The man who created a rock & roll icon

pink_fender_stratocaster

“Most of the guitars on the market in the late 1950s had their share of feminine curves, but the Strat was the wood and metal equivalent of a pin-up model.” -from Wired Online

A mighty big birthday high-five is winging its way to the man who invented one of the most important musical instruments of the 20th century: the Fender electric guitar. As you may have noticed, many of the greatest rock guitarists in the world have built their sound, career and image around the sleek, sexy and fluid Fender Stratocaster, making it the central force in rock culture in the ’50s and ’60s, a period which continues to dominate almost every genre of popular music to this day.

The late Clarence “Leo” Fender was born 100 years ago on August 10, 1909. Thanks for the many soul-searing moments, Leo.

Posted in Chrome Underwood | Leave a comment

New cherrybomb test clip

The latest in our series of experiments in preparation for the creation of a music video for our first original single, Revolver, by Botgirl Questi. Members of cherrybomb are Camille Topaz, guitar; Botgirl, lead singer and bass; Chrome Underwood, guitar; and Fourworlds Ra, drums.

cherrybomb video sketchbook 3 from Botgirl Questi on Vimeo.

Posted in Chrome Underwood | Leave a comment

New Online Gallery, sort of

webgraphicfinalfix744

New web gallery of digital art is up in a rough draft sort of way. Two sections are active at this point, neither of them quite finished.. Avatar Art and Digital Paintings. Thought I’d at least get this out there for your invaluable feedback.

Check it out at http://chromeunderwood.com

Posted in Chrome Underwood | Leave a comment

cherrybomb logo unleashed

cherrylogofinalfinal512

Finally came up with a new logo for the band, after wrestling with it most of the weekend; designing logos, apparently, is not much like riding a bicycle. Though once a professional designer, it took me a few days to re-orient all those brain cells to the task of twisting letters and images into something that didn’t explode in every direction – in spite of all its cherrybombness. It had to stay together just long enough to capture the message and get it across to that mythical consumer. So, I thought the abstract notion of explosion would work just fine, and the cherry – well, hell, how can you screw up a cherry?

Got it done in good time for another reason as well…. Xaviar Thunders, the man behind the XTC line of leather clothing in Second Life, had heard about the band and contacted us about his idea of starting a new line of cherrybomber leather jackets – an offer we simply couldn’t refuse. So, look for the new jackets hitting the streets before long, new logo and all, at his chain of stores. We’ll keep you posted on that one, and will provide you with the slurl when the big day arrives.

Posted in Chrome Underwood | Leave a comment

Art is all around us…..

chromeorbit1024web

Lest I lose track of my original intent in all of this, I want to return to the font, the source – the tree of beauty. I am merely an artist, after all, and despite all the razzle-dazzle of technology, it is the song and cry of the human heart that I am striving to capture and express here; without that, I become just another sounding brass or tinkling cymbal. But here we are, like it or not; that song and cry is now being pumped through God’s tinny little speakers, heard ’round the world.

Photo above: Chrome in front of new digital mural, Orbit.

Posted in Chrome Underwood | Leave a comment

I’m just a singer in a virtual band…..

chromerocks1024

Btw, did I mention that I’m a rock star?

Well, yeah, a virtual one, true enough… but there is far more than meets the eye (and ear) when you add that qualifier – in fact, that is the very point I’ll be making at the SIGGRAPH conference in a few weeks. The advent of our new virtual band, cherrybomb, has had a big impact on my thinking in recent days, and has finally allowed me to begin to formulate a more coherent view of the use and meaning of technology in the arts. Until the band was launched, I tended to view each medium, each genre, each tool, as an individual entity. I knew that many of them could be running in tandem, even simultaneously, but they were still distinct and separate in my mind. Now I see them more like threads in a tapestry, and the membranes that separate the realities and identities within them as permeable and fluid. And, no, I’m not having an acid flashback. At least not yet.

