Saturday, February 14, 2009

An immersive art installation.

StormEye is located in Second Life above The Aho Museum on the New Media Consortium campus, NMC Campus West sim. It may be visited by following this link.


The project is an immersive art installation in Second Life, the centerpiece of which is composed of approximately 1000 primitive objects which are coated in moving video accompanied by a densely layered sound effects bed. This complex and dynamic object floats over a landscape which is composed of a grid of interlocking sculpty megaprims...

...which Enfield manufactured using mathematical data. This derived from her work using real-world data from the USGS and NASA to create accurate models of actual landscapes within Second Life.

Although the landscape appears very much like the red rock country of Southern Utah... is in fact textured with one of Douglas' macro flower photographs:

The video that rolls over the hundreds and hundreds of prims that surround you as you walk through was edited by Story using Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer.

Come. Walk through the storm, brave the faux elements and emerge magically dry. Be sure to grab an umbrella on your way in.

As usual with our pieces, please read and follow the instructions for the best viewing experience.


Thanks go out to Alexandar Vargas for supplying the workspace in which we created the piece, AM Radio for helping to secure that workspace and for loaning us the big window, and Tayzia Abattoir & Larry Pixel of the New Media Consortium for providing the venue for the public showing of the work. Also, Vlad Bjornson helped me plumb the mysterious depths of sculpty creation in zBrush and Lynne Heller/Nar Duell's observations were most valuable. Thanks also go to Bryn Oh for making the steampunk umbrella at the last minute, and Dizzy Banjo who suggested a better method of media playback.

Music for the video generously provided by Megatrax Production Music -

Storm sound effects samples served by The Freesound Project, and were produced by


A higher quality version of this video may be seen by following the link at upper right of this page.

Incidentally, the video that actually plays within the StormEye runs at 4.5 minutes - here the experience has been edited down to 1.5 minutes for the sake of brevity.


If you're a photographer, please add your shots to the Flickr group devoted to StormEye.


About the artists

A Second Life resident since 2005, Desdemona Enfield continues to study the Zen of Scripting and to refine her scripting methodologies. She works with artists to create special effects for their exhibits and with science researchers to create visualizations of their theories and experimental data. In those rare moments when she works under her own direction, she develops the mathematics needed to reconstruct volumetric structures from projective images and then implements the scripts that perform this function within Second Life. However, it is encounters with people and the ensuing collaborative efforts that give her the greatest satisfaction and sustain her in the virtual worlds.

Douglas Story is the Second Life avatar controlled by the Real Life persona of Dennis Schaefer. Douglas and his work partner Desdemona Enfield create large-scale interactive art installations in SL. These include the DynaFleur project in collaboration with composer Dizzy Banjo and terraforming by Poid Mahovlich, as well as the FlowerBall with musician AldoManutio Abruzzo, which was judged one of 2007's Top Ten Art Installations by the New World Notes blog. The pair has also done collaborations with noted RL and SL architect David Denton/DB Bailey, adding sound design and interactive elements to DB's structures. Douglas/Dennis photographs flowers at very close range in and around Los Angeles.


Artists' Statement

The presence of a gigantic, obviously man-made object in a seemingly natural setting brings to mind the musings of Frank Lloyd Wright and Paolo Soleri on the place of the hand of man within the natural world, but also summons a tension that has to do with an incongruous, even subversive warping of one's sense of scale. The StormEye cradled by the desert landscape both increases the apparent scale of the piece, and diminishes the perceived scale of the natural geography.

Also at play here are questions of mappings. Here the transformation of data is used to mimic and echo RL in SL, but not in the usual context of recreating RL but rather a transmogrification. What does it mean to use data collected for very different purposes, usually military or scientific visioning of the world, and then use that way of seeing to reconfigure data, playing with scale and surface texture? Can the poetic be elucidated through number crunching? Can we be successful in inducing awe in the viewer instead of a shrug?

It's been suggested that part of this piece is a flirtation with romanticism in that ­ there's a parsing of nature in order to co-opt its power and impact. And there are references to the surreal with the juxtaposition of the StormEye with the landscape and in the clear blue of the Magritte clouds captured in the windowpane via which avatars exit the piece.

Also present is a certain irony in that the installation takes the supremely outdoor experience of a storm and brings it inside, where it's effective because it's inside. The viewer experiences all this mayhem while staying warm, dry, and comfortable.


The artists are pleased and honored to announce that StormEye will be part of Ars Virtua's "@" exhibition. The quote below is from the announcement on

"Concurrent with the New Media Caucus panel Space: The New Frontier at the National CAA 2009, “@” is an exhibition that examines space and site.

With simultaneous locations in Los Angeles and Second Life (SL), “@”challenges artists to consider place & placelessness from within the context of networked culture.

The physical gallery space will be replicated within SL, featuring an actual window between the virtual and real worlds to observe and be observed.

The exhibition space will feature a floor-to-ceiling projection and a streaming video camera. This wall will serve as the interface between the Real Life (RL) in the gallery and its replication in Second Life.

The intent for “@” is to exploit the philosophically rich mirroring between RL and SL, as well as the paradoxical condition of being the observer and observed."

Exhibition site: Southern California Institute of Architecture, Los Angeles, CA Feb. 25 to March 1, and Seventh Eye in Second Life.

9:00PM PST - Thursday February 26
New Media Caucus Reception: for the Exhibition "@"

Curated by James Morgan, Leslie Raymond, E. Marie Robertson, and Vagner M. Whitehead

with 'Analog Interactivity' curated by xtine burrough, a virtual performance by Second Front

and live cinema by Be Johnny and Potter-Belmar Labs.

SCI-Arc is located a short cab ride (3 miles) from the Convention Center, near Little Tokyo.

The exhibits and panels are in the SCI-Arc's W.M. Keck Lecture Hall, located near the center of the building.

SCI-Arc is located at 960 East 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

The building entrance and parking lot are located at 350 Merrick St, between 4th Street and Traction Avenue

If you cannot join us in Los Angeles, please join us in Second Life at the mirror/concurrent exhibition, by following the link below:


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