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Thursday, February 11, 2016

FUNKY JUNK : LEA 22 An in-depth interview with Carmsie Melodie - Dean Lawson Reporting



Carmsie Melody is a Second Life artist who is currently creating a sim called “Funky Junk” as part of the Linden Endowment for the Arts land grant program. I had the good fortune to speak with Carmsie. 

Dean : Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions about the Funky Junk LEA sim. Could you tell me what first attracted you to Second Life?
Carmsie : Before Second Life, I was in an alternative virtual world called There.com. It was fun and I had great friends but I became a bit bored and restless because I wanted to create content. The ability to build was limited in that world.  I had heard that people could create in SL so I checked it out. As soon as I arrived I discovered it was all I was hoping for and more. The rest is history! 
Dean : Could you tell me about the concept of Funky Junk?
Carmsie : Funky Junk is a large, 3D immersive virtual artwork (aka destination) that's currently in development. Thanks to LEA's Land Grant program, and the wonderful volunteers who keep it all ticking over, I’m having tons of fun creating its strange landscape and unique inhabitants. It’s hard to describe but Funky Junk is sort of a whimsical, post-apocalyptic, mini-world where trash, waste, bent and broken stuff is truly treasured. Most things in Funky Junk are made of, or contain, remnant artifacts of the species that once lived there, namely Avatars. The strange beings that now reside at Funky Junk have come up with some ingenious methods of farming and manufacturing goods, not to mention a seemingly haphazard approach to building and construction. Be sure to explore under the water too!

Dean : What was the process of building the sim?
Carmsie : To begin with there was a LEA Land Grant submission process that required me to tender a proposal. I came up with the idea of using Junk and gave LEA a rough outline of what the sim would ultimately look like. After I submitted my proposal there was a period of time where I waited for LEA’s decision. On the strength of wishful thinking I started making bits and pieces for the sim. I built some furniture, some weird looking inhabitants and also a few large, complex components. The challenge was, due to lack of prims, I wasn’t able to see them all together to determine whether they were visually cohesive. It wasn’t until I got the sim (yay by the way!) that I was able check. Ultimately some elements survived others … well … delete! The proposed build is very different from what I am actually creating now, although junk is still at the heart of it. Error and rework, much maligned in the world of business, seem to underpin most of my artistic endeavours. I try something and if it works it stays, if not I hit delete. The proposed concept didn’t gel so the idea has morphed. I’m still building – and loving it!  I should also add that my building skills are limited. For example I can’t make mesh. So my art always contains items I make myself along with others I either have in inventory, are freebies or I purchase. For large builds like this one I also work with a very skilled scripter, Struthious and you’ll find some of Dusty Canning’s creative madness dotted here and there. 

Dean : How did you get involved in building? Do you have any words of advice for people that are new to Second Life who might be interested in creating content in the virtual world?
Carmsie : As I mentioned earlier, I came to SL specifically because I wanted to build. When I arrived I knew zero but, as so many have, I began by visiting Ivory Tower in SL. From then on you could not stop me rezzing prims and trying things out. Along the way I taught myself Photoshop and some basic scripting – rather how to edit scripts. I also started making sounds using Audacity to incorporate into my builds. A few very strange ones can be downloaded for free from my Carmsie account at Freesound.org.
It has taken me years to develop my skills and I still feel like a novice in many, many respects. But that’s the beauty of SL and what keeps me interested – there’s always more to learn. 
In terms of advice for new builders I suggest they start with easy things. Don’t try to make anything too complex to begin with or you could become discouraged. Lots of small wins is better than one giant flop.  Also, use the resources that are readily available – in world places like Builders Brewery, websites and YouTube videos contain a wealth of info and freebies you can draw on. And keep in mind that every single thing you make in SL, even if you botch it, expands your knowledge and competence in some way. So keep at it. Practice makes perfect … or at the very least really big improvements. 

Dean : Is there anything else you would like people to know about Funky Junk?
Carmsie : There is one thing I have not mentioned. I am trying a little multi-media experiment with this build. One of Funky Junk’s inhabitants is called Rusty Steele (Rustysteeleblogger Resident) and he’s our official blogger. He has set up a Blog and posts semi-regularly (http://funkyjunksl.weebly.com/). 
My aim is use Rusty as a vehicle to help make the development of the sim - the building process itself - part of the overall art experience. Rusty’s posts inform people of new places on the sim that are ready to be seen, even if not 100% complete. He gives them SLurls and they can drop by if they’d like to, or they can just stay informed about the progress via the blog. That way people can feel part of the evolution of the crazy world of Funky Junk as well as seeing it when complete. 
An unexpected bonus for me has been some of the feedback visitors offer. There have been lots of comment made along the lines of, “It would be great/funny/interesting if…”  Some of these ideas are just a bit too out-there but others have been total gems and I’ve added a version of them to the sim. 
Rusty will kill me if I close without mentioning that all visitors can get a full Rusty Steele avatar for free, including shape and AO, from Funky Junk’s Blog Office in world. So if an uber-hot, corroded look (his own words) is what you’re after, you can become Rusty’s virtual twin!   
Funky Junk - 3D immersive sim, LEA22 (237, 34, 22) - Moderate


DEAN LAWSON 
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