31 December 2012

Alchemy Immortalis Sims

Rustic. Windswept. Rugged. Timeless. One could go on for some time with adjectives to describe the group of five sims connected to the Alchemy Immortalis shop: Empress and Hierophant, Inis Caiseal, ceangal, Saerlaith and the sim Alchemy Immortalis itself. One of the most picturesque and favorited areas of the Second Life grid, these rainy sims hearken to the romantic, rural western edge of Ireland, where the cold sea relentlessly pounds the dramatic cliffs and barren coastline. Empty but well trodden dirt roads wind through the hillsides, connecting small cottages that dot the shore and the ridges, while blackface sheep graze on the steep inclines.

You can live here, too: after a bit of a scare just a year ago, when four of the sims were announced to be for sale, they were converted to bed and breakfasts, and you can rent one of the little cottages short or long term. (I think many if not most homes are Alchemy Immortalis's Gatehouse Cottage, which I once lived in—they're really delightful and are for sale at the shop.) Whenever I visit these sims, I meet other people who are just there wandering, immersed in the sheer beauty, taking it all in step by step and view by view. It's just that kind of place.

Note: Just after I wrote this post, Alchemy Cyannis announced on the Alchemy Immortalis blog that all four regions connected to the main Alchemy Immortalis sim are now for sale.

30 December 2012

Dream for New Year's

Yes, for New Year’s Even you can go dancing, you can party, or ... you can participate in a fabulous sonic art event, the culmination of Ione’s 17th Annual Dream Festival. Since 1996, real life author/playwright/director Carole Ione, in collaboration with many other visual and performing artists, has organized an international series of events to celebrate, well, dreams. She notes, “This year’s festival theme focuses on ‘Abundance.’ Dreaming of abundance means seeking clues in our dreams to a sense of plenty and goodness that could be financial or emotional, for example.”

For Second Life on New Year’s Eve (from 2 pm slt on December 31st to 6 am slt on January 1st) North Zipper (Norman Lowrey in real life, the chair of the Department of Music at Drew University) has organized the culminating dream event at the Odyssey sim. (Click there for the teleport link—these images are just some photos of the stage area, but they don't convey much about the event itself.) As Zipper says, “You are invited to dream with us at any time for as long as you wish, weaving in and out of Real/Virtual Life sleeping, dreaming, waking, dreaming.” Attendees will be provided sound-producing devices and a HUD, and you just ... listen. As people float nearer or father, the amplitude of their sounds increase or decrease, creating an ever-changing (or sometimes static, depending on what's happening) sonic environment. It’s a very simple and at the same time very beautiful experience.

“Deep listening” is a term coined by real life composer Pauline Oliveros, who began her career in the 1960s as one of those at the forefront of electronic music. Over time her career focused more and more on the importance of sonic awareness—of listening, not just hearing, sounds and music—first through the development of compositions known as Sonic Meditations and eventually through Deep Listening, a program which has spawned multiple pathways toward sonic awareness, from performances to annual listening retreats and other events. Oliveros will attend these performances through her Second Life avatar, Free Noyes. (I love that name.)

So, as you float about on New Year’s at Odyssey, it’s not only a chance to celebrate, have fun and socialize: it’s a chance to listen, to really listen, to the beautiful sounds that we will all create together, and then to carry that experience back to real life, our ears wide open.

29 December 2012

New at alpha.tribe

alpha.tribe, designers of distinctive avatars and outfits, have been fairly quiet over the past year, but recently rolled out some group gifts and just now released a pair of new avatars: the Nordic Noir unisex avatar (above) and the Barracuda unisex avatar (below). Both come with female and male skins and attachments (although the Nordic Noir seems to look a little masculine even in the female version, but maybe it was just the shape I was wearing) and are now on sale at the main alpha.tribe store. It's Second Life, so here's your chance to stand out in the crowd! :)

28 December 2012

Eupalinos Ugajin: You are the music while the music lasts + There is a hole in my inventory

