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Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Sonic Lab and Machinima World at Virlantis - Lacy Muircastle reporting ....

Sonicity Fitzroy continues to be a trailblazer in Second Life.  Her latest project is a collaboration between Southern Illinois University & the University of Western Australia.  On Saturday 20th July Soni celebrated her RL birthday by launching this new project and its associated sims.

The Southern Illinois University-University of Western Australia virtual worlds project at Virlantis, Second Life is an educational themed experiment in the creation of sound and animation content, with its long-term goal being the development of machinima and online media that serves at-risk learning communities.


The immediate goal for this summer was to create an immersive environment - the Sonic Lab - for teaching sound online historically and culturally as art and practice.   For that purpose, a multi-layer sound lab was constructed to help students develop critical listening skills, by virtually tuning into the modern origins of music and learning to appreciate the sonic environment, now and then, that contributes to our daily soundscapes.  The virtual classroom experience leads students through time, place - and sound. The Sonic Lab connects students to the sounds of the past, present and future. They enter the virtual world via a medieval realm soaked with layered sounds ignited by one's presence and touch. Visitors acoustically engage into a soundscape rich with nature's lush greens and harbor sounds, and perhaps stop into the local tavern for a chat and music. Their travels take them to modern times, from Ragtime's Scott Joplin, to experimental masters Edgard Varèse and John Cage, to those they have influenced, Reich, Zappa, The Beatles, Hendrix, Ramones, Riot Grrrls, and New York's alternative scene. The sound installation was funded by a course development grant awarded by SIUC's Distance Education program for Summer 2013.


Beginning August 2013, Southern Illinois University (in partnership with the University of Western Australia) launches phase two of its larger plan in the development of virtual media studies and production.  Machinima World is a three year experiment in the design of an open-ended, accessible and collaborative animation platform that focuses on outcome based learning for at-risk communities.  Part of the process involves assisting educators with some production basics: character and story/curriculum development, original sound composition, set construction, to motion capture animation that can be imported and exported between virtual platforms.   The idea is to help educators participate and lead in the virtual media making process and develop creative and relevant animation (and mixed reality) content targeting youth from communities that lack resources and skills.  Of course, whenever possible, the target audience will participate in content development and production.   Ultimately, educators (and students) would be encouraged to contribute machinima and other virtual media forms to an archival web site of shared content, techniques, and program reviews.  A pilot series will be created to demonstrate the process.  


Themes addressed include social justice, collaboration, diversity representation in all its forms, and science/technology.

The goal is to open up the diversity of voices, from all locales, from South Chicago to South India to Western Australia, and so forth. Critical are representation of characters/voices pertaining to gender, ethnicity, disability, and socio-economic level.


To learn about this project, attend the VWBPE Conference session, Sonic Immersion Part I:  Hearing is Believing, Case Study:  Sound Studies in Second Life, Southern Illinois. Friday, July 26, 8:05-8:55 AM SLT, Builder's Brewery Auditorium.  Part II will be held at Virlantis during VWBPE's MOOC post-conference, with times to be announced soon.   Admission is free.


Visit the sim, spanning four levels and six regions, when we unearth the sonic mysteries of sound, as noise, music and art.


Contact Sonicity Fitzroy for more information, sonicityfitzroy@yahoo.com.

Dr. Phylis Johnson (SL, Sonicity Fitzroy) is professor of sound and new media at Southern Illinois University, and author of two books on virtual media.  Her work can be found on Amazon.com.   She would like to credit Belinda Barnes, Lowe Runo and Kara Trapdoor, as well as Jay Jay Jegathesan (Jayjay Zifanwe) of UWA for their support and assistance on this project.


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