28 February 2013

Yooma Mayo at Lost Town (La Città Perduta)

You have just a couple days left to enjoy the fantastically playful artworks by Yooma Mayo at Lost Town (La Città Perduta)—I missed them myself when then went up last fall, and they're coming down this Saturday, March 2. Entitled Study for Mechanical Circus (which gives hope that we'll sometime see an even more expansive version), the installation consists of a parade of elephants far overhead the town, complemented by acrobats, clowns and jugglers. On the ground, the elephants' exceptionally long legs, which allow them to walk far overhead the buildings, end in enormous wheels.

We have the impression that the procession or parade is just passing through on its way to some future destination. There are some teleport points to various places in and around Yooma's build that provide some charming views. The city below is certainly worth exploring as well—it's an Italian town, perhaps a bit deserted, that offers some fun opportunities for photos.

27 February 2013

AM Radio at IDIA Laboratories — A Video Flashback

A couple years ago, when AM Radio announced that his installations at the IDIA Laboratories sim were to close—The Quiet: Further Away and Further Apart, Surface, The Ferry, Superdyne and the short-lived A Little Further Than Before—I took some time to shoot video that I never seemed to have time to edit and post. I finally have, and just uploaded it to Vimeo. I'm not a high-end machinimatographer (and still don't own a 3D mouse), but I hope you enjoy the flashback—and be sure to watch in HD (and preferably on the larger Vimeo page view), which is far superior to the standard resolution version.

26 February 2013

Tableau Vivant's Urban Decay

High above the store Tableau Vivant in the sim World of Beauty stands a remarkable build of urban decay, apparently crafted by several of Tableau Vivant's hands. I wasn't able to find a teleport directly from the shop, but you can easily teleport there via this slurl, and credit is due to Kaycee Nightfire, whose beautiful image on flickr caught my eye.

We enter in what appears to be the downtown of a city, long deserted, the road broken and buckled. A bridge has completely collapsed, fallen into the water below, while around us burned out buildings and tangled telephone and electrical wires punctuate the scene, all encircled by stormy, ominous clouds. It's a little gem, so go take a look.

25 February 2013


A few months ago I began writing and taking photos for AVENUE magazine, and among my first assignments was to shoot some photos of Second Life architect Colpo Wexler at a group of four (now six) sims he had designed, known collectively as zenshi. I had seen some of Colpo's work before, but the scale of the build at zenshi was something altogether different—it was a seamlessly and beautifully constructed small city featuring offices (including AVENUE headquarters), residential housing, shops, an entertainment venue and parkland. It's worth a visit just to take a look at the architecture and the city planning.

The default windlight setting in the regions is a bright one. Colpo preferred London 2050, as shown in the top two images here, but either way brings out some lovely detail. Fashionistas will love the shopping experiences the sims have to offer (many small boutique shops), and you can live here, too—there are apartments and homes of various sizes. You can read more about zenshi and its future plans in recent issues of AVENUE.

24 February 2013

Yooma Mayo and Pixels Sideways at Split Screen

Only a few days remain to visit the two February installations at Split Screen, curated by Dividni Shostakovich. The first, by Yooma Mayo and entitled Yes, Giovanni, continues unmistakably in the artist's tradition of constructing large, steampunkish animal-like structures. Here, two float over a shimmering lake of water with a train winding through. I'm not sure what to make of the juxtaposition, but the two creatures are beautifully rendered.

Pixels Sideway's Afterlife is by far the more interactive and complex installation, but I found it less engaging despite its many parts and pieces. A series of rooms contains, in the artist's words, "a journey through my imagination," and it's important that you spend some time interacting with many of the artworks to gain their full appreciation. Yes, Giovanni and Afterlife continue through February 28.

22 February 2013

Meta_Body II at Delicatessen

The Delicatessen sim, a project of Meilo Minotaur and CapCat Ragu, has just re-opened with a new set of installations to celebrate Meta_Body II. If you're not familiar with Meta_Body, it's an exceptional opportunity to acquire, at no cost, some fantastic avatars. Recently a call was issued to the Second Life community, inviting the contribution of avatars for Meta_Body II, resulting in 26 new avatars by 22 creators. These are, for the most part, unusual avatars—it's a virtual world, after all, so what's the point in always looking like real life?

For Meta_Body II, avatars were contributed by alpha.tribe, CapCat Ragu, Cherry Manga, Cherry Ravinelli, Cica Ghost, Cold Frog, Ella Magnolia, Eupalinos Ugajin, Fitch Woodrunner, Fuschia Nightfire, Ggabriel Madruga, Kikas Babenco, Meilo Minotaur, Mimesis Monday, Moki Yuitza, Piedra Lubitsch, Rhojen Resident, Serenvide, Simotron Aquila, Ursula Floresby, Veleda Lorakeet and Wanda Beamish.

