31 March 2014

Mac Kanashimi at SperiMentArt

Opening today, Monday, March 31 at 1:30 pm slt, at SperiMentArt (and co-sponsored by SperiMentArt and Tanalois Art), is an installation of fractal works by Mac Kanashimi. Unlike his massive sim-wide installation Dragon Curves that remains on display at LEA26 (about which I've written here), the fractals presented here are on a more personal scale (each of the two displays has a base of about 30 meters across) and alter their shapes every ninety seconds or so.

Mac explains that the exhibition displays seventeen different fractals: tetrahedron, tetrahedron complement, tetrahedron inverted, pyramid, pyramid complement, pyramid inverted, Menger sponge, Menger sponge complement, Sierpinski-Menger, Sierpinski-Menger complement, octahedron, octahedron complement, Vicsek, Greek cross, solenoid, Hilbert and Htree. Plan to spend about 26 minutes to fully enjoy them all as they cycle through.

30 March 2014

The Philosopher's Stone

Now open at LEA17 is The Philosopher's Stone, created by Pixels Sideways and Georg Janick, featuring works by sixteen artists. Pixels has written a thorough and very readable blog post of her own about the installation on the Linden Endowment for the Arts blog, describing the process of how the concept came to be. Suffice it to say here that Pixels and Georg "came up with the idea of having a group of artists 'interpret' a philosopher/philosophy" and then selected fifteen seminal philosophers and paired them randomly with fifteen invited artists. Additionally, Pixels created several scenes on broad philosophical subjects. The results, not surprisingly, are strikingly varied, and many of the creations are delightful and absorbing.

The artists and their respective philosophers include:
Aequitas: Plato
Ama Avro: Descartes
Artistide Despres: Deleuze
Barry Richez: Heidegger (fifth image)
Bibi Rives: Wittgenstein
Feathers Boa: Marx
Freewee Ling: Nietzsche
Leoa Piek: Hegel
Lollito Larkham: Kant (third image)
Misprint Thursday: Leibniz
Robin Moore: Aristotle
Scottius Polke: Hume (fourth image)
Stardove Spirt: Epicurus
Ub Yifu: Spinoza (second image)
Winter Nightfire: Arendt

Upon arriving at The Philosopher's Stone, you'll be at the ground level, featuring works by Pixels — "there are several places to explore that cover general ideas such as the Philosophy of Love, The Sisyphus Challenge (The Philosophy of Struggle), Philosophy of Media and Politics and other installations I created," she explains. Many items on this level are interactive, and the amphitheatre will be home to future events. (After you manage to climb Sisyphus's hill, avoiding the boulders, look around for the secret teleport in the temple, which takes you down into the area shown on the first image.) The ground level also features some two-dimensional works by the invited artists.

To reach the larger, three-dimensional works, each on its own island in the sky, click on the Greek vase at the landing point, which serves as a teleport. (You'll see these throughout the installation.) After reaching one of the islands, you should be able to fly about easily to visit them all, and the parcel description will change as you move about, telling you whose work you're visiting. Some give us texts to read, many give us things about which to think, some contain bits of humor (Aequitas's Plato give me a laugh), and all of them invite us to learn more about their respective philosophers. (While I've studied works by most of them, I must admit to feeling the need to brush up on my reading!) The Philosopher's Stone will remain on display through April or possibly into May — Pixels may produce an additional exhibition prior to the end of her LEA grant.

29 March 2014


The ancient and mysterious island of Frisland (or Frislandia) appears on a number of significant sixteenth-century maps, including those by Mercator and Ortelius, usually situated somewhere southwest of Iceland. It's a roughly rectangular island, and its inhabitants populate towns with names such as Campa and Ocibar, and indeed even the smaller islands around it were given names. Several current-day sleuths have even attempted to "find" Frisland, as if it were a real Atlantis.

In Second Life, you're lucky enough to be able to visit Frisland in person—it's a new sim created by Charlie Namiboo, Frislanda Ferraris (his real avatar name!) and Anabell Barzane. Originally scheduled to open on Sunday, March 30, the sim has opened today (Saturday), just as I post this—as Anna told me, "We can't wait any longer!" It's a delight for the eyes, with opportunities to wander and explore as well as plenty of outstanding places for photos. The gray-green Frisland consists two close-knit rural islands with a tiny stream running between them—the high rocky cliffs of the first island overlooking the more pastoral farmland of the second. Homes and buildings dot the landscape, and they're exquisitely furnished and decorated. Most of the exterior landscaping was designed by Frislanda, while Charlie and Anna concentrated on interior spaces.

