Friday, October 21, 2016

Renovating Winthrop Hall

by FreeWee Ling (cross posted on

When JayJay first opened up UWA in SL, it was primarily intended to be a virtual replica of the actual campus in Perth. Having spent a few months there I can tell you they did a remarkably good job. Many of the campus buildings were reproduced using (then) Google's 3D modeling software called Sketchup. These models were then incorporated into Google Earth as part of an international virtual campus program by Google, for which UWA's team won a top prize.

One of their team then developed an interface tool called SketchLife that could import Sketchup models into Second Life linksets, complete with texturing.

This was at a time when the maximum prim size was 10 meters and before sculpted prims (much less mesh) were commonly used. So most of the builds were created as facades without any consideration for interior space or prim efficiency. So, for example, the iconic Winthrop Hall clocked in at over 1500 prims. Other builds were similarly primmy.

Last month when it looked as though we would be imminently losing three of our four sims, I scrambled to free space on the remaining sim (the one with Winthrop Hall), which was already very close to maximum capacity. I was able to get edit permissions on some of the major builds, though most of the original builders (who are also the owners of the objects) are no longer active in SL.

So I set about restructuring a couple of the buildings to increase efficiency. Most urgent, of course, was Winthop Hall itself. Since all the builds were made of normal prims, it was a fairly simple matter to link as many as I could in sections and simply convert them to convex hull, thereby cutting in half the land impact. For example, there are 72 columns in upper and lower colonnades on each side of the building. Each column has a base and a 2-part capital, so a total of 576 prims just for columns. Add 40 prims for the arched headers and you have 616. Just by linking and converting them to convex hull I reduced the land impact to 308.

In addition to using many parts just because they were using standard prims with a size limit, much of the building was simply pieced together, adding prims wherever needed to fill in the facade. The main roof of Winthrop was about 24 prims stitched together. By taking a couple of those prims and stretching them I could reduce the count to 4, converting to convex made a land impact of 2. (I could have reduced it to 3 prims but since I d0 not own them and do not have copies of the original textures, I had to add a couple that had the correct end textures.)

I was able to save about 500 land impact from the original Winthrop Hall build without actually changing much. I did a similar job on the adjoining Hackett Hall that saved another 200 or so.

There are other objects that can't really be altered, like the bust statues of Socrates and Diotima made by the great prim sculptor Chuckmatrix Clip. Each curl of Diotima's hair is a torus prim and that statue alone is 158 prims. With all the twisted and cut toruses I'm not sure there would be much savings by converting to convex hull, and in any case I don't have edit perms on these objects.

A few years ago I undertook to recreate the interior of Winthrop. This is the main auditorium for the campus. used for concerts, lectures, exams, etc. I was originally interested in just making a replica of the pipe organ, but on JayJay's suggestion I went ahead with the whole thing. JayJay took a lot of high resolution pictures for me to use as textures. Unfortunately the exterior build (as with all the original Sketchup models) was built to standard 1 to 1 real life to Second Life meters using actual floor plans and elevations. As most people know, the average avatar in SL stands about 2m tall or more, and the camera angle is from above and behind the virtual body. So real life scale tends to look way too small. Also, at the time I was not able to edit the Winthrop exterior and there were a lot of prims and projections into the interior that interfered with the space. So instead I simply built my replica on a platform in the sky at larger than life scale. Touching the outside door in the Winthrop foyer would instantly transport you into the sky space.

With my rebuild of Winthrop Hall, I was able to clean up a lot of the interior space (including simply deleting a few dozen superfluous prims) and I inserted a reduced scale copy of my skybox into the space. It does feel smaller, but is probably closer to actual scale than my original. I made the windows line up better with the exterior and a few other changes, but one issue is that the beautiful entrance foyer was added by another builder from whom I was not able to get edit perms. That space does not precisely line up with the main hall, so I had to adjust my interior to line up with his doors. This means the floor is lower than it should be, making the undercroft area unusable. In all I'm fairly pleased to have the exterior and interior integrated, though I'm still tweaking some details.

Looking into Winthrop Hall directly from the foyer for the first time. I made the decorative iron railings in normal prims, patterned after real life. They're 56 prims, so I should probably convert them to sculpts or mesh.
It's not clear whether any of our sims will survive past July. We currently have about 1200 prims more than we did before on the main sim and with a few select deletions of other objects it should not be difficult to free up another thousand or more. It will help if we should happen to be able to maintain at least this one sim.

Monday, October 10, 2016


Following a lot of work in the background at UWA in RL. The UWA presence in SL has been extended through 31st July 2017.

Thank you to the many who have written in to UWA central providing support as well as the many who have worked to preserve a lot of the art and grounds in film.

