28 August 2010

Sneak Peek: Steampunk Jewelry from Sextan Shepherd

When I told Sextan Shepherd I was going to blog about his flying machines he casually remarked, "Did I tell you I was working on a steampunk jewelry collection?" Since then he's been sending me photos, and I can assure you the pieces look stunning, complete with moving parts and real clocks. For now you'll have to be enticed by the glass case above, but he says he'll be ready to roll on September 17th! Stay tuned.

25 August 2010

Sextan Shepherd's Flying Machines

If I were really thinking ahead about my blog posts, I would have worn some cool steampunk stuff for this photo shoot. Oh well. Let that not detract from the real topic at hand, the ingenuity of Sextan Shepherd, one of Second Life's most amazing designers, and the creator of Nemo, Northelia and Alnitak, fantastic steampunk cities in the region FRANCE3D Futuna. Now when you visit Sextan's cities you can take something home with you, because among Sextan's marvels are a series of personal flying machines, all very modestly priced and available at his shop in Alnitak (you'll find it—keep looking!). Sextan was kind enough to give me the «M. Meriman» Mechanical Flying Boat shown above (as always, click to zoom in), which features spinning spirals overhead and a huge outlay of creaking, rotating gears to keep it afloat. If passengers are your thing, you're going to want something that holds more than one person, so pick up the «DA-VINCI» Aerodyne, shown below, which is smaller but can hold up to two friends, one on either side of the pilot. In addition to the spinning top that propels the craft, gears inside the case constantly move. Earlier today I had the pleasure of flying the «DA-VINCI» Aerodyne around Abbey Island, doing my best to control the craft while chatting—not easy!

The «TESLA» Aerodyne is probably the smallest of all the vehicles, and therefore probably the most maneuverable. Like the Meriman, it's a personal craft, and its, um—I don't even know what to call them!—those electric things on top are constantly changing with dramatic electrical effects. (Oh, "electro cynetic movement" Sextan tells me at this very moment as I write.) Here it is:

But my favorite of all—the one that really made me smile with delight!—is the «Bestmomo Lagan» Flying Machine. At least it's called that on the box, but in my inventory it's named, probably more appropriately, the Pteronosphere. As it soars through the air, its wings open and close just like those of a pterosaur—"really wild!" says my partner Barbie Pomilio. It's a 31 prim, single person flyer shown below. There are a few more of these amazing ships available in Sextan's store, and they look every bit as good as these. (Plus, there are tons of other ultra-cool items for sale.) To try the ships out before buying them, be sure to visit the Steampunk Air Museum in Alnitak—and say hi to Sextan if you see him!

22 August 2010

Bryn Oh: no love

Once in a while Linden Lab does exactly the right thing. Like for example when, a few months ago, artist Bryn Oh approached the Lab with a request for spaces for a project connected to the World Expo Shanghai 2010, the Lab responded by providing five sims. Bryn, along with Glyph Graves and Marcus Inkpen, created some fabulous works at those locations that I hope stay with us for at least a while longer. Arriving at the first of these sims—Island one by Bryn Oh called "no love"—you will encounter instructions for adjusting your windlight settings. I'd recommend that you turn your draw distance way up—far enough that you can see clearly across the entire sim. Like most of Bryn's work, the region is filled with metallic and sometimes spidery-like insects and humans.

As you set out on your journey, a smile will certainly cross your face as you discover that a walkway opens before you—it's absolutely delightful. Go slowly, and if you fall into the water try starting over ... eventually you come to the place shown just above, where the walkway seems to end (not first without some absurd silliness as objects appear, collapse, and you fall through a floor!). Be sure there to walk into the rectangular prims lying on the ground. Bryn made this island especially for machinima, and it's truly time-based art that has to be experienced in time—still photos simply don't convey what is most exciting about the place. And here and there you will find objects that link to web pages that broaden your experience.

If you take a dip in the water, which you'll have to do at some point to get to some locations, you'll find things hidden here and there. Around 82, 82 there are some stairs that will form from the ocean bottom, leading you up...I'll let you discover where! The figures above are near the base of the tall tower, which you should enter at the base, below the water. I found that climbing the tower was frustrating, as I often fell and had to resume from below (flying is prohibited in the sim, as are point to point teleports). But if you're able to get to the top, you're rewarded! ("Lots of people give me hell for that build," Bryn told me. "It's good to do with a friend, so if you fall they can tp you back up.") On one of the figures shown below, at the very top of the tower, zoom in and click (oh, didn't I say to zoom around and click on lots of things? yes, please do) to be teleported up to another area.

