30 April 2015

Haru to Shura — Yes, Giovanni

On display at entrance, a sim owned by yoshihiro Obolensky that seems to be available for short-term installation space, is Haru to Shura — Yes, Giovanni, an artwork by Yooma Mayo. In this era of all-mesh builds, it's refreshing to see something beautifully created exclusively using traditional prims, even if many components of the artwork were exhibited at Split Screen back in 2013 as Yes, Giovanni (read here). High in the air, two gigantic goldfish overlook a possibly surreal scene of a winding train on which an antique locomotive puffs its way, enormous pink lotus flowers reaching up from the sea, and the skeletal remains of some sea creature filled with metal milk cans.

Yooma tells me that the title refers to the 1927 novel Night on the Galactic Railroad by Kenji Miyazawa, the central character of which is a poor boy, Giovanni, who discovers a train that takes him on a journey through the stars, and possibly into the afterlife. During their travels, Giovanni loses his only close friend, Campanella. "I wanted to build the world of their dreams come true," said Yooma. Haru to Shura — Yes, Giovanni remains on display only through May 10, so be sure to visit soon.

27 April 2015


MadPea's UNIA has been in development for a long time — so long, in fact, that I first visited preliminary builds for UNIA in September, 2013! Way back then, Casja Lilliehook and I were given an extended tour by head pea Kiana Writer, and an article soon followed in the now-defunct AVENUE magazine, as Kiana hoped to open the sim by Halloween that year. Fortunately, UNIA, which is an exceptionally complex game, has finally opened its doors today, featuring contributions from Harter Fall, Electronic Mode, Fae Varriale, Hikaru Yamamoto, RAG Randt, Indigo Lucerne, Arduenn Schwartzman, Fuzz Difference, Gaius Tripsa, Abramelin Wolfe, BlueSean Yiyuan, Bryn Oh, Caer Balogh, Fuschia Nightfire, Jaimy Hancroft, Lindsey Warwick, Rebeca Bashly, Silex Zapedzki, Wildcat Snowpaw, Zachh Barkley, Damien Fate and many others. Although I've had some great opportunities to explore the build over the past couple weeks, I'm going to hold off on a more complete post until I've had time to complete the entire experience, which Kiana tells me will probably take most people ten to twelve hours. To learn more, visit the UNIA website, where you'll find not only background information but also clear instructions on how to make the best of your visit.

Farewell, The Colder Water

Jordan Giant, owner and designer of The Colder Water (about which I wrote here back in August 2014) has announced that the majestic sim will close "in the end of the month of April." Whether this means Thursday the 30th or possibly sooner I don't know, but time is running out for you to take a last look at the region, dominated by its solemn lighthouses and splendid views. Thanks to Jordan for having shared her creation with the community. [Update: Jordan tells me that the sim will likely be tomorrow, April 28.]

25 April 2015

France Portnawak: Terracotta

A brilliant ochre style now envelopes the picturesque sim of France Portnawak, which designer and owner Leica Arado has recently transformed into a new theme: Terracotta. (Read about previous incarnations of the sim here and here.) As always, the region is picturesque and affords beautiful views, including some that stretch far out into the waters, where a cabin on stilts awaits travelers. Towering rocks to the north overlook the inland forests and the sandy shores, filled with vibrant orange and deep green.

As beautiful as the landscape is, the many dwellings spotting the landscape, some slightly hidden, are perhaps even more important, as they each tell a story — or, rather, they invite you to tell a story. "Materials, objects, architectural elements are mixed, with objects that allow us to imagine the history of the person who lives there," explained Leica to me. (And here I am roughly translating from the French in which we spoke.) "A music lover, a writer, a traveler, or a house where a seamstress might live...a farmer's house, a (rather humorous) temple [fourth image] without religious connotation, up on the hill. The cabin on stilts [third image] would be inhabited by someone rather passionate about animals. Objects evocative of India, China and Africa are all mixed."

The juxtaposition of elements extends even to the flora, where tropical palms stand side by side with deciduous hardwoods, but it all fits seamlessly. Exploring couples looking for romantic locations will discover quiet spots here and there, and a motorboat provides an extra way of getting around offshore. If you enjoy your trip to France Portnawak, please consider leaving a contribution at the landing point.

