Monday, February 9, 2009

Babelswarm site

We've just completed a permanent Babelswarm site with project information, images, videos etc. It's still working in SL, but we have a new project on the way for 2009.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Babelswarm walk-through

We've put together a quick walk-through movie of the real and virtual Babelswarm installations. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Down for maintenance

NOTICE: The Babelswarm SIM will be down for maintenance over the next 24 hours. We'll let you know when we're up again!

UPDATE: We're up again. Drop in!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Babelswarm in the press

Babelswarm has attracted a lot of interest from both mainstream and arts media. Below is a round-up of what we know about – our thanks to everyone who's taken an interest in the project. We're looking forward to coupling into the real-world again soon.

Old funds for new words – The Australian
They're virtually famous – The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age
Babelswarm – Photofile magazine
Babelswarm – ABC Radio Artworks feature
Iconology – Desktop Magazine

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Download The Book of Babelswarm

We've made the typeset version of the Babelswarm book available for download. It's A1 in size (when open), but should be legible if printed on an A3 printer. 100 signed copies have been printed and bound. Copy 1/100 was donated to The Australia Council, and Copy 2/100 to Lismore Regional Gallery. Download an unsigned copy for free (4Mb PDF).

Friday, May 23, 2008

Installation images

I'm posting some additional Lismore installation images that have just come in. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Who is Nimrod Low?

Some of you may have noticed a silent character gazing upon the Babelswarm tower. His name is Nimrod Low and he plays a key part in the installation's functionality. Historically, Nimrod was the Tower of Babel's chief architect, but in Babelswarm he is our camera for the real-word audience. His sight is broadcast via the projection screen on the back wall. The above image shows Nimrod, and how his vision is represented in the gallery.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Babelswarm on Flickr

Thaumata Strangelove (we think you're cool too Thaumata) has started a Bableswarm Flickr Group. Head there now and post your shots!

Lismore Installation

A quick video walk-through of the Lismore Gallery installation.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Radio National – Artworks interview

The Babelswarm team was recently interviewed by ABC Radio's Lyn Gallacher. You can catch us a few minutes into the stream here, or listen via the program site here.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Describing Babelswarm

Given the increasing interest in Babelswarm, and the backwards nature of blogs (first stuff last) I thought it appropriate to re-describe the artwork. So...

Babelswarm is a real-time, interactive, audiovisual artwork built in Second Life. The installation is based on the story of The Tower of Babel – a mythical tale of humanity's desire to reach the heavens. Babelswarm is contained within an entire SIM with visitor chat captured and fed into a meta-babeller. This babeller spills words from the sky and into an amphitheater (performance space). The words shatter on their decent and, once settled, begin to swarm in random directions seeking out other letters that held the same numerical position in the word they were born with. If they find a partner they bond and help create the tower's structure. Eventually each letter will sleep, but can be re-awoken or destroyed by touch.

The artwork is an exploration of emergent bahaviour and swarm theory. There is of course more meaning, but we'll leave it up to others to discover and discuss. Of most importance to us is the joy of watching the tower evolve through the interactions of participants like you. Your words are its nourishment and will be forever archived in the babeller's memory.

Not Possible IRL has a great article for those interested in more info, and you can download Justin's essay for a deeper look at the underlying theories and background. Or you can teleport straight in...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Contacting Babelswarm

We've been getting a lot of press, and requests for interviews and images recently. If you're interested in having a personal tour of Babelswarm (via Second Life), or would like some high-rez images you can contact us via email. We're looking for curators interested in seeing Babelswarm installed in their galleries. The Lismore Gallery's physical/virtual installation has struck a chord for many, and we're keen to expand on this with the next iteration of the work. Talk to us! We need you!

Monday, April 14, 2008

"Just a pile of lettus" - Babelswarm launch photos

I've uploaded launch photos from the real-life Lismore installation. It was a great night and our thanks again to everyone who helped out.

This is Babelswarm's beginning, with public interaction helping build and modify the artwork over time. We'll be keeping you up-to-date with the installation's next phase.

You can watch the pre-launch walk-through movie below.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Babelswarm opening details

Babelswarm will be open to the public on Friday 11th April, 1am SL time (6pm Australian Eastern time). Click here to jump in.

You can also download the Babelswarm Eassy by Justin Clemens here.

Many thanks to everyone at the Lismore Regional Gallery who have helped with the real-world installation, and to PowerMax Computers for their IT support. I'll be posting launch photos soon!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Final touches

Much has happened over the last two weeks. The original island layout has been dumped for a more focussed approach, and the various Babelswarm installations have been distilled into a final few. The old adage of "less is more" rings true once again, and we're feeling confident the finished installation will represent our original vision.

Book printing is down to the wire, with copies being delivered the day before we leave. It'll be well worth the wait as the printers (Printmode in Melbourne) have done a wonderful job. We'll be binding a few by hand once we're in Lismore for display in the gallery.

Adam and I are flying to Lismore on Tuesday to begin the real-world installation, with Justin meeting us a few days later. I'll leave you with a final image before we post the SLurl on April 11th.

Oh, and drop us an email if you're coming to the launch. We'd love to say hi.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Book of Babel

Justin's eloquent Babelswarm essay is with the printers. It's big in all respects (A2 in size for starters!) and 100 numbered copies are being manufactured for the installation's literary component. I'll post further details once it's delivered and available for purchase.

