28 September 2014

LTD Gallery Shop

Opening today, Sunday, September 28, at 2:00 pm slt, is a new exhibition curated by Quan Lavender at the LTD Gallery Shop in Aakriti, featuring works by Bryn Oh, Fushia Nightfire, Oh (Ohsoleomio), Milly Sharple, FirleFanz Roxley, Louly Loon, Mistero Hifeng, Kubbrick, Sabine Mortenwold, Janine Portal, Sylvia Fitzpatrick and Trill Zapatero. The items are a variety of two- and three-dimensional works, some kinetic, and all connected to the most recent issue of LTD Magazine.

The Gods Dwindle

Opening today, Sunday, September 28, at 2:00 pm slt, is The Gods Dwindle, an installation by Haveit Neox at Plusia Ars Island, presented by Marea2007 Praga. "Humanity has devastated the planet," Haveit begins as he describes the work. "Only three Gods remain: Gaia, the Earth Goddess, bleeds internally, her lava burning landmasses, boiling lakes and rivers. Neptune, God of the Sea, suffocates in the hot oxygen deprived oceans of dead fish. Horus, the Sky God, gives up the heavens and all his days, freezing time into a mirror." The build extends through three of the palazzi on the southern end of the island, so be sure to venture out and visit all the locations — Neptune's undulating waves are particularly striking. While you're at Plusia Arts, be sure to enjoy some of the other works that abound throughout the sim, including JadeYu Fhang's large works that overlook the scene.

21 September 2014

Bread and Roses

"Conditions at the mills were brutal," we learn. "The mortality rate for children was 50% by age six; 36 out of every 100 men and women who worked in the mill died by the time they reached 25." Such it was in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912, at the advent of the textile strike that became known as the Bread and Roses strike (the title being taken from a speech by activist Rose Schneiderman). The workers, immigrants from 51 different countries who were challenged to communicate, struck for three months in the dead of winter in response to shortened hours that reduced their pay from already low levels. The strike, which was led by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or the Wobblies), led to Congressional hearings that revealed the plight of the workers, and helped improve the workers' situation, at least for a while.

All this and much more awaits you at Bread and Roses, an installation at LEA 13 by Ellie Brewster, who developed the sim for educational purposes. I was surprised to see the build in an arts sim, it having more of a humanities or social sciences orientation, but I've enjoyed reacquainting myself with the Wobblies and other aspects of the strike. Indeed, you'll meet some of the workers and families face to face as you visit, because Ellie has used archival images to populate the sim and to create trompe l'oeil effects, such as the laundry in the image above that moves from the archival image into the sim itself. Some of the buildings and homes are intentionally empty, as Ellie hopes her students will work on projects to fill them. Inside the main mill building, which dominates the scene, you'll find images that tell the story of the strike as you click on them (next image), and you're even given an opportunity to reenact the typical day of a mill worker.

"The point of the exhibit, I think, is that when we do history, it's important to understand that there is not 'one story' to be told," Ellie explained to me. "I'm trying to include as many alternate views as possible. There will be a lot more content added to the site as the grant period progresses, and I hope people will criticize it and suggest other voices to be included. I'd like it to be an organic site that reacts to the people who visit it." She remarked that she's not much of a builder, but in this instance I think it hardly matters. Be sure to have media set to auto-play while you visit, and be sure to check back over the forthcoming months as the exhibit continues to expand.

20 September 2014

Matoluta Bay & Sanctuary

I wrote about the lovely Matoluta Sanctuary sim back in July, when it launched to help raise awareness for the Spanish colonial horse. Now, Matoluta Sanctuary has a companion sim: Matoluta Bay. With the addition of the Bay, the Sanctuary has received some updating, and the two sims represent different seasons — spring and summer are featured in Matoluta Bay, while fall and winter are hosted by Matoluta Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary is rated general while the Bay is rated mature, so please keep the distinctions in mind when you visit. They're lovely sims that invite you to explore and take photos, with options for boating, dancing, ice skating, snow ball fighting and more. The focus of Sanctuary will continue to be that of the Spanish colonial horse, while the Bay is, as its designers say, a "sim based in raw nature."

The sims are open to all visitors this weekend, with a music performance tomorrow, Sunday, September 21 at 12 pm slt. As of Monday, to help preserve the privacy of the herd, Sanctuary becomes restricted to group members only (you can apply for a fee), but will open its doors on Fridays and Saturdays for general visitors. Bay, in the meantime, will remain open to everyone.

If you're interested in joining as a serious roleplayer (possibly as a horse or other animal), contact Ursus Broono to receive information. But even if you're just a casual visitor, you're welcome to interact (preferably via roleplay) with any of the animals. (If you ask politely, you might even get a ride on a horse.) And stay tuned for even more growth — Mz Marville, one of the sim designers, explains to me that she hopes additional regions will be added to the existing pair, and that those will advocate for indigenous rights.

17 September 2014

Black Elk

Now open at LEA1 is Black Elk, an installation by Livio Oak Korobase that is both an homage to the Sioux medicine man of the same name, and an invitation to visitors to absorb Black Elk's messages about peace, not only among humans but also between humans and the planet. "I hope they will think a bit about life," Livio told me as we drummed away on the supplied percussion in the sky nest overhead, adding that he suspects if someone drums for five hours then he or she might have a vision.