24 April 2015

Poseidon's Abyss

Now open as part of Fantasy Faire is a sim-wide build by Haveit Neox entitled Poseidon's Abyss, and true to the artist's usual style it's a complex, fantastic and sprawling creation that extends over land and under the sea, with a seemingly endless number of small areas to discover. Several ships, loaded with goods, are ready for sail in the city harbor, but others have smashed or sunken, alerting us to imminent danger.

"The enemy’s superior power can no longer be held off," Haveit's story begins. "The city struggles to save its arts aboard the fleet of living galleons. To protect its valued paintings, music, literature, and all the company of its theater, the ships must sail on the hour if their culture is to survive. But 40 fathoms beneath those waves, Poseidon spies the underbellies of the ships, and readies his own advance for the bounty." And if you sink below the waters, you'll find Poseidon, trident and all, with his army nearby.

Given the short run of Fantasy Faire — only through May 3 — one has precious little time to fully explore Haveit's creation, not to mention the other arts builds. Do take some time while you're there to consider a contribution to the Relay for Life event, which benefits the American Cancer Society. I extend my thanks to the many artists and participants who make the event a reality. If you'd like to see these images on a larger scale, Haveit has created a gallery to house them (and a few others) at around 156, 71, 22 — I'll also be posting them on flickr.

23 April 2015

PimperPuppets: Being beautiful in the art scene

Serge, Samantha, Bridgit, Helen, Lucia, Sullivan, Curt and Susann vie for influence in the cut-throat world of artists and exhibitions in the delightful PimperPuppets production, Being beautiful in the art scene, by d-oo-b (Eifachfilm Vacirca), now showing at LEA9 through the end of May. "Serge has been chosen to feature his art in the Grand Hall," begins the synopsis. "He is determined to impress everyone. But Lucia steps out of his shadow." An animated performance using puppets originally modeled in real life by Eif, whose professional background is in theatre and videography, the production runs every 5 minutes — just take a seat to watch everything unfold before you.

Before you watch the play, however, I would suggest walking up to each of the PimperPuppets at the landing point. As you approach, they'll tell you more about their characters through chat bubbles that appear over their heads. And none of them is particularly likeable: "They are sort of pimps," Eif quipped, "having artists as their whores. (Art and prostitution were always connected, by the way.) They have lizard eyes, determined to succeed. Fame is their drug, and no one is really morally complete." Their determination to succeed is indeed far more important to them than the artwork itself, and they don't hesitate to stab one another in the back to advance their own agendas.

After the performance, you're invited to visit the various sets, where you're invited to set foot directly into the scenes you just witnessed. "Theoretically," Eif said, "the audience can step into the picture and comment," opening up another possible layer into the storyline for onlookers. When Being beautiful in the art scene concludes its run at LEA9, Eif plans to stage a follow-up performance (at another sim) in which Curt, Lucia and Samantha take a vacation to go climbing in China. More about the current production can be found on Eif's blog, including information on added events, although eventually those posts will move further down. The avatars are also available for sale on the Marketplace.

20 April 2015


Now open at LEA 22 is Bloom, a new and impressive installation by Gracie Kendal (a.k.a. in real life the artist Kristine Schomaker). It's a dizzying tower of textures — the experience is almost like looking into a kaleidoscope — applied to intersecting discs that ascend into the sky, with an inner pathway that visitors can climb to near the pinnacle of the structure. (More than one route will take you there.) Followers of Gracie's work will notice an immediate connection to her earlier immersive build, Ce n’est pas une peinture, from 2012, which included a similar dazzling array of patterns. "The original title was Ce n'est pas encore une peinture," quipped Gracie, "but I decided I want something I can pronounce."

The textures are of every sort, and are so disorienting that one could as easily be looking sideways, up or down: polka dots, electrical cords, floral patterns, a map of Paris with Russian text, tossed paint, Arabic script, and so on. "I am planning on bringing it to real life galleries and the artwalk that we have in a couple weeks via projection, plus I want to make it an immersive installation," Gracie said of her interest in merging her Second Life artwork with that in the real world. Bloom will remain on display through the month of June.

