Occupy White Walls Will Soon Launch on Steam—But You Can Get a Sneak Peek!

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You’re probably wondering what happened to Occupy White Walls, the fun and funky virtual world for the art curator in you? Well, they had to shut the platform down completely for a period of time while they got ready to relaunch the program on Steam. They’re now very close to that official launch date, but you can get in early if you want to take a sneak peek! Here’s the scoop:

Hello people!

We have some Good news, some bad news and some terrific news.

Let’s start with the bad news; we said we’ll launch OWW in October, but sadly, for the first time in video game history we will be a little late, hopefully in the first week of November. The game is almost ready we just want to polish it a bit further, squash a few tiny bugs and sprinkle some extra pixie dust.

The good news; we are currently holding a secret beta for OWW. Even better; we are GIVING OUT STEAM KEYS on our Discord channel – you can help us with that last drive for polish! But hurry, not many keys left…

To get an early-access software key, join the Occupy White Walls Discord channel and send a private message to Protobear, and he’ll fix you right up! He says:

If you don’t have a key yet, you can easily get one! send me (protobear#0001) a PM here on discord and I’ll send you a key ASAP.

For testing purposes, we ask you to create a new account.

Leveling is currently a bit wonky. For some it goes too fast. This will be fixed in the coming week.

Note: the number of keys they are giving out is limited. Once they’re gone, you’ll have to wait for the official launch date on Steam.

I was able to obtain a key, and this evening I reinstalled the software, setting up a new account. (Unfortunately, OWW was unable to save any of the old galleries that people had created. You do have to start over again from scratch, with a new username and a new email address.)

The collection of artworks you can use to decorate your gallery has been expanded, and now consists of approximately 3,000 works, mainly classics from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., plus the work of about 20 living artists (with plans to add more over time).

In no time at all, I had my first picture framed and mounted!

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If you haven’t tried out Occupy White Walls yet, why not give it a try? It’s great fun!

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Sansar Pick of the Day: Value in the Virtual at ArkDes

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A real-world art exhibition in Stockholm, Sweden has a virtual counterpart in Sansar. The Architect’s Newspaper reports:

…Value in the Virtual, an exhibit by London-based Space Popular, blossoms with a polychrome array of signs, patterns, and symbols. The show has just opened at Sweden’s national center for architecture and design, ArkDes, under its new director Kieran Long. A new feature of the museum is a smaller gallery space—Boxen, a steel box designed by local practice Dehlin Brattgård—inside one of the two main exhibition halls. It is intended for fast-paced architecture shows curated by former ArchDaily editor James Taylor-Foster, and Value in the Virtual is the first display of work by a contemporary design practice in the new setup.

Entering the exhibition space, you are invited to take your shoes off (to experience the printed carpets on the floors), and once inside, to put on a pair of virtual reality goggles. They are a window into Voxen, a parallel version of the same gallery space produced for Sansar, a social virtual reality platform. During the press preview, an online visitor had already found his way there for a peek. The avatar, dressed in a black bodysuit and a Daft Punk motorcycle helmet, showed up out of nowhere, mumbled a distorted “nice to meet you,” and soon disappeared.

In this realm, you get 3-D views of some of Space Popular’s scenarios: one is a version of Stockholm where public art is updated by the minute; in another the allegorical wall mosaics of the Nobel Prize venue are adjusted to tout recent scientific achievements; and in another a selective nightclub bouncer might actually let you in after all, if you upgrade to a nicer-looking “skin.”

The Sansar experience still seems to be under construction; there is a large empty area in the back. But there is already much to see and appreciate here.

The experience description in the Sansar Atlas reads as follows:

Welcome to the virtual experience of Space Popular’s exhibition at ArkDes in Stockholm.

The exhibition “Value in the Virtual” explores the challenges and possibilities for architecture, design and city planning as buildings and cities will soon get virtual layers when VR and AR devices are increasingly used in pubic.

Visitors can see the physical exhibition at in the gallery BOXEN at ArkDes in Stockholm between the 19h of September – 18th of November. Through the physical exhibition visitors can also visit the virtual exhibition through a headset available in the centre of the space creating the possibility for cross reality interaction.

ArkDes is Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design. It is a museum, a study centre and an arena for debate and discussion about the future of architecture, design and citizenship.

Space Popular is based in London and led by Architects Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg.

Here’s a link to the Value in the Virtual at ArkDes experience.

UPDATED! Editorial: Linden Lab’s Updated Content Guidelines for Sansar Go a Little Too Far

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Linden Lab has updated their Content Guidelines for Sanar. This was obviously a document that was lovingly laboured over by their legal team, and it’s quite long:  1,642 words in total!

Content guidelines are a necessary evil. There are always going to be people who try to bend the rules, so spelling everything out in detail is the way to go. Linden Lab has 15 years of Second Life experience (and many misadventures!) to guide them in drafting rules for Sansar.

I think most of the rules make sense. But I do think that Linden Lab has gone a little too far in a few of these new stipulations, and I do take issue with a couple of clauses in this long list.

First, and most important, under Impersonation:

Any Content or Sansar store listings that contain any references to Linden Lab, Sansar, Second Life, or any other Linden Lab-related terminology that may imply a relationship with, sponsorship, endorsement, or employment by Linden Lab is prohibited.

So this means that you are no longer allowed to put the word “Sansar” on a T-shirt. It means, for example, that Alfy now has to pull all of the clothing he created for the Voices of Sansar contest, because they use the forbidden word “Sansar”:

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Banned in Sansar: Voices of Sansar hoodies

This is a perfect example of a rule that has been applied too far. What harm is it if somebody puts the phrase “I love Sansar” on a T-shirt for sale in the Sansar Store, as long as it is not using the logo itself? (I can certainly understand why Linden Lab would want to crack down on other people using their logo.)

