22 April 2014

American Signs

A new exhibition, American Signs, featuring photography by Melusina Parkin, is now open at The Rose Theatre & Art Gallery, and Melusina will be present today, Tuesday, April 22, at 3 pm slt to welcome visitors. In contrast to many of her works that explore light, dark and linearity, these images are more evocative of a specific time time or period — indeed, they're almost nostalgic, hearkening back to the American roadside of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

"Months ago, I started taking photographs for a series called 'Americana'; I wanted to shoot typical American places, landmarks and 'icons' of American popular culture I could find in Second Life," she explains. "While visiting these places, I realized how much signs contribute to define a style, a mood that we can find in any image of cities, roads, stores and streets," and notes that painters such as Edward Hopper and Charles Sheeler captured similar imagery in their works of the time, which are now in and of themselves iconic. The installation is appropriately set in a faux roadside environment, complete with gas pump, road signs and even a hotel room.

Petrovsky Preservation

Regular blog readers will know of my recent "campaign" to raise awareness about the need to save a remarkable art installation, a Petrovsky flux, hosted by the University of Kansas Spencer Museum of Art. Most art installations, even in real life, rarely last for years, and the flux's run in Second Life has already been remarkable — but it's a seminal work and continues to astonish visitors, new and old. I'm happy to report that Stephen Goddard, associate director and senior curator at the Spencer, recently contacted me to cheerfully say, "We will be able to keep Petrovsky going, thanks to good communication and clarity with Linden Lab and to the generosity of those who have been contributing." Several people have contacted me over the past month asking how to help, and now you can: a tip jar at the landing point (and I believe there's another one somewhere too) is waiting for you, and clearly says that all contributions will go toward tier. The tip counter was well into five figures, but Stephen just reset it, so don't be alarmed if it seems that hardly anything has been collected. So head to the flux, grab your noggin protector, make a contribution, and enjoy the show. (Or you can make a contribution in real life via the museum's website.) Thanks to everyone who helped raise the discussion (with a special nod to my friend Inara Pey, who wrote about it and was also in touch with the museum, and to Ebbe Linden, who came inworld to visit!), and especially to the Spencer Museum of Art for hosting this virtual masterpiece.

18 April 2014

Becoming

Now open at Lost Town (La Città Perduta), curated by sivi Kelberry and AKILAE Gant, is Becoming by Meilo Minotaur and CapCat Ragu, which continues a tradition of strong artworks cleverly installed over the existing cityscape and environment. In this case, the artists provide a brief statement: "For the French philosopher Pierre Lévy the virtual does not oppose the real. Virtuality is not about possibility, but about potency. The possible is just like the real but without an existence. There is no realization for the virtual, only the potency of what it may become. Virtuality is in the intangible moment between what was and what will be."

At the landing point, the town square has been transformed into an almost ethereal and unearthly place, lit by a milky glow, with slowly moving bluish-green circles of light wandering across the cobblestones, gentle blue spheres drifting through the air, crows circling overhead, and hauntingly beautiful notes whispering in the air. (A still image such as the one at top won't quite manage to capture the effect.) The birds, you'll soon discover as you begin to explore, wandering into many of the dwellings and buildings throughout the town, are ubiquitous — in one place actually zooming inside a small room toward a human figure (third image) — as are the fluted notes, which seem to follow us everywhere. Be sure not to miss the large glass dome, which has been turned into something on a swarming aviary.

As has been the case with many other installations at Lost Town, sometimes there are moments when we're not sure what we're seeing is part of the original build or part of the new overlay by the artists, which is testament to the remarkable sensitivity that many of the artists have employed in designing their installations. There's also a special treat this time: four "Becoming Avatars" are waiting for you as gifts. Search for eggs — you'll know when you spot them in four distinct locations — that present you with these striking avatars, continuing in the theme of birds and feathers (two unisex, one male and one female). And if avatars are your thing, be sure to join the Lost Town group, because you'll also discover a room filled with additional free avatars provided by sivi and AKILAE.

17 April 2014

Spanish Wells

There are surfing sims in Second Life, and then there is Spanish Wells, owned by shannon Cardalines, who recently commissioned noted artist Cica Ghost to create a unique landscape. It's always nerve-wracking as an artist or landscape designer to create a space for someone else, because you know that changes to your original design or concept are inevitable, but this seems to have been a happy partnership, and the result is remarkable and unique.

From overhead, the land is roughly a crescent moon in shape, wrapping around a central area where surfing is the thing to do. For the beach, Cica has created things out of sand — castles that remind one of Little Village, a slowly moving figure with shovel — in addition to her curious trees, flowers, grasses, birds, fishing nets and other little oddities that cluster here and there. (A couple of the sand castles seem to be partially washed away.)

