15 January 2017


Opening today, Sunday, January 15, is Burning, a new sim-wide build by artist Cica Ghost. Whether by a strike of lightning or the hand of an arsonist or the bombardment of a warring army, a town has been engulfed in fire and left to burn, its buildings scorched by the heat and smoke. In the central square, a large bell continues to slowly swing in its tower, while around the little village stand the smoldering remnants of trees, their leaves and branches having been incinerated.

Visitors arrive on the northwest corner of the sim, which was once a grand entryway: a long arched stone bridge leads us forward into the heart of the town (lowest image), and at one time afforded views of the now-burned forests. Although the overall mood of Burning is a dark one, there are elements of levity in the build — the quirkiness of the buildings themselves, the humorous poses scattered throughout (be sure to investigate windows), and the purring feline marked цицa mаца (pussycat in Serbian, and a reference to Cica's own name).

Shown here is the sim's default windlight setting, and with advanced lighting model turned on, but Cica personally prefers the desolate scene with ALM deactivated. If you enjoy Burning, please consider leaving a contribution at the landing point, or by enjoying items from Cica's store located here in Appalachian.

14 January 2017

The Paperwork Shows (images NSFW)

Now on display at the DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, is The Paperwork Shows, a fabulous exhibition of images and material by photographer William Weaver (Paperwork Resident), who hasn't exhibited his work in Second Life in recent history. The developer of the indispensable Phototools extension, which revolutionized photographic possibilities in Second Life, William produces groundbreaking photography that focuses on ways in which light and shadow can be manipulated in the viewer. While his works often have indisputable emotional content, sometimes erotic or sexually charged, his compositional process always starts with light and depth of field, with results so realistic that it can be difficult to discern whether the images were taken Second Life or on the physical world. "I want them to look beautiful to me," said William as we talked his compositional approach, "and reality is gorgeous — light is gorgeous." (My partner, Kinn, and I have been delighted to collaborate with and pose for William (center, image below, and elsewhere in the exhibition).)

Included in the exhibit are several photosets with which people are invited to experiment (several are overhead on the second floor). "In a couple days, I'll have some classes about how to shoot," says William. "These are teaching photosets, and the lessons will be on YouTube when they're ready." (William was uncertain at the time of this article how the classes would be announced, and I'll post notice here if time permits.) "This is all about teaching," William continued, "because I don't really have an interest in showing — I mean I don't care much anymore about 'my work.' I like making pictures for me, and that's kind of it — but I think there are a lot of people who really want to learn how to do this stuff, so it's nice to be helpful." The Paperwork Shows will remain on display for approximately a month. If you enjoy the exhibitions at DiXmiX, please consider leaving a contribution in support of the gallery.

13 January 2017

Le Sixième Sens

The "sixth sense" has been commonly used to describe the phenomenon of extrasensory perception, or ESP, as manifested by telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinesis and the like — elements of the world (should they exist at all) that might at first be mysteriously hidden from view, perhaps not consistently part of our normal reality. Visitors to Le Sixième Sens (French for "the sixth sense"), a sim by Natacha Haroldsen and Yeiyaiel, might too feel there's more than visible at first glance, and the sim will amply deliver on that promise, with delightful surprises around almost every corner.

"You are traveling in Tuscany, Italy, and arrive on a plaza surrounded by old shops that give you a rustic feeling," say the creators. "Explore and discover a traditional market and vineyards, as well as a villa in this romantic, photogenic spot." One certainly feels transported to another time and place — to a world of rolling hills, romantic landscapes, beautiful vistas, fields of sunflowers, vinyards waiting for harvest, and secluded spots for quiet enjoyment. Winding paths and arching stone bridges offer routes around and through the bucolic scenery.

Le Sixième Sens is one of those sims that seems larger than it should, as if somehow the designers were able to pack more into a single region than we should expect. Photographers may join the land group for the ability to rez props, and might be interested in submitting works to a content juried by Skippy Beresford, Lam Erin, Lokhe Verlack, with more information here. If you enjoy the sim, please consider supporting the several shops and stores at the landing point.

