30 July 2015

Love, Henry

Now open at LEA8 is Love, Henry, by Tahiti Rae, an installation that may appeal to students and enthusiasts of history, in particular those who delight in the ever-fascinating story of Henry VIII and his six wives. Henry's earliest years with his first wife, Catherine of Aragon (the widow of Henry's older brother, Arthur, their marriage lasting only a few months) seemed relatively happy, but Henry sought a male heir, and the couple seemed unable to produce one: of Catherine's six announced pregnancies, two were stillborn, two boys (both named Henry) and one unnamed daughter died in infancy, and one girl survived — Mary, later to become queen of England.

And so it was that Henry set his eyes on the young (and apparently strong willed) Anne Boleyn, whose older sister, Mary, had already been carnally known to him. Through a lengthy process, Henry annulled his marriage to Catherine and first secretly and then publicly married Anne, already visibly pregnant. A daughter, Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I of England) was born in a few months after the wedding in 1533, but once again no male heirs appeared, and by 1536 Henry's eyes roamed afresh, this time to Jane Seymour. Probably mostly through the nefarious workings of Henry's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, Anne and her allies were thrown on the defensive, and charges of adultery and incest were brought against the queen. Declared guilty, Anne was locked in the Tower of London and subsequently executed the morning of 17 May 1536.

While visitors can enjoy the installation for its visual appeal — including a large library and a castle and gardens on the ground level — the bulk of the experience is to be had through an interactive journey that offers information and elicits responses to questions. Without revealing too much of the installation's content (at the request of Tahiti), it's fair to say that it hones in on a communication purportedly written by Anne to Henry during her imprisonment, and questions whether Henry ever received it — and so invites viewers to wonder what would have happened if the charges against Anne had been vanquished, and she had not been executed. On Sunday, 23 August, a "grand event" will take place at Love, Henry. To read more from Tahiti visit here on the LEA blog.

20 July 2015

Artist Evolution

Opening today, Monday, July 20 from 8 to 10 pm slt at the Renaissance Gallery, is a retrospective exhibition of artworks by Molly Bloom entitled Artist Evolution. [Update: The opening has been postponed until Monday, July 27 from 8 to 10 pm slt.] Baring her soul — or at least her artistic past — Molly provides a glimpse into the history of her creative process, beginning with the "first hideous flat photo" and moving forward through her first exhibition, her learning to build sets and create poses, to mastering lighting, and finally to her integration of three-dimensional elements and true refinement of her craft. Throughout the documented span and artistic evolution, one quickly sees Molly's joy in her work and the playfulness that manifests itself in her images.

19 July 2015

The Egg

Now open at LEA19, as part of the current round of Artist in Residence grants, is The Egg by Livio Korobase. The artist's usual playfulness pervades this installation, which spreads across the region at ground level, where land gently rolls in and out of the sea with delightful textures. Livio does little in writing to inform us of his thoughts, and instead provides visitors with an essay called The Egg from the website of the Theosophy Trust, describing ways in which the egg has been spiritually embraced by cultures across the globe. (One hopes that permission was obtained to use this copywritten material.)

The scene is dominated, not surprisingly, by a huge egg that rises about one hundred meters above the ground, supported by extensive scaffolding, on which the figure of a frog is happily perched, looking down in a meditative pose. And indeed, animals are quite central to the build, which includes everything from a hippopotamus to an elephant to a reindeer (or some similar horned creature) adorned with a Zulu proverb. Elsewhere on the ground are a mammoth seashell, a motorcyclist, a grouping of colorful prims that generate music as one interacts with them, two male figures ogling the Venus de Milo, and other odds and ends, many of which include interactive poses.

Don't miss the opportunity to go into the egg itself, where a giant praying mantis perches over an seashell, an egg hovering over its head, by clicking on the arrow nearby on the ground. Explorers who prefer something other than walking or flying will find two other modes of travel — visitors can obtain an airplane (like the sort of balsa wood model plane a child might create) or a bicycle by clicking on them on the ground level. How all the sim's elements (or most of them) fit together to relate to "the egg" didn't connect for me, nor did it for a number of other friends and artists with whom I talked as we explored, but it's an engaging experience that's worth a visit.

