23 September 2015

Giovanna Cerise at FIAT

Opening today, Wednesday, September 23 at 1 pm slt, as part of the FIAT fine arts tour, is an exhibition of works by artist Giovanna Cerise. While all the pieces in the show have been previously displayed at other venues, this collection represents a good opportunity to revisit and re-engage. "I thought it would be nice to see them again," Giovanna told me. "Some are from a few years ago."

The most prominent piece by far is The Choice (detail, top image), which was recently included in the exhibition Distrito Distinto at MetaLES, inspired by the song Innuendo by Queen, and this work has its own preferred environmental settings, detailed inside the build. The surrounding artworks, predominantly three-dimensional, are smaller, accompanied by beautiful two-dimensional works that are mostly wireframe in origin. Each, aside from The Choice, is available for purchase.

19 September 2015

Line and Shadow

Opening today, Saturday, September 19 at 12 pm slt, at the Art on Roofs gallery, is an exhibition of recent photographs of my own entitled Line and Shadow. The show includes twenty-three works that I haven't displayed inworld before (plus one I have), all taken between May and September 2015 in various locations in Second Life, including landscapes and art installations. (One image, Art on Roofs 2 (Mistero Hifeng), I placed precisely where it was taken during a previous installation of Mistero's works at Art on Roofs.)

I've also included several monotone erotic images taken with my partner, Kinn, and all of the artworks are available for purchase. My thanks to terrygold, the gallery curator, for having invited me to show in this distinctive location. The exhibition will continue for about two weeks.

15 September 2015

Fractal Variations

Open today at Gay Islands Resort is Fractal Variations, an exhibition of recent works by Gem Preiz, who is noted for his often impressively dramatic large-scale installations of fractal images. Here, fifteen artworks — seven square images on the gallery's lower floor, and eight circular images on the upper floor — are presented in more human proportions, not unlike what one might experience in a typical real life gallery.

The fascinating square images on the lower floor suggest other worlds: three-dimensional by perspective, they appear to be floating in space, as if we could venture toward them, explore all sides and even interiors. By contrast, the round and essentially symmetrical fractals upstairs are more abstract and decidedly two-dimensional, though no less pleasing to the eye. Fractal Variations continues through October.

14 September 2015

Art of Seduction Gallery September Show (NSFW)

Opening tomorrow, Tuesday, September 15 at 6 pm slt, is a new exhibition of erotic photography at the Art of Seduction Gallery, owned and curated by Sirenity Soon and Lelu Anatine. Working around a BDSM theme, the show features some strikingly beautiful works by Keely Mistwood Zane, Nom Nom, Hills, Danielle Livadi, Alex Hylton, Lana Quicksand, Brandi Monroe, A.Girl.Who..., Lelu Anatine, Jack Nichols, Isabella Brune, and Spartin Parx. The individual works in the spacious gallery aren't labeled, but a simple click on each will provide information in local chat.

"Sirenity and I come up with a theme and then we pick photos from the Art of Seduction flickr group," Lelu explained as she discussed with me and Kinn the way in which shows are curated. "Each person can only have one photo per theme, so we pick 15 to 20 photos depending on what fits. I also love highlighting artists who aren't as well known." The exhibition, which is beautifully installed, will remain on display for about a month.

13 September 2015

Ironwood Hills

If the town of Ironwood Hills has ever seen better days, they must have been long ago. Judging by the flickering neon signs here and there and the broken fire hydrant (apparently the victim of an altercation with a police car) spewing water into the street, at least some basic utilities still function in this dark and dismal place. Visitors arrive at the decrepit downtown area surrounded by boarded up businesses, litter on the sidewalks, abandoned vehicles, and tall weeds growing up through cracks in the pavement.

Venturing out of the town proper, passing an old theatre, basketball court and vaudeville posters, one traverses a long bridge that leads to the remains of a carnival, now drenched in rain and flooded. To the southeast, a wooded path leads to a forlorn cemetery; to the east, a laboratory hides in a shack along the waterfront. If you like what you see, the centrally-located Rocket Motel seems to be open, its sign still lit and its odd staff waiting to serve you. High above, positioned on a steep rocky hill, a cobweb covered mansion looks down on the scene. The sim's pathways snake this way and that, so it might take a while to discover all the delights it has to offer.

