Monday, August 23, 2010

Langley Miter: 'Holodecks' in Second Life are much more realistic than the current, somewhat cartoon-esque 'style' of SL

Harbin ethnography:

... This “Making of Harbin Hot Springs as Ethnographic Field Site” machinima characterizes most aspects of how virtual Harbin will emerge, currently, but doesn't explore in too much detail potential innovations.

'Holodecks' in Second Life are much more realistic than the current, somewhat cartoon-esque 'style' of SL. In imagining the development of, and a related set of choices in the building of, virtual Harbin as ethnographic field site, as another prehistory of virtual Harbin, I was asking myself how we might make the Harbin pool area have realistic, not cartoon-esque, landscape, scenery or 'backdrops.' In Second Life, you might imagine a holodeck as a circular, virtual platform, say, roughly, 20 SL meters in diameter, with realistic photos 'connected' together around the circumference of this platform, to create a very photo-realistic landscape, 360 degrees around. At this point, however, clothing-optional avatars would still be cartoon-esque, contrasting with the realistic scenery as background. And I was also envisioning in 2008, hypothetically, the possibility of video cameras in 4 corners of the Harbin pool area, so that avatars from around the world, might mingle with the representations of the people visiting Harbin, but not only is this technology not yet existent, but cameras also aren't allowed at Harbin in any form. As an expression of virtual Harbin, however, this kind of avatars-people interaction on real-time web cameras may well emerge, making possible fascinating, new, developing expressions here of virtual Harbin. Ethnographically, the lack of possibility to use cameras at Harbin gives rise, then, to the use other forms of representation, particularly writing, in the context of the ethnographic genre. I haven't yet begun to explore drawing, by hand, the pool area for example, although, I did see for the first time, I think, this past weekend , on Sunday, August 22, 2010, someone drawing the Harbin pool area, while sitting on the bench near the warm pool. As another prehistory of virtual Harbin ethnographic representation, hypothetical, expanding holodecks (e.g. the Harbin pool area, the Harbin Domes, the temple) of virtual Harbin would allow for rich forms of cartoon-esque, avatar interaction against a backdrop of photo-realistic scenery. And I suspect that eventually virtual worlds will all become interactive and photo-realistic. To participate in soaking in the Harbin warm pool, from one's own bathtub at home would allow for new developments of the Harbin experience.

As prehistories of virtual Harbin multimedia and interactive representation, all of the above virtual world examples make possible new feedback loops for exploring play at Harbin. ...

( - August 23, 2010)

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