19 April 2015

Save the Culture - MIC Imagin@rium Fundraiser

On Monday, April 20, at 1:00 pm slt, a fundraising event will take place to help save the photogenic sim MIC - Imagin@rium, owned and curated by Mexi Lane. Often a site for leading art exhibitions, including That's Italy by Mexi (2014), No Signal by Nessuno Myoo (2014), Trash by Mexi (2014), Red Shoes by various artists (Alpha Auer, Blue Tsuki, Cica Ghost, Daniele DACO Constantin (Daco Monday), Giorgio Mayo (Giorgio Nexen), Giovanna Cerise, Kicca Igaly, La Baroque, Lookatmy Back, MADD (Maddomxc Umino), Merlino Mayo, Mexi Lane, Mhyns Mayo, Mikati Slade, Mila Tatham, nessuno Myoo, nexuno Thespian, Nino Vichan, Paola Mills, Rubin Mayo, Rumegusc Altamura, Sniper Siemens, Solkide Auer, Swina Allen, Violetta Inglewood and Viviana Houston), and The Arrival by Rose Borchovski (2013), the picturesque region is well worth a visit at any time.

Headlining the fundraiser is singer Viviana Houston, and Mexi hopes to raise funds to pay this month's tier — after which she anticipates fewer issues with cash flow. There will also be the sale of Imagin@rium fashion art at the Temple of Portunus, one of the architectural focal points of the sim. And I'll chip in an offer: if anyone is interested in a two-hour private photography tutorial session with me, I'll offer it for L$10,000, with all proceeds to go to the support of the sim. (This will be limited to two contributors only, first come, first serve, with lessons at mutually convenient dates in the near future, and funds would need to be paid to me before the conclusion of the fundraiser on Monday. IM me if you'd like to know more.) "After years of sacrifices to keep alive the MIC, this time I can not pay the monthly fee despite the contribution that I receive regularly from Mind Clarity and Marisa Falbo," Mexi states. The need is significant and immediate: she needs to raise L$50,000 by the end of the event, so if you're not able to attend but would like to contribute, please send donations to Mexi directly.

18 April 2015


Opening today, Saturday, April 18 at 7 pm slt, at Holtwaye Art Space, is Rock'n'Roll, a exhibition of recent works by Molly Bloom. In traditional Western pictorial art, the frame serves to create an illusion, allowing the two-dimensional image within to establish on a space of its own, but Molly's work playfully breaks down that barrier by having elements that ought to be contained by the screen push through it — sometimes with the additional of an actual three-dimensional object added to the image. In this series of twenty-one objects, the iconic look of rock and roll is treated with both passion and humor, and with exemplary skill. Each of the works is available for purchase.

It's quite unfortunate that the opening of this exhibition was delayed by an hour at the last moment. As Molly stated, "The band hired — 'the follow' — backed out 4 hours before saying they would not play with nudity in the art, nor around gay people at the event."

Holter, the curator of Holtwaye, provided me with this statement: "I have loved the follow and especially their manager Jenna Dirval. I was just gobsmacked when one of the band members visited the gallery a few hours before the show, saying that I need to remove two images from Molly's show, they were offensive nudity, and one of them was demonic. Now mind you, Molly Bloom's images are not erotic and sexual — they might read into them that way, but they are not the centerpiece of her art And I don't think one of them is 'demonic' — it's just a figure with horns, I mean if that's what you see — a demon, then good on you, that is what art is all about.

"And how many centuries of artists before Molly Bloom have used the female body for art, and not for eroticism or sexual reasons? So I refused to remove them — I spent seven hours curating this installation, because I love to get inside the art, and into the head of the artist, trying to find a configuration that helps the art 'bloom.' Of course I'm not going to compromise an artist's show because a musician says to, just as the follow would not approve of Molly Bloom reviewing their song list, and reworking it to her standards. That's really not fair.

"So in the end, I just wish the follow had done the show that they agreed to, and weighed the benefits of doing the show rather than canceling at the last minute — for the sake of a great event coming together of artists and musicians. But instead their ban of 'nudity' and 'demons' curtailed the event. I know Molly Bloom was really offended by this reaction, and I understand her position. I try to be neutral as a curator, but honestly, I am disappointed. What a shame.

