27 January 2013

My Gallery at La Galleria

A year and a half ago, Pamela Galli, owner of La Galleria, one of Second Life's largest home and furniture design stores, kindly offered me a chance to place a gallery overhead her sims. And so, without much thinking about it, I rezzed a huge prim, put up some walls and plastered them with images. (I can barely manage to rez a prim, mind you—I'm hardly what you would call a builder, although I'm improving!) And there it languished with only occasional updates.

But seeing Whiskey's and Jessica's galleries the past few weeks convinced me that a facelift was in order, so now when you visit you'll at least be greeted with new material and a more intimate environment that shows a touch of care. Just don't laugh at my building skills. ;-) And thanks again to Pam Galli.

25 January 2013

Jessica Belmer at Tabula Rasa

My friend Jessica Belmer has opened a new gallery space at Tabula rasa, one of the Avalon sims, and I encourage you to visit. I've always admired Jessica's photography, not only for her technical skill, but also for her elegant ability to capture the evocative. Often her images are imbued with an exquisite mixture of eroticism, mythos and symbolism, and I find myself returning to them again and again. I'm always more interested in art that I don't understand, and her imagery usually fits right in. (More of her work is on display right across the street, by the way.)

Oh, and Jessica asked me to rez a dance pole, so...feel free to put on a show of your own!

22 January 2013

Artists for SL

Second Life boasts a plethora of spaces for the display of two-dimensional art, and among the newest on the map—and growing at lightning speed—is Artists for SL, founded by Jim Slater. In ever-expanding galleries, the works of more than 100 artists are now featured. It's part of Jim's philosophy that the galleries should feature the work of not only established but also emerging artists: "The concept of a communal area for artists (photography, painting, 3D art etc.) came from the realization that majority of art galleries in SL showcase accomplished, and experienced artists...and a space is needed for those with the drive and intention, but not necessarily the resources."

Artists are grouped three to a space, and my great friend Jessica Belmer and I are in Gallery 18 (direct teleport here). I have only 4 pieces up right now—I prefer to give works room—and will probably rotate them frequently. Among other artists featured will be names familiar to many who roam the halls of flickr: Annie Klavinham, Corinne J. Helendale, Melusina Parkin, Emaline, Tess Falworth, Tweeze Tyne, Alles Klaar, Anita Witt, Jack Parkin, WuWai Chun, Olympes Rhode, Dido Haas, Hugo Zelle, NatG, Ilanit Orsini, Phillip Sidek, Crystal Rehula, Isa Messioptra, Petra Messioptra, Rolando Giha, my awesome friend Juno Angerona, and many others. (Hopefully I won't be tarred and feathered for not mentioning someone's name—there are just too many to list!) Most if not all items are on sale.

With literally hundreds of pieces on display it can take a few trips to enjoy everything the galleries have to offer. You'll find a directory at the landing point, or you can just start exploring. Jim plans to have some regular events at Artists for SL—we had a great dance party there just a couple days ago—and hopes to eventually expand from a homestead to a full sim. There's a donation box at the landing point.

21 January 2013

Shady Falls

It's the 1920s, and you're an immigrant scraping by in the rough-and-tumble town of Shady Falls, Virginia, located a stone's throw from the nation's capitol but a world away from the luxuries of the region's elite. And you're—what?—an Italian butcher, an Irish housewife, a Chinese gangster? Lawyer? Bootlegger? It's your choice in this tight-knit paragraph roleplay community, where allegiances can mean a chance to get ahead (by legitimate means or otherwise), or even to stay alive. But not all is doom and gloom: it's the jazz age, liquor flows freely despite prohibition, and everyone wants a good time.

This community is serious about its roleplay. Visitors are welcome—you can either wear period clothes (some freebies can be grabbed at the landing point) or you can wear the freely offered invisible alpha layer to complete conceal yourself (although be forewarned that that ends up being a bit like trying to walk around in mouselook). And then set off to explore: it's a well designed sim with an evocative skyline. (It's an adult sim, by the way.)

Shady Falls has an accompanying website—shadyfalls.net—that features an introductory film, in depth information about the various communities and ethnic groups, online forums, background history of the 1920s, details on period clothing and even a flapper's dictionary. (Well, if you're going to be a flapper you just might need to know that a Johnnie Walker is a guy who never hires a cab, and that a Jane is a girl who meets you on the stoop.)

