Thursday, March 5, 2015

MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL

 As you move across the room, the perspective in the mirror also changes just a bit. Very simple technology - no scripting, just use of space and illusion.

How do you make a mirror in three dimensions within a virtual world without reflection? A couple years ago, I experimented with that illusion. It turns out to be very simple: First, choose a location in a room where you can have a lot of hidden space behind a wall (depending on the illusion of depth you wish to achieve, say up to around 2 or 3 meters). Create a hollow in that wall the size you want your mirror to be. Place a hollowed-out half sphere behind the mirror opening. The circumference should be a couple times larger than the opening (this interior curved surface is where you will apply your ‘reflected image’). Join the rim of the half sphere to the back side of the wall. Center it. The next part is fun. Take a picture of the opposite side of the room. Apply that picture onto the inside of the hollowed sphere. Then, because a mirror reflects backwards, reverse your image on that prim. Play around with the controls in your Edit window to properly align the picture. Place a glass texture of your choice over the wall opening to complete the mirror (I used a dirty glass texture). Since the half sphere is quite a bit larger than the mirror opening in the wall, it gives a convincing illusion of reflection because you cannot see the edges of the interior image as you walk past the mirror, or cam around the room. As you walk in front of the mirror, the scene inside changes perspective similarly (though not identically) to a mirror in real life. Of course… you will not see your own reflection. This brings me to the second part of the process. In my first try at creating a mirror (which you can see at the Cabinet of Curiosities on the ACC Alpha sim), I placed a centaur holding a fallen man before the mirror. Next, I made a reverse copy of the couple inside the mirror, and faced them looking at each other: one inside the mirror, the other outside. For the piece at ACC Alpha, I put a poetic twist on it. Instead of mirroring the exact scene, where the centaur looks into the face of the man on our side of the mirror, I turned the head forward on the reflected copy, to look directly at you, the viewer. This heightens the interactivity of the piece, even if it is only subliminal.

Since constructing the avenue of greenhouses that leads up to Centaurs’ Hall (on the Verdigris sim), I wanted to think of something unusual to complete the build. Yesterday, I felt a nook in one of the small greenhouses lining that avenue called Poetry Way, was an ideal location to make another mirror. As mentioned in a previous post, I built Centaurs’ Hall across from Vintage Village. (That village, which Oriolus Oliva built many years ago, is so beautiful, that any view of it, and at any angle is like a classical painting). I remembered a picture I’d taken a couple days earlier of the view onto Vintage Village. The perspective was right for this room. I pulled up a wash basin right below the mirror, and photographed it, then applied its mirrored image onto the glass pane of the mirror as a nearby reflection. This layering of nearby objects and a distanced scene increases the effectiveness of the illusion. The one inconsistency with the picture I chose, is that my avatar was sitting in a chair contained within the photo. Since I cannot be sitting in that chair 24/7 to complete the illusion when visitors arrive, I almost decided to take another photo of the view without my avatar in the shot. But on second thought, I liked keeping it as is for two reasons: 1. It’s like a signature of the artist. Artists often painted their own faces onto characters in classical scenes as a kind of signature. 2. I hope seeing an avatar sitting on a chair in the reflection will encourage viewers to take the hint, and sit themselves in the chairs - and thus, at least to some degree, completing the illusion of an avatar reflected. These are special old green wooden chairs made by the skilled builder Robin Sojourner. See the flower on the little table before the chairs? When you sit, and get a menu, click to draw, and you will receive a pencil, and a sketch of a flower you are drawing. (They don’t clutter your inventory. They disappear when you stand up). You can also drink some coffee, or read a book. I did read the book by the way, because Robin includes a notecard of Beauty and the Beast, of which she rewrote her version for us. If you come by for some coffee, to read a story, or to draw, I hope you will not find me rude, as my back in the mirror is always facing away from you. I am simply daydreaming on to the view of Vintage Village.

A LIGHTHOUSE OF INTENSE COLOR
 Painting of "Cellist" by Bamboo Barnes.

A couple days before building the mirror, I had converted one of the lone greenhouses along Poetry Way into a bright beacon. It’s called the Contrapuntal Lighthouse, not only because it stands like a lighthouse above the strait, sectioning the two isles of Verdigris, but because it emits light by virtue of the texture inside. In fact, I believe it is the brightest spot at the Centaurs’ Hall parcel. The texture in question, a painting called “Cellist” is by the artist Bamboo Barnes. She photographed my cellist statue at ACC Alpha (in the Maze Gardens), then imbued the subject with her thrilling sense of color and harmony. The theme is the cello. When I think of that instrument, the composer Bach comes to mind almost automatically. His contrapuntal music (layering of two or more melodies over each other played simultaneously for enriched harmony) seemed an appropriate concept to apply to the building, since the main ingredient of the build is the painting by Barnes, itself richly layered in color. To complete the lighthouse, I made a new and quite altered variation of the cellist statue as the finial atop the dome.

XXX