"I only asked the band member how he felt about homosexuals because I wondered if that was the real reason... I know now they won't play for an explicitly homosexual club, which he knows we are not, but Wayne and I created a gallery and artspace, and we represent many different types of creative people coming together, regardless of their background. I wish only the best for the follow and of course Jenna Dirval. Long live art and music!"

In any case, go and enjoy the show — nudity, demons and all.

16 April 2015

Rhapsody in Blue Fractals

Now open at Influence Art Gallery, curated by Yvan Slade, is an exhibition of recent fractal art by Gem Preiz entitled Rhapsody in Blue Fractals. The twenty images, arranged in groups of three with the exception of one duo, are strikingly evocative, suggesting otherworldly environments or fantastic structures, employing a wide range of styles in a predominantly blue-green palette. The title clearly harkens to George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, and the "G" in the composers initials — as well as the artist's name — are reflected in the titles of the pieces: Gravity, enerGy, liGhteninG, emerGence (detail above), Genesis, oriGins, bioloGy, intelliGence, Germination, enGravinG, desiGn, technoloGy, knowledGe, enGineerinG, Grace, Genius, imaGination (detail lowest image), reliGion, kinGdom and heGemony.

Ordinary images in Second Life are restricted to 1024 pixels in either direction, but Gem has managed to stitch multiple 1024x1024 textures together to create each of the fractals, providing a experience of exceptional clarity. Gem shared with me that his personal favorite is imaGination, a fractal of great complexity that suggests some other intelligence, with kinGdom a close second. "I spend my time amazed with the extraordinary detailed patterns of the fractals, as well as their incredible diversity," he explains in the exhibition notes. "I take this opportunity to tell you once again my favorite story: that of the Universe born from stars, which the Time slowly structured until Mankind fills it up with our creations."

12 April 2015

Defined Grounds and Being (slightly NSFW)

Opening today, Sunday, April 12, at 2:30 pm slt (now as I write this) is an exhibition of recent photography by Hills (Hillany Scofield), defined grounds and being, at the Roissy Theatre & Art Gallery, curated by Juliette (SurrealDreaming). The seventeen images in the show are all monochromatic, black-and-white shots, mostly depictions of nudes, some with overt sexual overtones (hence my camera positioning in these blog photos), and all displaying Hills's expert composition and use of light. The exhibition has a short run, only until April 18th, and all of the images are available for purchase.

11 April 2015

This and That

• Jackson Redstar has produced a lovely video on Cica Ghost's Balloons, shared above.

• If you're the intrepid type, the Firestorm team needs some additional preview testers. Those of us who are on the beta test team have been checking recent builds, but now more substantial testing and feedback is needed — and it doesn't mean you just get to download the next version ahead of everyone else, because there can be bugs and inconveniences, and because you'll be expected to file reports and comments on the JIRA. If you'd like to know more, click here.

• Congratulations to entire collective involved in The Golden Age of the Russian Avant-Garde, which was staged in part in Second Life with contributions from Alpha Auer, Bryn Oh, Caer Balogh, Euaplinos Ugajin, Jo Ellsmere, Nessuno Myoo and Soror Nishi. The exhibition, including of course the more substantial "real life" portion, organized by Peter Greenaway and Saskia Boddeke (Rose Borchovski in Second Life), has received the Tanr Prize for the Best Exhibition of 2014, sponsored by The Art Newspaper Russia. Read more on Bryn's blog here.

• Want a free and silly pair of TBF Aviator Sunglasses with Windshield Wipers by Arduenn Schwartzman? I'm wearing them below (yes, I know my hair is poking through the lens), and you can get them simply by joining the Lollygaggers! art group (check the group notices), and you'll also learn more about upcoming events at the Lollygagger Arts Center.

10 April 2015


Opening officially on Sunday, April 12 (but actually open as of a few minutes ago as I post this) is a new installation by Cica Ghost entitled Balloons. In a surreal landscape of daisies, fog and twisted buildings, giant wanderers strive to reach their beloved balloons — and a few have managed to grab on, floating up into the air. At the landing point, be sure to get your own inflatable, so that you can join the tall white men as they drift about.

