Tag Archives: second life

EAA Istanbul: A Blast from the (Çatalhöyük) Past

Tea on the Ferry across the Bosphorus, taken in 2006 (!)

Tea on the Ferry across the Bosphorus, taken in 2006 (!)

For the first time ever, I’m attending the European Association for Archaeology (EAA) meetings, 10-14 September in Istanbul. Istanbul is probably my favorite city in the world, so full of chaos and color, heady intellectualism, romanticism and a past that stretches deep beneath the Bosphorus. I don’t think my Turkophilia sits all that well with my Turkish friends, who have to struggle with the conservatism of Erdoğan’s government and have to fight in the streets to protect themselves from his police state. I worry about my friends in Turkey, I worry about Turkey’s slide into militancy, but I also believe in them and their passionate resistance and refusal to be silenced.

So my joy to be returning to Turkey is somewhat tempered by the ongoing struggles of the Gezi protesters and Erdoğan’s move from prime minister to president, with the accompanying fears of a cult of personality that will elevate him into an autocratic regime.

Whew–after that fairly heavy-handed politicizing, I’ll be presenting in two sessions, both about previous (slightly old & moldy) work that I did regarding Çatalhöyük that I need to publish.

granny_second_life

First is a paper:  The Life and Death of Virtual Çatalhöyük in Second Life

Abstract: From 2007 until 2011, OKAPI Island in Second Life hosted a virtual reconstruction of the Neolithic village of Çatalhöyük. This simulation included reconstructions of current excavations, past and present lifeways at the site, a virtual museum, and hosted several forums and open days. Using the reconstruction we hosted a mixed reality session,filmed machinima, held university lectures, and collaborative virtual building sessions. OKAPI Island in Second Life was an incredibly fertile proving ground for re-thinking our assumptions about archaeological interpretation and outreach.When Linden Labs, the makers of Second Life, decided to end the educational discount that made OKAPI Island affordable, a team of students and professors at the University of California, Berkeley made the effort to preserve the virtual reconstruction by record, a process that is familiar to archaeologists. After the “death” of a virtual reconstruction of an archaeological site, what lessons can be learned about digital materiality and preservation? How can we use the example of Çatalhöyük in Second Life to inform our future reconstructions? What is next for collaborative virtual work in archaeology?

Since my fairly effusive 2009 work in Archaeologies, (Re)Building in Second Life: Changing Virtual Reality in Archaeology, I wanted to add a coda–so many virtual reconstructions and digital projects are built, published, and we are left to puzzle out what happened later, so I wanted to wrap up all the work that we’d done and the eventual fate of the reconstruction.

I’m also very happy to be putting together a poster with my good friend and colleague Jason Quinlan:

57_05

Title: Fifty Years of Visualization at Çatalhöyük

Abstract: Çatalhöyük, a spectacular archaeological site in central Turkey, has been the subject of visual interpretation for half a century. From Ian Todd’s photography performed during James Mellaart’s 1960s excavations to Ian Hodder’s work since 1993, a vast visual record has accumulated of over 100,000 images. The collection records not only site excavation and finds but also embedded changes recorded in the archive’s collective “metadata” in both technical and theoretical approaches to site photography over time.

In this poster we explore the changes in technology, methodology and theory at the site as seen in the changing modes of visualization at Çatalhöyük. Through quantitative and qualitative analyses of the visual record, we provide insights regarding the contrasting archaeological processes at the site. Finally, we look to the future of visual interpretation at Çatalhöyük.

I’m happy to finally be able to draw a line underneath my work at Çatalhöyük and get more of my dissertation research out the door!

A Death Knell for OKAPI Island?

An interesting (and aggravating) confluence of events occurred this week, all of which may have some bearing on the future of OKAPI island, where we host our experimental reconstruction of the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük. You can check out the history of my experience with OKAPI island if you click on the “Second Life” tag in the sidebar.