Thanks especially to the Desinging Worlds team with AviewTV and TreetTV for their incredible work on their tribute programme, and to Secret Rage (AKA Vee Marie) for her excellent videos documenting nearly everything on the 4 UWA sims. See links below.

4 of the 5 sims will remain part of the UWA cluster, and the 5th SIM (UWA Virtlantis) is being taken over by the University of San Jose & Sonicity Fitzroy, who have been occupying it for the last couple of years.

We've been getting a lot of attention for the impending changes. Saffia Widdershins and Elrik Merlin interviewed JayJay and FreeWee for the current edition of Designing Worlds. Included are tributes from numerous artists who have participated in our programs over the years:

Designing Worlds DW315 - UWA Farewell

Also, Secret Rage has assembled three great documentary videos for us, starting with the IMMATERIAL show:

UWA Immaterial Collection

Highlights from past exhibitions (the "permanent collection")

UWA Highlights From Previous Exhibitions I

Even more highlights from past exhibitions:

UWA EVEN MORE Highlights From Previous Exhibitions

Images from the collections as interpreted by photographer Michael Romani (Flickr)
"The Shadow of Quicksand" by Haveit Neox. Photo by Michael Romani

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Remembering UWA in SL

Thanks to all who are sending their best wishes to UWA. We aren't closed yet! Be sure to spend some time on our beautiful campus before things start to close.

What we know for sure as of now:
  • The main sim ("University of WA" -- the one with the iconic Winthrop Hall clock tower, Sunken Gardens, and Somerville Theatre) will remain open for at least another year.
  • The UWA gallery sim ("UWA" -- the one with the current IMMATERIAL show) will remain open for another three months.
  • The "permanent collection" sim ("UWA Winthrop" -- where winners and selected other pieces from past 3D art challenges have been collected) MAY be here for a bit longer, depending on the status of a donation that has been offered. Otherwise it is scheduled to close Sunday 9 October.
  • The tech sim ("WASP Land" -- containing fractal objects, the St Basil's Cathedral model, etc.) is scheduled to close Sunday 9 October.
  • UWA Virlantis sim has been officially transferred to San Jose State University under the care of long term research collaborator, Dr Phylis Johnson, better known in SL as Sonicity Fitzroy. TYhis maintains this long standing partnership, with the only difference being which university is listed as the main owner

We've been getting a lot of attention for the impending changes. Saffia Widdershins and Elrik Merlin interviewed JayJay and FreeWee for the current edition of Designing Worlds. Included are tributes from numerous artists who have participated in our programs over the years:

Designing Worlds DW315 - UWA Farewell

Also, Secret Rage is putting together some great documentary videos for us, starting with the IMMATERIAL show:

UWA Immaterial Collection

Highlights from past exhibitions (the "permanent collection")

UWA Highlights From Previous Exhibitions I

Images from the collections as interpreted by photographer Michael Romani (Flickr)
"The Shadow of Quicksand" by Haveit Neox. Photo by Michael Romani

Sunday, September 11, 2016


In the very first art challenge UWA held about 7 years ago, an artist by the name of Nish Mip, sent in an artwork called 'THE LAST OCEAN'. It ended up winning the 2nd overall prize, behind UMBRELLA's, incredibly by the same artist.

As follows is what Nish wrote about 'THE LAST OCEAN' (which you can still see for the next 2 weeks)


"What  I had in mind here was the death of a virtual world. It's been playing on my mind for some while (I wonder why? :) ). When virtual worlds die they go with a flick of a switch, but I imagined a ragtag bunch of characters hanging on to the last remains as an inflated sun gradually dries their virtual oceans and the search for other worlds begins. The whispers you can hear are  remaining messages blowing in the binary wind. I think I spent more time thinking of a title for this than I did building it. I still wasn't happy with what I came up with, but as it had more sea than anything else in it  and Ocean has to be one of my favorite words, so that's how it'll stay."

In my years leading the UWA sims, this piece has never been far from my conscious mind. I guess I was always thinking about when that day might come for UWA in Second Life. Its not quite here, but it is with a heavy heart, that I must inform you all, that 4 of the 5 UWA sims, will vanish into the binary night on the 9th of October 2016. The SIM that will remain for at least another year is the Uni of WA sim, which is our flagship sim housing Winthrop Clocktower and the Reflection Pond, The Sunken Gardens and The Somerville Theatre.

Everything on All Sims will remain as is for the next 2 weeks... do come back for a visit as many of the artworks going back 7 years are still at various locations. Once those 2 weeks are up, our curator, Freewee Ling will start to rationalise what is on the UWA sims, so that some items from all sims are brought onto the one remaining sim.