As you wander you'll spot a greenhouse, a school with an inviting playground, a windmill, a home with smoke lazily drifting out of the chimneys, a chapel, and plenty of other spots—and inside the school you can take a look at one of those historic maps showing Frisland. You might wonder about the connection between the name of the place and the name of one of its creators: Frisland and Frislanda. Charlie explains, "A few weeks ago Frislanda did a search on Google about the origin of his name and found an article about a phantom island called 'Frisland' in the North Atlantic. He just asked us what we would think of creating a region in Second Life based upon the idea of that phantom island. We were all for it! And so we started the project with the working title 'Frisland's rebirth.'"

If you'd like to be able to rez items—it's a splendid place for a bicycle ride!—just join the Frisland group at the landing point. And if you enjoy your visit, please consider leaving a contribution—there are three donation pigs on the sim—one near the landing point, one in front of the school and one near a house. But in any case, enjoy your visit—as Charlie said to me, "This is our way to say thank you to the SL community that has shared so many beautiful places with us."

28 March 2014


Opening today, Friday, March 28 at 3 pm slt on LEA23, is Invasion: a Tribute to Greenies Home by Sniper Siemens. If you remember the delightful but long-gone Greenies Home Rezzable, created largely by Pavig Lok, Littletoe Bartlett and Light Waves back in 2007 as the best-known build by the Rezzable group (now entirely gone from Second Life—Greenies Home closed in June 2010 as Rezzable left Second Life with quite a dramatic huff and puff), you'll smile widely upon entering this build. And if you aren't familiar with Greenies Home, which was perhaps the most visited art sim in Second Life for quite a long time, you might be wondering why you'd want to visit a build consisting of a living room, dining room, study and kitchen—the key is that you're about the size of a mouse in this enormous environment. Just go.

You'll arrive outside the house in a little garden area, where you'll see some introductory information—turn your draw distance up to at least 250 meters, for example—and you'll spot some of the curious little creatures who populate the house. They're not the old Greenies, but something similar—styled in the shape of M&Ms as Sniper told me—and they're dropping down from what looks like a spaceship overhead (and a few are descending into the attic from another spot). And from here you enter the house through a little mousehole, and the sheer size of the place will unfold. You can rez a bike if you'd like, or you can rez a go-kart inside one of the cabinets—a racetrack is set up on the floor.

And then set out to explore: there are hidden places everywhere, including the insides of cabinets, drawers, little nooks and crannies. (The third image is a close-up of the underside of the kitchen sink.) I'm sure you'll find the attic (shown below), where a few little creatures are arriving through a broken window. I've often thought how wonderful it would be to experience Greenies Home again, and Sniper's installation, while not a literal copy, is a delightful homage. Sniper thanks Jumbo Core and Spartaco Zemenis for scripting, Duval Lavecchia for textures, and Elettra Beardmore for inspiration. Invasion will remain open through June.

24 March 2014


If you were around in Second Life in 2007, you probably remember being wowed by FlowerBall, an installation created by Douglas Story (concept and physical structure), Desdemona Enfield (scripts) and AldoManutio Abruzzo (soundscape) that was on display at one of the the Princeton University sims—it was one of those things that everyone came to see. Now, Lothar Leborski—who in real life is Glenn Zucman, a lecturer in art history at California State University, Long Beach—has given Douglas and Desdemona space to recreate FlowerBell on the CSULB sim, where it will remain until mid-summer.

It's a structurally simple concept—a large, hollowed-out sphere with five phantom floors through which avatars can fly, the intersection with each floor triggering a layer of sound—but is remarkably beautiful to experience, both visually and aurally. You will arrive at a landing point where, in the background, the soundscape is loaded (and therefore you shouldn't teleport people directly into FlowerBell), where you should set the environment to midnight and where you should turn up local sounds. From there, follow the wayfinding signage to reach the immersive artwork, where you'll quickly discover how moving through the floors triggers layers of sounds (each is a 50-second soundtrack)—and how your movement and speed create a lovely doppler effect. Be sure to read the notecard, which provides more about FlowerBell, including its history.

23 March 2014

Freedom Project Thank You Ceremony and Exhibition Launch

Today, Sunday, March 23 at 5 pm slt, marks the thank you ceremony and public launch of the Freedom Project, developed collaboratively between the University of Western Australia, members of the Virtual Ability Group, and the Centre for ME/CFS and Other Invisible Illnesses Group. Individuals who self-identified as having a disability or a chronic illness were invited to create artwork or film/machinima on the theme of ‘freedom,’ showing how virtual worlds have in some way helped them or those around them, with submissions open between 1 September 2013 and 28 February 2014. Entrants were encouraged to write a brief essay explaining how virtual worlds assisted them, or fostered a sense of community or helped transcend the difficulties and challenges posted in real life. These works are now on display at the UWA sim, and, although it's not a contest, some awards will be presented.

