30 October 2014

Artist Shops at Remood United Portugal

Nestled on a little avenue in the sim Remood United Portugal is a delightful new row of shops featuring works by some of Second Life's most interesting artists: Meiló Minotaur, Eupalinos Ugajin, Maya Paris, Kikas & Marmaduke (Kikas Babenco and Marmaduke Arado), Cica Ghost, Whiskey Monday, Ole Etzel, and Alpha Auer. The owner of the sim, KhrysT Lords (Khryst Neox), has gracefully provided this space for free, working with Meiló, while Eupa has been instrumental in organizing the larger group.

Many of the items are offered for free, among them some delightfully silly poses by Kikas & Marmaduke, avatars by Meiló, and avatars and related objects by Alpha Auer, while other artworks and objects are offered for low prices. Rather than create a shop with items for sale, Maya opted to create a space with some delightful interactive animations. Stop back again after your first visit, because there's some possibility that more artists may join this initiative over time. (Several other unrelated shops are also located on the row.)

29 October 2014

Little Town

Opening tomorrow, Thursday, October 30 at 12 noon slt, is a new sim by Cica Ghost, Little Town. The inhabitants of this quaint spot seem to have all disappeared for the day — or maybe they're just hiding — giving you a chance to explore their quirky, curious, humorous and delightful island. Crazy Dr. Seuss-like buildings populate the winding streets, parts of some of them in motion — whirling, pulsing, twisting and even apparently digesting — and many structures that aren't residential would seem to have some special, yet unknown, purpose. And there's a festive, playful quality in the air, with balloons adrift and general absurdity all around. Be sure as you arrive to pick up a copy of your own Flying Ventilator, which you can use to float in the breeze, and to try the silly "fishy cars" that can be guided along the rolling boulevards.

A few of the buildings can be entered, and you'll discover a coffee shop, a cinema café, a dance stage, an outdoor dance platform (click on the flowers to dance) at which there's also a boat with a humorous pose, and a cozy hotel with two rooms. Little Town will immediately bring comparisons to Cica's previous build, Little Village, but the newer location is far more complex: the buildings display significantly greater variety, the movement and activity of small parts and pieces are often unique, and the textures are more refined. (And while Little Village was constructed in the span of a week, Little Town was in development for a month.)

If you're not using a viewer that auto-changes to parcel windlight settings, you're going to miss out on the gorgeous atmospheric skies, which Cica developed just for Little Town. A few items are for sale — you'll spot a little flower shop where you can purchase grasses and dreaming balloons, and just outside its door are two charming little metal gear birds for sale. (And around that location, don't miss the little cage in which you can float, and the dreaming balloon beds on which you can slumber.) Please consider leaving a contribution to support the sim, which you can do near the landing point — this is Cica's own homestead and needs support to be maintained.

28 October 2014


Jomsborg, we learn as we enter the quasi-educational exhibition at LEA27 created by Lor Asynja (Lor Pevensey), Lisa Asynja (Lina Fonda), Maxje Constantine (Maxje Ryada) and perhaps others, was a Viking ring fortress. "Viking ring fortresses were circular forts built by the Vikings in the Viking Age," we're cheerfully informed, and that sentence captures the high-school level (perhaps I'm being generous) writing, replete with typographical and grammatical errors, that populates a museum-like area overhead the replica build on the ground. Or at least we might hope it's something based on research — after all, the creators do admit, "This is our vision of these Viking ring fortresses which might or might not be accurate." (We also learn that the Venus de Milo had Viking-related graffiti on her saying "Lisa was here." Huh?) One hopes also that the creators had permission to use all the various images in their displays.

As you learn about Viking history — such facts as, "Erik killed some people in the 950's in Norway and did what many other killers did. He moved to Iceland. But he got in trouble there and also had to move." being indispensable — you can teleport down to a build on the ground, much of which, despite being mesh, resembles simple builds constructed of prims from around 2007. Perhaps I'm being a little too harsh here, as one does get to see (maybe) what a Viking ring fortress looked like, and no doubt the creators made every effort to do their best. But my suggestion: you'll do better looking elsewhere.

27 October 2014

The Alt-View Art Museum

The Alt-View Art Museum, curated by Andrea N (Andy Numanox) ("my small personal museum of contemporary SL art," she says), packs an amazing amount of material into a compact space. Although she states that it's under construction, there's a great deal here already to see, and one might have the impression that the space will constantly evolve. Among the artists represented in the collection (and I'm sure to miss a few, as I'm just looking about) are Bryn Oh, Cherry Manga, Cica Ghost, claudia222 Jewell, DecemberGrey, Dido Haas, Eliza Wierwright, Feathers Boa, Fiona Leitner, Frank Rubino, Genevieve Silvercloud, ieko Catnap, Loonia Loon, luciella Lutrova, Scottius Polke, Sina Souza (Sinalein), Slaaaaa Tenk, Static Schultz, Zeppie Innis, Ziki Questi, TI0TA (7107a), and works by Andrea N herself.