To roll out these new avatars, Meilo and CapCat created four new spaces, or stages, where the boxed avatars are waiting for you, and they're shown in this post in order (with the main landing point shown at the end). As CapCat said, "The avatars in stage one are more animalistic, stage 2 lace and ruffles, stage 3 steampunk and vintage, and stage 4 the ethereal ones." The installations are fantastic—I especially enjoyed the first and third areas. (I haven't tried all the avatars yet, but I know I'm in for a treat.)

Throughout the sim are exceptional sound installations by Takio Ra—not ones that you need to have a stream turned on to hear, and do turn your volume up. (Headphones are best, I'm advised.) If you're able to contribute, do consider leaving a donation to support Delicatessen near the main landing point, where many classic avatars from the original Meta_Body are available. More information can be found on the Delicatessen blog.

21 February 2013

2304 Rain

Squonk Levenque has just opened a new installation entitled 2304 Rain, affirming his position as the master of precipitation in Second Life. This watery sim is driven by the most relentless, dense rain I've ever seen, and it can make for an incredible (if graphics heavy) experience—be sure to grab an umbrella when you arrive.

One begins in the safe, dry haven of a small house, but save for one corner of the sim (where a stairway leads up to an ostensibly unreachable viewing platform—you can get up there but it's not easy) you'll be pummeled by raindrops fueled by a blustery wind. Just watching the rain and the puddles forming in the water can be mesmerizing.

In addition to the dry corner with the viewing platform, you'll find an area with monolithic blocks (simple yet beautiful), a heap of odds and ends, including giant musical instruments and a chess set, and ... did I mention the rain?

20 February 2013

This and That at LEA18

Currently on display at LEA18—and only for a few days more, until the end of February—is an assortment of works by various artists. Panic Room!, above, is a humorous installation by Marx Catteneo and Aen Aenis in which you literally have to run for your life—first being run down by a bus, then a huge rolling stone (image above), and so on.

Artistide Despres (Artée) and Pixels Sideways collaborated on a curious Sphere of Magnetic Attraction, a transparent dome one enters only to be mercilessly bounced around by forces acting upon the avatar—sort of an interesting experiment. The artists note, "Artée had been experimenting with "avatar" magnets—scripted objects that use force to push and pull objects and avatars. By combining four of these objects, Artée created a 'magnetic' field of sorts, into which an avatar steps and is propelled in all directions inside the field. Pixels came up with the sphere concept, which creates an 'infinite' sense of space as well as a sense of containment within the sphere. The original sphere was black inside and featured an array of brightly colored moving particles. It was, as we jokingly noted, 'hurl-worthy.'"

Some additional works by Artée are dotted on the ground, including the one pictured immediately above, which might sound superficially a bit like the player piano music of Conlon Nancarrow. (Although I assume the results here are random, so there's not much of a true connection.)

And, pictured at the bottom, there are two machinima theatres showing works made between 2009 and 2012 by Marx Catteneo. If you're all by yourself, you might just as well enjoy the stream on YouTube (here's a link), but if you're with a friend or group you can always start at the same time and discuss what you're seeing, or just enjoy one another's company.

19 February 2013


I have time for just a quick post today, and I've been meaning to say something about Izzie's (and was reminded because Gogo just shot a photo there). I'll leave it to the fashion bloggers to write about the apparel (which, by the way, is lovely), and I'll focus instead on the exterior, where a lush and beautiful landscape unfolds with rolling fields of flowers, a stream and some picturesque little houses. I love it when shop owners create environments like this to wrap around their stores, and proprietor Izzie Button offers one of the best. It's a great spot for photos or just a stroll, so go take a look!

18 February 2013


You can smell the garbage all the way over at the landing point. Manilism—which first caught my eye on Caitlin Tobias's blog—is a trash dump that's open for your enjoyment until the end of February. Design credits are given to Julius Redillas and Richard Coronel, although I don't see anything on the sim by Julius Redillas and I do see things by Mahnong Guardian. The world of alts, no doubt. If you'd like to fully appreciate the installation, be sure to turn on media, as the location features the premiere of a 13-minute experimental video, Bleached Nightmare. And to really amp it up, visit Richard Coronel's website and have the video there, Untitled (Sound for Manilism) running in the background as you stroll around.

Photographing this sim was a delight. (Would you believe I ran out of film?) It affords considerable opportunities for landscapes and depth of field, and elements vary from the trash, to a floating sphere bedecked with everything from an airplane to a beating heart, to a watery world of umbrellas. The video itself is much darker in tone than the sim itself—a black and white exploration of decay, presumably in Manila (the name of the installation being a play on "Manila" and "sim"). This is a must-see space, so don't delay giving it a visit.

