Australia Council’s second virtual worlds art project: mellifera

During July last year we reported on the Australia Council’s second virtual worlds funding initiative, MMUVE IT! Thirty thousand dollars was provided to the successful applicants, Andrew Burrell and Trish Adams, and mellifera is the result.

The installation revolves around bees and the way they interact with their virtual eco-system. Like the previous project, Babelswarm, it’s a mixed reality event with an exhibition at the Gaffa Gallery, 1/7 Randle Street, Surry Hills in Sydney. The exhibition will run until April 21, 2009. The launch itself commences at 6pm today (16th April).


Why the bees? Andrew Burrell: “The European Honey Bee is an extremely complex creature, with an equally complex social structure making them ideal subjects to explore and question surrounding the functioning of networked and social structures in real and online environments.”

The Australia Council for the Arts has certainly demonstrated its commitment to virtual worlds as art spaces, and it’ll be interesting to see what future projects are funded. The original announcement of this project mentioned the use of VastPark in the final product – there’s no mention of it now, which is a shame. We’ve put the question to the Australia Council and will update this story once a response is received.

Check it out in-world or check the mellifera website


Over on the Official Linden Blog, the latest instalment in their Stories from Second Life series features LOCUS, a collection of architectural designs in one area, with a core emphasis on art installations and featured artists.


It seems a liitle strange though, that nowhere is a SLURL provided for LOCUS in the story (here’s one for you).

I had a brief catch-up in-world with LOCUS’ DB Bailey, who was unaware of the Linden Lab story (which also seems strange). Robin Linden also states in the story that LOCUS has plans to move to its own island – DB Bailey’s response to that is: “no we plan to stay here next to our friends at CETUS.

It’s certainly a worthy project to feature – the attention to detail and level of creativity with the builds is superb. We’re hoping to catch up with DB Bailey again in coming weeks to discuss the LOCUS project further.

Check it out in-world

Foul Whisperings, Strange Matters

It’s been a great couple of weeks for interesting new Australian presences in Second Life. Last weekend, ‘Foul Whisperings, Strange Matters‘ launched. It’s a fascinating take on Shakespeare’s Macbeth character, a “timely use of pop culture as an adaptive bridge between classic texts and new media technology”.

The first five minutes of my wanderings around the build were reminiscent of the last Australia Council funded build I wandered around, Babelswarm. In this case, the New Media Consortium provided part of the funding as well. The similarity isn’t in relation to content, it’s the quality of the content. As Macduff says in the play: “The life o’ the building!”.

Three Australian collaborators were involved with the project: multimedia artist Kate Richards, theatre and film director Kerreen Ely Harper and Angela Thomas, a writer and educationalist.

For me, the power of the experience is that there’s plenty of room left for self-interpretation of the intent. Having studied Macbeth a (cough) few years ago, the strength of the themes from that work are strong. English teachers take note: this is an obvious boon for the student analysing Macbeth – the immersiveness and open interpretation provides one mighty playground for discussion of the play itself.

Foul whisperings are abroad: unnatural deeds
Do breed unnatural troubles: infected minds
To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets:
More needs she the divine than the physician.
God, God forgive us all! Look after her;
Remove from her the means of all annoyance,
And still keep eyes upon her. So, good night:
My mind she has mated, and amazed my sight.
I think, but dare not speak.

I think it’s fair to say that for most student, Shakespeare can be one of the more forbidding hurdles to overcome, and initiatives like this can only help lower those hurdles. Kudos to the creators, the NMC and to the Australia Council, who have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to virtual worlds as artistic platform.

Check it out in-world

Pool: the ideal Second Life tie-in opportunity for the ABC

I received a press release from the ABC’s Radio National, who have launched collaborative content creation site called Pool.

It’s a joint initiative between RMIT University, University of Technology Sydney and the University of Wollongong and runs on the open source content management system Drupal. The call is on for people to contribute their words, pictures, sounds or video with the ability (via a Creative Commons license) for every participant to download the work of others to build or collaborate on. It’s another plunge into participatory media for the ABC – something that’s been explored in the ABC’s presence in Second Life.

I contacted the ABC to ask about any potential tie-in of the Pool initiative with Second Life and at this stage nothing’s planned in that regard. There seems to be some obvious collaborative opportunities for Pool that involve Second Life, or indeed any virtual world, so here’s hoping for further exploration of that.