A plain text version of the essay will be available for free via the blog and Second Life.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Babelswarm launching on April 11th in Lismore and SL

The Babelswarm installation will be opening on April 11th, 2008 at the Lismore Regional Gallery. Australia Council CEO Kathy Keele and Chairman James Strong will be there to launch the event, and we'll post a SLURL for virtual attendees closer to the date.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Keep an eye out for the next issue of Photofile magazine (published by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Photography). Justin's been interviewed about Babelswarm and Adam's hybrid mug has made the cover! We're also featured in the next issue of The Art Gallery of New South Wales' Look Magazine.

UPDATE: OK, so we didn't make the cover (bummer), but we did get a good spread (groovy) and the article is most excellent. Watch out for the upcoming issue.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


A few major milestones have been reached with Terraforming tests beginning and Adam working on a few new scripts. A simple particle-based swarm can be seen above, as can one of our deconstructed pixel-mountains.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Start parameters and Swarm Gods

Seems our upgrade to the Havok 4 physics engine is causing problems with start parameters. This means our textures don't rez and we spend the afternoon taking dramatic photos instead. This one is for an interview Justin did with The Australian Centre of Photography's Photofile Magazine. I'll post a full link once his most excellent comments are published.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Disturbing the Peace, Scripted Object

Seems our wandering, random babbler has been causing some troubles. A Linden employee noticed ACVA was suffering from physics lag which is no biggy... but then they came down hard:

Linden Lab individually investigates the circumstances of every Abuse Report we receive. Following a careful review of our server records and logs, we have determined that your recent actions violated the Second Life Community Standards or Terms of Service. The violation in question occurred on January 24, 2008 in the region of ACVA.

Violation: Community Standards: Disturbing the Peace, Scripted Objects

Every Resident has a right to live their Second Life. The use of repetitive sounds, following or self-spawning items, or other scripted objects that intentionally slow server performance or inhibit other Resident's ability to enjoy Second Life are examples of Disturbing the Peace.

The rules of conduct are interpreted with the broadest meaning possible.


No additional action is being taken at this time.

Appeal Process: The decision to issue a warning or suspension for your Second Life account was reached after investigation of your use of the Second Life software and service. If you would like to appeal your warning or suspension, you may contact Second Life Support, in writing, at the address below:

Second Life Support
Linden Lab
945 Battery Street
San Francisco, CA 94111

We will not disclose the identity of Residents who file Abuse Reports.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Meta Babeller

Thanks to Adam's code optimisation the babeller is now capable of generating a huge volume of prims without effecting the island's overall performance. We're also starting to see some interesting emergent behavior which is very exciting and something we've been hoping for. Audio is coming along nicely, as is a database that acts as an archive and source for random babel towers to draw from. Oh, and night shots rock!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Interview with Adam

networked_music_review has a long interview with Adam. Its mainly a discussion of ideas of post-convergent media art within realtime 3D environments, trying to clarify some of the issues that are informing the process and creation of the BabelSwarm project.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

All your base

Adam has created a great script to aid in the creation of a Babelswarm base, aptly named "auto_spawn_rotate_with_delete". You can see the beginnings of the island-wide platform above.

The problems with physical space

We've had two meet and greets with prospective Babelswarm hosts so far. While ACMI were initially enthusiastic, the timing didn't fit with their schedule. Same for (an unnamed contemporary art institution), although it seemed their understanding of art created in virtual environments was somewhat uninformed, patronising and dismissive. They were interested in running a mediated forum on the legal and cultural debates surrounding virtual art, although I believe these debates have already been successfully addressed in academia and the (virtual) public realm. The "unnamed" did have valid observations regarding OzCo's framework, including the need for a physical space to exhibit Babelswarm. This is something we're still debating the merits of - why does virtual art need a real world interface?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Babelswarm makes the cover

The latest issue of Desktop Magazine features the Babelswarm project!

Monday, December 3, 2007

New milestone

A new milestone has been reached with Adam implementing the final letter forms. Audio is being embedded and tested this week.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Proof of concept

Adam has been busy scripting, with some great outcomes seen below in this pre-beta build. The php was relatively simple (for Adam), but as always SL is proving more problematic. Still - the outcomes are impressive and we're moving on to final letter-forms soon. The swarm behaviour, voice recognition interface, audio effects and housing are being discussed and we'll begin integration once the scripting issues are sorted.

Adam rides a swarm wave

Adam and Christo catching some "Zs"

Friday, October 5, 2007

The BabelSwarm Team

Left to Right: Adam Ramona, Adam Nash, Christo Kayo, Christopher Dodds, Justin Clemens, S1 Gausmann.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Recipients of the Inaugural Australia Council Second Life Artists Residency

We are proud to announce that we have been awarded the inaugural Australia Council Second Life Artists Residency. A project-based grant, at AUD $20,000, it is the biggest grant to be awarded for Second Life work.

We'd like to thank the Australia Council for recognising 3D Multi-user Virtual Environments (MUVEs) as a medium for serious art. For a public funding body to give such significant support shows vision and commitment to innovative post-convergent practice.

We will collaborate to develop an inter-disciplinary artwork in Second Life, which converges possibilities of literary, music/sound art and real-time 3D arts practices within the virtual world. There will be a simultaneous installation in Second Life and in a real world gallery, where gallery visitors can be directly involved in its creation via a voice-driven interface.

The installation, a metaphor for the Tower of Babel, will use voice recognition software that converts the spoken word of real and virtual world participants into 3D letterform images in an evolving tower of words. The behaviour of the individual letterforms and the meta-tower will be informed by swarm theory.

Our team consists of Christopher Dodds (aka Mashup Islander), Adam Nash (aka Adam Ramona) and Justin Clemens (aka S1 Gausman). Details in the People section at right.