And it was a series of great visions for which Black Elk (1863 – 1950) became known: at the age of nine, during a serious illness, he experienced powerful visions that were accepted with profundity by his own people, and also by the likes of mythologist Joseph Campbell. Horses, prolific in the installation, "are the main symbol in the Black Elk vision," Livio explains, and other elements are also symbolic, although possibly not directly related to Black Elk, such as the Kokopelli, the figures over the drums who are playing flutes. "They are magical," Livio says.

You'll arrive on the ground level, and there's plenty to explore down there, including quotes by Black Elk (and John F. Kennedy, who Livio points out also talked about peace). "In these days of war, I thought it was a good idea to remember," he told me. Two teleports at the landing point will take you up to other locations, and you can also explore by rezzing a horse. And if you've got sharp eyes, you might notice a playful reminder of Livio's previous LEA build standing in a corner.

15 September 2014


Now open at Holtwaye ArtSpace is Projectiles by Eupalinos Ugajin, a delightful exercise in purposeful purposelessness, the function of which is almost impossible to capture in a series of still photos (and therefore these images will provide only the most rudimentary sense of what happens). An enormous sink, with hot and cold water faucets (the teal shape on the right above, with the words "how's the water?" plastered on its side), is connected by a fulcrum to a bright yellow cone. Further away is a large rectangular tower that juts upward from a stone base.

Your task is to click on the cold water faucet, which gives you the choice of selecting any one of a number of items that will be rezzed and dropped into the sink, mostly art objects by blotto Epsilon, Dekka Raymaker, Alpha Auer, Marmaduke Arado, Maya Paris, Cutea Benelli, Rose Borchovski and the like (I'm leaving off quite a few names — there are many) — even a giant mesh penis by Jedda Zenovka. (You can also rez multiple items.) Then, click on the hot water faucet. A giant strawberry is dropped from a device overhead, which lands on the yellow cone, forcing the catapult to launch its load across toward the tower. Some items make it, and some don't (the penis rarely does, by the way). An impact with the tower sends it into a violent quivering motion and releases particle-like objects that drift in the wind. And then it's time to re-load.

It's all, of course, entirely absurd. And it's delightfully absurd in the spirit of artists such as Jean Tinguely, although hearkening more toward Duchamp and Dada than toward Tinguely's cynical social perspective. In order to see and then enjoy the work, we are asked to participate in the ridiculous task of loading up a catapult with odd projectiles, dropping a giant strawberry (all controlled by water faucets) and watching as the objects fly into a tower or drop to the ground, haplessly bouncing around. (You can, by the way, attempt to ride along — and if you rez the item by Haveit Noex you can sit on it, effectively flying across space as its attachment.) Projectiles is also a simple but exquisitely executed demonstration of Second Life physics.

Projectiles is a re-launch (sorry) of a similar work created back in late 2011 — thanks to Holter and Wayne of Holtwaye ArtSpace for giving us a chance to see it once again. The windlight setting and music stream are selections by Eupalinos. While you're visiting, be sure to explore the rest of the gallery below (where you can leave a tip if you'd like).

11 September 2014

Square pegs in round holes

Completed just yesterday (but, like many places, likely to be in constant revision) is a new sim by Rwah entitled Square pegs in round holes. Indeed, says, Rwah, "This sim will have an ever changing collection of builds. You are welcome to photograph them, explore them, or simply hang out. You are invited to explore and discover, to find the little hidden places and to simply have a good time." It's Rwah's first sim-wide build (having previously attempted to enjoy life on a platform), and she succeeds admirably.

Square pegs in round holes comprises a chain of islands, the largest being near the landing point, home to a church, graveyard, field of poppies, and intimate café. From there, one can set off on foot, traversing several long bridges, arriving at another island of size that's linked to yet another that's home to a gallery. After that, it's off to the skies to reach three formidable outcrops of rock connected by narrow bridges, a cozy cabin resting on the first (top image).

Those who enjoy photography will no doubt make return visits. You'll discover a teleport system that takes you to some of the region's major destinations, and, speaking of photography, you'll also spot works by two photographers whose works are featured and whose services are available — Yannick and Peep Sideshow. The sim is Rwah's home, so she asks that visitors respect her privacy and enjoy the environment with politeness. Special thanks to Arnno Planer for introducing me to Rwah and Square pegs in round holes.

07 September 2014

France Portnawak

When last I wrote about France Portnawak, it was a region filled with icebergs, and the gigantic Titanic — or rather, the TitaNawak — was listing heavily to starboard. But apparently the TitaNawak finally sank, and the seasons have moved forward: now, France Portnawak, freshly designed by Leica Arado, is a stunningly beautiful place featuring gardens wrapped around a central lake, all lush with brilliant color.

Near the landing point you'll spot a bicycle rezzer, and that's a handsome way to get about the island, but roaming by foot is ideal as well. The low-lying land hosts trees in greens, reds and yellows, suggesting that fall is well underway, but also harbors splendid rich fields of ochre, crimson and periwinkle flowers. Toward the western edge, a lighthouse watches over the land and the few other buildings.

