Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Crossover/Collaboration #2 - Lil Eizenstein

Lil Eizenstein SL

The second piece of my RL/SL collaboration with Australian artist Len Zuks is done - Lil Eizenstein SL. This was actually the first piece done for Len as an "audition" piece to bring him into the possibilities of the metaverse and specifically Second Life. I roughed up a quick mockup of his physical sculpture and he gave the ok to do two others: Megabyte and Klein Bottle.

I revisited Lil Eizenstein and made quite a few adjustments to the rough, owing to much better photos of the physical piece and textured with the metals I used from dtetailed photos of Len's own physical work. In giving Lil Eizenstein a Second Life, I added a particle emitter with the E=MC2 equasion which Einstein is justly famous. I also added a facsimile of the first page of his 1915 paper on General Relativity and had that reflect in his spectacles. In the back of his head is a rotating black hole.

On spending more time with the piece and researching Einstein, I began to notice the iconification of the Professor; the carving and commodification of one of the world's greatest thinkers into an easily-packaged yet bland and thin image, even to the cartoonification of him and his ideas (the photo of him with his tongue sticking out).

This cartoon and one-dimensional image of Einstein is at odds with the reality of the young, dynamic thinker who had women "swarming around him like butterflys" and of whom Marilyn Monroe said, "Einstein is my idea of a sexy man." Likewise, "E=MC2" is standard fodder for schoolchildren and a handly little quip, yet this view ignores or bypasses Einstein's later impassioned speeches warning of the consequences of the use to which his theorums had been put and pleading for a more enlightened world and for world peace.

Therefore, inside Lil Eizenstein SL (but very difficult to cam into) is an image of the young, dynamic Einstein. I also turned the base of Len's work into a rotating dome of the heavens, the splendour of the universe upon which Lil Eizenstein sits perched and from whence Einstein felt the wonder which fueled his conceptions.

The dome is also the top of a mushroom cloud... the terrible material use to which Einstein's theories led and which he later (along with Robert Oppenheimer, Niels Bohr and many of the physicists of his day) condemned. So to this work I added snippets of Einstein's famous 1945 Voice of America speech pleading for world peace (reproduced below) which play at random intervals.

When touched, Lil Eizenstein SL presents the avatar with a copy of the first page of the Theory of General Relativity in Einstein's own handwriting, a graphic of Einstein in front of a mushroom cloud with the text of his 1945 speech and copies of photographs of Len Zuks' physical piece, Lil Eizenstein.

Once again, I am very grateful to both Len Zuks for the opportunity to work with his pieces and to Jayjay Zifanwe of the University of Western Australia In SL for facilitating this very interesting collaboration.

Flickr photo set

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"Today, the physicists who participate in watching the most formidable and dangerous weapon of all time... cannot desist from warning and warning again: we cannot and should not slacken in our efforts to make the nations of the world and especially their governments aware of the unspeakable disaster they are certain to provoke unless they change their attitude towards each other and towards the task of shaping the future...

Large parts of the world are faced with starvation, while others are living in abundance. The nations were promised liberation and justice, but we have witnessed and are witnessing, even now, the sad spectacle of liberating armies firing into populations who want their independence and social equality, and supporting in those countries by force of arms, such parties and personalities as appear to be most suited to serve vested interests. Territorial questions and arguments of power, obsolete though they are, still prevail over the essential demands of common welfare and justice."

Albert Einstein
Voice of America Broadcast, 1945

Einstein site @ The American Institute for Physics

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