And here and there throughout Ironwood Hills, one encounters creepy doll children: observing from a stroller, playing hopscotch, sitting on a grave, parked on a television, and so on. They seem entirely self-absorbed and uninterested in itinerant visitors. If you enjoy your visit, please consider leaving a contribution in support of the sim, and those who enjoy photography might be interested in joining a photo competition, which ends on September 15 — information is available near the landing point.

09 September 2015

Reflect the Light

Now open at LEA18, as one of the Linden Endowment for the Arts Artist-in-Residence grants, is Reflect the Light, a multi-location installation by Kiesta Aljon. With one exception, the environments are dark and shadowy, allowing the luminous and colorful artwork (often abstract but sometimes representational) to glow. One senses immediately upon arrival that the artist seeks to probe certain feelings or emotions: our path through the first series of artworks (detail, image above), marked by red arrows, is punctuated by texts such as "I am not the light/ Or the source of the light/ But I can reflect the light/ Into the dark hearts of man," or "Dark Heart of Man/ Loss of Faith and Hope/ The Dark Night of the Soul."

One eventually reaches four doors that serve as teleports to additional scenes such as those in the middle two images, and these photographs really don't do the artworks justice, as many of them are in motion, either slowly undulating or gently moving in space. The final door, quite distinct from the others, leads into a checkered black and white environment (lowest image). All the works, from the more narrative-driven ones encountered on arrival to the more abstract pieces seen in the additional galleries, are well presented and created with skill. The artist notes that she may add some additional areas over time, so a check back to see would be warranted.

All that said, we all have aesthetic preferences, and mine weren't particularly engaged at Reflect the Light, but I'm sure some visitors will enjoy their adventures. I was, frankly, bothered that the artist repeatedly hyped trips to her private gallery, by signs and notecards and landmarks, "where many of these creations are for sale," bringing a commercial feel to the generally non-profit LEA experience. Reflect the Light will remain on display through December.

08 September 2015

Pfaffenthal 1867

Now open — although still under construction — is a vast and remarkable project, Pfaffenthal 1867, sponsored by the Luxembourg National Museum of History and Art and the Luxembourg City History Museum, and managed inworld by Hauptmann Weydert. It isn't, by any measure, the first attempt to recreate a historical location in Second Life, but it is possibly the most ambitious, spanning (eventually) eight sims. Using historical maps (see here for an example), the sims attempt to replicate in detail Pfaffenthal, a quarter in nineteenth-century Luxembourg City described in the introductory notecard as "a hotbed, stirring with a rich diversity of professions, cultures and languages" — 1867 being the year the small nation achieved its independence.

The wearing of period attire is requested, and free outfits for both ladies and gentlemen are available at the landing point, along with general information about the Pfaffenthal project. From the welcome area, visitors step directly into the street, flanked by Max Menager's bakery and the Friperie Heintze, a second-hand clothes shop, and from there can begin to explore the narrow crooked avenues that can turn at disorientingly odd angles, and discover more of the city that lies across the river. If you fan out, leaving the old town behind, you'll begin to find many areas — almost entire sims — that for now are simply outlines or blueprints of what is to come, and it will certainly be fascinating to watch the construction unfold.

Pfaffenthal is poetically quaint, and it's a great pleasure to simply wander its streets and alleys, admiring the diverse architecture and the ways in which light slices into alleys and glances off walls. If you're truly fascinated, then it's a potential home, as Hauptmann and his colleagues invite people to take on roleplay characters within Pfaffenthal, and you can live there rent-free, with certain restrictions — many of the homes, shops and other locations such as churches are fully furnished. (Hauptmann is delighted to chat with all visitors — he may well come running up to greet you — and is an excellent and enjoyable source for more information.)

