31 March 2013

April Fools House

Just when I had given up trying to think of a fun April Fools post (well, I was going to post a great news story on how Amazon had decided to accept the Linden Dollar as its virtual currency, but that was proving way too time consuming), Bryn Oh piped up in the Immersiva group and said, "They have made a fun april fools house at raglan shire...best to do if you have a tiny avatar." And indeed at Raglan Shire is the Second Annual Frog & Cat Productions April Fools House, and it's quite fun and silly.

My favorite part was on the top floor, where you'll find some exploding planets (sound up, please!)—in the photo below I'm the mouse (in my little explorer mouse outfit from Grim Bros.), and you can barely make out Bryn Oh (the very pixelated tiny) and Cica Ghost (the panda) in the orange of the explosion. Raglan Shire is a sim for tinies, and so a tiny avatar will work best here, but there were also a few "normal" size people roaming about. You'll find free gifts sprinkled about here and there. The house is open today through April 2.

P.S. You'll find more things outside the house, not to be missed (thanks to my friend Juno Angerona for noticing!). And Toady Nakamura, who built the house and many of the tricks (and who says "this year we worked on it for a LONG time"), adds that "the original organizer Clover Dezno is the brains behind the outfit." A tip of the hat to all involved.

30 March 2013

3D Mandelbrot Fractal Art

Opening tomorrow (Sunday, March 31) from 11 to 17 slt is an installation on LEA27 by Mac Kanashimi entitled 3D Mandelbrot Fractal Art. The rather functional title says it all: the sim is filled with enormous Mandelbrot fractals that stretch from one side of the sim to the other, extending vertically up to 64 meters (or, in the case of a floating spheres variation, 96 meters). (The top image here is a view of the entire sim looking down.) Every twelve minutes (or five times per hour) a new shape emerges—Mac said, "There are 13 fractals with a total of 87 variations or so. Or was it 14?"—and he may add additional fractals over the course of the exhibition's run. The installation is quite unlike anything I've seen in Second Life.

When you arrive you'll be on a clear triangular platform looking down over the installation, but it's possible to fly down to experience the fractals immersively, and I found this to be quite delightful. On the platform, click on the narrow beam behind you to obtain a notecard filled with technical details of what you're seeing and how Mac generated the fractals. This beam also functions as a countdown timer so you'll know when to expect a new iteration—when the black bar reaches the bottom a new fractal will be generated.

29 March 2013

The Re-Arrival of The Arrival: Long Live the Fish

If you were among those left weeping and inconsolable by the closing of The Arrival at LEA23, a masterpiece by Rose Borchovski about which I blogged in January, then weep no more. The entire installation (or most of it, at least) has been re-created on the sim MIC - Imagin@rium, a region dedicated to revolving exhibitions curated by Mexi Lane and friends.

28 March 2013


Opening today (Thursday, March 28) at 12pm slt is Rust by Cica Ghost, which follows on the heels of her "white" installation in the same space. As she describes it, "My Rust world is a mix of strange machines, chained trees, rusty mushrooms, birds, balloons, butterflies and spiders, elephants and gear flowers that sway in the wind..." At first glance one might see a superficial resemblance to the last artwork here, but it's quite different, with its plethora of machines, many of which are quite humorous and quite busy with their little activities. I found myself particularly fond of the "transforming machine" and the birds.

It takes some time to see everything: one wanders on foot, and this sim features a multiplicity of centers of activity rather than any single object as a focal point. If you're not using a browser that automatically changes to the region's environment settings you might miss a great deal of the experience—entering with the standard viewer will show pretty blue skies rather than the intensely rusted looking atmosphere shown in these images. You'll find a landmark giver to Cica's shop and way to leave contributions at the installation's landing point.

27 March 2013

[the chamber] (NSFW)

I hesitated to write about [the chamber]—I mean, I usually blog about art, or cool sims to visit, or this and that, but not about places overtly designed for sex. But there is something classy about [the chamber] that sets it apart from the oft-maligned "hop on a poseball" sort of place, and if you're a voyeur or exhibitionist (or both) then there's something here for you. To join the group and thereby gain entry you'll need to hand over L$300—no doubt this eliminates most riff-raff from disturbing the atmosphere. (You can also be escorted up one time by a group member to look around.) Be very sure to read the rules before you teleport in.

