At last night’s crit class Medici University’s ultra-prolific artist Pearl Grey added VR 3D Creation to her resume already bursting with blog posts, stories, and collaborative writing projects. Pearl built a table with prims, a vase with sculpts, and curated some open source mesh flowers into the vase. In considering her media mix of Prims, Sculpts, and Mesh we all allowed the power and beauty of mesh objects created off-world on platforms like Blender, Maya, 3DS Max, and many others. Yet we all also agreed that there’s something very special about the humble, common, simple Prim.
Software like Blender or Maya does have a bit of a learning curve, but I’m sure with some time & effort we could all learn enough to create whatever we wanted. That such beautiful architecture, decor, vehicles, apparel, and avatar bodies can be made at these off-shore factories is wonderful. But the fact that they are cultural imports is significant. Yes it is someone else creating culture and selling it to us, but even more, it is us as unempowered consumers.
One of the reasons I love WordPress so much (and, with apologies, create too many websites) is because of how empowering it is as a free & open platform for the expression of aesthetics and ideology. I wince just a little when I see a sexy website that some artist has paid some designer to make for them. Yes it’s beautiful. But in our century an online presence isn’t a detached highway billboard that you “just” pay an ad agency to design and post for you. In our century your online life is an integral and inextricable part of your life life! You should own it. You should have agency.
Sometimes it’s nice to be able to buy mesh things. Or to take the time to make your own. But as Muse noted last night, there’s something so extra special about watching her next door neighbor Neeva stack prims into an enormous tower. When you build in Blender or Maya, it is the typist’s hands that manipulate an object later to be exported to an avatar world. When you build with prims, it is the avatar’s own “hands” that create in our own world.
No one is banned from making mesh objects. Still, because they require special software, steeper learning curves, and off-world creation, I think mesh creation will always be in fewer, more elite hands. There’s nothing more democratic and inclusive than touching the ground, rezzing a small, wooden prim, and starting an adventure.