17 April 2014

Spanish Wells

There are surfing sims in Second Life, and then there is Spanish Wells, owned by shannon Cardalines, who recently commissioned noted artist Cica Ghost to create a unique landscape. It's always nerve-wracking as an artist or landscape designer to create a space for someone else, because you know that changes to your original design or concept are inevitable, but this seems to have been a happy partnership, and the result is remarkable and unique.

From overhead, the land is roughly a crescent moon in shape, wrapping around a central area where surfing is the thing to do. For the beach, Cica has created things out of sand — castles that remind one of Little Village, a slowly moving figure with shovel — in addition to her curious trees, flowers, grasses, birds, fishing nets and other little oddities that cluster here and there. (A couple of the sand castles seem to be partially washed away.)

Of course, this is a beach sim, and so, in addition to Cica's striking landscape, there's a purely recreational aspect to it. Near the landing point you'll spot a hang glider that you can use to sail the skies, and then naturally there's the surf: just head to to the beach and click on the quirky flowerpot, which rezzes surfboards. The SSI is probably the best for starters (lowest image here), and there's one for couples (the LSD Tandem). If you haven't surfed before, just paddle out to the waves, turn to catch one, and your board should do the rest. Ingwë Weames has programmed a special music channel just for the sim, so check that out while you're visiting too.

16 April 2014

Ghost Castle

Now open at Italian Square, and presented by Italian Square and Tanalois Art, is Ghost Castle by Fuschia Nightfire, a highly interactive installation inspired by Fuschia's real life artwork at Corfe Castle, located in Dorset on England's southern coast. Begun by William the Conqueror in the 11th century and greatly modified in the 12th and 13th centuries, the castle stood strong until its destruction following capture by Cromwell's forces in 1646.

If you arrive at Ghost Castle and you're the only person in the area, the installation will reflect the look of how the castle now appears in real life, with the stronghold and remains of the keep firmly planted on the hillside. We're told that, "In her RL guise of Nina Camplin, Fuschia was commissioned to do some mural work at the [nearby] model village and whilst working there, she became inspired to make this installation, showing the present day remains of the castle which, when an avatar walks into it, rebuilds to its former majestic glory."

And so it does: as you approach parts of the castle, what's no longer there in real life suddenly appears before you, and gradually you get a sense of what the entire majestic structure must have been: walls, towers, staircases, ramparts, battlements. As you move away, these phantom pieces fade away again, and so unless a number of people are exploring simultaneously you're not likely to see all the pieces assembled at once. It's quite delightful to explore.

Navigation can at first be a little perplexing: some areas are solid and some phantom (necessary because as things rez you have to be able to move out of them), so just keep walking and climbing (or flying, which is often best). Be sure to set your draw distance up considerably—you'll often want to zoom out to see the effects of your movements—and also be sure your object detail (or LoD) is at least 4. Fuschia's work suggests interesting possibilities for virtual historical recreations, and I hope to see more like it.

14 April 2014


Officially opening this week (and open now for a sneak peek) is a new sim created by Jac Mornington and Romy Eara Rosea, Santaurio, meaning sanctuary. You'll have to brace yourself for a rough landing when you arrive — as did the survivors of a horrific plane crash (image above) — but you're one of the lucky ones, and luckier still to have landed at a tropical paradise. The tranquil beaches that wrap around the island hide a lush jungle interior and places to explore.

At the beach near the landing point, you'll spot the ruins of a theatre, and, nearby, ancient Mayan ruins, now entangled with vines. A small waterway that cuts through the beach and flows from the center of the island is your path inward, first through cypress and then toward a pool with resplendently clear water that flows down from a series of cascading waterfalls (third image). As you push into the interior you'll discover the shell of a volcano, now dormant, its rippling pond filled with lotus, bird of paradise and lilies, with the Buddha quietly overlooking the scene, "like a little temple," as Romy explained (fourth image).

Along the shore, you'll discover the beach club (captured a bit in the second image), "made out of mostly junk, like stuff you would find washed ashore," remarked Romy — it's the "central area to meet with friends or meet new people, talk, party." There's also a section of beach where turtles lumber from the sea to nest, as well as a few other tiny secluded spots that dot the shore.

As much as the sim is for exploring and hanging out, it also a place for lovers: as Jac says, "The sim has an adult theme to it." Hidden here and there — and you'll really have to find them by exploring — are built-in animations for a little risqué fun. Jac and Romy built the sim just for their own enjoyment — this wasn't work for a client — "We hope people will feel the love, the peace and harmony here," Romy told me. For a week or so Santaurio will be open to the public, but after that time you'll need to join a group for entrance (and more information on that will be available at the landing point).