16 July 2015

Art Is Protest

Opening today, Thursday, July 16 at 1:30 pm slt at Trésor de l'Art, curated by Duna Gant and owned by Rubin Mayo, is Art Is Protest, an exhibition featuring works by two artists, Nino Vichan and Basu Kshitiz. Nino's installation, entitled Staten Island, July 17th 2014, reflects back on the killing of Eric Garner, an African American man who died a year ago tomorrow at the hands of New York City police, and whose death sparked a wave a protests in many U.S. cities. The installation comprises three scenes: I Can't Breathe, Black Lives Matter, and Violence Begets Violence, the last of which refers to the revenge killing of two New York City policemen by Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley in late 2014.

Nino's work is effectively laid out in narrative style (just keep weaving your way around — you'll exit near where you entered), with local sounds that need to be heard. It's not a particularly pleasant thing to visit, but that's precisely the point, as it invites us to grapple with Garner's murder and the subsequent violence that unfolded. The work of Basu Kshitiz, by contrast, is humorous and lighthearted, although its real intent is every bit as serious, pointing out through satire the challenges faced by society in his native country of Nepal. Art Is Protest will remain on view until September.

15 July 2015

Tristan und Isolde

Opening today, Wednesday, July 15 at 1:30 pm slt, is Tristan und Isolde (Tristan and Isolde) by Giovanna Cerise, with an introduction by Francesco Bonetto, at ItalianVerse. Inspired by Richard Wagner's opera of the same name, written between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in 1865, the installation is an imposing set or stage of sorts — one can well imagine a production of the work being staged in the very space.

The space, in deep blue, black and white, is ethereal and beautifully fits the mood of the opera. Visitors will want to turn off the local stream, which has nothing to do with Wagner, and instead rely on the boxes with musical notes set out in the space, which play various leitmotifs (or musical material associated with characters or symbols in the opera). Giovanna also provides links to several external music excerpts.

14 July 2015

Bella Pace

Now open — and for about two weeks only — is Bella Pace (or Beautiful Peace), a new sim by Romy Mornington and her partner Jac Mornington, a splendid location that will eventually serve as their private home. It's a land of gently undulating hills topped by a villa that overlooks the surrounding farmlands, beaches and the sea. The open landscape provides a serene sense of depth and distance, allowing one to easily glance all the way across the sim.

"We got inspired by my childhood memories of vacations in Tuscany, and it's a typical Tuscan countryside," Romy told me. "Our goal was to make a place with a soul and a flow." Even the sim's music is influenced by Italy — "The stream is made of music of [the film] Il Postino mostly, and some tracks from The Godfather while they were shooting in Italy," she added.

The interior of the villa, shown in the second image, is beautifully decorated, and the buildings are all open to the public for now. The ancient Roman ruins over which the villa was constructed can be seen tumbling and falling into the beach and sea on the western edge. The sim's default windlight setting is shown in the first and last images here (Annan Adored -Morning Dream), but photographers will no doubt take delight in exploring others. Thanks to Romy and Jac for sharing their home with the Second Life community.

13 July 2015

Art on Roofs

Now open at a new gallery space at Solodonna land, owned by Sniper Siemens and Elettra Beardmore, and curated by terrygold, is Art on Roofs, a exhibition of two- and three-dimensional works by Mistero Hifeng. And the name is fitting in more ways than one: from the landing point one looks out onto an landscape of tile roofs, and it's there one finds the artworks, reachable through a couple of paths or by simply walking right out onto the roofs.

Mistero's distinctive forms — some surreal and many emotionally confronting or uncomfortable (here, for example, bodies shattered or pierced by arrows) — are woven with care into the environment. I would recommend that visitors ensure that their level of detail is turned up, as otherwise some of the more delicate elements of Mistero's works may not show properly. If you'd like to help ensure future shows, a tip jar is located near the landing point. The exhibition continues through July 23.

12 July 2015

Not Dark Yet

Opening today, Sunday, July 12 at 12 pm slt, is Not Dark Yet, a lovely group show at The Broad Street Gallery at Crestwick Island, curated by Isa Messioptra. Each of the artists — Senna Coronet, Harbor Galaxy, Maloe Vansant, .kiki, Isa Messioptra, Hillany Scofield, Doc, Cipherscape, Dantelicia Ethaniel, Amona Savira, and edie Horngold — was invited to create an image inspired by a Bob Dylan song, the titles and lyrics of which are provided below each of the artworks. The images are all for sale, and, if you'd like to further support this and future exhibitions at Crestwick, there's a tip jar at the gallery entrance.