And what's here? It's well stated in one of the introductory notes: "The vision of [the chamber] is to create a deep and erotic atmosphere for roleplay and erotic chat for members. We focus on politeness and manners with a twist. Our members expect intelligent, lively conversation and imagination along with beautiful and detailed surroundings. We are very strict on behavior and appearance so that we keep to the original vision of the society and club."

First, there is the dress code. For men: suits, vests or sports jackets, collared shirts or sweaters, dress shoes or clean boots, nice sneakers. For ladies: dresses, skirts, bodysuits, dress pants, lingerie, heels or barefeet. That means no jeans, bling, baseball caps or other tacky junk. Of course, there is nudity: always welcome for ladies, and Wednesdays are CMNF (clothed male nude female) day—not mandatory but encouraged. The tables get turned on Thursdays, which are are CFNM (clothed female nude male). But in any case you must arrived clothed, and staff keep a sharp eye out for proper decorum. (And yes, you do have to be human.)

And then there's the location: a selection of elegantly designed rooms, each with a different purpose. The reception area (second photo, shown at a remarkably uncrowded moment) is ideal for introductions and chat (as well as intimacy), while the lounge (lower photo) is more suited to roleplay (not reachable via the main teleport—head to the terrace outside the reception room, but pay attention to the lounge's specific purpose). Additionally you'll discover a study for office roleplay (with a hidden voyeur room), a ballroom (for group activity), the basement (a polite euphemism for a dungeon) and other rooms. If you venture around on the ground level you'll discover May's Landing, the location of a music venue, Sugar Tits. And I encourage you to leave a contribution—Mollie Butoh, the co-owner of the two sims, says, "We use donations, membership fees, and our own funds"—a generous move by her and her co-owner partner, Max Butoh.

24 March 2013

Tim's Dreams

If you're in the mood to experience someone else's nightmare (or maybe have one of your own), pay a visit to the sim Per4mance MetaLES ..O.., where Romy Nayar's exhibition Tim's Dreams awaits you. Originally opened last October—and fitting for the Halloween season—the installation still remains, although its originally announced closing date was on December 11. As the artist's note says (with minor edits for translation), "Once upon a time there was a little boy named Tim. Tim didn't like sleeping, and every night tried to stay awake. Tim didn't like sleeping, because he was convinced that every night a very bad sorcerer would come to steal his dreams...and maybe someday take him..."

Here the visitor is led on a winding path through a series of disturbing vignettes, each almost a scene from a dream we can't quite remember upon awakening. Many pieces of the artwork are for sale (you'll have to click around to discover which), and you'll encounter at least one freebie and some interactive poses as well. And, as I often do, I encourage everyone to consider leaving a contribution to support the sim and the artists.

23 March 2013

Jessica Belmer, Isa Messioptra and Emaline9 at Gallery Assis

Opening today at Gallery Assis are three exhibitions in a shared space: Jessica Belmer's White Harness, Isa Messioptra's rupture, and Emaline9's Fearless On My Breath. Gallery Assis, owned and curated by Eli Wallace, "specializes in tasteful erotic art in a pleasant and stimulating environment," and these three sets of works reflect that orientation. Jessica, Isa and Emaline9 stand among the best photographic artists working in Second Life, with a strong command of subject matter, composition and light.

If you haven't visited Gallery Assis before you're in for a treat, as the physical space of the building is impressive. Designed by Colpo Wexler, it's one of the best places to view two dimensional artworks in Second Life (not to mention the artwork on display!). An opening reception will be held at 12 pm slt (sorry, I originally had the wrong time!), and while you're there you can enjoy some of the many other exhibitions throughout the building.

22 March 2013

The Lost Alphabet

Opening tomorrow, Saturday, March 23 at La Città Perduta (Lost Town) is an immense and impressive artwork by Haveit Neox entitled The Lost Alphabet. A center for rotating exhibitions, La Città Perduta invites artists to essentially take over the town, and Haveit's build extends to every nook and cranny, reaching up far overhead and tunneling deep underground. I'm sure that even after spending a couple hours there I hadn't discovered everything.

The build is based on a long storyline that, if read while exploring, will take you from place to place on the sim via teleports. (You should receive a notecard as you arrive.) I don't have space here to share it (although I'm tempted), but the narrative begins in part: "There had been such horrible acts committed in the case now on trial, that even the instruments of the crime (the letters of the alphabet), were themselves put on judgment. The prosecutor’s proof was solid. Treacherous documents could not have been written without language, and language cannot be conveyed without the use of the letters of the alphabet. There was no denying this fact, and thus charged, the letters were shamed and severely sentenced. A, B, and C, in the company of 23 other letters and a host of punctuation marks and digits sat imprisoned..."