Of course, this is a beach sim, and so, in addition to Cica's striking landscape, there's a purely recreational aspect to it. Near the landing point you'll spot a hang glider that you can use to sail the skies, and then naturally there's the surf: just head to to the beach and click on the quirky flowerpot, which rezzes surfboards. The SSI is probably the best for starters (lowest image here), and there's one for couples (the LSD Tandem). If you haven't surfed before, just paddle out to the waves, turn to catch one, and your board should do the rest. Ingwë Weames has programmed a special music channel just for the sim, so check that out while you're visiting too.

16 April 2014

Ghost Castle

Now open at Italian Square, and presented by Italian Square and Tanalois Art, is Ghost Castle by Fuschia Nightfire, a highly interactive installation inspired by Fuschia's real life artwork at Corfe Castle, located in Dorset on England's southern coast. Begun by William the Conqueror in the 11th century and greatly modified in the 12th and 13th centuries, the castle stood strong until its destruction following capture by Cromwell's forces in 1646.

If you arrive at Ghost Castle and you're the only person in the area, the installation will reflect the look of how the castle now appears in real life, with the stronghold and remains of the keep firmly planted on the hillside. We're told that, "In her RL guise of Nina Camplin, Fuschia was commissioned to do some mural work at the [nearby] model village and whilst working there, she became inspired to make this installation, showing the present day remains of the castle which, when an avatar walks into it, rebuilds to its former majestic glory."

And so it does: as you approach parts of the castle, what's no longer there in real life suddenly appears before you, and gradually you get a sense of what the entire majestic structure must have been: walls, towers, staircases, ramparts, battlements. As you move away, these phantom pieces fade away again, and so unless a number of people are exploring simultaneously you're not likely to see all the pieces assembled at once. It's quite delightful to explore.

Navigation can at first be a little perplexing: some areas are solid and some phantom (necessary because as things rez you have to be able to move out of them), so just keep walking and climbing (or flying, which is often best). Be sure to set your draw distance up considerably—you'll often want to zoom out to see the effects of your movements—and also be sure your object detail (or LoD) is at least 4. Fuschia's work suggests interesting possibilities for virtual historical recreations, and I hope to see more like it.

14 April 2014

Santaurio

Officially opening this week (and open now for a sneak peek) is a new sim created by Jac Mornington and Romy Eara Rosea, Santaurio, meaning sanctuary. You'll have to brace yourself for a rough landing when you arrive — as did the survivors of a horrific plane crash (image above) — but you're one of the lucky ones, and luckier still to have landed at a tropical paradise. The tranquil beaches that wrap around the island hide a lush jungle interior and places to explore.

At the beach near the landing point, you'll spot the ruins of a theatre, and, nearby, ancient Mayan ruins, now entangled with vines. A small waterway that cuts through the beach and flows from the center of the island is your path inward, first through cypress and then toward a pool with resplendently clear water that flows down from a series of cascading waterfalls (third image). As you push into the interior you'll discover the shell of a volcano, now dormant, its rippling pond filled with lotus, bird of paradise and lilies, with the Buddha quietly overlooking the scene, "like a little temple," as Romy explained (fourth image).

Along the shore, you'll discover the beach club (captured a bit in the second image), "made out of mostly junk, like stuff you would find washed ashore," remarked Romy — it's the "central area to meet with friends or meet new people, talk, party." There's also a section of beach where turtles lumber from the sea to nest, as well as a few other tiny secluded spots that dot the shore.

As much as the sim is for exploring and hanging out, it also a place for lovers: as Jac says, "The sim has an adult theme to it." Hidden here and there — and you'll really have to find them by exploring — are built-in animations for a little risqué fun. Jac and Romy built the sim just for their own enjoyment — this wasn't work for a client — "We hope people will feel the love, the peace and harmony here," Romy told me. For a week or so Santaurio will be open to the public, but after that time you'll need to join a group for entrance (and more information on that will be available at the landing point).

13 April 2014

Roll of the Dice

Opening today, Sunday, April 13 at 1 pm slt at the MBK Gallery, curated by Asmita Duranjaya, is Roll of the Dice by Haveit Neox, an installation that investigates environmental issues. In each of the six nooks of the intimate gallery, the artist has created a small artwork to represent an environmental gamble: human population (overpopulation with resulting depletion of resources), earth changes (human induced climatic change), deforestation (losing biodiversity), ozone depletion, acid rain and 160 dead zones in the oceans, in addition to a seventh area (the "seventh face on a six sided die") on the back wall of the gallery on species extinction. Haveit's vignettes blend in seamlessly with the gallery environment, even extending up onto the ceiling, and an explanatory notecard provides more information. Roll of the Dice will remain on display through May.