  • UWA - Main art sim with the gallery and various UWA campus buildings.
  • UWA WINTHROP - Hosts the grand finale art winners as well as other selected works, and Glyph Graves's seminal work "Strangers Also Dance." 
  • WASP LAND - The UWA Research sim, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery with M Linden Artworks, and a 1052 prim model of Moscow's St Basil's Cathedral. Also an amazing 2012 collection of works by Rebeca Bashly in a 200m sphere.
  • UWA VIRLANTIS - This sim will be taken over by Dr Phylis Johnson (Sonicity Fitzroy). The sim has been housing facilities for teaching, and we are happy that this will remain where it is, under a different owner.

Everyone, do come..reminisce....look through the blog posts here, find yourselves. It is all of you who made all of this possible. I normally am known for long drawn out presentations and speeches perhaps, but, this time it is too hard for me to think of what else to say... except ...


Why are the sims closing?
There have been clouds over UWA in RL for some time in terms of structure. This uncertainty has created a situation where it is difficult for me to do the things I had been doing to keep the sims going. This was never my 'job'....  but the realisation of a dream that started in 2004.



I am saddened by the restructuring that is happening at UWA and that the university's presence in SL will be so drastically curtailed. JayJay has done a remarkable job establishing the virtual campus, maintaining the sims and, more significantly, building a worldwide reputation for UWA's virtual presence. He has worked tirelessly to promote UWA in SL for the last seven years. There is no one at UWA who didn't know about it, and tours of the rl campus by everything from local school kids to international delegations were routinely given a tour of the virtual campus as well. Our reputation for inspiring the creation of literally thousands of virtual artworks and machinima by hundreds of artists from around the globe has helped to raise awareness of what creative people in virtual worlds are capable of achieving. Our programs have served to elevate and legitimize the work we do here. We had an inclusive open entry policy that allowed newbies and veterans to exhibit and compete on equal footing. I am very proud of all the work you submitted to our programs. I will share more of my personal thoughts in a separate post.

If you are an artist or builder who has installed an object yourself on any of the UWA sims and want to retrieve it before it's removed PLEASE CONTACT FREEWEE FIRST! I am working hard the next couple of weeks to complete the documentation of the IMMATERIAL show for the exhibition catalog. I will then be hammering away at documenting all the UWA sims for posterity. I want to be sure to capture what I can before it goes away forever. If you need to retrieve something rather than having it returned to you, contact me ASAP!

The current Uni of WA main sim is nearly maxed out, so I will be removing a lot of stuff that is not essential in order to make room for selected objects/installations from the other three sims. As things progress, objects will be moved or returned as needed and there will not be time to notify anyone that their property is about to be returned. I cannot guarantee that pieces will arrive in your Lost & Found intact. Please contact FreeWee Ling inworld if you have questions.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

UWA IMMATERIAL - Status Report

I'll be posting updates on the IMMATERIAL show as they occur.

SUMMARY as of 16 August 2016:

Sunday, August 7, 2016

IMMATERIAL: Complete List of Entries

Complete list of entries with pictures and linked SLURLs. Touch pictures for bigger.
Updated 16 August 2016.
Almut Brunswick (Braunschweig, Germany): Behind The Canvas

Alpha Auer (Turkey): The Lovely Ones

Apmel Goosson (Stockholm, Sweden): Bouncy Lawn

Awesome Fallen (Madrid, Spain): Thoughts...

Barret Darkfold (Rubi, Catalonia): Abstract Dance

Carmsie Melodie (Melbourne, Australia): Vanity: an enemy of dignity

Chic Aeon (Corvallis, Oregon, USA): Coupling

Corcosman Voom (California, USA): Monoton

Dusty Canning (Perth, WA, Australia): Thoroughly Irrelevant

Elle Thorkveld (Connecticut, USA): Kinetic Hues

ErikoLeo (Paris, France): Reflections

Ferdia Glenfadden (New York, USA): What I Barely Recall from my Childhood

Frankx Lefavre (Sydney, Australia): Reflections at Midnight

FreeWee Ling (Kentucky, USA): Thinking of you

Haveit Neox (Los Angeles, California, USA): Flight from the Scroll

HOLALA Alter (Madrid, Spain): Huntress Diana

Hypatia Pickens (Rochester, NY, USA): The Spoils of Annwn

iSkye Silverweb (Green Bay, Wisconsin USA): Windy Memories

Jesse Keyes (Dawsonville, Georgia, USA): Victorian Observation steps

Kerupa Flow ( Japan): Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

Krystali Rabeni (Blackpool, UK): If Wishes Were Kisses

Lilia Artis (Bern, Switzerland): Who Are You?