Personally, I would suggest that you explore first by foot, just wandering on the paths and discovering what there is to see—and quite a lot of it there is—because by teleporting about you won't really get the sense of scale. And there are places you still won't see by only using the prescribed landmarks—but on the other hand they do link the story together and give the build its overall context. Haveit's work often uses large textures, sometimes moving, that can be a graphics challenge—however to my mind this is his most impressive work to date (and because textures are in motion these photos don't quite capture the feel of things). The last artwork here was by Yooma Mayo (about which I blogged here), and it's delightful to see that Haveit's build refers to it in an ingenuous way.

You can read more about The Lost Alphabet on Haveit Neox's blog, ACC Alpha. An opening reception will be held at 3 pm slt. The town itself is also worth exploring for its own sake, and it's remarkable how smoothly Haveit's additions meld with the original scene. A tip of the hat is also due to sivi Kelberry and AKILAE Gant, the sim owners and builders, who also curate La Città Perduta's art exhibitions. Please consider making a contribution to support the sim and this and future art installations.

21 March 2013

Calas Galadhon: The Island of Armenelos

The most urban of the Calas Galadhon sims is the Island of Armenelos, where sparkling white dwellings evocative of the Greek island of Santorini are perched on high rocks that thrust up out of the surrounding blue sea. The apartments, as far as I can tell, aren't for rent—they're furnished and one can wander in, but they're just part of the scenery. Some additional small dwellings can be found on the northwest corner of the island, not easily visible from the main southeastern facing side, and an old dock cradles a fishing vessel a little further to the north. You can find the Church of Santorini on the northernmost corner.

A club, the Dolphin Cafe (pictured just above), stands a short walk from the main area and is a frequent venue for live music performances—the schedule is prominently displayed near the sim's landing point. On the southeastern walkway that runs along the shore, you can pick up some free scuba diving equipment, and you'll find it handy if you want to explore the underwater sights that await.

20 March 2013

pteron, with a caveat

Enter the world of pteron, a mysterious realm where secrets and mystery await. It's hardly a new build, dating from way back in 2007, but even by contemporary mesh standards it's a dazzling sight, an impressive construct that stands as one of the earliest testaments to the possibilities of full-sim immersive environments. Here we explore a deep blue-green world of mystic secrets; we see curious objects that seem to hold meaning, but what that meaning is we can't decipher: we're outsiders looking in on some other culture or civilization.

Physically, pteron exists on five levels: the main area that one sees upon arrival, which is a sprawling and complex city filled with stairways, hidden rooms, meeting places and curious objects; and four additional areas known as <c o m a> (a dark and barely visible world, but do be sure to find the walkway that ventures out into space), <nostos> (photo below, which looks as though we're witnessing the creation of a solar system), <kyklos> (platforms filled with glowing shapes and particles), and <speciation> (another multi-platform area in the sky).

And the caveat? This place has been around for a long time, so as I searched about to learn its history I came across this blog post by slutrix, which suggests that pteron has what she calls an unsavory background. It all sounds quite bizarre, and in all the many times I've been to pteron I haven't been accosted or greeted by isimsizkimse (Core Alchemist) or anyone else. But political and religious zealots rank pretty lowly on my list, and slutrix isn't the sort of blogger who would say something without being sure of what she's saying, so there's your word of warning.

18 March 2013

Calas Galadhon: Eryn Vorn

Nestled on the southwest edge of Calas Galadhon Park is the sim Eryn Vorn. Previously a homestead sim, it was recently converted into a much more limited openspace sim (750 prims), but the transformation still affords an impressive landscape. Footbridges connect the small islands here, which feature grassy terrain overshadowed by rocky ledges and cliffs, and it's quite fun to find ways to get from one ledge to another via ladders and fallen tree trunks. Tall conifers and young sycamores have found a foothold, stretching up into the air to greet the flights of bald eagles and pelicans.

Because it's an openspace sim only ten people are allowed at one time, but that just might add an extra layer of quietude and privacy. There are plenty of places to dance or relax, with impressive views of Gulf of Lune to the north and South Farthing to the east, and the off-sim mountains, which rise up out of the water on the western edge, fit in unobtrusively.