17 February 2013


Ah, the relentless march of science. For two artists, Kicca Igaly and Nessuno Myoo, it's sometimes marching too quickly or without much consideration for risk or ethics. Their joint project at LEA27, DangerInEvolution, reflects on these concerns from an artistic perspective. I'm not sure I concur with their argument (spelled out with considerable detail in the installation's notes), but the artwork is certainly worth seeing either way. The default windlight setting is Phototools-Breakwave Building Light, and if you don't have this (it's included in the most recent Firestorm release) it would be worth loading.

Of the two installations, I found that by Nessuno Myoo aesthetically more intriguing (top two images)—or at least for me as a photographer it was more interesting to explore. What at first appears to be a fairly abstract design has darker undertones: a central carousel with swinging figures is, to use the artist's words, "the 'poetic' transfiguration of a huge and monstrous mushroom cloud, caused by the explosion of the first of the two notorious bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki between 6 and 9 August 1945."

Kicca Igaly's work (lower two images), by contrast, places us in a sinister laboratory setting—one in which we the visitors are quite tiny, perhaps the equivalent of six inches or fifteen centimeters tall, dwarfed by the equipment and the shadowy figures using it. Radioactive waste litters the site, and correspondingly some children in the scene are missing limbs. Not a pretty picture, but both creators display considerable talent transforming their concepts into powerful artistic statements.

16 February 2013

Little Red Riding Hood - the other side of the story

Like many old folktales, Little Red Riding Hood is steeped in violence and cloaked in sexuality: although it has taken many forms over the centuries, the protagonist (a girl, innocent or perhaps not, with her sexual red cape) is devoured (or perhaps symbolically raped) by a wolf (perhaps representing male predation), and then she's saved as the wolf is sliced open and killed. Quite a lovely little story we read to children, of course. Or maybe it's just an innocent little fairy tale. Either way, Mimesis Monday (also known as Frigg Radu or, in real life, Heidi Dahlsveen, a story teller in both worlds), invited three artists to explore the tale and to create an installation on her sim, The Companion. Little Red Riding Hood—the other side of the story opens tomorrow, February 17, at noon slt.

Artist Alpha Auer's contribution (in which you might see creations by her alt Alpho Fullstop, both of whom create for alpha.tribe) is a solo build wherein a dark forest wraps around central scene in which a party of wolves looks up in horror at one of their companions, mercilessly speared and bleeding (top image of this post). The wolf heads were crafted by Leben Schnabel, and entire scene is gorgeously rendered. A free alpha.tribe Little Red Riding Hood avatar (designed in that unique alpha.tribe sort of way) is available here. If you're not running a viewer that provides automatic windlight settings I'd recommend you manually adjust to the sim's default.

The second area was collaboratively constructed by Cherry Manga and Soror Nishi. Here we see several scenes: what looks like the initial meeting and interaction between Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf, a dance (perhaps), a sexual encounter, and finally the violent death of the wolf at the hands of a plunging knife (middle two images). Here again the environment is beautifully rendered. And, separate from the LRRH story, another fantastic creation of Soror Nishi's stands at the entrance: a huge tree known as Yggdrasil (photo below). Mimesis says she'll be doing some storytelling at the installation from time to time, so keep your eyes out for those events (probably best through the Facebook page). The builds will be up until mid-April. Do leave a contribution at the landing point if you can.

15 February 2013

Topophonia: 4 Realizations in Sound

I recommend visiting Topophonia: 4 Realizations in Sound, on display at Yoshikaze@HUMlab through the end of February. Curated by Oberon Onmura, the installation features work by Maya Paris, Alpha Auer, Eupalinos Ugajin and the curator, who says, "The concept [was] simple: use sounds only to guide an avatar around a build. I asked [the other three artists] to avoid providing visual cues for avatars to use in reaching whatever kind of goals the artists envisioned. You will find four completely different pieces, four totally different visions of what that initial concept suggested. To me, the fact that our four versions are so different is tremendously exciting. It is further proof that the artist's mind is unlimited in its ability to make sense of the world, and to convey that sense to others."

The four installations are indeed quite different from one another, and adhere to Oberon's request to varying degrees, but sound is clearly a key component in each. Oberon's work, Nine Rooms (photo immediately above), presents a puzzle: enter a room with two doors, one of which sends you to the next room and one of which sends you back to the beginning. Each room is a separate sonic environment.

By contrast, I found myself clicking on everything at Eupalinos Ugajin's Jazz on Bones (photo immediately below), so that my visual interactions rather than auditory ones were leading me forward. Still, it's a delight, and if you choose to take the lemon umbrella up it does eventually (and unceremoniously) return you down. There's a freebie here if you search far enough.