In the work of Eupalinos Ugajin, the intersection and interplay between incongruous objects creates a world where the irrational is expected and where nonsense is the norm. At times whimsical and often absurd, his most recent exhibition (or double exhibition), You are the music while the music lasts + There is a hole in my inventory, on view at LEA25, is a participatory experience in which the viewer interacts with the artwork in order to experience it, walking through the exhibition as if it were a grand stage. (Indeed, the viewer generally becomes part of the artwork.) Causality seems to have no logic: here, a click on a stick of dynamite will trap the viewer inside a giant house fan, or a click on a pile of red bicycle wheels positions the viewer at the helm of a computer, the Minivac 6010 (the buttons on which, by the way, are the keys to controlling many other things on the central level of the sim).

Positioned around the main level of the installation are many small but wonderful additions to the scene that were created by the team of Kikas Babenco and Marmaduke Arado. Be sure to have your sound turned up as you spend time here—I loved in particular the way in which there was something suggestive of a Doppler effect as I flew about over the sea below. Here are there you'll also discover some free items. Above all, one must click on everything—and there's a lot of it—to fully appreciate the exhibit.

Be sure to get to the top level of the exhibition, which isn't very visible from the lower or middle areas. You can fly up (about 350 meters) or take the teleport. Here, scattered about on an undulating surface, is a delightful collection of works by many artists, including AM Radio, blotto Epsilon, Scottius Polke, Albert Beerbaum, Naxos Loon, CapCat Ragu, Pandora Popstar, Astin Miles, Spartacus (Research Projects), Leyla Firefly, Jo Ellsmere, Whiskey Monday, aston Leisen, Hat Mechanic (Fade Dana), Four Yip, Penumbra Carter, Dekka Raymaker, Yooma Mayo, Madcow Cosmos, Alpha Auer, Cica Ghost, flopsie McArdle, Kake Broek, Marmaduke Arado, Koto Nizna, Typote Beck, Ruby69Kill Moonites, Lollito Larkham, Haveit Neox, Cutea Benelli, Aley, nessuno Mayo, Harter Fall, Bryn Oh, Trill Zapatero, paramparamm papp, pallina60 Loon, Xan Radek, Oberon Onmura, and probably others I missed. Their juxtaposition, which might normally seemed jumbled and disconnected, fits perfectly with the rest of the exhibition, because everything is a jumble, an assortment of unrelated things bound to coexist in harmony.

27 December 2012

William Weaver at Pixel Panic

Currently on view at the Pixel Panic Gallery, curated by Megan Prumier and located on the sim CRIMARIZON, is an exhibition of recent works by William Weaver. This artist's exploration of color, light, shadows and depth of field has revolutionized Second Life photography, and his recent development of the Phototools extension for the Firestorm viewer places powerful tools in the hands of other photographers.

The remarkable structure in which William's photos are displayed was designed by Charlotte Bartlett, whose brand, Scarlet Creative, is known for its elegant use of texture, light and shadow. Designed especially for William, the gallery provides a beautiful setting for viewing photos and paintings, and Charlotte has generously listed the 70 prim building on the Marketplace for free.

26 December 2012

Whiskey Monday at Atelier Kreslo

Whiskey Monday, one of my favorite Second Life photographers, recently plurked that she has a little show at Atelier Kreslo that runs for the next few weeks. I knew the name Atelier Kreslo—and that of designer Flutter Memel—but hadn't ever visited the shop, and it's a sweet little place. If you've been wanting to own something by Whiskey, here's a chance to purchase five works, do a little extra shopping, and have a nice cup of coffee.

21 December 2012

Adieux, Scribbled Hearts

A few weeks ago I blogged that winter had come to the lovely sim known as Scribbled Hearts (or Water Reserve). Now, sadly, endless winter has arrived, as one of the sim's owners, meme, announced on flickr four days ago that the sim will close permanently on December 27. Do stop by to visit this beautiful, tranquil space before it disappears—and do a little shopping there too, of course!