The project is an extension of the virtual Fort Thüngen that has run in the sim Kirchberg since 2012 (image below), and now one of the eight sims in the project. For individuals lucky enough to visit the real life Musée d'Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, it's also possible to visit Pfaffenthal from within the museum using the Oculus Rift — read more here. So you might encounter someone operating an avatar from within the museum — keep in mind that the process may not be easy for them. (And sometimes a few avatars are stationed about, performing various tasks.) Contributions are welcome.

07 September 2015

Timeless Memories Revisited

My recent visit to Elvira Kytori's new sim, Tranquility Dreams (read here) promoted a revisit to another creation by her, Timeless Memories. I wrote about the latter back in January, when it sported a winter landscape, but I was aware from a couple visits that a dramatic transformation had taken place, with snow swept away by white sands. Visitors arrive on the beachy shore of this rocky island, and can ascend stone steps to arrive at a modest terrace, providing a lovely view of orcas frolicking in the waters, but the true destination requires a more intensive climb.

Positioned about two-thirds the way up the steep rock face is a little enclave into which a Mediterranean villa is nestled (photo above), its rooms exquisitely furnished, with delightful plantings of flowers along its walls and in the nearby garden. Here, explorers will find some fun opportunities for relaxation, including a small pool (sit along the edge for a menu), a nearby hammock, a tree swing, and other spots. If you enjoy your visit to Timeless Memories, please consider leaving a contribution at the landing point.

05 September 2015

Tranquility Dreams

Kylie Jaxxon recently encouraged me to visit Tranquility Dreams (part of White Dunes Estates), landscaped by her friend (and excellent sim designer) Elvira Kytori, who has created sims such as the gorgeous Timeless Memories (read here and here). With pine trees and scrappy vegetation on rolling dunes suggestive of the mid-Atlantic coast, possibly around the Outer Banks, the sim provides lovely views along the shoreline, with beach homes throughout.

The beaches and shorelines are for the most part open to the public, and include many spots to wander, relax, cuddle, or soak up the sun. Those visitors who find themselves enthused by the region might want to consider renting one of the homes, all of which, when rented, will likely be off limits to foot travel, as inviting as they appear.

The quiet sounds of the waves lapping the shore and the piercing cries of the gulls permeate the soundscape, so be sure to have local sounds turned on. I've used the sim's default windlight in the first two images here (brightened a little), but others work as well, and photographers will not doubt enjoy experimenting with the opportunities presented by Tranquility Dreams.

04 September 2015

Skip Staheli and Regi Yifu at BOSL Art Gallery

Opening tomorrow, Saturday, September 5, from 10 to 11 am, is an installation and exhibition by photographer Skip Staheli and interactive artist Regi Yifu at the new BOSL Art Gallery. Widely appreciated for their excellent quality, Skip's images are presented here as projections, so it's essential that visitors turn on advanced lighting model — otherwise, the canvases will simply appear to be blank. It's also important to select a dark windlight setting, and although Skip and Regi suggest Ambient Dark, I found the even darker Phototools- No Light more to my liking. Either way, one will immediately see the gallery come to life with a kaleidoscopic montage of projected images. "I saw Regi's lightshow the other year, and I suddenly thought, 'I have to ask him if he wants to do that with me!'" Skip told me as we talked about the collaboration. (Above, he inspects an image.)

Skip's 28 photographs are displayed on a series of flat surfaces, but the images won't be immediately intelligible, as they're projected by Regi using three distinct light channels (image immediately above). As visitors approach them, a "bump" into a prim in front of each image causes the channels to converge, thereby displaying the composite photograph (image immediately below). "It takes some practicing," Skip encouraged. "You really have to bump in the middle and stay connected." I also discovered that my own camera settings — I use Penny Patton's — actually made it more difficult to see the images. So if, like me, you've changed your camera angle, you might want to switch it back to fully enjoy this exhibition. But these are minor points, and I provide them more as helpful insight to visitors than as criticism of the installation.

For those visitors who can't use advanced lighting model, Skip has helpfully mounted the original images on the reverse of the display areas. The beautiful projected images that slowly rotate through the walls and ceiling of the spaces (such as shown below) were provided by Regi, who also offers to visitors some delightful wearable elements, including body lights that project onto your avatar, making you one with the installation, and a personal projector to help you find your way in the dark. Those who enjoy the experience will no doubt also want to visit Regi's own space, the Regimade Light Gallery. The exhibition will continue for three months, into December 2015.