The islands are dotted with plenty of spots for relaxation (solo and couple), with dances available on the western edge. The southeasternmost corner of the land features an art gallery, showing what appears to be a private collection (that is, nothing's for sale) of works by Fae Varriale, Crystal Rehula, JadeYu Fhang, Amona Savira, Annie Klavinham, Isa Messioptra and others. Featured in these images is the region's default windlight setting, perfect for highlighting the sim's delights.

05 September 2014

UWA Freedom Project Exhibition Catalogue

The University of Western Australia, which continues to be the higher education institution leading the way in the development and promotion of virtual artwork, has just announced the publication the exhibition catalogue for The Freedom Project, "an exhibition of original virtual art by artists and filmmakers with disabilities or chronic illness." Available as part of UWA's Studies in the Virtual Arts publication series, the catalogue can be viewed online here, but can also be ordered in hard copy from UWA (through UWA Virtual Worlds founder Jay Jay Jegathesan) for a fee of L$5,000, shipped anywhere in the world (and is free to participating artists).

The exhibition can, for a short time, still be viewed in person. Curator FreeWee Ling says, "The Freedom Project has been a profoundly moving and inspirational exhibition. It has gotten tremendous recognition in real life and promises to get a final boost with the publication of the journal. The works can still be viewed in the UWA gallery for the next couple of weeks, but will then be removed to make room for the Transcending Borders show already in progress. I strongly encourage everyone to see the show at UWA before it's gone. Pictures in a book are a great memento, but they can't compare to the 'real' thing."

04 September 2014

That's Italy

Now open at MIC - Imagin@rium is an installation by Mexi Lane (who is also curator of the space) entitled That's Italy — and from the looks of things, Italy's not in the best of shape. "A vision that I wanted to communicate. A state of mind? A metaphor? I do not know, you decide," she remarks. A huge cargo vessel (her name Italy), out at sea but within view, sits listlessly in the water, her bulk leaning toward one side with seagulls circling overhead. Strewn on her deck and in her hold, and drifting in the nearby waters, are houses and other debris, now ruined. To reach the forlorn disaster, jump on one of the hovercraft near the landing point, and stay to the left of the buoys that mark the edge of the sim. And be sure to explore the rest of the sim, too, which offers some photogenic spots.

03 September 2014


Writing about NorderNey, a sim by Jacky Macpherson, has been on my to-do list for a long time — the sim opened around the end of May, and I've stopped by more than once to wander and investigate. Subtitled "There is always hope," the region offers a splendid combination of pastoral waterways, scenic beaches (especially toward the northwest), and homes and gardens (including the northeast corner, where the parcel name changes to "Place of Hope").

Jacky possesses an uncanny ability to landscape regions so that they appear to be larger than they are: such is the case here, where one could easily think the design encompasses two sims. As well, she manages to ensure that nothing seems out of context — every curio, ornament, animal or what have you seems at home precisely where it is.

NorderNey is also the sort of place that takes on strikingly different characteristics with different windlight settings, so I would encourage you to play with options. There is, by the way, a real life island named Norderney, one of the East Frisian islands off the northern coast of Germany, on the edge of the Netherlands. For hundreds of years a remote, sleepy fishing location, it bloomed into a tourist destination — no doubt the same fate that beset NorderNey after its opening.

02 September 2014


When last I wrote about the sim Binemist, almost exactly a year ago, designer Bine Rodenberger had created a rocky island that boldly stretched out from the sea. Now, a new design creates a more complex and more beautiful world, and one that exists in the air, on the water, and underwater, with an added island as well. Your visit will begin in the air, where what Bine describes as a "Tuscan/Nordic landscape" awaits. In addition to the villa (pictured above) and a farm, an ice cream pavilion welcomes sweet-toothed guests. But after you've explored for a while, you can begin to look for one of three teleports that will take you to the ground. (One, Bine shares is the barrel of water at the villa — see her notecard for more hints — and each will take you to a different location below.)

You'll emerge either underwater or just above it, and either way the real gems of the sim are now before you. Underwater, some fantastic landscapes (ocean floorscapes?) beckon, with sea turtles quietly swimming about (second image). A winding stairway connects the underwater and above water worlds, taking you up to boathouses (one occupied by flamingos) and pier. Far in the distance, the ghostly remains of a Viking ship shimmer against the horizon (third image), while closer at hand some paper boats drift in the water. On the northwest corner of the sim, a prominent island, its rocks covered with moss, serves as home to a lone farmhouse.

If you're well traveled in art sims, you might notice a few elements by Bryn Oh (including the figure below, surveying the sea), Cica Ghost and others. Binemist is a photographic delight, and I'll be posting additional images on my flickr stream over the next several days. The region's windlight setting, shown here, is really a must to use, creating a gorgeous and evocative atmosphere. It's an adult sim, and I did spot a dungeon skybox, although it's not, as far as I could see, linked to anything else. Rezzing is turned on for fifteen minutes. Do consider leaving a contribution to support the sim if you enjoy it.