Saturday, 30 August 2008

Station Tour: Introduction to the internal spaces 31 August 08

The video clip below is an introduction to the main internal spaces in my Wellington Railway Station build in Second Life. *(Please select 'Older Posts' at the bottom of this text for the video clip). Externally, (I will be including a clip of my interpretation in Second Life of the external facades of the build later) the real life Wellington Railway Station building presents itself as a large, ponderous edifice, with a certain 1930`s industrial weight conveyed through its national community purpose and visual signature. In June 1937, when it was opened, as the plaque on the wall of the ticket office proclaims, the station building was an important part of New Zealand`s engineering heritage, the largest public building in the country and the first major construction to incorporate resistance measures to earthquake. The building presents a stolid, secure and perhaps nostalgic face to those Wellingtonians who still notice its existence (During the course of my research/practice I have spoken to a number of people who speak very fondly of the times spent commuting through the station doors. These people communicate a clear sense of ownership of this place) at the end of what currently is a busy, modern, thriving glass and steel city centre.

However, under closer scrutiny, the corporate monolith of red brick yields up details in its external facades, away from the grandeur of the entrance pillars - the walls and combings under the roof, the window designs and tesselated tile works creating rhythms, patterning and repetition, arresting in their delicacy and subtlty and in the evening, the time I have chosen for my dance and film work, the building is transformed by lighting into a warm, glowing, winter palace. There is also an interesting contrast (like so many buildings) between the front, side and rear faces, typical in their pragmatic, purpose-based personna. In my SL build I am working on these differing spaces and seeking to identify some of the features and qualities which form the gulf between the grandeur of the entrance, with its face toward the parliamentary Beehive and the pragmatism of the platforms and utility spaces at the rear of the building.

The clip shown below begins outside the main entrance, where I have placed three bilboards providing information and requesting assistance for my project. The first is a large notecard dispenser which I have developed into a gargoyle well. In this build I am seeking to balance a range of issues, not the least of which is to build certain structures which are relevant aesthetically to my ideas and functional for practical SL purposes, while at the same time providing visual and conceptual interest for myself and to the public coming through the project site. The Gargoyle Notecard Dispenser is an example. It is a small, somewhat wayward, tongue-in-cheek comment on my feelings surrounding the architecture of the station in real life; the station does not have a gargoyle well, but I feel that it should! The influence of the Duende prompted the design for this particular structure and I enjoy not only the obtuseness of the idea, but the vague mystery of the dispenser concealing the well inside, the surfaces it presents for the quotations and that I can alter the type, colour, tone and level of the water in the well as a signifier of feeling: wells possess a fascination for children and adults alike but this fascination is comprised of dark things emerging from below and a fear of falling into a dark place ...

We move on to the bilboard on Simulacra, a definition on one side and my own comment on this Simulacrum build on the other. In the middle of the entrance is a smaller bilboard inviting the public to make comment and give me feedback on the build on one side - on the other side is a request from me for stories, anecdotes and experiences to be shared about the notion of 'leaving': partings and departures for other places and spaces.

The clip takes us in through the main entrance to the principal space for my dance, filming and building work; the main Concourse which used to be the ticket office of the station. I wanted to show a few details in this clip: how some of the tools in SL work, which enable the building process, communicating through notecards to people when you may be absent and actually conversing through typing with another avatar in front of you, (I do not have voice enabled - another issue). I also wanted to show a little of the lighting effects I have achieved through layering photo/textures which can be so bequiling (yet faithful to the real life architectural structure /sense of) in the build.

The clip is too small in this format to show the written conversation in-life clearly, so my conversation with two avatars in the space is not decipherable. The topic though, was very relevant to my work for the subject of the Duende was discussed, where Johnnie Wendt was talking knowledgably about bullfighting in the community psyche; the sadness of the death in the afternoon balanced by the uplifting stir of wonder at the courage, fortitude and skill of the bull and matador - the poignancy of their relationship which traditionally, was steeped in the pathos which is Duende. I am not a supporter of bullfighting but it does make me wonder, having trodden a number of empty bullrings, how the demise of this part of Spanish culture has affected the national expression and predilection for the Duende and the innate appreciation for how the symbiosis of passion, love and life are inescapably marked by impending death.

The clip closes with Rollo finding a 'sound ball' responsible for the train/platform ambient sounds and re-positioning it to make it more subtle, after which he leaves for the platforms at the rear of the station through the exit layers. I will be including another clip which will begin in this area.

At this stage I am still waiting on permissions to bring my RL videos into the station. I am all set to go. There is the potential for me to move to the new NMIT island of Kowhai next to Koru, where I may have available a larger space to develop my concepts further. In the meantime, I am editing my RL videos from our July 08 dance work, designing 'cutouts' of commuters (some depicted as 'crows' - an enigmatic, dark presence) and exploring compositional possibilities for sensed crowd effects in the station. See my next SL post for this development.

As of today, I have had 120 people through the Station build (census record gratefully accepted from Weltec NZ) and a great deal of very positive feedback. I am endeavouring to create a forum to formalize feedback so that it can be collated and recorded.

1 comment:

Ronli said...

Good for people to know.