Collections by several of the artists are substantial enough that they have dedicated rooms. Bryn Oh, whose works are among those, also has a room devoted to video. (I wasn't successful in getting the media to play — perhaps this is an area in progress.) After you've enjoyed the interior, it's time to step outside, where a sculpture garden awaits (as well as additional two-dimensional works on building exteriors). Works by Bryn Oh, Scottius Polke and Cica Ghost are especially prominent outdoors. Thanks to Andrea for not only supporting these artists by collecting their creations, but also for sharing these artworks with the community.

25 October 2014

Jo Ellsmere and Daniel Mounsey/Pyewacket Kazanenko at LEA8

On display at LEA8, in conjunction with the Art & Algorithms Digital Arts Festival, are a number of works by various artists, and several are significant enough that it seems most appropriate to consider them individually rather than attempting to write about the entire sim in one blog post. Among them is Interstellar Princess (top three images), a collaborative work by Jo Ellsmere and Daniel Mounsey (or Pyewacket Kazanenko in Second Life). The work is set in a dark room, in the center of which are thirteen identical female avatars busily displaying a dizzying array of motion — running, walking, hopping, circling head over heels, crouching, flying with arms spinning, crawling, and so on — and three concentric rings of twenty-six television sets, all showing a Superman cartoon. (Be sure to have media turned on.) We're also treated to sound clips of scifi-ish news.

The scene, from the avatars' attire to the televisions to Superman and the audio, hearkens back to the 1950s or 60s. We're informed by clicking on the sign at the landing point, "With a nod to Stephen Hawking the artists note: 'Our goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.'" Whether or not they succeed in this regard is difficult to say (quite a goal!), but the work is absolutely mesmerizing — it's difficult to stop watching, and it's amazing to follow the movements of individual avatars. These still images don't come close to conveying the chaotic and delightfully crazy atmosphere of the work.

Also at LEA8 is a restaging of Jo's monumental work Biomechanical (lower two images), which was displayed earlier this year at The Golden Age of the Russian Avant-Garde (read here for more information). Here, five avatars present something of a dance work, and I'll quote what I wrote in April: "By carefully scripting five avatars in elegant synchronized movement, she has not only explored biomechanics — a system of actor training introduced in the early 1920s by Russian actor, director and teacher, Vsevolod Meyerhold — she has created a stunning display of technical virtuosity with profound implications for dance, performance art and choreography in virtual spaces. Her human forms are at times one — although the overlapping textures remind us of the multiplicity within — and then unfold into five forms, whether slowly rippling apart or simply diverging, with breathtaking attention to detail and timing."

Because these and other installations were presented as part of a real life festival, the sim was designed to permit those unfamiliar with Second Life to gain some basic mastery. So, as you arrive, you can probably bypass the inner-most sets of signs, which explain things such as how to move your avatar, and can instead move toward the outer circle, which indicate where the various works are located. For Interstellar Princess you'll need to find its platform and then teleport up; Biomechanical is more easily visible from the landing point. Clicking on the exhibitions signs will provide some background information on the artists and works, and I'll cover the other installations in subsequent posts. Kudos to Jo and Daniel/Pyewacket for creating this fabulous material.

24 October 2014

H22O Closing

H22O, the majestically rainy sim by Squonk Levenque and Miuccia Klaar, will close its doors on Friday, October 31. Over the past several months (the sim opened its doors on May 3 — read here) H22O has welcomed more than 30,000 visitors. "However," notes Squonk on a recent flickr post by Miuccia, "we both feel it is time to move on, and we are already planning something else, elsewhere … Halloween seems a good night to go, and don't forget not to run in the rain with your socks on." I'm sure contributions to the sim will be used for future projects. With thanks to both Squonk and Miuccia for sharing this delightful place with us, I look forward to seeing what comes our way in the future.

23 October 2014

The Trace

The Trace, a sim designed by Kylie Jaxxon, has long been a favorite of explorers and couples looking for romantic environs. Every several months, the sim has undergone a seasonal transformation — most recently from a spectacular summer beach (read here) — and was being prepared for rebirth as autumnal woods when, a little over three weeks ago, Kylie suddenly announced that because of unexpected health issues she would need to leave Second Life and close The Trace. (I share this only because she has made it public on her SL feed.) Fortunately, her health continues to improve, and friends have stepped in to help manage the sim.