The bedrock island lies largely barren save for fields of gerbera daisies and a lone tree perched near the shore. Toward the center, a group of buildings, surrealistically twisted, bend toward the ground, pulled by giant spider webs and wrapped in dense fog, and we assume that the tall white figures, perhaps reminiscent of Giacometti, have emerged from there to try to catch the balloons that drift overhead. A few dawdle aimlessly, but others climb ladders in an effort to improve their odds.

Replacing the recently-closed Ruins, and in the same location, Balloons is the first build by Cica to make use of mesh, which appears in the balloons, the humanoid figures, the cats and a few other elements. (And she was kind enough to impart some Sculptris skills to this writer in the process!) During the run of Ruins, Cica worked overhead to create the towering white figures, which eventually morphed into the new installation. Balloons should remain up for at least a couple weeks. If you enjoy your visit, please consider leaving a contribution at the landing point.

09 April 2015


Now open at Galeria Mexico, curated by Owl Braveheart, is a significant installation, Crawlers, comprising three works by Oberon Onmura: Crawlers itself (a new piece), Khamaseen and Slow Chaos. Set in a recessed floor area, Slow Chaos (image above) is an earlier work, but a favorite of the artist, who says that it explores a simple type of artificial intelligence "in which 41 floating squares seek to form groups according to an unseen set of rules. If left undisturbed, they happily come together in ever-changing groups, then re-form into new groups. The entire colony dies occasionally, but is reborn soon after. If an avatar disturbs them, they rush to the center in one group, eventually daring to begin their grouping behavior anew." It's quite fascinating to watch the shapes spawn, move about, change color, and react to touch — the photo hardly conveys a real sense of the experience.

Crawlers, shown in the middle two images, is equally intriguing. A series of semi-transparent rectangles (the crawlers) spawn from a height in a courtyard (the right pillar in the image below), then move in linear fashion through the air down into the gallery space, where they change direction, wrapping around Khamaseena and Slow Chaos, and finally exit, moving back up toward the place of origin (the left pillar in the image below). In this way, the slowly moving shapes define the gallery itself, bringing our eyes to focus as much on the surrounding environment as on the "art" objects, much in the same way that some large outdoor pieces by, for example, Richard Serra or Carl Andre might delineate an environmental setting. The crawlers produce something akin to a chalk trail as they move, further accentuating their path, but they'll disappear upon touch, and the line slowly fades away.

Khamaseen, says Oberon, "references a cyclonic type of wind that is common in Egypt and Sudan towards the end of March and April of each year. The moving floor panels emit clouds of dust, and if you step on one it will envelop you in a whirl of light and sound." A careful observation also shows changing textures on the panels (image below). (Be sure to have local sounds turned up for all three artworks.) Owl tells me that the exhibition doesn't have a fixed closing date, and it sounds as though it's likely to stay for at least a few additional weeks. While you're visiting, be sure to visit the seven other exhibitions on display at Galeria Mexico, and do consider a contribution toward the gallery's support.

04 April 2015

Lobby Cam

Now open at Immersiva is Lobby Cam, an expansive and immersive new installation by Bryn Oh. Consistent with Bryn's previous works, Lobby Cam presents viewers with a disturbing psychological (and very human) situation, but this time directly invites visitors to creatively participate to complete the experience. "I like the idea of the guest here getting to be an active part of the story," Bryn told me, "and having to try to place themselves in a tricky spot to defend."

The setting itself is beautiful: a Saskatchewan wheat field that blows in the gentle wind, a languidly turning windmill, and a tall grain elevator positioned at railroad tracks that cut across the farm. We spot an abandoned pickup truck and streetcar, and signs of habitation in the buildings. The windmill, the wheat and the pages all blow in the SL wind, as do the tree pollen particles. It's mesmerizing to stand in the field, or to sit on the nearby train station bench, watching the wheat sway and watching the sun break through the clouds, illuminating patches of grain before retreating. (Second Life, by the way, really does have wind, and if you'd like to learn more, visit the Wiki, although it may be out of date.)