12 January 2017

No Frontiers

Now open at LEA16 is No Frontiers, a bold immersive installation ("a futuristic journey towards the stars") by artist Gem Preiz. Stitched together in groups of 18 panels, his signature and immense fractal images depict complex, otherworldly scenes, and here lean toward the depiction of wondrous structures in the depths of outer space. The exhibition's title is inspired by the works of Lebanese-Franco author Amin Maalouf, of whom Gem said as we talked, "He's very much a humanist — simple and clear lessons of life all along his books — tolerance and human respect, because there are No Frontiers in space and in knowledge, and I'm fed up with all the walls people want to raise everywhere. Mankind's progress will come from more unity and sharing."

"In counterpoint of Metropolis and Wrecks, two of my last exhibitions, No Frontiers is inspired by a resolutely optimistic vision," continues Gem in the exhibitions notes. "The technology turns into something more aesthetic than enslaving, and the journeys to the outer space are no longer runaways but explorations, as those of real astronauts which will maybe allow to realize one of the dreams of Mankind (and for me its ultimate vocation): understand the Universe." As we talked further about the more optimistic stance of these current display, he said, "I spend hours on social networks, and TV news and world news are awful at the moment. So, from time to time, I open a scientific magazine and read about new discoveries ... and it makes me smile again. I've been always fond of science, and especially astronomy, which is easy to connect with the theme of the exhibit."

No Frontiers offers sixteen large fractal images, each displayed in a unique enclosed environment, all linked by a network of snaking tubular tunnels with circular airlocks (the display being, appropriately, set in space). In each room, a three-dimensional artwork complements the fractals — generally a more simplistic gesture that contrasts with the complexity of the fractals, although some of the three-dimensional pieces are fractals themselves, and many are in motion, swirling or gently drifting in space. The music, selected by Gem for the exhibition, adds a fourth dimension.

Navigating through the installation is simple and engaging — one simply flies, or, better yet, uses one of two vehicles available at the entrance (one has a single seat, the other a pair). Gem suggests the use of advanced lighting model and a draw distance of at least 400 (which comes in helpful at the culmination of the installation). He hopes to possibly add an another installation on LEA16 before the end of his artist residency grant from the Linden Endowment for the Arts in June, when the display of No Frontiers will come to a close.

10 January 2017

Mistero Hifeng at DiXmiX Gallery

Now on display at the DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, is an exhibition of two- and three-dimensional artworks by Mistero Hifeng, many of whose sculptures were previously positioned throughout the halls of the gallery. His highly distinctive and trademark mesh avatars and compositions, which often appear to be fragmented or broken — sometimes even shattered, with pieces flying away into space — were originally produced as material for his own photography, but here they stand side by side, and have become over time no doubt better known than their two-dimensional counterparts.

Mistero's invitation to exhibit at the space came in part through his relationship with gallery designer Megan Prumier. "When he saw what Megan did with his pieces [positioned throughout the gallery]," explained Dixmix, "he started to offer her some new ones, so the next step was to have him here with pictures too." Each of the artworks is available for purchase, and the exhibition will remain on display for about a month. Contributions to support DixMiX are welcomed.

09 January 2017

Aisling (images NSFW)

Now open at the Dathúil Gallery of Art, curated by Lυcy (LucyDiam0nd) and Max Butoh, is Aisling (pronounced ASH-ling — Gaelic for vision, dream or apparition), and subtitled Our Desire As Image. The exhibit features photography by a dozen prominent artists who have previously shown at the gallery, including Gaus (Cicciuzzo Gausman), mrs S (Lauralar), Mr S. (Saka Infinity), daze landar (daisydaze), Yann Whoa (Lottomann), k a t e (KateBergdorf), Your Mother (ElizabethNantes), Ash (Ashratum), Io (Io Bechir), Maloe Vansant, Mi (KissMi), and Joslyn Benson (Jolivea Tyran). The curators state, "For this presentation, we have asked some of our friends who have previously shown at the gallery to share images with us. We celebrate the individuality of each artist that has gracefully presented their work at Dathúil and are delighted to welcome them once again." Each of the distinctive images is available for free. Aisling will continue on display through January 31.

