29 April 2013


Recently Gogo remarked to me how difficult it can be to find places where object rezzing is turned on, and as I searched around I found that she was quite correct. I've always owned a good chunk of land and have always been able to rez stuff whenever I want, but if you're a photographer who relies on poses and other items for your shoots I can see how challenging it might be, especially if you're in need of varied backdrops. So I thought I'd look around for some opportunities.

At Taiga you'll see trees, trees and more trees, because the sim is designed to capture the look of the Siberian taiga, a vast ecoregion dominated by, well, trees. (And, according to Wikipedia, temperatures ranging from 40 °C (104 °F) to −62 °C (−80 °F)—it began to get quite chilly there today as the sun went down!). Taiga is a low prim (homestead) sandbox with rezzing turned on for a very generous 300 minutes, and features a soothing lake wrapped with forests of evergreens. You're likely to hear Russian spoken here, too, although the sim's rules are also provided in English.

28 April 2013

Third Life

Just yesterday I was remarking on the need for more performance art in Second Life, and today provides an excellent opportunity to attend an event and even participate. At 12 pm slt at the alpha.tribe sim you're invited to join join Kikas Babenco, Marmaduke Arado, SaveMe Oh and others in a performance of Third Life. I haven't seen rehearsals and so I can't preview specific content for you, but previous events I've attended by Kikas and Marmaduke have been nothing short of delightful and spectacular, and SaveMe is always provocative and unpredictable. If you'd like to take a peek at some older work of theirs (which may or may not resemble what we'll see today), here is a video by Ed Vespucciano of I can't believe this! (by all three artists); here is a video by Penumbra Carter of a performance by Kikas and Marmaduke at Two Fish; and here is a long video by me of an impressive 2011 SaveMe performance, Screen Me. Then again, SaveMe might not participate, given this new post on her blog. We'll see—I hope she does.

"Let your hair down and act out to your heart's content in a custom created sky garden, whilst partaking of gift avatars and wearable scenes provided for the occasion that will help you blend in with your surroundings (or not!) and even create your own narrative of events," say the artists. The slurl of the performance platform is here. I don't know whether you'll arrive there or at alpha.tribe's main landing point, but either way you should head to the side of the platform (designed in part by Eupalinos Ugajin) that's shared with the neighboring sim, Ouvroir, and set your Windlight setting to "AnaLu - outdoor city"—which is available here if you don't have it pre-installed. (It should look like the bottom photograph here.) There are a bunch of free things available courtesy of Alpha Auer and alpha.tribe (which, if you're unfamiliar with, makes fantastic avatars), and Dr. Nax is rumored to be setting up a group therapy session at the Dr. Nax Institute for Virtual Wellness. Top image courtesy of Kikas Babenco and middle image courtesy of Alpha Auer.

27 April 2013

Memory Box Workshop

How do we touch one another in Second Life or other virtual worlds? "No matter how immersed in virtual space we may be, we still are corporeal beings, and we still long for haptic experiences," remarks Vaneeesa Blaylock. ("Haptic" meaning, if you're not familiar with term, something that relates to the sense of touch, something tactile.) As part of her installation at LEA11, Alice in Cornelland, she has been experimenting with ways in which we might bring that haptic experience into a virtual world. While this may prove physically impossible, the notion is an interesting one, and she points to Joseph Cornell's boxes as points of inspiration.

Today, Saturday, April 27 at 10:00 a.m. SLT, she'll host a Memory Box Workshop at LEA11. It's a little hard to see in the image above, but Vaneeesa (or Alice Liddell as her name is currently displayed) is standing next to a memory box, with its objects floating and rotating overhead. Teleport here to get to the Memory Box Workshop. "You might like to bring images or text of moments, experiences, or persons from your life journey. LEA11 will provide prims and a lite lunch," says Vaneeesa.

Ascension at LEA16

Now open at LEA16 is an installation entitled Ascension by Mantis Oh, "from the house of Hybrid Productions." If you haven't visited this place: don't. It's an appalling excuse for art and has no business taking up space on an LEA sim. Let's see, we can visit the Beach Club, the Ultra Club, the Sphinx Club (at all of which "there will be a line of parties"), or "Ascension," which the LEA blog describes as "seven levels of a cubic, tower like structure." As one of my artist friends dryly remarked, it would be "nice for some futuristic dance club the other side of Insilico...I'm not impressed with it as an artistic statement." (Please note that I really love Insilico.)

To be fair to Linden Endowment for the Arts board, they select artistic projects based on written proposals and a history of past work, and they don't own a big crystal ball. Sometimes things just don't materialize the way one would anticipate. I don't know the particulars in this case (at least not in much detail), but I do know that if I were the LEA I'd be disappointed enough to consider seeking some remedy. I don't object to the build per se (for what it is it's well built and designed—there's plenty of talent and skill behind it) and have nothing against clubs and socializing, but this just doesn't belong here. Nuff said.