But as captivating as the wheat field and environs are, they're the backdrop to a larger story, and to focus solely on the build would be to miss the point. You, as the visitor, are given a task as you arrive: scattered around and throughout the field, the buildings and spaces are the tattered and torn pages of a diary, some of them drifting in the wind. (There are eddies in the wind to keep the pages from wandering too far.) As you collect the pages, the diary begins to take form, and a story — that of a lobby security camera and its impact on the lives of two people, both isolated in their own ways and geographically separated by a long distance — unfolds. After you've completed reassembling the diary — along with finding a stamp, an envelope, paper and an address — it's your turn to create: you need to write a letter, as the protagonist in the story, and it presents a most awkward situation. It's a "near impossible task," Bryn says, in which you have to explain yourself in a most cautiously delicate way (unless, of course, you choose otherwise). After mailing your letter, you'll receive a reply. And the visitor really can't get the essence of the artwork without completing this task. [Note: Some letters sent on the first couple days of the build were lost because of a glitch, so if you didn't receive a reply, try again.]

Now, there are some nuts and bolts things you need to know to make the experience work. First, you'll see as you arrive that you need to obtain a HUD, which is free. Wear and then unwear it, and then wear it again. (For some reason, that will prevent the HUD from losing information.) You can click on the large icon in the upper right to minimize the HUD. As you collect pages, the HUD, which shows the diary, will fill with them (click on the diary pages themselves to move backward and forward, not on the arrows), and you'll also see the stamp, ink, envelope, paper and address on the right side light up as you obtain them. Be sure to have media enabled to auto-play, and be sure to have your local sounds turned up — there are things to hear. I remarked to Bryn at one moment that I heard thunder, and she replied, "There are a dozen sounds all working together, a plane too at one point." The parcel's native windlight is strongly recommended. And please consider leaving a contribution in support of Immersiva at the landing point.

Bryn and I got to talking about distinction between "real" and virtual artwork as we sat on the bench at the train station, watching the wheat sway and people search for diary pages. I asked her if she had considered exhibiting images from her virtual works in a real life gallery setting, much as Lobby Cam conversely shows some of her real life art. "For me," she said, "this build right here is the artwork: the people from around the world mingling, the open ended nature and freedom, the duration and interaction. We are not passive observers, and in the end the viewers are the main character."

Lastly, don't read this paragraph if you're concerned about spoilers, although I'm not giving away much. The diary pages, if you look at their names, are all species or subspecies of wheat. And your letter to Fern isn't going to get a canned response — the replies are all individual, based on the tone you deliver. "She replies fairly accurately," said Bryn: if you're a total creep, you might well receive a restraining order. "And then there are ones where she invites him to show at her gallery in Toronto," commented Bryn on the more positive replies, "which is that front room [in the lobby near the arrival point], and the painting of the scene that breaks open is his work, so there is the idea that they do meet." As I asked Bryn whether these characters were based on anyone she knew, she replied, "Everything I make here is based on me, from Anna to the Rabbicorn to Kumiko [from earlier installations]. But the idea is also a macro one of Second Life: how we meet others and project onto them. He watches Fern and images who she is, but he really has no idea who she is. She is who he wants her to be, and the dream is that she is that person."

03 April 2015

My Way of Beauty

Opening today, Friday, April 3, at 10:00 am slt at the dathĂșil gallery, curated by Max Butoh, is an exhibition of recent photography by Yannick Whoa entitled My Way of Beauty. The twenty-eight images, mostly of solo women (some posed, but others seemingly captured on the fly), employ careful lighting, often with introspective results. Unfortunately none of the photos are for sale or visibly titled — I recognized a few faces, such as Lucy (LucyDiam0nd) on the image above to the right, but found myself curious about others.

Yannick says of his works, "What you see here is how I see my world. I look into people's faces and find beauty. As a photographer I'm trying to capture this beauty. Often the mystery of that beauty is in the eyes of the model...For me someone's beauty is always just a mirroring effect of the way someone thinks or feels. So when I see someone beautiful maybe I just see something that touches me and makes me feel for a person. Everyone goes for something. And maybe my idea of beauty isn't even yours." My Way of Beauty will remain on display through the month of April.