Saturday, May 14, 2011

Inside Story

Il rimpianto è il vano pascolo di uno spirito disoccupato. 
Bisogna soprattutto evitare il rimpianto 
occupando sempre lo spirito con 
nuove sensazioni e nuove immaginazioni. 
Gabriele d'Annunzio
A Roman Count in love with Art itself, a Sicilian family at odds with destiny, a smoker struggling wittily with his conscience, and a madman who returns to sanity, only to find himself trapped in an elaborate hoax. Four turn-of-the-20th century tales from Italian Literature with one thing in common - they have all been brought to life in Craft.
Marina Ninza teaches literature at the Ernesto Balducci Institute in Pontassieve, near Florence. In Italy, kids have options, when it comes to what kind of liceo or High School they attend; glamorous sounding options like classico, linguistico, artistico. The Ernesto Balducci is a liceo scientifico. Kids who choose this option are more into chemistry than classics, as you can imagine, so Marina's challenge is to find a way to get her students interested in texts that matter.
marina ninza:  We've used a lot of approaches to present the material, including ebooks and video games. I had the idea to recreate the settings in 3D. We're just getting started, it's a joint venture with the Computer department. This year, there were only a couple of computers and four avatars for the students to use in the classroom, so it's not as hand-on as we would like, and we live in the country, so a lot of the students don't have broadband at home.
The four builds are on sim Pindaro, donated by Craft owners Tao Quan and Licu Rau. Tao took charge of building  the house with the Nespolo tree, from verga's  I Malavoglia. The famous courtyard is full of charming little details, like the hen house, the bread oven, and round fishing nets.
Tao Quan: I'd never heard of the book before I started this build, but there is a lot of information on the internet and the teacher helped me too. The children aren't online very much, and are still learning cam skills, so if you look at the garden, you may see some of the   vegetables floating above the ground! 
Tao Quan: It is good for the various disciplines in the schools to work together, and in a medium which the children can enjoy. I think this is a safe environment for them, we keep an eye on them when they are here. Opensim has a different feeling than SL, there are different values. There is a lot of our hearts here in this grid, so we want to see people develop, especially the young.
Tao and Licu originally imagined that the students would build vertically on sky platforms, rather than horizontally at sea level, but it's very nice to be able to wanter from one part to another. This is the castle for Enrico IV, complete with vineyard and, at the student's insistence, a car park. Nicola reinerman
did most of this build, which has an appropriately theatrical feel. He also made the fantastic recreation of the heart of 19th century Rome, complete with the Spanish Steps, to represent d'Annunzio's Il Piacere.
Marina Ninza: When my colleague and I started out, we were by no means experts. We have learnt a lot this year, and have plans to bring in video and informational boards over the coming year, as well as more interactive things using scripts. Some of the students in another are interested in making stuff with Blender, so we hope to have them make sculpties to add to the builds.
Tao Quan: I have enjoyed working on these things and enjoyed the cooperation with the school too. I hope it is the first of many such projects.
Of the four texts that the students read, it seems that they liked d'Annunzio best, Verga the least. Well,reading Verga is like eating cannoli. Sweet, but kind of heavy to digest. Marina's personal favourite is La coscienza di Zeno and she has taken on the building of downtown Trieste herself. You can almost see Zeno strolling round the piazza, musing on life, love, and making a profit. Four extraordinary tales, illuminated by 3D, part of the unfolding story of Craft. Come be a part of it today! 

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