13 April 2014

Roll of the Dice

Opening today, Sunday, April 13 at 1 pm slt at the MBK Gallery, curated by Asmita Duranjaya, is Roll of the Dice by Haveit Neox, an installation that investigates environmental issues. In each of the six nooks of the intimate gallery, the artist has created a small artwork to represent an environmental gamble: human population (overpopulation with resulting depletion of resources), earth changes (human induced climatic change), deforestation (losing biodiversity), ozone depletion, acid rain and 160 dead zones in the oceans, in addition to a seventh area (the "seventh face on a six sided die") on the back wall of the gallery on species extinction. Haveit's vignettes blend in seamlessly with the gallery environment, even extending up onto the ceiling, and an explanatory notecard provides more information. Roll of the Dice will remain on display through May.

12 April 2014

Heartseed: The Wild Side

Now open at LEA6 is Heartseed: The Wild Side by Jedda Zenovka, created as part of the Full Sim Art Series and on display through April 30. Visitors who have enjoyed Jedda's personal space, Heartseed (about which I wrote here several months ago) will see an immediate aesthetic connection. I don't usually post entire artist statements, but in this case it's warranted, as Jedda describes her work so aptly: "One of the things I love about creating in this medium is that you can express the energy so easily.

"Animism is the spiritual belief that everything is alive. I try to recreate this within the digital domain. Cybertech designs that fuse naturally with organic forms; water, sounds, plant-creatures, interdimensional entities that blend into the ocean forest ecology of my environments so that it is impossible to tell where one ends and another starts.

"Take a wander through a textured cyboriginal landscape which evokes healing emotions and crystallises into moving, living sculptures; descriptions of ideas and experiences inspired by both human life of aspirations and necessities and with the practicality of hands-on permaculture in the rain forest.

"While our minds and imagination evolves into the digital domain, our hands and naked feet remember the earth and other elements from which we are made. Dreamtime in this sense is the crossing over of two worlds; vision becomes solid and solid becomes visionary. It is instinct and the heart which guide us into and through this journey. The freshness of water, the spirit of a particular plant or mineral, is crafted into new form; the artist becomes the living conduit through which such essences express themselves.

Reach for the stars . .. Put your hands in Earth!"

Today, Saturday, April 12, Jedda continues the festivities on the sim with sixteen hours of DJs, beginning at 1 pm slt and continuing through Sunday at 5 am slt, so stop by if you haven't already had a chance to visit. When you arrive, click on the whitest of the images that surround you to receive a free and fun gift.

10 April 2014

Gallery Ai

Several days ago, artist Betty Tureaud opened a new space, Gallery Ai, on the Danish Visions sim, and it will serve as a showcase for her works as well as those by other artists. On the ground level stands a gallery housing primarily two-dimensional works and some smaller sculptures — currently on display are items by Jenn Villota, Avoid Clarity, Trill Zapatero, Amona Savira, Ronda Saunders, Gem Preiz, Tigre Milena, Mel Schaller, Talullah Winterwolf, Fae Varriale, Kira Westland, Annouk Gourdou, Mathilde Vhargon and Igor Ballyhoo (click on any image to receive a notecard) — while an outdoor sculpture park is hosting works by Mikati Slade, Celestine Ghiardie, Igor Ballyhoo, and Betty Tureaud.

Overhead are a number of larger artworks by Betty, and to reach these simply click on the rocket, which will teleport you up to the first location, which features an enormous torus into which you can climb to explore. ("I never gave that one a name," laughed Betty when I asked what to call it.) To continue on your journey locate the rocket, and teleport to Atlas "holding the new world — the information world" (second image). From here you can step outside to find another rocket, but first you should click on the small blue ball, which takes you on a detour to nuage tunnel spacio temporel, a work co-created by Betty and Shenn Coleman (third image) — just stand up there to fall back to Atlas.

Your next stop will be Gaia, a work from the LEA installation of the same name, and then the rocket over her will take you up to Life Is a Tumbler. After dropping down through several levels (you'll see), you'll eventually end in The Circuit (lowest image), which is your last stop before returning to the ground. I'm including slurls here you so you can also visit these works directly. Many of the installations are most enjoyable with a friend, so bring a guest or two when you visit.

09 April 2014

Carnival of Architecture

For years, the Paper Tower has stood high over the ACC Alpha sim, where architect Haveit Neox builds and creates. Reaching about 175 meters into the sky, it dominates the skyline, but as of tomorrow (April 10), on its fourth anniversary, it will disappear, to be replaced with the Paper Observatory that Haveit unveiled on LEA25 in January as part of the Interim Project. At 2 pm slt, a Carnival of Architecture will begin with a parade, and then at about 2:20 to 2:30 vendors will be set up that will allow the purchase of wearable architectural objects (domes, cages, pillars and so on) so that you can join the fun.