03 September 2015

Final Call for Boarding at Tierra de Fuego

It may not be very safe to fly out of Tierra de Fuego, judging from the looks of the wrecked planes at the airport, but it's also your last chance, as Ash (Ashratum), the sim's owner, announced its impending closure on Sunday, September 6. The airport and environs opened in December 2013 (see a blog post here from January 2014) and quickly became a quirky watering hole for the sexually adventurous, as well as for photographers interested not only in the sim's distinctive look, but also in opportunities for erotic images.

Set amidst a desert scene, the sim's primary focal point is its airport and extended runway, lined by hangars, maintenance facilities and a café. Further afield are a fleabag motel and a seedy joint called The Waiting Room, with opportunities for sexual encounters at many locations. (The sim does not shy away from its adult agenda in the least — often with a dash of humor — and photographers such as Ash, Phil Sidek, Mich Michabo and others have contributed to its reputation, with many photos in the sim's flickr group.) Thanks to Ash and her friends for having shared Tierra de Fuego with the Second Life community.

02 September 2015

Faces of Longing and Grief

Opening today, Wednesday, September 2 at 1 pm slt, is Faces of Longing and Grief, an exhibition of images by Maloe Vansant at the Dathúil gallery, curated by Lucy (Lucy Diam0nd). Nearly all of the photos are facial shots, capturing a mood or moment of longing or grief, as the title suggests. Saying, "That's what I try to express with my pictures," Maloe offers two quotes: "The Portuguese call it saudade: a longing for something so indefinite as to be indefinable. Love affairs, miseries of life, the way things were, people already dead, those who left and the ocean that tossed them on the shores of a different land — all things born of the soul that can only be felt." (Anthony De Sa, Barnacle Love); and "Now something so sad has hold of us that the breath leaves and we can't even cry." (Charles Bukowski, You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense).

What is particularly challenging for a Second Life photographer attempting to capture subtle emotions is that the default avatar's ability to express is very limited — the face is generally static, aside from a strongly affected-looking optional smile, frown, wink and so on. The photographer must therefore resort to light and color in an attempt to draw forward or suggest some emotion, and several of Maloe's images do this particularly well. The artist has generously set all of the images for sale for free, so those who admire her work will certainly be adding to their collections. The exhibition will remain on display through the end of September.

01 September 2015


Now open at LEA27 is Recursion by FreeWee Ling, a fascinating array of artworks centered around an interactive "Fibonacci Recursive Rezzer" that invites endless play and investigation. As FreeWee explains her her notes to the installations, "One of the most powerful creative techniques for any artist in any medium is recursion. In technical terms, recursion differs from repetition in that what recurs is similar to the original iteration, but may be altered in some systematic way...Creating large or complex objects in SL is made easy by the ability to duplicate, rotate, and/or resize objects. And such recursion is easily automated using rezzer scripts and building algorithmically."

The Fibonacci Recursive Rezzer generated both the patters of prims above (both shown in some detail to avoid depicting neighboring objects), and it was quite fascinating to watch it work — and I found it almost impossible to stop playing with the device, which presents the user with an almost limitless set of variables. The recursive patterns it generates reveal themselves through a variety of angles and perspectives.

Another interactive building device, Aperture, is nearby on the sim, allowing changes to a huge collection of prims rotating in space. And there's much more, with dozens of artworks, some scripted and some not, including the mesmerizing Giant Swirlygig (the bright green thing in the photo above, although it's not always green), a fanning ray particle emitter, giraffes on fire, and a Heavy Sliding Vault Door that reveals something within. They're all remarkable expressions of FreeWee's apparently endless imagination, and warrant repeated visits to fully enjoy.

Photos don't begin to convey the true feel of the sim, which is filled with movement in every direction. I would recommend using a high graphics setting to bring out the detail in materials such as shown below. (Click on any image to zoom in.) FreeWee will be in residence at LEA27 through December, and, if past installations are any indication, she'll be adding and transforming the space over time (indeed, one area is presently under construction).