20 January 2013

Amelia Is Missing

I’m not sure I entirely grasp all the nuances in Amelia Is Missing, but I greatly enjoyed my visit there and have returned more than once. The creation of SL artist Seraph Kegel, this full sim installation tells, in non-linear fashion, the story of Amelia, the human behind an avatar, and her search for identity. As Kegel herself describes Amelia’s challenge in the introductory note, ”She knows she‘s a human being behind an avatar, but deciding if her real person is more or less real than her virtual counterpart becomes an issue she has to figure out. Doing so proves far more difficult than she could have dreamed, within the many ideas of what makes a person, the walls we place between ourselves and other people, the masks we wear—from those that most resemble life to those that are barely made out of cardboard, and even the most fake of masks can birth a life on their own.“

Starting inside, and following a red string that leads the way, we encounter various spaces and insights (first and second images here). As the viewer walks along, a HUD pops up that provides additional context and images. Eventually we emerge outside (next image), where we're told, as Amelia's quest perhaps concludes, "You are now on your own." It's all quite beautifully constructed with many unique vignettes.

From what Rowan Derryth's interview with the artist suggests, this project is the continuation of another from 2011, and you can visit that project, too (photo below)—there's a teleport location that you'll certainly discover. Be sure to watch the video while you‘re there.

19 January 2013

Animal Parade!

If you follow my flickr stream you probably noticed some photos a few days ago of the Avatar Parade, which wound through several sims before finally coming to an end, and it was a crazy, fun event (photo below). The event was produced by Vaneeesa Blaylock and friends, and now Trill Zapatero has come up with the idea for an Animal Parade. (She designed the poster above.) And it starts in just 15 minutes! Join us at 10 am slt at the Australia sim (Sydney Opera House) and we'll set off! Shoot me an IM if we're already underway so you can join in—and have fun showing off your favorite animal avatar!

18 January 2013

Just Visiting

People are talking about Just Visiting, designed by Joanna Corith and Arni (Arnicar India)—the same day that my friend M sent me a landmark, Honour McMillan posted about it in her blog with some great images. A picturesque water sim, Just Visiting displays glorious bright fall colors and a deep blue sky.

It's one of those tranquil places where you feel like you could stay for hours, just watching the water reflections, feeling the breeze and listening to the sounds of the birds. There are a few teleport points around the sim, and you'll soon discover that there's a little shop up above, so go take a look.

14 January 2013

The Arrival

It is through the work of artists such as Rose Borchovski that we see the exceptional possibility and promise of art in virtual spaces. Brilliantly conceived and executed, her newly opened installation The Arrival is a tour de force that ranks in the top echelon of immersive art. My friend Rowan Derryth has already written an eloquent, cogent and persuasive essay about The Arrival for the Linden Endowment for the Arts blog, and I would encourage you to read her perceptive thoughts.

But in brief the work is quintessential Rose Borchovski: a whirlwind mix of innocence and violence wrapped inside a simple narrative structure that offers multiple interpretations, brought to life by the Susas (child-like characters from earlier installations) and recurring elements such as fish, eyes, pigs and water. Here, the Susas marvel that a colossal fish (a whale, perhaps) has washed ashore. "Breaking news!" they shout—but then while they revel the fish expires, leaving them wondering whether they're responsible for its death. Beneath it all, we're left conjecturing, "What's really happening here?" Rose offers four possibilities, outlined in an introductory notecard, but even then more layering is present.

The central element—the giant fish—is fantastically rendered, but so are the tiniest of objects, and there are many, all crafted with exquisite care. A book read by one of the Susas under a carousel brought a smile to my face: fish swim across its pages—well, you'll just have to see it, a little jewel.

When you arrive, it's probably best to take the teleport rather than embarking on foot, as that will set you off on the most logical course. Be certain while you visit to have your sounds turned up—they're an essential part of the experience, as is the parcel windlight setting. Scripter Caer Balough, who has worked closely with Rose for years, must also be noted for her contributions.

