(This is Keystone Bouchard’s essay submission to the Ctrl-Shift-07 competition on Lebenswelt Island – screenshots also by Keystone. Slideshow HERE.)
The cannon blast launching this competition triggered an architectural jam session!
The ‘real-time evolution’ called for by the competition brief started with a few entrants immediately rezzing elements that responded to the existing context, leading to more complex responses over time.
In the first few weeks of discovery and evolution, the dialogue between competitors seemed to be the most pervasive. I decided to document this phenomenon by charting avatar movement, architectural responses, and the informal discussions that were happening at the site. With this data, I wrote a piano score loosely based on these observations. Considering the brief’s call for ‘overlap between the real and virtual worlds’, I recorded video of the subtle key movement on my real life piano and optimized it to play in Second Life.
After inserting this video as part of my composition, I observed the response, feedback and reaction to the installation. It became clear there was an opportunity to create an even more direct, real-time relationship between avatar movement and the musical composition. Instead of relying exclusively on abstracted avatar movement, I collaborated with a scripter who wrote a code enabling a sound to be played and the key to change color and size upon detecting avatar presence. I then recorded three chords that were in harmony with the original score, and when combined with the script, enabled avatars to actively participate in the creation of the music and the architectural composition, establishing a more immersive mind-avatar connection.
While my entry shifted shape over the course of the competition, starting off as a hyper-responsive and eclectic composition, it has evolved into a considerably refined piece, consistently relying on a steady stream of direct and indirect communication and collaborations with other contributors. Throughout the island’s evolution, it became clear that a new language of virtual architecture seems to necessitate a collaborative, cross-disciplinary approach, where no single contributor can be isolated as exclusively responsible for the final composition.
It has been my stated desire from the first day of this competition to enable this emergence and dialogue to continue by maintaining Lebenswelt Island as a testing grounds and incubator for an ongoing, dynamic, and collaborative effort to derive a new language of virtual architecture in tune with the stated objectives of this competition. Given the time and a proper catalyst, truly profound concepts can emerge from this collaborative process, and I would like to see this dialogue continue indefinitely.