Botgirl and I are pursuing similar goals with cherrybomb, but with perhaps slightly different emphases; she is primarily interested in exploring “the truth that lives within the fuzzy border between fact and fiction”, using a powerful array of tools and talents to “deconstruct our normal experience of reality. ” I, on the other hand, am fascinated by the dazzling synthesis of ideas, identities and human expression in this unprecedented trans-reality, trans-media milieu we find ourselves swimming in. We’ve obliterated time and space by extending our minds into a new cast of shimmering self-entities…  holy grail, Botgirl, we are on the threshold of a dream! (speaking of flashbacks)

I began this journey in search of art; along the way I seem to have fallen through the looking glass.

Posted in Chrome Underwood | Leave a comment

the cherrybomb explosion

firstjam97crop644web

Looking back on things, I now see that since that day two years ago when I first began to stumble around in here as a brand-spankin’newbie, much of my internal and external landscape has shifted a bit. As a longtime digital artist in rl, I knew I had fallen upon something unusual; but it would take a few years to grasp just how extraordinary it really was.

It was a wonderland for those who had eyes to see it, one with few apparent limitations – an intoxicating brew for an artist. But it would take time and experimentation to gain any real sense of what it would be like to actually push the envelope of creativity, spanning time and space (both virtual and real), leaping tall buildings in a single bound, as it were. The only kryptonite in my new virtual home, it seemed, was something natives referred to as ‘lag.’

Then, a few months ago, Botgirl Questi and I began to explore the idea of collaborating on a creative project of some sort in Second Life and/or Real Life. Initially we focused on creating a comic book or graphic novel together, but the more we talked, the more projects we bumped into, and before long one or two became three or four, and then suddenly we saw that something unique was beginning to emerge.

We found the one thing that would enable us to create a multi-dimensional, multi-personal, multimedia work: a grand piece of fiction we could tease to life and watch unfold through a whole mess a’media. We were going to be singers in a rock and roll band. The band, cherrybomb, was born.

As we see this thing, it will happen on several levels and stretch out over both worlds. The band has already begun rehearsing, as you can see in the photo above, and will record its first original song later this month in the ‘real world.’ There is a music video in the works, a comic book, and at some point perhaps, a live performance or two. You will be able to follow their adventures here on a regular basis, and on Botgirl Lives, where, coincidentally, the new video is waiting.

Like the man said, this place is only limited by your imagination. Let’s see just how far that is.

Photo, above: cherrybomb at their first rehearsal in Second Life; from left to right, Botgirl Questi, bass; Fourworlds Ra, rhythm guitar; Camille Topaz, lead guitar; Chrome Underwood, drums.

Author’s Note: Cherrybomb’s new video is now showing on the Second Best music video channel on vimeo. Check it out.

Posted in Chrome Underwood | 4 Comments

Talkin’ to New Orleans…

buildingcode1024Confirmed speakers for the panel at SIGGRAPH 09 are:

Dr. Chris Thorne, Managing Director of VRShed Pty Ltd, developers of visualisation/simulation content, currently manages a number of projects using Second Life, Google Earth/Maps and Web 3D technologies,with a focus on improving fidelity, scalability and accuracy in simulation. Chris will discuss the Cross Worlds Campus, or, how we repurpose 3D campus assets into different online worlds.

Steve Guynup, Doctor of Design & Communication, Lecturer in Game Design, Art Institute of Pittsburgh; and Dr. Warren Wake, Chair of Game Art and Design and Web Design and Interactive Media at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Mauricio Ferrazza, Film, Theatre, 3D, and Video Game Design professional, Professor of Media Arts & Animation for the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. They will discuss The Magic Classroom: a simple, flexible, immersive educational concept with radical implications.

Paul Aslin, freelance 3d artist and web3d developer, specializing in avatars and technologies. Paul will discuss an all-new X3D-based 3d chat system with realistic avatars and gestures; as well as advanced building tools for making virtual buildings, from scripted elevators to entire cities built on vectors and 3d math.

Peter Schickel, Founder of Bitmanagement Software GmbH, credited by the Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) for Standardization of VRML and MPEG technologies and is member of the board of directors of the Web3D consortium. His discussion will focus on the latest projects utilizing Bitmanagement software.