As Haveit says, "Visitors to the event can click for free architectural attachments and choose to wear their selections, fly around dressed in walls, pillars and domes, and by joining other participants, build their own humorous version of an Observatory. For the finale, the new Paper Observatory [shown below in its LEA25 configuration] will descend onto the festive revelers, bringing the anniversary into a raucous collaboration of performance art." While you're enjoying the Carnival, be sure to explore the remainder of the sim, which is rich with history and things to discover.

Transit't: Taciturnly

Now open at LEA10 is Transit't: Taciturnly by Selavy Oh, who had been invited by curator Mimesis Monday (who also contributed to the installation) to investigate silence. Set on a wide flat sim in which the ground barely emerges from the water, the installation's most prominent feature are hundreds of "silent flakes" — large white spheres that slowly fall from sky the to the ground, where they gradually vanish below the earth or sea. It reminded me of that sort of beautiful silence one can experience in watching snow gently fall. You'll find a clearing of sorts in the center of the sim, from which vantage point you can look out to watch the activity encircle you.

But not everyone found that experience pleasurable — Honour McMillan had quite the opposite reaction, saying, "For the first time in my life I started to feel both trapped and completely helpless." And the scene on the eastern edge of the sim is indeed disturbing: a group of figures who seem to be experiencing some moment of panic or horror (image above), and an accompanying text reads: "The silence of the belt when it is not striking the child." This part of the installation is actually a contribution by Mimesis Monday, and the silence here is certainly not one of tranquility.

I don't know which artist suggested the text for the parcel description, but it's taken from Edgar Allan Poe's 1849 poem "For Annie," in which the speaker, now deceased, says he's now free of "lingering illness" (meaning life itself). His lover, Annie, looks on, thinking he's dead, while he continues to profess his love for her.

      The moaning and groaning,
         The sighing and sobbing,
      Are quieted now,
         With that horrible throbbing
      At heart:—ah, that horrible,
         Horrible throbbing!

Taciturnly will remain on display for several weeks and is the second in a three-part series, the first of which was Transit't: Your breath was shed. The third part, to focus on Personality, will be created by Alpha Auer.

08 April 2014

Alpha Tribe

Many readers may be familiar with Alpha Tribe's fantastic and fanciful avatars (about which I'll write more soon — I think of these creations as wearable artwork), created by Alpha Auer and her alternate personas Grapho Fullstop, Alpho Fullstop, Xiamara Ugajin and Amina Diavolo. Alpha is also the creator of standalone works such as the recently opened Blueprint City, stationed high above the Alpha Tribe sim, and 5555555 55555 555, which was included in a group exhibition at an LEA sim curated by Giovanna Cerise last year.

After completing Blueprint City, Alpha turned her attention to the ground level of the Alpha Tribe sim, and it's now open and awaiting visitors. In contrast to the evocative gold, emerald and black world of Blueprint City, the ground level largely explores black and white, with only occasional bursts of color (stunning nonetheless, with exquisitely wrought textures), and presents a collection of various smaller artworks that co-exist admirably as a cohesive whole. The aforementioned 5555555 55555 555 (top image) is among them, as are the Cage, Bowie's Garden (lowest image), Candy Cane (second image), Cone House, Construct, Azimuth and Cypher (a pair), Fern House, RGB, Ship of Fools, Dot Matrix, 20 Below, Miii-Rooo, Pastorale, The Enchanted Forest and the Tower of Heteronyms (detail, third image). (A couple of these are in sky spheres as part of an intermediate level that Alpha may add to, and there was an additional place Alpha showed me called Scaffold, but I've track of it!)

Some of these small vignettes (or "follies" as Alpha likes to call them) are associated with avatars — for example, when you visit the Grid House you'll see a vendor for the Alpha Loves Grids avatar, or when visiting Miii-Rooo you'll find an avatar of the same name, inspired by Miró. These supplement the selection of avatars you'll spot near the landing point, and more are available at the Alpha Tribe store in Insilico, which offers a more comprehensive assortment. As you travel about and explore, be sure to have local sounds turned up — many of the follies have associated soundscapes. Alpha has turned on object rezzing for sixty minutes. I'm sure contributions are welcome, but instead you can just buy one or more of the avatars enjoy your new look!

07 April 2014

A Taste of Minimal

Now open at the Gallery Art4U Veriditas, founded by Michiel Bechir and Sharona Romano, is an exhibition of images by Melusina Parkin entitled A Taste of Minimal. Frequent readers of this blog will be familiar with my admiration for Melusina's work, which highlights the lines and light in the world around us, inviting us to see our environment in new ways. In this gallery space, which is more like a small house, the sixteen images are on the small side, but the home is cozy and invites us to linger and socialize. The works are all available for sale, and a tip jar is located at the immediate entrance.