Moewe Winkler (Germany): In the light

Myra Wildmist (Washington, DC, USA): Dancer

quadrapop Lane (Perth, Western Australia, Australia): The Artist is not Present

Ronin1 Shippe (New Mexico, USA): Pink Block

Rosie Dimanovic (France): Reflect the Love

 Sabine Stonebender (San Antonio, Texas USA): Inbound from the Oort Cloud

SaveMe Oh/Glasz Decuir: When Malevich had a TV

Scarlett (doasilike) (El Calafate, Santa Cruz, Argentina): Angels Are Everywhere

Secret Rage (Dallas, Texas, USA): Inconsequentia

Silas Merlin (Garlan, France): Guardian Angels

 Slatan Dryke (Milan, Italy): Diaphanous

Strand Starsider (California, USA): Reflection

Takni Mistwalker/Misio2 (Barcelona/Melbourne, Spain/Australia): Pistons Soup

Theda Tammas (São Paulo, Brazil): Ethereal

Yoon (Toyono) (The Netherlands): The Dark Queen

You can also find signs in the gallery that function as teleporters where you can click on a name to set a destination, then right-click to TP. Touching the lower panel on the signs will give you a notecard containing all the landmarks.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

IMMATERIAL - Latest Entries 6 (Final)

All entries are in and the UWA Gallery is open for IMMATERIAL! We received a total of 37 entries from artists in 15 countries.

I have been overwhelmed by the wonderful response of so many of my all-time favorite artists, as well as some I didn't know before. This has been one of the happiest shows I've had the pleasure of assembling. I want to thank all of you who have so generously participated. Aside from the Freedom Project of a couple of years ago (which had its own incentives), I think this is our fist exhibition without competition. No judging or prizes, just artists who want to share their creative imaginations.

I am thinking about an official opening event, but that's not my top priority right now. Hopefully we can have a few parties along the way. The exhibition will be open for at least the next two (possibly three) months. Meanwhile I will be working on the exhibition catalog as part of the UWA SiVA online journal series.

You can see earlier entries in this blog below. As usual there was a flurry of new entries at the very end, so here are all the rest (in no particular order). But better yet, go see them "for real" in Second Life!

Haveit Neox (Los Angeles, California, USA): "Flight from the Scroll"
Haveit has been one of the most productive artists I know. Here he explores further his interest in language, the written word, and form.

Lilia Artis (Bern, Switzerland): "Who Are You?"
Lilia asks this important question as we present ourselves in so many ways, in person, in social media, in the mirror.

iSkye Silverweb (Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA): "Windy Memories"
iSkye puts her laundry on the line in this introspective scene.

Sabine Stonebender (San Antonio, Texas, USA): "Inbound from the Oort Cloud"
Sabine was one of my favorite creative people going back to when I first started to explore Second Life nearly ten years ago. I vividly remember her amazing tower of abstract environments that seemed to ascend into the sky forever. She has been less active in SL in recent years, but I was thrilled to receive this from her.

quadrapop Lane (Perth, Western Australia, Australia): "Conceptually absent"
quad was my predecessor and the original curator for the first year at UWA. She is also an ingenious artist who knows how to use the special features of SL creatively. In this deceptively simple piece she explores the idea that art is, lterally, in the mind of the beholder, and depends very much on what the viewer brings to it.

ErikoLeo (Paris, France): "Reflections"
Eriko has been talking to our mutual friend Silas Merlin (also represented in IMMATERIAL), who has been exploring transforming his real life 2D work into 3D. Eriko has set the scene of an artist's studio, with Silas's 3D rendering of Degas's "Dancer at the barre." Among the furnishings is a mirror on the wall that appears to actually reflect the room itself using a trick of SL's projected lights. (A similar technique is used in Moewe Winkler's piece, elsewhere in this show). It's a subtle part of the scene that's easy to miss, but is well worth seeking out.

Jesse Keyes (Dawsonville, Georgia, USA): "Victorian Observation Steps"
Reminiscent of his "Mars" installation in UWA's "Pursue Impossible" show, Jesse this time gives us a large view of the solar system with projections of Earth, Jupiter, Neptune and the other planets.

Strand Starsider (California, USA): "Reflection"
Strand  gives us a mysterious portrait that eloquntly uses projected images and shadow to clothe his model in a kind of embrace.

Apmel Goosson (Stockholm, Sweden): "Bouncy Lawn"
Apmel can always be counted upon to lighten the mood, wherever he is to be found. Lest we take ourselves too seriously, take a romp on his bouncy lawn.

Chic Aeon (Corvallis, Oregon, USA): "Coupling"
Chic is back, this time with an elegant sculpture that is at once both abstract and somehow intimate.

Kerupa Flow (Japan): "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow"
I saw Kerupa's installation at SL13B recently and was impressed with her immersive piece with inverted heads and illusory angles. I contacted her and asked if she would be interested in participating in IMMATERIAL. She kindly agreed with this poignant gesture of despair and hope.

Frankx Lefavre (Sydney, Australia): "Reflections at Midnight"
Frankx always has a lot going on in his work. This one has some fairly dramatic surprises for those who are curious enough.