Possibly the most well-known persona represented is that of Fran Seranade, who in real life is afflicted with Parkinson's disease and believes that her relationship with her avatar in Second Life has diminished the impact of the disease. (Her experience was featured by Draxtor Despres in one of his Drax Files episodes—head here to see their submission. The top image in this post is part of a beautiful build by DB Bailey that documents Fran's experiences, part of the ParkArt Collaborative submission.) But many other artworks are striking and touching as well, and you can click on their titles to learn more about them. For example, below are two images created by Roman Godde. He was a police officer, and two years ago was traumatically injured with a broken back, now held together with pins and rods. Subsequently, both his parents died within months of one another. Roman found himself lost, angry and depressed—"I sank into a deep, dark world," he writes. But over time he began to discover photography in Second Life, and his work has helped heal his wounds. He writes, "I began to look for the Beauty in Darkness, to visually create what my inner soul was feeling. My art is not planned ahead of time. I am basically new to photography, but it's with my soul and emotions that drive me. This art that I create on Second Life is the only thing that while I'm creating, I don't think of anything else. It is in a way my Zen. This Beauty in Darkness is my healing, my therapy, my calm before and during the storm. This is my journey through something traumatic, that has turned into something beautiful."

Direct slurls to the works on display:
Alysabelle Resident - My story
Ama Avro - Passage
Bamboo Barnes - Cold lights
Bamboo Barnes - Show me the place
Barbie Alchemi/Fran Seranade/Draxtor Despres - We Can Learn & Grow & Heal Together
Barry Richez - Freedom of Creativity (image below)
iSkye Silverweb - Speechless Freedom
Jesse Keyes - The Time Machine
Johnny Lane - Eat Soon
Johnny Lane - Japanese Macaque
Johnny Lane - The Calm Dreamer
Johnny Lane - Vincent's Mountains
Krystali Rabeni - A Helping Hand
Mathilde Vhargon - Dancing With Impediments
Megadeus - Mental Prison
Miranda [p3n3lop3] - Dance in Stasis
Miso Susanowa - Big Winter
Misprint Thursday - Goodnight Lights
Pale Illusion - GID (Gender Identity Disorder)
ParkArt Collaborative (DB Bailey, SolasNaGealai, Brenda Brody, Tray Rivera, Barbie Alchemi/Fran Seranade) - ParkArt Gallery

Roc Furse - Escape
Roiben Sweetwater - Alice
Roiben Sweetwater - The Many Sides Of Me
Roman Godde - Beauty In Darkness
Roman Godde - Silent Night
Ronin1 Shippe - Elephant With Flower
Ronin1 Shippe - Coyote
Ronin1 Shippe - Orange Planes
Ronin1 Shippe - Three Musicians
Roxie Marten - Gaze Upon The World
Secret Rage - I Choose Freedom
Sheba Blitz - Circle of Freedom
Slatan Dryke - Yonder
Starheart Erdhein - Mandala Dance
Talia Sunsong - Freedom Flight
Tarquin Evermore - Lotus of Enlightenment
Traskin Snakeankle - Lifeline
Wally - Sky Populus
Willo - Cyberwings
Xia Firethorn - My Body is a Cage

If you would like to learn more about the Freedom project, here are posts on the UWA blog in reverse chronological order:
Freedom Project Thank You Ceremony & Exhibition Launch - 23rd March
Freedom Project Machinima Submission: Maia Kyi'Ra (Starheart Erdhein)
In Focus: The Centre for ME/CFS and Other Invisible Illnesses and The Freedom Project
In Focus: The Freedom Project and Virtual Ability
The Freedom Project (An initiative by UWA, Virtual Ability & the Centre for ME/CFS)
The Freedom Project - Event Launch: 7PM SLT Sunday 1st Sept

22 March 2014

Bright Lights, Dark Shadows

Opening today, Saturday, March 22 at 5 pm slt 2 pm slt at Timamoon Arts is the exhibition Bright Lights, Dark Shadows, featuring photography by Bear Silvershade and Derry McMahon. The title reflects the dissimilar artistic styles of Bear and Derry—the former working in a grayscale monochrome and the latter working in bright colors. And the differences don't end there, with Bear's images being horizontal wide landscape shots and Derry's being more focused on objects around which the scene is framed. But interestingly, they have taken these images in many of the same locations as they explored together, so what we experience is an investigation of one space through two pair of eyes. You can read more about their work on Bear's blog, Explorations.