But it’s not just enough to avoid using the word “Sansar”! You can’t even hint at the verboten word, by using “S*ans*r” or “Zanzar” or “That Platform Which Shall Not Be Named”:

Do not upload Content that promotes or could be construed as primarily intended to evade limitations on Prohibited Content.

Now, there’s a weaselly-worded sentence if I ever saw one! The lawyers must have worked overtime on that little clause. How perfectly ridiculous.

Also, I take note, under Nudity, Pornography, and Other Sexual Content:

While we understand that some nudity might be intended for educational, scientific or artistic purposes, we restrict this content as members of our global community come from different cultural backgrounds. However, in limited educational or scientific contexts, we may make exceptions to these policies in our sole discretion.

So, a strict ban on nudity. If an artist creates a tasteful statue of a nude woman, she can’t sell it on the Sansar Store. If someone wants to include nudes in an art gallery he’s building, it’s verboten. Linden Lab has just banned whole swaths of art from throughout art history. Congratulations, you’ve spared those of us with delicate sensitivities!

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Banned in Sansar: Amedeo Modigliani, Reclining Nude, 1917-18

And using “different cultural backgrounds” as a justification for banning nudity completely is a complete cop-out, plain and simple. What’s next? Are we now going to insist that female avatars wear a niqab, because of a need to not offend “different cultural backgrounds” where women must wear a face veil?

Linden Lab making exceptions to the nudity policy on a case-by-case basis is opening another can of worms (notice that “artistic” is not mentioned as a possible case for an exception here, only “educational” or “scientific”). Who’s going to make these decisions? A panel? One person? Will there be any sort of appeal process? Does Linden Lab really want to go down this road?

Frankly, I’m a little disappointed in Linden Lab and this document. They could have chosen to give people a little leeway in the cases I raised above, and instead, they chose to clamp down tight.

What do you think of the new Content Guidelines? Sound off in the comment section!

UPDATE July 26th: Some commenters have said that Linden Lab will still allow you to use the word “Sansar” on clothing. I have it on authority directly from Sansar’s Community Manager, Eliot, that the word “Sansar” is NOT permitted on clothing such as a T-shirt or hoodie.

Also, I just realized today that the Smithsonian Institution’s new art gallery prominently displays a statue of a nude woman in its advertising:

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So, it’s okay if the Smithsonian does it, but it’s not okay otherwise? Hmmm…I think Linden Lab needs to go back and re-clarify its “clarified” Content Guidelines…

Sansar, Intel, and the Smithsonian Institution Present the Art of Burning Man

Today it was announced that Sansar and Intel have created a faithful reproduction of the art of No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, which is an exhibit currently on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. VentureBeat reports:

The VR exhibit is part of the Smithsonian’s mission to reach a billion people with its art, and virtual reality is one of the ways that the museum will accomplish that mission, said Nora Atkinson, who was in Washington D.C. but still managed to do an interview with me and another reporter inside the Sansar VR space. She showed us through the museum, which we could view in 360 degrees. I was at Linden Lab’s headquarters in San Francisco for the demo, while Atkinson was across the country. Yet I could hear her and see her animated character, or avatar, as we walked around in the 3D space in virtual reality.

“What’s different about VR is you can go up to a work of art and get right next to it or touch it,”said Atkinson, Lloyd Herman curator of craft at the Renwick Gallery, said. “That’s not something you can do in the museum.”

Intel’s press release adds:

Intel and the Smithsonian American Art Museum* (SAAM) will allow audiences to take an immersive dive into some of the country’s most treasured art and history through virtual reality (VR). Together, they will transform the future of education and the museum experience by digitizing and providing broader 3D access to collections from SAAM and its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery*, starting with the exhibition, “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.”

“Virtual reality will bring about cutting-edge computing experiences and accelerate new possibilities for how people will explore and interact with the world around them. As the technology evolves, immersive museum experiences will become the norm. Bridging physical and digital worlds to study American art in classrooms around the globe is just a first step in exploring what is possible when we combine the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s passion for education with Intel’s innovation.”
– John Bonini, vice president and general manager, VR, Gaming & Esports at Intel Corporation

This partnership, introduced at VRLA in Los Angeles, will begin with the Renwick Gallery’s current exhibition, “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man,” to showcase how Intel technology and virtual reality will transform the future of the museum experience. The ultimate vision is to share this technology across the Smithsonian Institution and further digitize more of its 157 million objects.

Intel’s advanced technologies will accelerate SAAM’s existing process of 3D digital capture and increase access to its collections with the help of powerful 8th Generation Intel Core processors, cloud-based platforms and more. The shared goal is to increase and encourage 24/7 access to the museum, affording educators, other museums and public audiences the opportunity to become immersed in some of America’s most treasured collections as if they were standing in the galleries themselves.

(It does seem rather odd to me that Sansar is only mentioned once in the entire Intel press release about their partnership with the Smithsonian.)

Here are a few pictures from the new Sansar experience, which is called No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.

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In a nice touch, a corridor off to one side of one of the galleries actually teleports you to the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, where you can see some of these Burning Man artworks in their original setting:

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I look forward to further exhibits by the Smithsonian Institution in Sansar, as a result of their new partnership with Intel! I leave you with a short promotional video for the project, featuring Jason Gholston, Linden Lab’s Head of Sansar Studios:

NOTE: You can install the Sansar software client, if you don’t already have it, at https://www.sansar.com/download. And then you can visit and explore this experience by searching for “Smithsonian” in the Sansar Atlas, or just by clicking this link: No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.