And quite a different place it is, too—a blinding white space high above (I'm not going anywhere with the obvious implication!) with widely separated objects. Everything up here, as below, is part of a story or narrative, ever-present in Bryn Oh's work. By now, exploring the region, you've seen poems, clues and other hints as to its meaning, and make sure when you arrive at the Stand-by Girl (below) you click on her face and listen carefully to what she has to say.

As the region was built for machinima, you might want see a couple of examples by Pia Klaar and Volker Meitz in addition to that from Bryn herself. Not surprisingly, there are many photos from this build sprinkled around the web. More on the other four regions in upcoming blog posts!

20 August 2010

Philip, Go Shopping!

When Philip Linden recently announced a contest for his makeover, two thoughts jumped to my mind. The first was: Philip, you're missing a great chance to explore Second Life's amazing assortment of hair, skin, clothes, and everything else! (Although probably Philip has an alt or two he can use for that.) The second was: Ziki, you're as wedded to your old skin as Philip is to his! It's true that I do change my appearance once in a while, but when I do it's to switch to a totally crazy or fantastic avatar, like something from alpha.tribe or a wild thing from Grim Bros. I always switch back to "me" after a while. And it's not that I haven't tried on demos now and then. So lest I end up just like Philip, I set out with more determination than usual and came up with the above ... at least an alternative I'm happy with. (Though, knowing me, I'll be sliding back into my old skin quite often!) The skin and shape are Shy'm from Allure by Naela Carter; the hair is Faith from Exile (blue velvet); and the eyes are 2010 bright blue eyes from EDDESIGN. (Plus a tux from Babele Fashion!)

And it was fun (always is, actually). So PL, get out there and enjoy yourself! :D

04 August 2010

Juanita Deharo

When I visited the region Svidler to pick up a few of Soror Nishi's about-to-disappear trees, I decided to fly down to see what was there, because the land belonged to Juanita Deharo, whom I had seen a few days earlier and whose blog I've followed for a while. I arrived at her art gallery and was absolutely delighted by two installations. The newer one, When the light that's lost within us reaches the sky, is a water world surrounded by mountains, filled with dark figures, platforms, cages and giant mushroom caps imbued with a subtle palette of organic textures in grays, browns, and greens. Certainly this haunting work will touch people in many different ways—some of Juanita's thoughts on it here.

Take the teleport up to Man the Hunter, an earlier and smaller (though certainly no less beautiful) creation. Juanita characterizes the work as "a large environmental installation that operates on various levels. It comments on man's destructive nature, the glorification of killing, our need to capture and control, and the relationship we have with natural and living things." Take time also to go through the gallery, where many of Juanita's artworks are for sale. She also designs entire sims and sells waterfalls, caves, rivers, garden screens and lots more, so be sure to visit her profile for links to all her work!

01 August 2010

Last Call for Soror?

Things have been disappearing lately, from Greenies to Soror Nishi's Beach, to, um, Lindens themselves. But I'm an optimist at heart, so when Soror Nishi decided a couple weeks ago to close her unreal and incredible beach, one of the jewels of Second Life, I ran over and started buying up as much of her stuff as I could afford, determined to preserve some of it. Now there are a couple of quick little sale locations that have popped up, so if you're a fan of Soror's work you'll want to visit—they seemed destined to disappear soon! Above I'm at Juanita Deharo's land in Tkachiev, where Soror has set out a variety of trees and plants (cam around—there are two levels), and there's a slightly larger display at Prism Lila courtesy of Oona Ra (again, several stories tall—take time to fly up).

As for my growing collection of Soror Nishi creations, I really don't know where to put all of it! I've dumped a lot of trees (dumped being the operative word, as I've made no attempt to landscape—there they are in the photo below) on a sky platform at Babele Fashion Island, but I'm not sure where their permanent home will be. If you're in the mood, stop by and gawk. :)

P.S. If you dig this shirt shouting out SL's new unofficial brand—Fast, Easy, Fun!—you can grab one for free at Boom. Thanks to Gogo for blogging that. (And I'm not even going to try to look so sexy!)