Virtual Worlds Action Painting
via Virtual Bear-Baiting Simulations, Shakespearean Theatre, and Traffic Data

Tagline: A new massively-collaborative technique for creating action paintings from three separate processes spawned by avatars of human beings in virtual worlds.

Project Description

Project description (500 words max) that discusses your project's core concept, how you will realize your project, and your project's feasibility. If you plan to work with assistants, consultants, or collaborators, their roles and (if possible) names should be included.

As an artist, I seek to create meaning from nothing; as a scientist, I am fascinated with finding meaning in chaos. In implementation, I am a 24-year old independent scholar on extended sabbatical from science to pursue art in a medium of fatally limited reach (Second Life).

In the virtual world of Second Life, I have created entire historical simulations from books and scratch, devised and explored a third dimension in famous two dimensional paintings, and produced and directed epic Shakespearean plays by developing the nascent field of virtual theatre—all from my own abilities, without any external funding.

For my Rhizome 2010 Project, I propose to utilize a new massively-collaborative method for the creation of action paintings. I will be creating action paintings from discrete data collected through three different processes occurring in Second Life: Virtual Bear-Baiting Simulations, Shakespearean Theatre Performances, and Traffic Data. Each process, in its own way, consists of substantial motion by ‘living beings,’ albeit only virtually. But, the paradigm of a virtual world allows for natural accumulation of data that cannot easily be collected over long periods in real life. Moreover, avatars (virtual beings) are often controlled by real people. I will be recasting such collected data into action paintings that appear as if hand-drawn.

My plan is to collect spatial and action/microevent data at either certain time intervals or on certain microevent occurances. For example, I may be collecting data by microevent (action), or at a discrete time interval—say every second. Spatial data would record a participant’s three dimensional position and velocity. Microevent data would record a participant’s action, such as auditory speech or collision. By normalizing and projecting coordinates to a real canvas, I will then transform actions/microevents into variations of digitally-created paint stains, similar to how works, but with a discrete data input instead of via a connective interface. I will likely be assigning a different color per participant. At least one final action painting will be “generated” for each data source.

In addition to my experience as an artist in Second Life, I have a background in science and programming in industry. I am a polymath. I believe this project is feasible for me; I hope my work samples below should also help prove the point.

Each process that creates the action painting is itself live performance art, delivered by avatars in the virtual world—though they might not be aware that they are participating in a massively-collaborative action painting. The art would be created from the entanglement of chance and activity in an evolving digital world, such that the resultant 2D action painting cannot possibly recount the process. The potential of meaning would vary from virtual to real.

Virtual worlds are a medium of this era, and I believe that this project would establish a technique of this age.

P.S. For fun, I also wish to apply to my final action painting pieces the fractal analysis techniques used by Richard Taylor in authenticating Pollock paintings. ;-D

Project Timeline

A production timeline and a project budget, which should include your own fee. If you have other funding sources for your project, please indicate this in your budget.

Pre-Project (Related Projects):

Project Timeline:

This summer I hope to explore bear-baiting simulations on Second Life. I also hope to continue what I am best known for in Second Life—producing, in unprecedented quality, Shakespearean plays. These two processes along with the islands I have created on Second Life should also provide an interesting collection of traffic data.

I will be collecting data starting from the bear-baiting simulations (August 2009), and then the Shakespearean Theatre performances (likely) of Henry VIII (Staged Reading Series in Summer 2009, Full Ensemble Performances in 2010). Although I have existing traffic data, I will create the third set of action paintings from traffic data from 2010 traffic only.

Project Budget

A production timeline and a project budget, which should include your own fee. If you have other funding sources for your project, please indicate this in your budget.

Resume or CV

Your resume or Curriculum Vitae. For collaborative groups, provide either a collective CV or the CV's of all participants.

My artist resume is available in the following formats: pdf, html, and tex. Perhaps unusual for an independent artist is that I've spent an entire year in immersion on Second Life, and my university education is in Physics. I hope to use some methods of analysis from physics to interpret the visual art created from this project, so that helps! My portfolio is available here.

Work Samples

Up to five work samples. Note: More is not necessarily better. You should include only work samples relevant to your proposal. If your proposal has nothing to do with photography, don’t include images from your photography portfolio. Please provide contextualizing information (title, date, medium, perhaps a brief description) to help the jury understand what they are looking at. The work sample can take any form, as long as it is accessible via the web.

I need to admit I am one of those rare artists who has that obsessive monomaniac tendency to work on many different facets (if not all!) of large projects on my own. Here are projects relevant to my Rhizome proposal project:

  1. Inachi's Nyotaimori I - (March 21, 2009) - Photoshop, Modo, Performance Art on Second Life: This event was created, publicized, and carried out in the span of three days; it featured an artistic arrangement of virtual sushi displayed against the body of a living female avatar (virtual nyotiamori). The event was interactive, allowing guests to purchase the sushi straight off the nyotaimori's body. As a performer, I have perhaps far too many shows in my repertoire--but I list this one because it's a good example of how I can keep to a schedule and efficiently tackle a number of interdisciplinary tasks to make it work.
  2. SL Shakespeare Company (SLSC) - 2007 to present - See Portfolio Description, Theatrical Performance Troupe on Second Life: I am the artistic director and founder of the SL Shakespeare Company, a professional theatrical production company based in the virtual world of Second Life, and have directed or co-directed nearly all of its productions since its inception in 2007. I recently gave a talk at the NAST Conference about virtual theatre and the SLSC; the presentation slides are here. This reference is to show that engaging, professional live theatrical plays -- both the theatrical process, and their constituent imagery, such as scenic design and wardrobe -- are indeed possible on SL.
  3. Primtings Museum - 2008-present - Virtual Architecture, Concept, Management & Design: Primtings is a "primmed paintings" gallery featuring 3d interpretations of 2d paintings. I am the architect of this island-sized musem and curator and (struggling, but) self-funded patron. The collection currently features about three dozen exhibits, different primtings created by myself and various artists. The website linked is a directory of primtings, each with a SLurl, which you can use to visit each primting directly in the free 3d virtual world of Second Life. This is an example of my brand of creative enterpreneurship, from conception of vision to implementation of infrastructure to participation as artist.
  4. SLChatr (demo recorder | demo log)- Feb 2007 - As a weekend project back in 2007, I created an entire chat logging service called SLChatr. This is the simplest demo of how Second Life inworld data can be archived on an external web server. I have also created several tracking services, which I use for my own analysis purposes. I will be applying similar methods to the creation of the signal transmission devices mentioned in Budget.
  5. SL Globe Theatre (2007) and Blackfriars Theatre (2009) - Virtual Architecture, Research, Management & Design: Historically-accurate constructions I created in Second Life, used as functioning theatre venues. These links will load SLurl's, which you can use to visit these venues directly in the free 3d virtual world of Second Life. These show that realistic and immersive historic environments can be created and "lived in" in Second Life.

My Analysis of Judging Criteria


If this project is successful, I hope to create a simple machine in real life that would more organically (and more expensively) splatter the signals received from virtual world signals into paint effects using real paint, and in real time. Tentatively, I would initially be using LabVIEW, with the physical component manifested via a matrix of paint guns and other rotating faucets and spigots. Data retrieval would be similar to above, except because of the actual faucets used and the inevitability of systematic errors in any physical process, the impossibility to emulate the exact process again, the process of “printing” would create an original work each time.