On October 5th, Linden Labs announced that they are discontinuing the academic discount, effectively doubling our already exorbitant fees for OKAPI Island. The changes will take place 1 January, 2011. We just found out about it a couple of days ago–already in mid-semester full-swing development–we were implementing several projects, including the creation of a script that automatically recreated pot-prims from rim drawings, hosting the Bristol TAG film festival, a fully developed lesson plan for elementary school teachers that used the island, and a new more interactive museum. Needless to say, this has thrown a considerable monkeywrench into our semester.

On that note, it is also Open Access Week. We are looking into porting the project to OpenSimulator, which we probably should have been using from the start. Sadly the learning barrier is even higher than that of Second Life, so it is not obvious that OpenSim is a viable solution. We have had to switch from our existing projects to a kind of virtual triage–the downside of using proprietary formats and worlds. We will probably try an appeal to Linden Labs, but are pessimistic of any results. OKAPI Island was never intended to be “forever,” but the end may come faster than anticipated.

As a side note, the anticipated comic session for Bristol TAG was cancelled (booo!), so I threw my lot in with the CASPAR (audio-visual practice-as-research in archaeology) folks. I submitted this abstract and title:

Machinima and Virtually Embodied Archaeological Research

OKAPI Island in Second Life has been the site of archaeological research at the University of California, Berkeley since 2007. During this time the island has hosted lectures, film festivals, tours, educational outreach, and archaeological reconstructions created by a team of undergraduate and graduate students. In Fall of 2009, the OKAPI team pushed boundaries in interpretation and filmmaking by making archaeological machinima (movies made entirely within virtual worlds), the actor/avatars wearing the “skins” of the Neolithic residents of Çatalhöyük, a 9,000 year old tell site in Turkey.  This virtual embodiment of past peoples confused modern social boundaries of student and professor, archaeological subject and object, artifice and artifact.

In a session bringing together practice and research within audio-visual representations of archaeological sites, this presentation will explore the profound discomfort, complications, and surprising insights that come with navigating archaeological “fact” and fiction through embodied storytelling in a virtual world.

So, if you’ve never checked out OKAPI Island, I suggest you do so ASAP:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Okapi/128/128/0

eat, dance, play @ Çatalhöyük

Location: Okapi Island

(You must have the free Second Life browser)

Join us for eat, dance, play @ Çatalhöyük, a project led by Professor Ruth Tringham of UC Berkeley that explores the intricate life practices of a Neolithic village in Turkey. Okapi Island, which has been in development since 2006, offers individuals the unique opportunity to explore reconstructions of Çatalhöyük, visit our virtual museum, and take guided video walks through the Island. In this demonstration you will join in authentic cooking lessons, dancing by the firelight, and canoeing down the river of Çatalhöyük. We will present student work and changes we made to the island over the past semester. Don’t miss the chance to explore the unique multimedia exhibits of Çatalhöyük research data and come connect with us on Okapi Island.

Your browser may not support display of this image.

eat, dance, play @ Çatalhöyük Activities

2:00- 2:15 PM (PST)

Introduction to Okapi Island by Ruth Tringham (Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley, and Principal Investigator of Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük). Join Ruth as she explains the background of the project, current projects, and future goals.

2:15– 2:30 PM (PST)

Tell Tour/introduction to the changes on the Island by Colleen Morgan, including a brief presentation about her 2009 Archaeologies publication.

2:30- 3:00 PM (PST)

Student demonstrations of their work this semester, including cooking lessons and an lecture about archiving cultural heritage in Second Life.

3:00- 4:00 PM (PST)

Extemporaneous Machinima Creation, directed by Ruth Tringham. Dress up in Neolithic clothes and flintknap, dance, and join a feast!

4:00- 4:30 PM (PST)

Film Festival – Showing of movies and machinima associated with the island.

4:30- 5:00 PM (PST)

Chat and dance next to the fire with the creators of Okapi Island.

What is Second Life?
Second Life is a 3-D virtual world created entirely by its residents. Okapi Island is owned and build by the OKAPI team (that’s us below!) and the Berkeley Archaeologists at Catalhoyuk.