12 April 2014

Heartseed: The Wild Side

Now open at LEA6 is Heartseed: The Wild Side by Jedda Zenovka, created as part of the Full Sim Art Series and on display through April 30. Visitors who have enjoyed Jedda's personal space, Heartseed (about which I wrote here several months ago) will see an immediate aesthetic connection. I don't usually post entire artist statements, but in this case it's warranted, as Jedda describes her work so aptly: "One of the things I love about creating in this medium is that you can express the energy so easily.

"Animism is the spiritual belief that everything is alive. I try to recreate this within the digital domain. Cybertech designs that fuse naturally with organic forms; water, sounds, plant-creatures, interdimensional entities that blend into the ocean forest ecology of my environments so that it is impossible to tell where one ends and another starts.

"Take a wander through a textured cyboriginal landscape which evokes healing emotions and crystallises into moving, living sculptures; descriptions of ideas and experiences inspired by both human life of aspirations and necessities and with the practicality of hands-on permaculture in the rain forest.

"While our minds and imagination evolves into the digital domain, our hands and naked feet remember the earth and other elements from which we are made. Dreamtime in this sense is the crossing over of two worlds; vision becomes solid and solid becomes visionary. It is instinct and the heart which guide us into and through this journey. The freshness of water, the spirit of a particular plant or mineral, is crafted into new form; the artist becomes the living conduit through which such essences express themselves.

Reach for the stars . .. Put your hands in Earth!"

Today, Saturday, April 12, Jedda continues the festivities on the sim with sixteen hours of DJs, beginning at 1 pm slt and continuing through Sunday at 5 am slt, so stop by if you haven't already had a chance to visit. When you arrive, click on the whitest of the images that surround you to receive a free and fun gift.

10 April 2014

Gallery Ai

Several days ago, artist Betty Tureaud opened a new space, Gallery Ai, on the Danish Visions sim, and it will serve as a showcase for her works as well as those by other artists. On the ground level stands a gallery housing primarily two-dimensional works and some smaller sculptures — currently on display are items by Jenn Villota, Avoid Clarity, Trill Zapatero, Amona Savira, Ronda Saunders, Gem Preiz, Tigre Milena, Mel Schaller, Talullah Winterwolf, Fae Varriale, Kira Westland, Annouk Gourdou, Mathilde Vhargon and Igor Ballyhoo (click on any image to receive a notecard) — while an outdoor sculpture park is hosting works by Mikati Slade, Celestine Ghiardie, Igor Ballyhoo, and Betty Tureaud.

Overhead are a number of larger artworks by Betty, and to reach these simply click on the rocket, which will teleport you up to the first location, which features an enormous torus into which you can climb to explore. ("I never gave that one a name," laughed Betty when I asked what to call it.) To continue on your journey locate the rocket, and teleport to Atlas "holding the new world — the information world" (second image). From here you can step outside to find another rocket, but first you should click on the small blue ball, which takes you on a detour to nuage tunnel spacio temporel, a work co-created by Betty and Shenn Coleman (third image) — just stand up there to fall back to Atlas.

Your next stop will be Gaia, a work from the LEA installation of the same name, and then the rocket over her will take you up to Life Is a Tumbler. After dropping down through several levels (you'll see), you'll eventually end in The Circuit (lowest image), which is your last stop before returning to the ground. I'm including slurls here you so you can also visit these works directly. Many of the installations are most enjoyable with a friend, so bring a guest or two when you visit.

09 April 2014

Carnival of Architecture

For years, the Paper Tower has stood high over the ACC Alpha sim, where architect Haveit Neox builds and creates. Reaching about 175 meters into the sky, it dominates the skyline, but as of tomorrow (April 10), on its fourth anniversary, it will disappear, to be replaced with the Paper Observatory that Haveit unveiled on LEA25 in January as part of the Interim Project. At 2 pm slt, a Carnival of Architecture will begin with a parade, and then at about 2:20 to 2:30 vendors will be set up that will allow the purchase of wearable architectural objects (domes, cages, pillars and so on) so that you can join the fun.

As Haveit says, "Visitors to the event can click for free architectural attachments and choose to wear their selections, fly around dressed in walls, pillars and domes, and by joining other participants, build their own humorous version of an Observatory. For the finale, the new Paper Observatory [shown below in its LEA25 configuration] will descend onto the festive revelers, bringing the anniversary into a raucous collaboration of performance art." While you're enjoying the Carnival, be sure to explore the remainder of the sim, which is rich with history and things to discover.