16 December 2012


Are you the perfect Victorian? If so, take a stroll in Goatswood, the spectacular new sim created by eDream Factory (Kora Zenkova and Baal Zobel) that opened last month, branded as "a Victorian Gothic novel waiting to happen." This richly textured town, which the creators note is modeled loosely after Castle Combe, a village in Wiltshire, dazzles the eyes with its finely wrought detail and subtle color palette—a mixture of browns and dark greens in which the foliage can intermingle with the pathways, low stone walls and buildings.

This is a serious roleplay sim, but visitors are very welcome and can obtain a three-day pass at the train station at the entrance. It's even possible to rent a cottage or other location here without joining in the roleplay, although I suspect most who rent would partake in the activities. In exploring Goatswood, one cannot help but feel that there's more under the surface, something dark and mysterious, perhaps a sense of veiled evil or foreboding. It's a world of light and shadows, a town with hidden pathways. And there are places dotting the edge of the town, such as Phoebe's Wheel, a Stonehenge-like place clearly associated with rituals, that suggest something unusual might be happening in Goatswood. The creators invite you to discover as you explore: here and there you can pick up a notecard with some background information about specific locations.

There isn't a fixed or recommended windlight setting in Goatswood, but darker or foggy settings strike me as the best, a world in twilight where one isn't quite certain what lies in the shadows. (But almost anything looks amazing.) Like Venexia—developed by the same creators—tremendous care was taken to summon a mood, and with great success. Click to zoom in on any of the images—I'll post some to my flickr stream as well.

11 December 2012

MadPea Carneval

Now that the December issue of AVENUE magazine has been published, including my feature on the MadPea Carneval, I'll put in a good word for it here on my blog, but please read the issue to get my comprehensive review (starting on page 308). This is simply a "must see" location in Second Life, and is one deserving multiple visits to fully appreciate all its nooks and crannies. I must stress that it's very important to discover some of the fabulously executed games that exist within the sim—not only the simple arcade-style games near the entrance, but also the puzzles found in the amazing Kaaos Effect.

Carneval's initial concept was generated by the founder and director of MadPea, Kiana Writer, and its development was overseen by MadPea creative director Harter Fall. They were complemented by a large team of designers, including Arduenn Schwartzman, Fae Varriale, Geoffrey Xenobuilder, Linus Humphreys, Lorin Tone, paramparamm Papp, Penelope Parx, RAG Randt and Zachh Barkley, with additional contributions from Apollosmile, claudia222 Jewell, Clicquot Oh, cold Frog, Elizabeth Tinsley, Fuzz Difference, Glitch Axelrad, Madcow Cosmos, Quan Lavender, Smiley Dyrssen, Voidheart Mistwalker, Yooma Mayo and Yuna Khaos.

It's an explorer's dream and a photographer's delight. You'll find some fun shopping opportunities on the sim as well. To pay a vist to Carneval, just click here. I'll be posting a few images on my flickr stream.

08 December 2012


For the past several months, artist Anita Witt has generously provided an opportunity for Second Life residents to explore and use several builds by William Weaver, all designed with an eye toward light and photography (previously blogged about here). Now it comes time to say goodbye to these spaces, as Anita has built out a larger area below with a striking landscape and new gallery space. Dryland, as it's called, is inspired by the parched and barren lakebed of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, with hulks of old ships now resting on the dried mud.

To celebrate the opening of Dryland, Anita has organized and curated four bodies of work. In the decayed shell of a concrete building that towers above Dryland will the be exhibition Visions of Dryland, featuring works by Melusina Parkin, Ziki Questi, Marlen Slazar and William Weaver. Nearby, the delightful Woops ..... a baby by pallina60 Loon, first displayed at Burn2, has been rebuilt and can be enjoyed anew in this lag-free setting. Tarek Atoui - Un-Drum is a selection of real life works by Anita that focus on the Lebanese avant garde musician Tarek Atoui, and additionally a gallery space features a selection of Anita's photographic work.

The closing party for the Weaver Project will take place today, Saturday, December 8, starting at 12 pm slt, and then guests can parachute to the ground far below for the Invasion of Dryland opening party at about 1:30. To reach the Weaver Project go here, but after the event you can teleport here to get directly to Dryland. (And thanks to Anita Witt for permission to reproduce the poster shown above!)