And a beautiful sight it is, too: woods filled with brilliant colors through which paths and streams meander, little buildings nestled here and there, vivid yellow flowers in the waters off the edge of the island shore, and stars shooting through the sky. A steady flow of visitors attests to Kylie's consistently remarkable skills in composing captivating landscapes, so serene that one really doesn't want to leave. (You might spot, in a couple places, signs that the sim rebuild was still in progress, but they're easily overlooked.) And, if you enjoy The Trace, please consider leaving a donation near the landing point. (Most importantly, best wishes for a speedy recovery, Kylie!)

13 October 2014

Waterscapes & Flying Things

"I think the oldest butterfly I shot was from the late 1800s," DecemberGrey said as she began explaining her images, now on display in an exhibition entitled Waterscapes & Flying Things at Ode's Arts & Culture Community (OACC). When I first arrived to see her work, the images struck me as beautiful, but so detailed that I imagined them lifted off the pages of a nineteenth-century encyclopedia. Instead, as I quickly learned, she painstakingly creates the "flying things" images (cicadas, butterflies, moths, beetles and the like, all identified by their scientific names) by working with real insects and a macro lens, stitching together multiple images.

"The main problem is that most of the insects are from really old collections in either museums or universities, and are invariably missing body parts, or look as if they're disintegrating in areas...So it's a matter of replicating what I can, removing the pins that are embedded in them, 'dusting' them to be clean, and so on," she explains. "I used a microscope to pre-clean a lot of the beetles, and would become lost in the marvel of structural engineering that they all displayed...It's so easy to see where much of the fabric design in the world comes from, not to mention the slew of aliens in sci-fi movies, some of which have been created directly from invertebrates."

As for the waterscapes, you'll need to climb the stairs of the cozy little gallery-house all the way to the attic, where beautiful scenes await: images of Roche, Frisland, Imagin@rium, Kalepa, Grey Havens, Black Kite, H22O, Dysphoria, Hazardous, Tortola, Immersiva, Black Basalt Beach and The Colder Water. They are, indeed, some of the best composed Second Life land/waterscapes I have ever seen, so they alone are worth the visit. (And, if you've never been to Waderstill, where OACC is located, you're in for more of a treat.)

12 October 2014

Ovis Aries

The materials are spare: three sheep that babble artspeak, four invisible columns that generate the sound of applause, four pieces of artwork floating in the water, and a tall tower, on which sits a pile of shit illuminated by a shaft of light. Such is the scene at LEA22, where Sowa Mai has installed Ovis aries (or at least that's the name of the sim), with a note to the LEA blog: "Sowa Mai has once again sidestepped his original idea and brought us a complete bastardization of the whole Second Life art ouvre. With this pile of shit he has left on our doorstep it is safe to say this will be the last time he is invited to participate. Don’t miss it." (If you really want to hear the sheep chat, you should bring a friend, as they suggest — witness their chatter with me and Seductive Paramour: "[20:03] sheep04: Seductive Paramour: With regard to the issue of content, the iconicity of the negative space notates a participation in the critical dialogue of the 90s. I've seen this from Ziki Questi only a hundred times bigger. [20:03] sheep04: Ziki Questi: It's difficult to enter into this work because of how the aura of the negative space completely eradicates any notion of the larger carcass. I've seen this from Seductive Paramour at Uqbar." And so on.)

If all this might have you scratching your head, the accompany notecard might help, and begins, "When I was a wee boy I was praised for using the big toilet. Since then I have been making shit and looking for praise. I make paintings, sculptures, songs, dinners and I make a me that hopefully you will like. I proudly hold up my makings and eagerly await your judgement...I will always worry what you think of me even though what you think is none of my business. It is the way I am built. What can change and what is changing is the weight I give to those thoughts and emotions." So, shit and judgment. And paintings by Sowa's real life human Stephen Beveridge apparently discarded and drifting in the water. Does the context provided by the notecard help give meaning the work? Yes. Is it worth your while to visit? That's harder to say. (Also, try to stay upwind from the shit.)

05 October 2014

Cultural Hysteria

Now open at LEA16 is an installation by Mario Zecca entitled Cultural Hysteria. For now, artwork exists only on the ground level, but the artist plans to add one sky platform per month as the work evolves, and to hold music, dance and poetry events. The exhibition consists of large and colorfully textured prims, some textured with abstract patterns and other with representational sketches derived from the process of automatic drawing. "These are images that I have 'drawn' from my imagination, the feedback from a lifetime of studying while I enjoyed cartoons, comic books, illustration and academic drawing," says Mario — more background information is here. "The name Cultural Hysteria will become evident in the platform sims to come," he adds, and one can only hope that they contain artwork more compelling than that which greets us now.

04 October 2014

Piedra Lubitsch at Lollygagger Art Center

Opening today, Saturday, October 4, at 2 pm slt, is an intimate exhibition of recent photographs by Piedra Lubitsch at Lollygagger Art Center. I have always enjoyed her quiet, introspective images, and it's delightful to see about a dozen on display in this installation.