10 January 2013

New Synthetic Theatre

I've been to theatre and dance performances in Second Life a number of times, and the synchronized choreography of the performers and set can be impressive. But at New Synthetic Theatre the concept has been taken a step further: you're in the play; you're actually a character. This is all achieved very simply: you wear your ticket, take a teleport to the stage, and your avatar is animated, taking a role in the production, along with whoever else happens to be in attendance. Right now there are two show to enjoy: Ninety Nine Percent (L$50) and Jabba Jabba Jabba (L$75) (the latter of which I found more captivating). Performances run continually throughout the day, starting every 10 to 15 minutes.

During the performances your movements and those of others are delightfully coordinated, and the elements around you come and go. In Ninety Nine Percent, for example, you'll find yourself in a jet plane flying through the sky, but the plane disappears and you're left falling through space, but then a parachute rezzes. In Jabba Jabba Jabba a smile crossed my face as we all found ourselves in a small craft on the water, casting nets and hauling them in. The sonic environment is equally impressive. The creator, Lumiere Starsmith, is already working on the concept for a third play, but she notes that it took her more than half a year to create Jabba Jabba Jabba. I look forward to whatever comes next.

09 January 2013

Imogen and the pigeons

Opening on Sunday, January 13, is a masterpiece by Bryn Oh entitled Imogen and the pigeons. Like much of the artist's work, the installation is narrative: the observer follows a given path (more or less, although there are a few options here and there on the ground level) to learn the story of Imogen, apparently an inmate at a mental institution. Also a hallmark of the artist's style is the mix of narrative, disturbing imagery and situations, poignant hope, and fun, too: there are puzzles and things to figure out.

After a brief exploration of the ground level (which is literally on the ground) you're going to have to climb your way to the true start of the installation. If you're the type who loves fun and puzzles, find the large red block and gradually (and carefully) climb your way up as prims rez in front of you. (You will get the hang of it!) If you want the easy way, take the stairs that wrap around one of the towers. There's also a little flying chair down there somewhere, although I'm not sure it can manage to get to the top.

Once inside, you're going to enter a disturbing world: something's clearly not right here, and it might not be the patients. You'll meet a number of characters, including a nurse, a therapist (perhaps—his door's sign has a mistake and says "the rapist") and patients Chalk Fingers, Juniper (hidden under a blanket—we see only a foot), Ginger Float (photo just above), Elliot Amber, and finally Imogen, who sits in her bed and stares out the barred window at the free pigeons beyond (see the top photo in this post). But...Imogen finds a way out, and you need to as well. That's where the second half of her story begins, and I'm not going to give away the ending. (And there are deeper levels of narrative and interpretation as well.)

A travel tip of sorts: there are a few places where you need to keep an eye out for feathers—the first ones are very obvious—and you'll need them to traverse some of the build. Don't take them off too soon or you might get stuck or fall—wait for a sign indicating the coast is clear. There's also a secret room above the entire build, and you'll need to find a little tp spot on the ground to get up to it. And by all means bring a friend with you, as some of the puzzles and challenges will benefit from teamwork.

The Immersiva sim where Imogen and the pigeons is installed is supported by patrons Peter Greenaway, Selby Evans, Soup/Lovers Lane Studios, ENTERMETA and the lovely people of Second Life. You're welcome to leave tips at the entrance, and you can also teleport up to Bryn Oh's shop, where you'll find many items from past builds for sale. The sim opened to the SL press yesterday, and Bryn opened the sim to the Immersiva group today, so you can get an early peek if you're in a hurry. Bryn will restrict the sim to 10-15 avatars at a time to minimize lag.

07 January 2013


For those of us who have never been to Finland (that would include your writer), the sim Finlandia promises to give us a little glimpse. "See a piece of Finnish nature," the sim's description says encouragingly. Designed and owned by Daniela Finchy, it's a picturesque place, a heavily wooded island with a variety of scenes that I found tempting for photos.

Right now the aurora borealis shimmers overhead, and you can grab a bike and speed around the island, visiting a windmill, a swamp, a moonshine still (which is of course where I'm sitting as I write this), a smoke sauna, various farm structures, a treehouse and other spots.

I'm always encouraging people to help support lovely public sims, and this one is no exception: tip jar at the landing point. Oh, and do look at the world map to see the shape of the region. If you know your geography it should remind you of something!