21 March 2014

The Pilgrim's Dawn

If you'd like to see The Pilgrim's Dawn, created by Bowie Zeplin, don't delay—although finished, the build never quite officially opened, and it will disappear about a week from now, to be torn down and replaced by something new. It stands on the site formerly occupied by the glorious Pangloss, and was created by Bowie in response to a request from a client—so it's not generally the kind of environment she would have made for herself.

It's a pastoral setting, with agriculture dominating the hilly land. Sheep, horses and goats graze on the fields and in pens, while a wild bear fishes for salmon in the stream that cuts through the property. The land is surrounded by a broad lake, shimmering with reflections, and, farther in the distance, majestic mountain peaks that thrust toward the sky.

Even if you're sorry to see it go, I can assure you—having seen a peek at what Bowie is building to put in The Pilgrim's Dawn's place—that you won't be disappointed. What's coming is much more her "style"—not the surprisingly traditional look of the farm here but more along the lines of the fantastic coloration that greeted us in Pangloss.

20 March 2014

Cinema! Take II

Now open on LEA6 is Cinema! Take II, an installation by Mary Wickentower that celebrates machinima. Similar to its first iteration, the build features a large film house—the Empire Movie Palace—where currently showing is Sakoku: Chained Country by Princess Ambrosia. Outside, a large drive-in screen shows machinima from dozens of Second Life artists. I generally use Firestorm, but wasn't able, even after considerable fiddling with preferences and media controls, to get the screen to cooperate, but the regular LL viewer showed films immediately. The drive-in features quite an enormous list of artists, sorted alphabetically by first name and then by title, proving what looks like hundreds of separate films.

On display in the cinema is an exhibition of images by Melusina Parkin, an homage to the building and the sim itself, and I'm always delighted by her photography. Some additional artworks by other artists are on display in an adjacent space. Mary notes that particle shows, sock hops, and performances will be announced—and tonight, Thursday, March 20 at 8 pm slt, will be the Hip Hopin' Sock Hop. Cinema! Take II is part of the LEA Full Sim Art Series and will be on display through the month of March.

19 March 2014

The [Void]

We've all had those nights when we couldn't sleep: we were worried or simply couldn't shut our brains off, tossing and turning, half-awake, not sure whether or not we just dreamed for a moment, looking once and a while at the clock, knowing we're going to feel terrible in the morning—and we do. Now imagine if that went on for days, for weeks, then for months and even years. That's where artist Storm Septimus begins with her project at LEA27, The [Void]. "Everyone gets insomnia for a short while, but to live with it for years...well I just can't imagine," she told me as she related how a friend of hers suffers terribly from insomnia, and that his plight was the inspiration for the installation. "He doesn't sleep for days sometimes, then just literally drops...He gave me the idea for this place with his rather abstract talks when he is exhausted. He described it as drowning in a void, where he didn't know what was real or not."

You'll notice as you first arrive that it's a very dark, murky place, as if we're somewhere between wakefulness and slumber. Video screens flash information at us in some half-awake sort of way: pictures and words related by Storm's friend when he's at his most exhausted. You might spot some faint strings or ropes on drifting across the ground, and these might help you start on way: follow them. (Later I realized they're the electrical cords for the monitors.) It can be maddeningly difficult to see (this is not an installation to visit if you're short on either time or patience), but eventually you'll spot a field of poppies (above)—flowers long associated with sleep, and famous for their scene in The Wizard of Oz in which Dorothy falls into a potentially permanent snooze.

If you've been clicking on things (assuming you can find them!), you might discover that hearts and keys are important, and eventually you'll zip down from the the darkness you've been visiting, high in the sky, to the sea level, another part of the build, and you'll spot many of the same elements. A teleport link at one spot on this level will plunge you even further down, below the sea, where it's the darkest of all and almost impossible to make your way, although you'll still find that familiar field of flowers. "It's like hell down there," Storm commented, "but a very pretty one." There is one small location in the installation, the highest of all and not easy to find, where some light does penetrate the scene (lowest image).

"I know each of you who visits this place will take away your own meanings, thoughts and feelings, as you rightly should," Storm says in the exhibition notecard, but adds, "It is in fact a reflection of a personal hell." In this regard she succeeds admirably. Be sure when you visit to use the landing point above—if you simply arrive at the sim by flying in or clicking on the map, you'll miss the true entrance and won't receive several important notecards. And if you're using a browser that doesn't automatically accept parcel windlight settings, the choice here is AnaLu-Outdoor City Night, and the water setting is [NB] Hidden Depths—just think not much light at all. Although I really tried to get around in this almost pitch blackness, I must admit I grew frustrated enough a couple times that I brightened the scene get some orientation, and even Storm quipped, "We all cheat and change the windlight here." You might want to bring a flashlight.