10 July 2015

Distrito Distinto

Now open at MetaLES, organized by Ux Hax, Lanjran Choche and Romy Nayar, is Distrito Distinto, or Different District, an anniversary exhibition featuring ten artists whose were invited to create spaces based on songs: Bryn Oh ("Keep the Streets Empty for Me" by Fever Ray), Cica Ghost ("Lullaby" by The Cure), Maya Paris ("Oh Bondage! Up Yours!" by X-Ray Spex), Giovanna Cerise ("Innuendo" by Queen), Betty Tureaud ("She's a Rainbow" by The Rolling Stones), Rebeca Bashly ("Chop Suey!" by System of a Down), Eupalinos Ugajin ("Estudio, Trabajo Y Fusil!" by Rockingchair), JadeYu Fhang ("What Your Soul Sings" by Massive Attack), Alpha Auer (Grid Factory by Alpha Auer — her space rather than the name of a song), and Romy Nayar ("Nuit d'hiver (Chloé)" by Mylène Farmer).

The curators have made every effort to ensure that no particular artist receives top billing, so a ticket booth at the entrance hands visitors random navigational HUDs — your visit may begin at any of the installations. For ease of use, since some visitors have expressed some concern about the HUD's legibility, I've included direct teleport links to the installations above. In keeping with the curatorial intent, I'm showing images here in random order, starting at the top with Alpha Auer, whose gorgeous space is a maze of delicate textures and steampunk-like constructions with blue electrical patterns jumping between them. Here, a free avatar is available, and you can don it to enhance your visit. And shown immediately above is Betty Tureaud's work, bearing her trademark bright colors, in which one can dance, although only one at a time, as far as I could see.

Shown in two images immediately above and below, Bryn Oh's work is entirely interactive: as we move through the space, objects jump into place to create a house. (The woman and dog point to the spot at which one begins the journey.) But as we move away from the prims, they crash back to the ground, falling this way and that. You might be able to make out my avatar in both images, with the camera fixed, to see how my position has affected the objects around me.

Bryn's work is particularly active when several people are attempting to navigate around simultaneously, so bring a friend along to explore. Windlight settings are important in all the installations, but here in particular, and Bryn provides some additional details via wall text to let visitors know the optimal configuration, which is quite easily accomplished. Moving projectors create fascinating shadows that move about, inviting visitors endless opportunities to play.

Cica Ghost has created a small and playful room, shown above, filled with various poses. (Despite its title, the song itself is no lullaby, and the slowly gesturing spider on the ceiling stands ready to disrupt the slumber of anyone who chooses to recline in the bed.)

Eupalinos Ugajin's work embraces his typical exploration of the surreal and the absurd, inviting us to interact with a giant cassette tape and other objects that slowly spin about in an ever-changing mixture. Occasionally the space's textures change dramatically, and a special windlight setting is recommended here, too. (When leaving, you might need to manually detach any objects by right-clicking on them or by clicking on the cassette, rather than by trying to remove them via your inventory.)

Giovanna Cerise's work is difficult to capture in a single image (as is the case with many of these) — it's an immersive space, filled with movement, in which two figures on tightropes carefully traverse a room filled with red and black rectangles that seem to delineate invisible planes. The rectangular shapes are transparent on one side, so our perception of the space changes substantially as our camera changes perspective.

JadeYu Fhang's work, above, seems perhaps most directly inspired by its associated music, with lyrics printed directly on a wall, and the word "soul" moving in ever-shifting directions around the observer. In a corner, a dark figure beckons up toward a large head that looks down, emitting musical notes. Here, as elsewhere, be sure to have local sounds turned up — the music isn't streamed but is rather provided through objects.

Shown above and below is Maya Paris's hilarious creation, prominently featuring the iconic faces of Catwoman (Eartha Kitt) from the original Batman series, and Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) from The Avengers, fooling in rapid movement with everything from kitchen utensils to tennis rackets. Step on the eggs to bounce up and down, or just stand on a seat to go crazy. (I hope I eventually end up in whatever mental institution Maya is in.)

Rebeca Bashly's stark and minimalist work, shown below, features the word "system" in monolithic letters, while an angel with broken wing struggles below, chained to the word. The default windlight setting here may be too dark to fully appreciate the work, so I'd recommend an adjustment.