06 January 2013

Contemplating Turing by Oberon Onmura

I suppose I could have written this blog post using only 0s and 1s, which would be in keeping with Oberon Onmura's new installation, Contemplating Turing, at the Turing Gallery in Extropia Core region. Offered the opportunity to develop something for the gallery, Oberon's response was an artistic investigation the gallery's namesake, Alan Turing, the British mathematician and logician whose work had a critical impact on computer science.

The look of the installation is really impossible to convey in still images, as the digits you see are changing, while other small objects are in motion, winding their way from the entrance of the exhibition through the gallery to a point overhead, where they're absorbed by a large prim covered in black and white 0s and 1s. Be sure to find the chair toward the end of the installation and to have a seat. It's essential to have your sound stream turned on—"The sounds, I think, are critical to the whole thing," said Oberon at today's opening reception, adding, "The black and white form a code...a code that is unreadable without the proper decoding device." He suggests that those curious about details read James Gliek's The Information.

"All of us and everything here are just data in tables on servers," wryly notes Oberon.

05 January 2013

Whiskey Monday at The Viewing Room

About a week ago I wrote about a little exhibition of work by Whiskey Monday at Atelier Kreslo, and since then she has opened her own gallery at The Viewing Room (which is located just under The Listening Room, and fun hangout frequented by people like Whiskey, Crap Mariner, Marx Dudek and others). Whiskey has placed on display about 30 works, and they're for sale at a very reasonable L$400, beautifully installed for your viewing enjoyment. (There's also a gallery tip jar if you're so inclined.)

04 January 2013

Eagle Eye Gallery at the Bad Monkey

Opening tomorrow, Saturday, January 5, at noon slt, is an exhibition at the Eagle Eye Gallery at the Bad Monkey (an adult sim), and I have four items in the show, all recent works (photo above). Other artists featured include Cenedra Ashbourne, Tess Falworth, Merthyn Vintner, Rhea Choral, Bebelbrox Ganesvoort, Meryll Panthar, Graham Collinson, Bianca Xavorin, Mumuhime, Neeks Karu, Ztar Magic, and Miyke. The gallery's curator, Sarrah Docherty, anticipates changing shows about every month, and the space will feature both photography and 3D artwork.

03 January 2013

Cica Ghost at Nitroglobus Gallery

If you enjoy Cica Ghost's work as much as I do, you'll want to be sure to visit the current exhibition, Pieces of Cica, at Nitroglobus Gallery, curated by Dido Haas and Nitro Fireguard. Mirroring the look of Cica's famous black and white installation at LEA13, the space is mostly monochrome with the addition of a few other works in muted colors, and many of the pieces are for sale. Photos of Cica's work don't really do it justice, because all the little stick figures (people, trees, flowers, the wind and so on) are in constant motion, adding an especially playful quality.

On Friday, January 4 at 12:15 slt, you can join in the fun at a special Black and White party—and a black and/or white outfit is a must! See you there!

02 January 2013

Tears in Rain

In announcing the opening of Noke Yuitza's Tears in Rain, the Linden Endowment for the Arts blog said that the "retrofuturist cyberpunk exploration is ready for your mirrorshaded oculation," which sort of hit the nail on the head. The installation was inspired by a book of the same name by Spanish author Rosa Montero, in which a "replicant" (a sort of human clone with a maximum ten year lifespan) begins to investigate why other replicants are mysteriously dying throughout a futuristic Madrid in 2109. I haven't read the book, and I sensed as I explored Yuitza's artwork that my experience would be greatly enhanced if I did so.

Even without the literary context (and my inability to decipher the Spanish texts found throughout the space), I still enjoyed viewing the build. Be sure to see all three main levels—I found it a challenge to make sure I had actually visited everything, as the intensity of the material can be a little bewildering and was never certain I had seen all the teleport options. Also, the region doesn't seem to have default windlight settings, so do heed the messages as you arrive on the appropriate basic settings for viewing the installation.

Tears in Rain actually extends beyond the boundaries of LEA10 (with LEA10 being the "neural center") to other areas of the Second Life grid—you can read more about the concept on the artist's blog.