Lauren Gauthier, CEO of 3D Net Productions; Virtual Relationships and Trust: an overview of the social impact of virtual worlds and multiplayer online games as it relates to the apparent disparity between users, their avatars and multiple online personas.

Doug Twilleager, Wonderland group, Sun Microsystems; formerly the implementation architect for Java 3D, as well as one of the designers of Sun’s OpenGL implementation. An Update on Project Wonderland: over the past year, Project Wonderland has gone through a major re-architecture; in this talk, Doug will cover all of the changes made to the system, focusing mainly on the graphics subsystem.

Mick Brady, Second Life photographer, blogger, writer and digital artist. The Adventures of a Virtual Artist: the story of Second Life avatar and artist Chrome Underwood, and his ongoing and multi-faceted exploration of the creative possibilities inherent in virtual environments, specifically Second Life, and their implications for the world of art in real life.

Philip Rosedale, Founder and Chairman of Linden Lab; developed and launched Second Life in 2003, now the world’s leading 3D virtual world environment. Philip will discuss the latest developments in this thriving virtual community where users create content, interact with others, launch businesses, collaborate and educate. Second Life now has a thriving economy with over $360 million USD transacted in 2008 alone.

SIGGRAPH 2009

Location: New Orleans, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

Date: Wednesday, August 5

…….
Image above: Building Code, by Chrome.

Chris Thorne is Managing Director of VRShed Pty Ltd (http://www.vrshed.com), developers of visualisation / simulation content. Chris is interested in the confluence of simulation and social networking. He currently manages and number of projects using Second Life, Google Earth/Maps and Web 3D technologies. Chris has over 25 years experience in 3D graphics industry and academia. His research is about improving quality, fidelity, scalability, accuracy in simulation (http://www.floatingorigin.com). Personal aim is to raise the world of modelling, visualisation and simulation to a new level of fidelity through innovations in simulation.
Posted in Chrome Underwood | Leave a comment

These are just some of My Favorite Things

patchfrolic2_1024

New worlds continue to open up in Second Life as my digital murals expand into new settings and take on even newer forms. Patch Thibaud, a master builder in sl and noted architect in rl, recently invited me to install a permanent rotating display of my work at the Patch Thibaud Auditorium and at key points on BOSL Boulevard. In the above photo, Frolic Mills, DB Bailey, Patch Thibaud and that guy with the shiny hair look over the first installation in the main lobby of the auditorium. The mural, descended from an earlier work, origami, stands 24 meters high by 12 meters wide, inworld; or, roughly 80 feet by 40 feet in the first world, the one made of atoms.

There are a number of interesting aspects of this installation to me…. one is that I have never “cropped” one of my paintings to create another, standalone work of art. Though I consider every square inch of my works as being beautiful, I have never put that idea to the test by allowing a ‘detail’ to become a painting in itself. This was a bit scary for me; not only because I had never done it before (not sure if anyone else has either), but because it was the breaking of another barrier, another taboo: I would be violating the ‘sacredness’ of the image as originally composed. Since it took a few months to create this piece in the first place, the balance and sense of completion of the original was something I had never even contemplated deconstructing.

But while discussing this idea with Patch, I began to realize that inherent in the very nature of the work itself – layers and layers of pixels – was impermanence and flexibility; thus, it could take almost any form, and in a virtual world, cover almost any surface, any shape. In other words, the creation of the original ‘painting’ was just the beginning of its new life. It was not in lockdown, as oil paint on canvas would be… it was more like an idea, a sensory sparking of the synapses constantly morphing into higher forms – not unlike the infinite variations on a single song each time John Coltrane played it.

We are talking complete freedom here, folks; or, just how much fun can you squeeze out of one work of art?

Quite a bit already, apparently, as you can see in the new murals, and even in the creation of my art cubes late last year; and also quite a bit to come, I expect, as you will likely see in some of my future posts. Hmmm, I have one in mind already, thanks to my good friend DB Bailey; but I’ll save that for another day. :)

Posted in Chrome Underwood | Leave a comment

Juliette Rocks!

julietterocks2flat1024

Posted in Chrome Underwood | Leave a comment