08 January 2017

Penumbra & lacrimioare

Now open at Berg by Nordan Art, curated by Kate Bergdorf and Tutsy Navarathna, are a pair of installations: on the ground, Penumbra by Meilo Minotaur and CapCat Ragu, and, in the overhead gallery space, lacrimioare by Huckleberry Hax. Penumbra (top four images) presents a fabulously mysterious woodland world filled with tree creatures, caterpillars, cocoons, sounds, and hidden surprises. Amid a forest of nearly identical trees, all evenly arranged in an "X" formation, we observe wooden bodies stretching from the trunks — although one figure stands fiercely detached (background right, third image) — and, at the far end of the scene, a boy seems to run from them, as if in terror (fourth image).

The misty and atmospheric Penumbra seems to have been inspired in part by a quote from Antonio Gramsci, as the artists state in the exhibition notes: "'The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.' This is, usually, the quote we most see attributed to Antonio Gramsci, the Italian theorist, politician, and freedom fighter. However, this is not the true quote. In Italian, what Gramsci wrote in Quaderni del carcere (Prison Notebooks) was: 'La crisi consiste appunto nel fatto che il vecchio muore e il nuovo non può nascere: in questo interregno si verificano i fenomeni morbosi piú svariati.' This would more accurately translate to: 'Crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born, in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.' But Prison Notebooks suffered several translation mutations, such as: 'Le vieux monde se meurt, le nouveau monde tarde à apparaître et dans ce clair-obscur surgissent les monstres.' This mutation was carried over to Portuguese translation: 'O velho mundo agoniza; o novo mundo tarda a nascer, e, nesse claro-escuro, irrompem os monstros.' Back to English, this would translate to 'The old world is dying, the new world is slow to appear and in this chiaroscuro the monsters arise.' The word 'penumbra' exists both in English and Portuguese. It means partial illumination, a chiaroscuro, the dusk. Going back to the original quote, this penumbra, this forest, is the interregno, mutated by the flux of words in translation, adding poetic resonance to Gramsci's pragmatism. Beware of the 'morbid symptoms' you might embody!"

Meilo and CapCat may be best known to many Second Life residents for their sim entitled Delicatessen, home to the Meta_Body project, which provides dozens of free artistic avatars. (Read here from 2013.) And several avatars are available at Penumbra by clicking on objects: the various cocoons, the tree person, and the caterpillars. (Transparent textures positioned throughout the build may interfere with clicks, so it may be necessary to get quite close to some of the objects for your clicks to register. Meilo and CapCat request that recipients be respectful of the license agreement provided with the avatars.)

Local sounds are an essential element of the installation, with voices by Rita Eustáquio, Luís Eustáquio and Catarina Carneiro de Sousa, and with sound capture and editing by Takio Ra. Wander near the tree people, and you might hear phrases in English and presumably in Portuguese: "Mom?" "Mom, it's dusty," "There are no monsters," and so on. The cocoons, which also emit sounds, are functional as well, providing an opportunity to curl up in protected spaces. (As with the avatars, you may need to get fairly close to the cocoons to enter them.) Shown here is Penumbra's default windlight setting — London 2026 — a hazy brown.

Above the ground level, the intimate gallery space at Berg by Nordan Art hosts the exhibit of works by Huckleberry Hax, lacrimioare, meaning "Lily" in Romanian (images above and below). These minimal but gorgeous photographs — subtitled "The new absence of someone loved" and, surprisingly, the first shown by Huckleberry in a gallery setting — explore contrasts in color, light and shadow. Both installations will remain on display through March, when the curators plan for some substantial changes in the Berg by Nordan Art presentation series.

