difficult to understand how they came about. The volunteers who will be manning the gallery during the exhibition now have some idea of the project with Caloundra City Private School and the making of objects in virtual worlds.

Congratulations to the students of Caloundra City Private School who were involved in the exhibition. Congratulations and thank also to collaborating artist Victor Keegan whose textures added another dimension to the garden.

Treeline continues at Caloundra Regional Gallery until July 8th.

The Imagination garden in the virtual world Inworldz, which has been sponsored by Jeri Rahja, will have its own separate official opening this week, where avatars from around the world can enjoy seeing the work as a three dimensional space.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Treeline2010 Books Now Available as ibooks

The books from Treeline 2010 Virtual Treeline and earthlines are now available as ibooks from the Blurb store. The books can be downloaded to be read on ipad, ipod or iphone.

Underwater the story of the life underwater on the Sunshine Coast in Australia is also now available in ebook format.

You can purchase and download the books here:

Caloundra City Private School - Treeline 2012

Last Friday was my last hands-on day with the students at Caloundra City Private School. We watched some preliminary machinma footage of the Imagination sim and talked about credits, what music to use, the mood of the machinima etc.Then it was 'free time'. Students could work on whatever they wanted within the project.
 Some chose to have a relaxing afternoon creating more textures by drawing on paper. Butterflies and wings were added to the cache of plant textures.
 Others chose to work on the ipad, in photoshop, on the graphics tablet, or within the sims on their hard drive.

A professional photographer came to take images of the students and the processes, and we had the formal thank you's with the principal of the school and staff from the Caloundra Gallery.  The students gave me a beautiful bunch of lilies that smell so much better than any of the virtual plants we've created.

I now have a HUGE task ahead bringing all the textures created  into  Imagination  and making the machinima, but I'm looking forward to the results.

The picture on the right is the small student group involved in the project (minus Bronte). They've been great to work with and I thank them for their contribution.

Imagination  will open in Inworldz in mid May. I am still negotiating a date with our sponsor Jeri Rahja, but there will be live streaming of music and a party for avatars from all around the world to celebrate the opening of the sim. The sim is a magnificent fantasy garden created with textures  from UK artist Victor Vezina and the students of Caloundra City private School.

The real life opening of Imagination machinima will be at Caloundra Regional Gallery on June 2nd.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Treeline 2012- Session Three at Caloundra City Private School

 One of the objectives of artist residencies in schools is to give students an insight into how artists work. Like many artists,  I use whatever comes to hand and whatever feels right for the job. Anything at all can become an art medium if you use it creatively.
For Session Three, our objective was to make more plant textures for the garden in Imagination sim, and students used a variety of tools.
 Digital images of real plants manipulated in Photoshop
 ArtRage on the ipad
 Crayons on Paper
Graphics tablet in Photoshop

The sim is starting to look more finished. it's our last session together on Friday and I plan on taking some preliminary video footage along so we can discuss the details of credits, music and sound effects, visual effects, mood etc.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Treeline 2012 - Session 3- More Textures

The Year 10 students were away on camp, so with a smaller group we had a relaxing day, with each student working on their own textures for the build. Noah, who missed the Photoshop session, was able to catch up. The images below show how Noah built up textures from images of small sections of real plants.

To the left is Noah's original  image from the camera.
Below are the textures he made as PNG files on transparent background in Photoshop.

The images below show Noah's textures used to make plants in the Imagination sim Inworldz.
In the image above Noah's texture has been recoloured in Photoshop to give a different feel to the plant.

The Stained Glass texture didn't work quite as well as it might. I will play around with some different plant shapes to see it it works better in a different format.
 The yellow image above is Noah's original photo of a flower from an umbrella plant.
The others are textures created from that image in Photoshop.

In our Imagination fantasy garden the real life colours look a little out of place, but it does make a nice grove of trees.

It fits into the build better coloured yellow (left), but also looks great in blue (below).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Treeline at Caloundra City Private School -Session Two

Since the rain kept on coming I brought some cuttings from my garden so the students could experience making a virtual plant from photographs of a real plant. We spent most of the day photographing and learning how to manipulate images in Photoshop, extracting them from a background and pasting to build up bushes and trees.
Taking photographs for textures is an art. You have to forget most of what constitutes 'good' photographic practice and take an image with no background, little variation in tone  and light, with the subject floating in the middle of the image.
It was a very intense session with a lot of learning of quite complex skills. The students, and the school, can be proud of the participants in this project.
The build is progressing. Below are a few images, the first two showing some of the plants made from photographs. And the third showing a beautiful tree created from a painting by one of the students.

The garden we are building on Imagination sim in Inworldz is a fantasy garden full of colour. Many of the plants are imaginary, and even those built up from photographs sometimes bear little resemblance to the real life plant. In making these plants, building up the images, and seeing how the garden is progressing we are learning something about plants, about how they are constructed, their sizes, shapes textures, and the place of plants in landscapes and in our psyche. If we had to populate a new world (even a virtual one) we would want to have plants around us.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Virtual Vegetation - Treeline 2012

 What can you do with some simple drawings done by students on paper? All the drawings from my last trip to Caloundra City Private School as part of Treeline 2012 have now been scanned, and I've been experimenting with textures made from the drawings in my standalone sims and Inworldz.
 The students may or may not recognise their drawings after I've played with them in Photoshop and applied them to 3D objects, resized and recoloured them.

 I'll be visiting the school again next week and we'll be working together to develop more plant and terrain textures for the stand alone sims.

I've also been using some of the students' textures in the build I am doing in Inworldz in Imagination sim, kindly donated by art patron Jeri Rahja. This will allow the students' work to be part of a lasting build that is seen by a worldwide audience.

I'm looking forward to showing the students what's possible using simple drawings and a bit of technology, and how I turned their drawings into virtual vegetation.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Caloundra City Private School - Virtual Vegetation

As part of Treeline 2012 I'm working with a selected group of students from Caloundra City Private School over four workshop sessions. Together we are going to create textures for virtual plants that will be the basis for a machinima that will be shown as part of the Treeline exhibition at Caloundra Regional Gallery in May/June.

It's a big learning curve for anyone to get their head around the intricacies of virtual reality, so the first day was both exhausting and exciting. Each student now has a standalone simulator installed on their laptop, courtesy of the school's IT guru Mr Steven Rattey. For the students, their first taste of a virtual world showed them just how much fun it could be, and just how frustrating it could be when your avatar got stuck. In the picture to the right I'm introducing the students to my avatar Juanita Deharo and the world of virtual artworks.

It was a steep learning curve but lots of fun. The students at this school are well supported in their understanding and exploration of technology, and there's a philosophy that encourages enrichment through new experiences. For me as an artist it's a dream school to work with and I'm looking forward to what we can produce together as a collaborative work.

I'm already doing a collaborative project with artist Vic Keegan from the UK who is making textures on his ipad for me to use in creating a fantasy garden. The image above shows the students looking at some of this work. We also looked at the inspirational work of Soror Nishi and hope we can talk via live stream with her at one of our later sessions.
The last part of the day was used to begin creating some drawings that can be used as plant textures.
I've already started playing around with some of these, although it's in the early stages. Here are some very crude beginnings.

These are some plants I made from a drawing by Alex. I played around with the drawing in Photoshop and applied it to 3D object. The texture on the tree leaves is also made from Alex's drawing.

This one also includes Alex's images but also some of the plants and the foliage on the tree are made with an image drawn by Bronte.

Thank you to the students and teachers of Caloundra City School who have made me so welcome. I will be posting more pictures here as I continue to experiment with the students' drawings.
The next session is in a few weeks.