18 March 2014

Candy and Drool

Candy and Drool describes itself as a "Psychobilly and Rockabilly Saloon," and features live music events presented by its creator, Jap Katz (Muratsubaki), who has managed to squeeze an impressive amount of stuff into its small parcel. When I first arrived, I was immediately reminded of the venerable sim Kowloon, with its dark narrow passageways, clutter of neon signs, tiny shops and unmarked doorways.

Even if you're not into psychobilly or rockabilly (actually, one sign adds the genres of neorockabilly and just plain rock and roll), you might have a great time exploring Candy and Drool. Near the landing point is a diner (lowest image) sporting decidedly 1950s-era decor, its walls lined with pinups, a band stage in the back corner. If you head down the hallway from the landing point, past the closed tattoo parlor and posters, you'll reach a grimy dance floor. Most of the doors along the hallway don't open, but one that near the dance floor does, and it's easy to miss—it welcomes you into the little Mosquito Bar shown just above.

If you're interested in learning about upcoming events—it is an active club—just join the Candy and Drool group. Thanks to my friend Naxos Loon for prodding me to visit Candy and Drool (twice!), and don't forget to slip a coin in the kitty if you enjoy the experience.

17 March 2014

Blueprint City

Visiting Blueprint City, a magnificent creation by Alpha Auer, prompted me to pull from the shelf my dog-eared copy of Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, thinking that surely, somehow, one of those cities might be this one. It's a city of juxtapositions: modern skyscrapers stand tall over structures that seem to reflect the architecture of times gone by, the impersonal, bold geometric forms of the newer buildings contrasting with the fanciful minarets, pyramids, domes and irregular shapes of the older buildings below.

Or perhaps the buildings all just as new as one another: in fact there's nothing to suggest that the smaller structures, adorned with exquisite textures—elephants, Baroque cityscapes, classical façades, clock towers, and, of course, blueprints—aren't indeed an advancement over the monolithic tall buildings with which they share their space. It could be that their neighborhood is indeed the newer part of town. As we wander the streets, we notice that some of the buildings can be entered, and we gaze out upon the city through their glowing translucent windows.

"It is a multidenominational city," Alpha explained to me, "mosque, church, synagogue..." But then, as we strolled about, she seemed uncertain as to which religion one of the houses of worship belonged, as if she herself was only a visitor, attempting to unravel the mysteries of the city. On the very southwest corner stand three windmills (image immediately below—click to zoom in), and you'll have to get close to see how it is that they are: after all, it's a city made of architectural drawings. Toward the northern side, at 105,152, a concert hall silently awaits its musicians.

If you're not familiar with Alpha Auer's work, she's the creative force behind alpha.tribe, makers of fantastic avatars. In the case of Blueprint City, there's an specific avatar, called Little City, thematically connected to the build, and I'm wearing the outfit in the image below—it's available for sale at the landing point. Many more avatars are available at the alpha.tribe shop and also at their store in Insilico. They're delightful, and I encourage you to purchase them, because of course their sales help pay for remarkable creations such as Blueprint City. Alpha is working to re-develop the rest of the alpha.tribe sim (under Blueprint City), and I'll write about that soon. I'll be posting images on my flickr stream.

16 March 2014


When you first arrive at Cake, with its pink landscape and cupcake theme—cupcakes are everywhere, literally growing on trees—you might think this charming candyland is all there is to see. Even if it were, the ground level of this multi-layered sim is a delight, with not only cupcakes but also doughnuts, desserts, cookies and other things sweet (and quite enormous), plus some pastoral settings with giant rabbits and the like. But there is much more to see: It's important to catch a ride on the monorail, which might at first appear to simply zip around the sim, but actually transports you to many other locations higher above. (There are several types of trains—the Cupcake Express, the Tentacle Car, the Panda Car and the BW Car—and they all take the same route.)

The ground level is, not surprisingly, Cupcake Station, and you'll travel from there to Photo Planetoid Station, Testing Station (not much to see here), Cosmos Galaxy Station, Cake University Square Station, Rockwood Station, Tentacle Station and Underground Station, and then back to the beginning. Each is a sim-wide installation, and several offer some opportunities for exploration: in particular Rockwood Station, which features a beautiful forested landscape surrounded by mountains; and Tentacle Station (second image), with its interactive elements and striking landscape. I also in particular enjoyed the look of Underground Station (third image), although it's still under construction (as are others in small areas). Thanks to Anita Witt for reminding me about Cake—I hadn't been there in a very long time.