05 January 2017

I am not

On display at the Surreal Tower Gallery, curated by Juliette SurrealDreaming, is I am not, an exhibition of photographic images and a three-dimension sculpture by Norton Lykin. (The gallery's navigation system can be a challenge — simply use the teleport at the landing point and select The Clouds Room.) "Reflecting on nature, love, perception and cognition," says the artist, "I see clearly that what we perceive as reality, is a flux depending on our ideas, histories and conditioning, that the present moment feeds us with all kind of possible realities. Throughout this there is one stable, factor, love, which can take us through everything, love of this being, which in its imperfection is perfect, wholesome." Whether the images explore this theme is difficult to say, but each photo is a distinctive expression; the installation design, with recurring visual motifs, helps unify the show. Each of the images as well as a companion book are available for purchase. The exhibition will continue on display indefinitely, and visitors might also enjoy visiting Norton's own exhibition space, the Impermanence Light House Art Gallery (read here).

04 January 2017

Lucid dreams

Now open at the DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, is Lucid dreams, an exhibition of photography by Miles Cantelou. Heavily processed, Miles's images are bold, intense gestures, charged with emotion and elegantly composed. Lucid dreams will remain on display for approximately a month, and each of the photos is available for purchase. Contributions toward the support of the exhibitions are welcomed at the landing point. (Upcoming openings at the frequently-changing DiXmiX Gallery include Mistero Hifeng on January 10 and William Weaver on January 14.)

03 January 2017

Mineral Ridge

"Welcome to Mineral Ridge, a town once booming in the early 1920s," begins the greeting at Mineral Ridge, a creation by Aiden Caudron and Norman Dobler (NormanDobler Resident). "Come explore with your friends or family this beautiful place to discover vast caves and historical sites. In 1893, Mineral Ridge was one of the top places to live in the country."

While it looks as though the town's few residents have attempted to keep up good appearances, the 1890s and 1920s were long ago, and things overall seem to have tumbled downhill. Relegated to the status of a tourist attraction, the location has apparently attracted a population of squatters who make due in various campsites and in the extensive caves the snake underneath the bedrock. (A flashlight handed out at the landing point might be helpful in the caves.) Roleplay is encouraged and the region is damage enabled, but visitors who wish to take in the sights are more than welcome to simply wander.

The photogenic sim is roughly divided into two parts — a residential community on the higher east side, with paved asphalt streets, and the hillier and picturesque west side, with dirt roads and a touch of trailer trash living. Explorers will find many little nooks and crannies hidden away within both areas — indeed, repeated trips to Mineral Ridge might be needed to discover all of its faded charms. Shown in these images is the sim's default windlight settings, but others will work admirably.

"The sim took me about three weeks to finish," says Aiden. But he had larger plans in mind, intending to eventually build three interconnected sims that would be more than scenery. "I'm trying to do something that hasn't been done in depth before. With most sims, you go to them, you see them, teleport out after you see them, but ... what if you go to this sim, you explore this sim, and whilst exploring you find new places that you missed, find new nooks and crannies in which you can find cool items. Imagine teleporting into this sim, and seeing a vast land two sims bigger than it is now, and you have to find your way from point A to point B, sort of like a maze, but in a different aspect, and along the way you'll face dangers depending on the routes you choose to take, maybe somewhere you'll find hidden items, (gachas, or such), and some places you'll get trapped, or maybe lose your health. Think of it as an experience game, where each time you come you may try a different route — it could take you an hour or more to find the proper way to point B." But this expanded venture (and even the continuation of the existing sim) depends on the support of the community. If the project sounds exciting, lend your support to Mineral Ridge at the landing point and be in touch with Aiden or Norman. (And special thanks to my partner, Kinn, for her assistance with this post.)