Edit 4/27: My friend Quan Lavender has written a blog post on Ascension that presents some differing perspectives, and I would encourage you to read it. Regarding Kraftwerk and similar music artists, I would suggest that although there may have been significant influence from the Western classical music tradition, and although artists such as Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider studied classical music in their formative years, it's helpful to draw a distinction between composers who were working in the classical world and those working in rock or popular mediums (and who continue, in both cases, to work along different paths, although there are moments of intersection). John Cage (who was hardly a minimalist, having written some of the most complex music in the Western cannon—for example Fontana Mix, HPSCHD or the Freeman Etudes) may have been an influence for some space/trance/electronic rock artists emerging in Germany in the 1970s such as Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze, but I would think the more powerful impact would have been from Germany and France: composers such as Pierre Schaeffer, Iannis Xenakis, and especially Karlheinz Stockhausen with his explosive work at NWDR in Cologne. The tradition of these composers is carried forward not by the bands but by other composers, a list of which would be enormous—I'll simply mention Robert Ashley, Sofia Gubaidulina, Brian Ferneyhough, George Benjamin, Alvin Lucier, Thomas Adès, Kaija Saariaho and Joji Yuasa as a wildly varied bunch.

Additional Edit 4/28: Inara Pey has also shared her thoughts on this installation, and as always her blog is a must read. She exercised considerably more patience than I did in exploring the build.

26 April 2013


One of my favorite shops in Second Life is Grim Bros., where proprietor Cutea Benelli's endless and wacky imagination is always coming up with oddities and things that make me laugh. I arrived there this morning to see what was new, and by chance Quan Lavender arrived only seconds later, and Cutea happened to arrive as well and showed us a little addition in back, IntermezzOasis, which I had read about but never visited. Here, among other things, is a delightful Poetry Generator that can be used by 1 to 4 people simultaneously, and we all gave it a try. Quan's poem won (by what criteria I'm not sure!), and here are the results:

[04:54] Poetry Generator: Cutea Benelli's poem, worth $5916: as if in the wind excuses or get along with could i and then with mindlessness who are you the pain by numbers takeover your soul what did you say pressure decided from unspeakable places your heart could be reminded me of could be with i am i didn't want to we need cheap date garden you are next to me i see that is weird your soul zoom in on excuses get lost judge you by your happiness excuses unfold

[04:54] Poetry Generator: Ziki Questi's poem, worth $6619: i said that leaves hearts your head banjo on predicted predicted to kiss you notions of ding dong the witch i am a rock my demands delicious approaching you and then the shelter shall we to kiss the hunger of bewildering the hunger of guilt trip innocent against your forehead deliciously sinister your presence unravel oh please i really do agree torn 1000 voices makes no difference kindergarden your love hearts guilt trip noise my relentless desire to like concrete could you i wanted to and i shall false claims of millions by numbers

[04:54] Poetry Generator: Quan Lavender's poem, worth $8075: pleasure time zoom in on annoyingly happy excuses the ocean from unspeakable places millions garden avoiding delectable like two separate countries against the door like a boring presentation open friendship get lost hit you on the head with a blunt object approaching you to anger

[04:55] Cutea Benelli: excuses the ocean from unspeakable places
[04:55] Quan Lavender: that is typical the biggest bullshit is winner!
[04:55] Cutea Benelli: you are SO DEEP
[04:55] Cutea Benelli: lol
[04:55] Cutea Benelli: mine is very teenage angst
[04:55] Cutea Benelli: ziki's is very ziki
[04:55] Cutea Benelli: i mean "head banjo"?
[04:55] Cutea Benelli: that's SO ziki

Also here are a Wannabe Artist Studio (above), hopping chairs and concerned flowers. By all means do enjoy your shopping in the store, too! :)

24 April 2013

Firestorm Clouds

If you use Firestorm, you may have noticed, tucked away in Preferences > Firestorm > Windlight, the option to select different sets of cloud textures: default (which is what we've been seeing until now), altocumulus, cumulo-nimbus and layered. I'm not able to jump back and forth between these sets without a restart—hopefully some of you might not have this challenge, although it seems to be recommended anyway. I hadn't seen any comparisons between the options and so took a few quick images this morning.

I ventured over to one of my favorite places, a Petrovsky flux, installed at the University of Kansas's Spencer Museum of Art sim, and switched back and forth. These aren't very refined images, but they might help give you an impression of the possibilities. (You can click on them to zoom in.) I took photos in the region's default setting, Bristol, and then with a couple others (for no particular reason): Places alirium and [TOR] MIDDAY - An incongruent truth.