Romy Nayar's nightmarish setting places visitors in a dark bedroom — and it's not one in which one would get a good night's sleep. A forlorn doll rests on the floor near the bed, and a nightmarish face (below) stares into the room from the shadows. As with all the installations, a repeat trip might be recommended to fully enjoy its aspects — there is quite a lot of material in this show — and Distrito Distinto will be on display until August 13.

09 July 2015

Baby's Ear

Opening tomorrow, Friday, July 10 at 1 pm slt, for a two week period only, is Baby's Ear, created by Neva Crystall. Her fame as a sim designer precedes her, with places such as Neva River and Isle of Serendipity (as well as designs for hire) having become instant destination points, providing homes to those interested in luxury living. But rather than creating yet another residential sim with rental homes, Neva this time made something for herself: it's a homestead sim that will serve as a private home for herself and her partner, Boo (Bootney Blessed), and hence the limited two week open house.

Baby's Ear comprises two islands, the largest of which is home to a quiet farm, with a home and outbuildings, all carefully decorated, overlooked by a slowly spinning windmill. Below the farm, hills slope downward toward beaches and boulders that wrap around the island, complemented by a beach house (above) and a fishing shack (center, top image). Across the shallow waters toward the northwest lies the second island, a rocky outcrop that's home to a lighthouse and three wind turbines.

In all of this, Neva manages to combine, in a relatively small space (the islands taking up less than half of the sim's footprint), disparate elements that seamlessly weave together — the farm, beaches and other major elements, with a junked station wagon, a children's playground, strings of utility poles, a quiet spot at the end of a pier with food and drink, and so on. It's picturesque and lovely, and visitors may wish to return more than once to fully take in the entire scene. "There are no fences nor banlines throughout the sim," offers Neva, "so let free your wanderlust and enjoy your stay."

07 July 2015

Kitten's Heaven

For the past couple months, Isabelli Anatine Hak and NekoZombie-Raw (NekoZombie78) have been working on a sim, Kitten's Heaven, that was scheduled to open soon — they've been kind enough to allow me access the past few weeks to watch as they built — with landscaping and exteriors by Isabelli and interiors by Neko. Sadly, Isabelli received real life news today that places her in the unfortunate position of having to let go of the sim, and so they've made the decision to open it to everyone immediately, even though it remains unfinished.

Although it's incomplete, Kitten's Heaven is a beautiful place: a pastoral setting on high rocks, with paths leading here and there to small homes or buildings nestled in the hillsides where trees sway in the breeze. A chapel sits particularly high on the cliffs on the southeast corner of the sim, looking down over the placid waters. To the north, a beach clings to the sea near the bottom of the rocks, while inland a shallow lake, which connects to the sea and from which a central valley slopes upwards, is home to a large houseboat.

The sim's default windlight environment is shown at top, with a glowing green sky, but I've also enjoyed experimenting with darker settings, and the region is sure to delight both photographers and explorers. Thanks to Isabelli and Neko for sharing this short-lived experience with the community — Kitten's Heaven should be around for about two more weeks.

06 July 2015


Opening today, Monday, July 6, at 12 pm slt, is Dreamers by Cica Ghost at LEA24. In a surreal world canopied by a magical sky, sixteen figures look upward to dream, and eight eagerly share their visions with visiting explorers. Their immediate surroundings, a curious landscape filled with odd wooden structures and carved animals, look out over a celadon sea filled with odd trees and a quirky cartoonish seafarer.

To enter the dreamers' dreams, simply click on their heads (you might need to venture close to avoid catching an alpha texture), venturing into their individual realms in the sky overhead. Followers of Cica's previous builds will immediately recognize the locations — Cica, Rust, Ghostville, Little Village, Little Town, Ruins, Balloons, and Life in a Bowl — about which the dreamers are thinking, all reproduced just enough to conjure images in our own minds.

In addition to clicking on the dreamers' heads, visitors should click on everything else, as poses are to be found here and there, ground level included. Cica says she may add some additional dreams over time. It's not her tendency to leave builds in place for long — as soon as visitors begin to dwindle in number, she begins to build anew — so Dreamers is likely to disappear long before the end of the year, when her LEA artist residency will come to an end.