Art in a Box & Wild Things Tea Party

Opening today, Saturday, October 4, at 2 pm slt, is Art in a Box, an installation of two new artworks by WayneNZ at Holtwaye ArtSpace. Two oversized boxes — Boxed Clouds (above) and Playful Dweller (below) house the artworks, and give the viewer an opportunity to walk into the whimsical creations. An interactive pose exists in each — you might be barely able to make out my avatar, floating in the air in the image above and in a bubble in the image below. (Click on the images to zoom in.)

Special opening festivities are planned — there's a woodland theme to the launch, entitled Wild Things Tea Party, with a decorative set, shown below. "This event illustrates Wayne’s earthy and fantasy style, with references to woodland fantasy creatures, angels, faeries, hillside dwellings, the great outdoors, and of course, tea & cupcakes!" say Wayne and gallery co-owner Holter. "Calling your inner playful and wild-things side! Come in your woodsy outfits, your wild hair, your capes, your loincloths, your creative tea party outfits, or even just your pointy ears — and join our 'wild things tea party'."

03 October 2014

Travel Narratives into Trees

Opening tomorrow, Saturday, October 4, at at 12:00 pm slt, is Travel Narratives into Trees, an installation on LEA14 by Uan Ceriaptrix. In describing the work, Uan states:
   I am pleased to share some sensations that give me satisfaction,
   the simple perception and contemplation of nature around us,
   with its main actors: living beings, colors, flavors, textures, movements, sounds and more;
   with the range of elements and factors that we reveal a reality,
   also, feelings of uncertainty that often surprise and motivate us to explore and experiment.
   The only explanation I can give of my performance, it is my love of nature,
   and life as a whole, that is my reason for living of course!

On the ground level, scraggly trees stand on a island (which strikes me as being shaped to imply it might be alive, like part of some creature emerging from the waters) with other brush suggestive of a tropical environment. Several crocodiles guard a small island where a pose awaits (middle image) and bones litter the ground. And nearby is a hidden teleport up to the second part of the build, a massive hollow tree trunk that contains what appears to be something of a rudimentary home laboratory. Perhaps I'm missing something, but that appears to be all, and, frankly, it's not much to look at.

02 October 2014

Bryn Oh: A Retrospective 2007 – 2014

Bryn Oh is arguably the most significant visual artist presently working in Second Life. With an oeuvre spanning eight years, she has created numerous sim-wide immersive environments, is a prodigious producer of machinima, and has curated group installations with other artists. Now, prompted by an invitation from the Art & Algorithms Festival, which runs October 3 – 12 in Titusville, Florida, Bryn has staged retrospective of her work at LEA 9, simply entitled A Retrospective 2007 – 2014. (Real life visitors to the festival will be able to use avatars to visit the current build at Immersiva, The Singularity of Kumiko — see here for the schedule — and additional exhibits by other artists await at LEA 8, about which I will write soon.)

The flow of the exhibition is chronological, beginning in 2007 with Bryn's earliest works, a series of robotic insects that hint at the artist's future use of elements — gears, wheels, spidery limbs and long filaments, and a suggestion of something emotionally disturbing, but which lack her forthcoming embrace of narrative, which was manifest in full swing by mid-2008 with the advent of two characters, the Rabbicorn and the Daughter of Gears. What quickly began to follow as her work progressed were large-scale immersive environments that were hosted by invitation on a variety of sims, and that eventually were displayed most often on Bryn's own sim, appropriately named Immersiva. In most cases these were narrative works (even if the narrative might be only partially revealed), and many of the narratives are connected into a large meta-story.

The retrospective itself is staggering in scope, and demands repeated visits to fully explore — and the installation design itself is remarkable. Visitors will appreciate not only the plethora of works, but also the many accompanying texts that shed light on Bryn's artistic process and the general history of her aesthetic development. Bryn has managed to recreate sections of many of the larger installations, including The Rabbicorn Story, Anna's Many Murders, Standby, Virginia Alone, and especially Imogen and the Pigeons. We are also treated to her contributions to group projects such as The Path and The Cube Project (the latter still among my all-time favorite art projects).

Bryn revels in hidden things — hidden spaces, objects hidden within others, hidden interactive elements, and hidden meanings. She enjoys developing what she refers to as "cam builds," in which the only way to see the artwork is to move ones camera inside a restricted space — and you'll find, if you're patient, many opportunities to do so here. You will also find links to many of her machinimas, which serve both as documentation of the builds and as stand-alone works of art. The one major piece not included in the Retrospective is that which currently stands at Immersiva: The Singularity of Kumiko. For that, your trip continues, with the Retrospective serving as an outstanding introduction to Bryn Oh's work.