Default - Bristol

Default - Places alirium

Default - [TOR] MIDDAY - An incongruent truth

The three images above are what we're used to seeing: the standard default cloud setting. They're not bad, especially for those of us old enough to remember what are now commonly called "classic clouds"—which became "classic" and out of date with the advent of Windlight. Now come the three new options:

Altocumulus - Bristol

Altocumulus - Places alirium

Altocumulus - [TOR] MIDDAY - An incongruent truth

Altocumulus clouds are puffy little white clouds, but higher up than regular cumulus clouds. And they're thinner, more of a patchwork, allowing the light to hit them at many different points.

Cumulo-Nimbus - Bristol

Cumulo-Nimbus - Places alirium

Cumulo-Nimbus - [TOR] MIDDAY - An incongruent truth

In real life, cumulonimbus clouds are massively vertical, towering up in the sky—those clouds that make you go "wow!" when you see them. These in Second Life don't have much verticality, but they do have more mass than the default clouds, and certainly look more like nice big puffy cumulus clouds than we've had before. If you catch the sun—which you can't see very well here but get a sense of in the top and bottom images in this post—you can create some amazing sunsets and sunrises with very painterly effects. Also, in some sky settings such as Foggy, a thick cloud cover slowly moving is pretty spectacular.

Layered - Bristol

Layered - Places alirium

Layered - [TOR] MIDDAY - An incongruent truth

Layered tends to produce a more gently dotted cloudscape, as seen above.

The overall winner in my book is the Cumulo-Nimbus setting, which can produce these rather fantastic views. Whether we'll see so many images using this setting (which does seem to be other people's favorite as well) that we'll begin to wish for clearer skies is hard to say, but for now it affords many new opportunities for experimentation. The others are refreshing as well, and I'm sure those of us who fiddle around with the cloud sliders in the environment settings will be kept busy for some time to come.

Edit: I really should have mentioned that Vincent Nacon created the cloud map tga files! Thanks, Vincent!

23 April 2013

Aequitas at LEA19

The arts collective known as Aequitas (the members of which prefer to remain unidentified, or at least to emphasize the collaborative nature of their work at the expense of individual identity) has been creating something anew in LEA19. There are actually two works here at the moment, although they tell me that the sim will be undergoing some changes as one of the works evolves. The first, Wall of Fear, is a simple interactive piece: a large walled circle stands in the center of the sim, the word "fear" emblazoned on each prim. But as one comes in contact with the fear prims, they change from black to white—now saying "love"—and slowly float into the sky.

Floating above the Wall of Fear are a family of rounded cubes, and each literally contains a story (one image below from inside a cube). This work, Favorite Time of Your Life, will be expanded as more material develops, and may begin to populate the watery ground level of the sim (or live in the sky). Residents are invited to contribute: send a story, whether from real life or Second Life, with a photo and a spoken narrative. Others will then see and hear your story. Aequitas provides a number of ways for your verbal stories to reach them, including a worldwide bank of toll-free telephone numbers from many countries. A few stories have already been shared and await you at LEA19, so you'll get a sense of what to provide if you're interested in sharing your image and words.

22 April 2013

Baja Norte

Yesterday I wrote about Sol Existence, a picturesque wooded sim created by Jac Mornington and Sunshine Zhangsun. Another of Mornington's creations is the lovely sim of Baja Norte (the sim of Salt Water), which he suggests reflects "the beauty of Northern Baja California in its natural state." I've never been to Baja, but if this is what's it's like it will quickly climb to the top of my travel list. (I love going to the beach in real life, but most beaches in SL don't grab me much—this one does.)

The sim offers beautiful windswept views from many vantage points (it's best to keep your draw distance way up), and also some delightful walkways. If you're with a friend, you'll discover some fun and clever places to enjoy the day, ranging from an upscale beach home to a fallen-down house strewn with beer cans to a platform nestled in a tree (just climb the rope). The view from the top of the lighthouse is not to be missed.

21 April 2013

Sol Existence

It's autumn in Sol Existence, the sim bursting with bright reds, yellows and oranges. Created by Jac Mornington and Sunshine Zhangsun, the picturesque region is a lovely place to stroll, wandering around the large lake at its center as one hears the leaves crunch underfoot, the smell of fall in the air. Houses and appurtenances dot the landscape, some very nicely decorated and furnished.

I shared a few days ago on Plurk my general dislike for sim surround solutions, but here one actually works: the lake, shoreline and nearby land are a distinct valley, wrapped by high hills that share a carefully matched texture with the ground. Sunshine, whose blog is also called Sol Existence, has been long involved in Second Life's Relay for Life efforts, and there's a contribution kiosk near the landing point.

20 April 2013

Thoth Jantzen and JadeYu Fhang at Art India Gallery

Currently on display at the Art India Gallery, a space hosted by Veekay Navarathna and curated by Quan Lavender, is work of two artists, Thoth Jantzen and JadeYu Fhang. Quan states that the artists "show their different visions of a future world," and they do so quite differently—and I'm not sure I'd want to live in either of these futures. Nonetheless, both artists display technical prowess and an ability to realize their visions.