17 March 2013

Forest of Scissors

Forest of Scissors is an old build by Igor Ballyhoo, now long departed from Second Life, and I was surprised to discover this morning that it's still around at the UTSA ArtSpace sim (which I was surprised was still around, too, given an announcement back in 2011 that it was closing). And I assume that some of you, dear readers, might not have ever seen this place, since perhaps you entered this virtual world long after Igor left it.

I'm not sure how many pair of gargantuan scissors there are, but there are many and they're enormous, looking ready to snip and cut, all emerging malevolently from a spot overhead. I had fun playing with depth of field here, something not available to photographers when the build was first opened (click on images to zoom). If you're a non-human avatar, rock might be safer than paper.

16 March 2013

Fashion for Life

I had been so busy the past week I hadn't had a chance to visit Fashion for Life, the Second Life extension of Relay for Life, and so this post is coming in on the late side. Aside from the unquestionable value of the event itself and the many designers whose wares are for sale (or through whom you can contribute by making a purchase), I was really struck by three sims on the eastern edge that offered some striking artwork.

The first, the Lighthouse of Alexandria by Bryn Oh, (sponsored by [sYs] Design), is an enchanting and surreal scene (photo above): a "lighthouse" looming over a sea filled with paper boats and moths. Fly up to the top and you can purchase your very own Bryn Oh lookalike for L$1,000.

Immediately to the south is the Pyramid of Giza by Thoth-Anubis (Thoth Jantzen), sponsored by Chop Zuey Couture and Jewellery. Here it's important to have streaming media turned on to enjoy the dazzling light changes—the photo above can't really capture the experience.

And then just to the south of the Pyramid of Giza is the stunning Colossus of Rhodes by Rebeca Bashly (sponsored by .:EMO-tions:.), a jaw-dropping structure that towers far into the sky. In the image below you're essentially looking at an entire sim—an avatar would be a tiny dot in the photo. Here, the shops are inside the right leg and torso of the Colossus and are reached by the winding staircase that wraps around the shin, thigh and upper body—really quite extraordinary. Fashion for Life closes tomorrow (Sunday the 17th), so run over to explore and enjoy before it disappears.

15 March 2013

Calas Galadhon: Bay of Balfalas

I'm often amazed by what people can create in homestead regions that offer only 3,750 prims, but it's not often we see someone attempting to create on an openspace sim with an even smaller 750 prim allowance. At the Calas Galadhon sim of Bay of Balfalas, that's just what Tymus Tenk and Truck Meredith did, having downsized the sim from a full region rather than lose it altogether as they reduced costs. It's minimal, as you might expect, but lovely and peaceful. If you're looking for a quiet place to contemplate, dance or cuddle (or sail!) this might be your ticket. With your draw distance up you might see the shimmering white architecture of the neighboring sim Armenelos in the distance.

13 March 2013

Neva River Spring 2013

You can't click on the teleport button quite yet, but Neva Crystall is about to re-open her sim, Neva River, to visitors. I'm including the slurl here so you can try once in a while, because it might be open by the 15th (this Friday) and will only be remain open for a short time. And you certainly won't want to miss the chance to explore this island. Neva credits Alex Bader with assisting her in the design, and also credits Wendy Xeno, whose objects you'll see here along with those of Mandingo Quan. (Click to zoom in on photos.)

This time the fantastically beautiful scene is one of craggy hills and rugged farmland, all wrapped around a deep stream that flows in a winding ravine. Central to the build is a lighthouse that looks dramatically out over the wild sea, the steel blue of the surrounding water contrasting against the vibrant dark green of the land. Houses and structures dot the land. Anyone who does photography—portraiture or landscape—or just appreciates extraordinary builds will love Neva River. I'll be posting some images on my flickr stream.

P.S. I just bumped into Neva and her partner Boo at FFL and she says it won't be open this weekend, but probably next week sometime. I'll keep you posted.

11 March 2013

Calas Galadhon: Glanduin

Within the fenced meadows, gently rolling hills and calmly flowing waters of Glanduin, one of the eleven sims that comprise Calas Galadhon Park, one finds a farm at work: near a quaint farmhouse and barn are young crops of cucumbers, radishes, tomatos, lettuces, carrots, beans and strawberries, along with an apple orchard. You can help out if you'd like—just hop on one of the poses and grab your hoe.

Farm animals about here, too: sheep, deer, horses and cows graze on the lush grass. Indeed, this would be a lovely place to ride a horse (or to visit if you are a horse!). If you can, consider leaving a contribution to help support the Calas Galadhon sims.