One way to drive that exploration would be to join Pool and start contributing material from your virtual world life…

Australia Council announces latest funding winners

The Australia Council have announced the winners of their MMUVE IT! project. The project had thirty thousand dollars up for grabs for a virtual world arts initiative.

The winners this time are visual artist Andrew Burrell from Sydney and artist and science researcher Trish Adams from Brisbane. The third real winner this time is startup virtual world platform VastPark, which will be the co-host of the final exhibition along with Second Life.

A previous Australia Council event in Second Life

The winning proposal involves “an inter-disciplinary artwork  exploring brainwave activity and body movement and its relationship to virtual environments in both Second Life, and the recently released Australian virtual platform, Vastparks* (sic) …. a human/computer interface system that explores the artistic possibilities of neuroscience studies. The system will allow viewers to interact with artificial life created in virtual worlds through sensor readings of bodily functions including physical gestures, breath, heartbeat or electrical brain and nervous system activity”.

Also involved will be Professor Mandyam Srinivasan, head of visual neuroscience at the Queensland Brain Institute of the University of Queensland (Trish Adams is currently an artist in residence there).

We’ll catch up with at least one of the team behind the project in coming weeks – after the artistic success of Babelswarm, it’ll be interesting to see a further evolution of Australian virtual world-based arts.

Seventeen Unsung Songs wrap-up

Back in May we mentioned a mixed reality event in Melbourne called Seventeen Unsung Songs.

Tateru Nino has done a nice wrap of the event on Massively. Here’s to more engaging mixed reality events in the future!

Bitfilm’s virtual art city in Twinity

Metaversum’s virtual cum mirror world, Twinity, is hosting the German digital media festival Bitfilm in an underground city called Bitropolis. It houses a cinema to view Bitfilm entries as well as an art gallery and bar. Digital media artists can rent their own cube close to the cinema to use for their screenings or other exploits.

The Bitfilm promo gives a snapshot of the quality of digital media on offer:

The festival runs through to the 12th July. To access Bitropolis you’ll need to register online.

There’s no shortage of virtual world film festivals now but this seems to be one of the more integrated efforts involving a well established festival. If you’re a Twinity beta-tester, we’d love to hear from you on the festival.

Mixed reality event: Seventeen Unsung Songs

If you’re located in Melbourne you might want to head over to Horse Bazaar, 397 Lonsdale st Melbourne on Wednesday night the 21st May:

Adam Nash (Second Life artist-in-residence) and Greg Wadley (Uni of Melbourne) will perform a thirty-minute music and movement piece in Second Life. They will pilot their avatars around Adam’s “Seventeen Unsung Songs” installation, an island filled with immersive audiovisual sculptures. Sound and vision will be broadcast into the real world via the Horse Bazaar audiovisual system.

Melbourne’s Horse Bazaar features a unique immersive audio-visual environment for presenting art and music. via a sound system and 20 metre video projection surface that wraps around the seating area.

More details here.

SBS: enter the machinima

The island touted for SBS may have been shelved, but they are still steaming ahead with their work within Second Life.

A blog has launched on the SBS site with the focus being on helping people to make their own machinima. Documentary-maker Shelley Matulick (SL: Mixin Pixel) is behind the blog and will provide weekly tips.

It’s certainly a hands-on approach for SBS and if the blog delivers on what it’s promising, it’ll be a useful Australian resource on machinima.

Australia Council announces ‘MMUVE it!’

Hot on the heels of Babelswarm, the Australia Council has announced its next opportunity for virtual world artists: MMUVE it!

Like the previous funding, it’s available for three artists but this time the platform has been widened to any virtual world:

“With more than 73 million participants in MMUVE’s such as EverQuest, Second Life and World of Warcraft, and the recent introduction of motion-sensitive controllers such as the Nintendo Wiimote, there is great scope to develop innovative artworks in a highly networked environment that incorporates body movement and its relationship to real and virtual environments.”

There’s 30 thousand dollars on offer for development of “an inter-disciplinary artwork engaging the human body in a MMUVE of their choice.”

All the details are here.

The expectation of the successful applicants is that they ensure there’s cross-over between their virtual world creation and real world participation by the public – the Australia Council calls it “developing public exhibition opportunities”.

Applications close on May 16, 2008 and only Australian citizens or permanent residents need apply.

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