Getting Started
To visit Okapi Island, you will need to create a user account and download the client software–both free.

To create an account, visit www.secondlife.com, click on Join (in the upper right corner) and follow the instructions. Note: You do not need a premium account to use Second Life or visit Okapi Island.

Next, download and install the Second Life client for your computer:
http://secondlife.com/community/downloads.php

Launch the Second Life client and enter your password. You will likely begin in Orientation Island. To visit Okapi Island, click Map, enter “Okapi” in search field and click Search. Alternatively, you can click on the following slurl (second life url) in your browser, and you will be transported there:

SLURL:
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Okapi/128/128/0

See you there!

Another Second Life Talk

This weekend I made a sieve as well:

Our Spring open house will be on May 4th, and it should be really fun! Watch this space!

The Virtual World of Çatalhöyük (Turkey): Okapi Island in Second Life

This is the talk that Ruth and I are giving this Wednesday here in the department.  It will mostly be an overview with some machinima added in and bits from my Archaeologies paper.

If you happen to be in the Bay Area, come and bring your lunch!

The Hunt – Archaeological Machinima

I’ve posted about machinima and archaeology before, and posted a short effort that I made last Spring. This time we have a slightly longer effort that is part of the result of a class that Ruth and I were teaching called “Serious Games and Virtual Worlds for Archaeology and Imagining the Past.” The class ended up being very different than what we imagined it being, but we learned a lot and have been publishing the results in various venues.  The first is this cut of a couple of scenes we filmed last semester.

The scenes were scripted by the students, using what they had learned about Catalhoyuk from The Leopard’s Tale and a few other research articles.  They built and scripted some of the items, changed their avatars, and acted out the parts in Second Life.  It was an ambitious effort and difficult in all respects, but the students were up to the challenge.  Ruth “shot” the video and we both edited it together into this short film for the Computer Applications in Archaeology conference in April.  We hope to integrate it into a slightly longer film for the SAAs as well.

Frankly, I think it’s pretty hilarious and there are a lot of mistakes in it, but it’s in good fun and the students learned a lot while making it.  Oh, and Ruth is the green person.  She doesn’t like to change her skin color.

Çatalhöyük in Second Life, Fall 2009

This Fall we had the chance to teach a class about serious games using Okapi island as a base and we had four research apprentices working to improve the island.  As a result, we had some pretty amazing progress on the place.  As you can see from the image above, we have our entrance relocated to where the visitors entrance to the site is, along with the gate, the cafe, and the signage that you see as you are entering the actual site.  We are still fixing up the guard house and the experimental house, but I think that giving visitors a better sense of arrival adds to the island.

One of our apprentices designed some Neolithic clothing and tattoos, based on designs from John Swogger, Kathryn Killackey, and her own imagination. They incorporate designs and materials that we have evidence for from the archaeological record and were useful when we filmed our machinima. You can pick up your own set at the entrance to the site.

We were also able to get the dig house exterior in place, though work on the interior continues. Building the dig house was interesting, as I had never really paid attention to how odd the architecture is, and how all of the walls and rooms fit together.  I was able to request some last-minute photos from Jason Quinlan to add textures to the exterior, but I’m having a hard time finding good interior shots–always people in the way!  Building in Second Life still shows me that we lack a lot of the documentation necessary for 3D reconstructions.

We also have been reconstructing B79 in the sandbox, and will hopefully finish in time to add it to the report on the building. It has been a collaborative building effort with Daniel Eddisford, and the discussions about architecture that we’ve had regarding the reconstruction have made us both reexamine our assumptions about mudbrick dwellings.

Our machinima should be finished in the next month, so watch out for that.  Later on in the Spring we will have our research apprentices continuing to work on the island, and hopefully have a “Grand Re-Opening” in May.

As always:

Okapi Island in Second Life

(added)

Oddly enough, we got some press coverage yesterday as well:

http://www.examiner.com/x-32230-Archaeology-News-Examiner~y2009m12d28-Cyber-archaeology