Jantzen's work, Mind Melter, (shown above, although catching a photo of this space isn't easy!) is an immersive field of cubes that flash with a kaleidoscope of colors (one must have media turned on to see the effect). "Just come and experience how your mind will melt," the artist says. And Fhang's work, The Lab, (below) is on two levels, "about a vision of future, where pollution and technique made surviving impossible for human beings. The last child is protected by Cyborgs."

18 April 2013

The Luminarios Divide

On the sim of Storm lies a new and perhaps magical realm known as The Luminarios Divide. From its watery cypress swamp to its high sky islands bound together by stone logs held aloft by balloons and slowly churning propellors, the is much to explore and discover. We sense throughout that some old lore is here, that the land has secrets and stories to tell. A massive dragon skeleton, an immense waterfall, glowing mushrooms, chirping crickets, and places quiet with stillness dot the landscape. On the central platform is an inn, and that with the houses surrounding it comprise a village known as Illume. Photographers will love this place.

Luminaer Moonflower, who, with Anitsas Gi'tli, is one of the co-creators of the space, says, "The living aura of this place calls out to you with a maternal need that strikes your very core. It begs to embrace you and welcomes you to explore it. There is evidence all around that you are not the first to stumble upon this ancient, sleeping giant of a place. The beings that inhabit this land have been here longer than they can remember, and soon, so shall you." If you'd like to know more about how the Divide came to be you can pick up a book as you enter, and read more in both Luminaer's and Anitsas's profiles. Toss a few Linden dollars in the pot if you can.

17 April 2013

Betty Tureaud's The 9 Art Planets

I know lots of people really adore and enjoy the work of Betty Tureaud, but as much as I've tried I just don't find it resonates very well with me. The work is just too saccharine-sweet and just too damn cheerful (although not without considerable talent and great sense of space and color). Lots of us who blog about art, places or events in Second Life tend to be polite—it's a tight-knit community, after all, and I don't know Betty very well but bump into her once in a while, and she's a delightfully pleasant person—but there, I've said it. As Crap Mariner half-jokingly said as I walked into a room a few months ago, "sssshhhhhhhhhh... there's an ART CRITIC here."

But for those of you who especially love her work: Her most recent installation, The 9 Art Planets on LEA20, is large and expansive, unfolding over multiple levels, and opens Friday, April 19 at 2 pm slt. Upon arrival one receives a teleport HUD that allows one to jump around to the different areas, some of which feature hidden gifts—I particularly enjoyed the sense of distant horizon in the "4 Citys" level. I don't sense that there's any need to move about linearly, and the HUD can come in particularly handy at the level where there's a maze (which I found a bit exasperating). Music throughout is offered by Ultraviolet Alter.

16 April 2013


I wasn't planning to write about this, but a few people have already asked questions, so I'll just stick the whole situation in one tidy little blog post. Those of you who know me know that I really love the work of AM Radio, and that his first and only surviving build in Second Life is The Far Away, which AM had been working on by early 2007. But recently The Far Away had become endangered—the clock was ticking and its days were numbered—and so I've stepped in as its patron to guarantee its continued existence (hopefully as long as AM wants to keep it rezzed). I'm really delighted to do this, and know that many, many people visit it on a regular basis—indeed, it's uncommon not to see several people there. And AM is happy with our arrangement.

But it does mean I'll depart from where I've lived for a long time, my home called ...riverrun... on the island of Catalana (two lower images). It's not Neva River or anything on that scale, but it will be a bittersweet departure. There's a large observatory by Sextan Shepherd that was part of his Nemo build, William Weaver's Build 013: The Phi Cube (to which you can teleport from inside the observatory), four lazy cats (one of which I purchased from Gogo and one of which she gave me, half dead and starving), and odds and ends by Pandora Popstar, Aino Beresford, Marmottina Taurog, AM Radio (a boat), and lots and lots of lush green land. And there's my dear friend and neighbor Juno Angerona, whose land lies to the north. I'll leave this place in about a week. It's quiet and serene here. Feel free to visit.

15 April 2013

Skye Castles Neist Point Ocean

You're missing Neva River, aren't you? If that's so, consider taking a visit to one of Alex Bader's sims, Skye Castles Neist Point Ocean. It's a homestead sim that borders his main sim, Skye Engol, and affords some gorgeous scenery. (Alex landscaped much of the recent Neva River build, and his work is superlative.)

You'll find everything from a forest (which is where you'll rez if you take the landmark above) to deep ravines, pathways winding up steep mountainsides, and buildings. There's also an enchanting beach, shown in the first couple images here. The main sim is of course worth a visit as well.