Thursday, May 24, 2012

UWA's Treasure Chest: Winthrop Hall Comes to Life

Many of UWA's "100 treasures" designated by the Centenary celebration committee, are reproduced in beautiful detail on the UWA virtual campus in Second Life. In fact, UWA's presence in Second Life is itself listed as one of the treasures. As many would be aware, these form the core of the L$725,000 MachinimUWA V challenge with the theme "Seek Wisdom."

Winthrop Clock Tower in Second Life
In perusing the objects in the 100 treasures book, one thing that struck me was the number of them that are in, near, or part of the iconic Winthrop Hall (including, of course, the building itself as a whole). The beautiful and meticulous rendition of the façade in Second Life with its adjoining reflecting pool is known to anyone who has spent time here or has worked in the nearby sandbox. You can see the busts of Socrates and Diotima, the Rose Window, the clock tower, the Mosaic Marble Floor in the entryway and wrought iron rail, even the subtle winged lion frieze below the eaves of the building.

Mosaic Marble Floor (Image - Virtual)
Winged Lion Frieze (Image - Real)
Among the treasures inside Winthrop are the interior ceiling beams with aboriginal-inspired decoration, the use of the venue for the annual student exams, and the rose window once again, but illuminated by the sun and framed by the majestic McGillvray pipe organ that dominates the proscenium.

McGillivray Organ (Image - Real)
Image - Real
Image - Real
Image - Real

Ceiling Beams (Image - Real)

In March we held an Artists' Choice challenge on the theme "music." On a lark I thought it would be fun to install the world's largest pipe organ. I built a pipe rezzer that arranged a set of pipes in more-or-less correct proportion (assuming equal temperament using the 12th root of 2 as a scale parameter), but at an utterly impractical scale. Nonetheless it was an appropriately musical backdrop for the exhibition that month.

Initial Pipe Organ (Image - Virtual)
What I didn't realize until later when Jay Jay Zifanwe (Jegathesan) pointed it out, was that my organ bore an uncanny resemblance to the one in Winthrop Hall at UWA (including the clarion horns), another of the 100 treasures. Having done what I thought was the hard part by building the pipe rezzer, I figured why not go ahead and recreate the Winthrop organ? And of course I couldn’t just build the organ. I had to recreate the entire interior of Winthrop Hall. This project has absorbed much of my spare time in the last month or two and it is now yet another treasure of UWA recreated in SL. Machinimatographers and any other curious people may now enter Winthrop from the foyer. There is a teleport device there. The interior would not fit comfortably within the existing façade, so I had to put it on a platform above. But I think you’ll get a pretty realistic feeling of what it is like in that space and it is appropriate for the MachinimUWA V challenge.

Image (Virtual)
Image (Virtual)

Image (Virtual)
I want to thank Jay Jay for taking many pictures of the interior details and long shots. I used his photos for the stone wall textures and doors, as well as the ceiling decorations, the wall medallions, the stained glass windows, and the large wall hanging in the back of the hall above the choir loft. I have detailed some of the challenges in creating this space on my own blog.

FreeWee Ling

Editor's Note:
FreeWee Ling, the UWA Curator of Virtual Arts  has done a remarkable job in bringing this space to life. I graduated in Winthrop Hall, as did many thousands throughout UWA's 100 year history. This brings full circle the efforts to recreate Winthrop Hall in Second life. The facade, Atrium with Mosaic Marble Floor, Rose Window & Reflecting Pond were created by Dr Chris Thorne, David Gaze, Wong Tzu Yen & quadrapop Lane  in 2009, and in May 2012, thanks to FreeWee Ling, the full creation is realized!
Jay Jay Jegathesan

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