Maya Paris's Bank Job (top photo) is typically crazy, and if you search around long enough you'll end up with a free avatar and some other goodies (find the bank!). As with Eupalinos's creation, I found this less dependent on auditory cues, but I always love the playfulness of Maya's creations. And at Alpha Auer's beautiful Listen... (bottom image) you should do just that, as the sounds will guide you to the location of a free alpha.tribe avatar.

All in all, four excellent small installations by outstanding artists. HUMlab is a project of Umeå University in Sweden, and YO=shi-kA+Ze is an art studio run by Goodwind Seiling with HUMlab's support.

12 February 2013

Empyreal Dreams

Great literature often conjures fantastic imagery in our minds. Whether you're visualizing the same thing as I am while reading War and Peace (which, yes, I've read and love) or Jernigan (best book you've never heard of) I don't know, but a couple artists—Remington Aries and Ariel Wingtips—have fabricated some artworks inspired by several great literary works, and their images are sure to stay with you. Their creations reside at Empyreal Dreams, where you can not only visit, but also purchase many of their designs.

The artists have created skybox-like immersive environments that let you sort of walk into the novel, as if perhaps strolling onto a film set. At the landing point are two: one inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven (coincidentally timely if you're a football fan from Baltimore), and the other the more impressive The Rime of Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (top image). Via teleport one can visit the very colorful The Owl and the Pussy Cat by Edward Lear and Victor Hugo's somber Les Miserables (where you should make note to travel up the winding stairway). They're great miniature universes. Look for more details in next month's issue of AVENUE magazine.

11 February 2013

Buena Ventura

Earlier today on plurk, I openly pondered what I should blog about, and Cajsa Lilliehook immediately piped up to suggest a new homestead, Inception (or Buena Ventura). So off I went to take a look. It's a heavily forested island sim owned and designed by Gahum Riptide that possesses a curious mix of trees, ranging from oaks to palms, with a small cluster of redwoods and a swampy grove of cypress (bottom photo)—but they all seem to work well together. Ferns, flowers and grasses abound.

The central part of the island takes the visitor through a series of tall rock-sided passageways punctuated by ancient stone arches—it's easy to get lost in the deep woods. I've never been particularly drawn to "tropical" spots in Second Life (no idea why—lots of people love them), and Buena Ventura in places hints at that a bit on its western edge. But I can see photographers, especially fashion photographers, having a great time with the thick foliage as background. Plus it's worth a stroll.

10 February 2013

AM Radio's Great Grandfather

Most Second Life residents are familiar the work of AM Radio, creator of serenely captivating landscapes that brought a striking sense of scale to the virtual world. Only one of AM's builds now stands, a quarter-sim construction called The Far Away, but he remains actively creative in real life working as a graphic designer, ux designer, and lead programmer/developer of CityForward (a fascinating project by IBM), and as a photographer: his tumblr is replete with images that evoke the kinds of spaces and designs he created in Second Life (or perhaps it's the other way around).

Recently he posted a little personal project that struck me as an innovative use of Second Life: he needed to restore an old photograph of his great grandfather (and anyone who has attempted photo restoration knows how challenging this can be). Rather than use Photoshop to sketch out the wheel, he created a virtual wheel mirroring the original and then dropped it into the photo. As he says on his post, "The wheel needed some more exact work, so I used Second Life to model a wheel quickly to insert into the photo." If you want to see something really interesting, see how he then created a primitive 3d effect with the image (also applied to an image of Abraham Lincoln).

Images ©AM Radio, used with permission.

09 February 2013


A year ago on February 9 a lovely new sim opened, Hazardous. A picturesque location with deep purple and lavender hues, designed by Wendy Xeno and Mandingo Quan, it evoked the sim HuMaNoiD (designed by Wendy) but commanded its own identity (old blog post here). After a short while, however, the sim closed—Mandingo wanted something different, and for the better part of a year now it's been once again under construction. And a year to the day—by sheer coincidence—the new version of Hazardous now opens, with a radical design that's unlike any space I've seen in Second Life.

Entering Hazardous places you on a windswept, sun-beaten grassy plain that exhibits signs of rural life and quiet rusted decay. But that first impression gives way as (don't read if you don't want the spoiler) you pan around to really see where you are: yes, on a grassy plain, but set high up on an incredible mass of rock with magnificent cliffs that reach down to the sea far below. Cutting through the middle of this block of stone is a deep gorge, where way down below is a second environment quite different than what's above: a magical area filled with lush vegetation, with beams of light slicing through to the water while dragonflies dance. A show house is set here.

Photographers and explorers will delight in Hazardous. There's a hidden space called "The Pond"—you'll have to find something to click on that will take you there. Spots for poses and dances abound, including these fun poses on the bridge (above), where Wendy is on the left and I'm hanging (uncharacteristically blond) upside down. Eventually the sim will host a shop (to be in a skybox above) that will sell some of the items you see around the sim, and maybe some other things besides. Don't forget to chip in at the donation box if you can.