05 February 2016

Mainland Matters

Indeed I have posted a few times in this blog, now and then, about mainland places to visit, but I'll admit those times have been few and far between. I'm delighted to say that my partner, Kinnaird Fiachra (Kinn), has just launched her own travel blog to encourage broader exploration of those spaces, and, with thousands of sims sprawled across several continents, she has almost limitless material. So please add her new blog, Mainland Matters, premiering just today, to your reading list.

(Top image from the Second Life Wiki, copyright © 2007-2012 Linden Research, Inc., licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.)

31 January 2016

Onirica (images NSFW)

Now open, and presented by Black Label Exhibitions Corner, is Onirica (meaning "Dream" in English) by terrygold, whose premiere exhibition in December, Ceramic Dolls, demonstrated impressive technique and composition. In many cases with the images on display in Onirica, the artistic process began with a pose, around which were built objects and local lights, resulting in superb compositions that feature a female nude with a glistening porcelain-like white skin.

Not only are terry's images fresh and eye-catching: the spaces in which they are shown almost outshine them. (What might at first appear to be a single room isn't — be sure to step through the arrow at the far wall to enter the second gallery, and then repeat the process to find the third.) Exhibition designers are among the least publicly recognized people in the art world, but are among the most important, determining how we're going to experience works of visual art in ways that can often change our perceptions. In Onirica, terry has constructed three distinct spaces, the first (bathed in green — top and bottom images) arguably the most striking; the second (immediately above) covered with dark drips from the ceiling (be sure to try the red poseball); and the third a dark space that wraps around a brightly colored mobile. As we enter the second and third galleries, we're able to look back into the previous space. Visitors will notice that some images were taken in each of the three settings.

For optimal viewing experience, gallery visitors should manually select the Ambient Dark environmental setting (the parcel's setting is something else). Tips for terry may be left near the landing point. Onirica will remain on display until February 12.

30 January 2016

Cammino e Vivo Capovolto

Those who appreciate the artwork of Mistero Hifeng, a creator who has been mentioned many times in this blog, will want to consider a visit to Cammino e Vivo Capovolto, the half-sim on which he has rezzed many of his works in the style of a sculpture park. Standing in the barest amount of water and pelted by a gentle rain, the distinctive objects are set against a dramatic dark sky.

High above the ground is Mistero's store, and at that location it's possible to purchase the items on display and many others in addition, including a wide assortment of excellent photographs. A teleport is located near the landing point.

While Mistero's works are set on the south side of the sim, the north side is home to the venerable Ocho Tango (not pictured here), a beautifully designed dance club which, as its name suggests, specializes in tango. The two sides of the sim are remarkably well connected, and the windlight settings are as different as can be, so a view from one side into the other is worth the experience.

27 January 2016

The City

Officially opening on Sunday, January 31 at LEA27 at 1 pm slt, as part of a Linden Endowment for the Arts residency (but open now all the same), is The City by Betty Tureaud, an installation that exhibits a remarkable break from her recent works. Visitors are invited to explore a large celestial city, but one that reveals its secrets only when viewed with advanced lighting model on, and with projectors enabled. Then, Betty's trademark bright colors shine here and there on its otherwise placid shapes, highlighting its features. But to reach the city, we must first trek across a wide expanse of desert sand, following footprints until we reach a plane from which we can travel (image below).

The artist provides a brief poem to accompany The City:

I have packed my suitcase
walk out the door without looking back
Leaving hopelessness and take the bus
to the city

With the hope of a better life
I stand in the dust, waiting for the door to open
on the way to the city

My last money is used for a plane ticket
Hope and uncertainty awaits me in the foreign
I am on my way without looking back

As one explores, the environmental settings change, providing opportunities to see the lights move in darkness, and one will also encounter various sculptures, a few clearly based on the works of Henry Moore. Near the base of the highest tower, an elevator provides transportation to the pinnacle, and one can also reach heights by rezzing a plane in which to fly (accommodating two comfortably). Be sure as you explore to have local sounds turned up.

26 January 2016

Beginners

Now open is Beginners, a new installation by Cica Ghost. On this rocky island, dotted with small craters, elongated wild grasses sway in the breeze, a few flowers hiding among them, and a tall, narrow ridge sweeps from the southwest toward the northeast, clear across the sim. And it is on this ridge that the most distinctive feature of the build stands: two humorous caravans of five quirky houses each, both pulled by giant snails.

Or at least the snails are attempting to pull the caravans: their efforts seem to go nowhere, producing a Sisyphus-like scene in which their travel seems nearly impossible. "They are moving," explains Cica, "looking for new beginning. So, Beginners." As is typical with Cica's work, it's a playful setting that is sure to delight, but, by intention or not, might also remind one of the plight of displaced peoples around the world whose situations seem so helpless.

There are onlookers, too: monsters or "giant trolls" who live on the island. "They only watch," Cica added. "They are good, just a little ugly." Visitors wanting an aerial view of the scene can catch a ride on a small platform carried aloft by a heavily-patched balloon, and might also enjoy the view from the roofs of each of the houses, on which there are poses.

Visitors who explore carefully will find one more thing: "I made a secret spot," Cica said. "If you walk, you will find it." Shown in these images is the sim's default environmental settings; contributions toward its support may be left at the landing point or by visiting Cica's store.

25 January 2016

Field of Dreams

Explorers to Field of Dreams, a sim designed by Iska (Sablina), will no doubt take delight in its silvery, snow-covered landscape. Visitors arrive in the northeast corner at perhaps the most striking and dramatic scene — a modest house nestled between massive pillars of stone (image above), visible from both sides. Throughout the region, walkways and paths connect several small islands, and wind their way between various houses and buildings. An abundance of winter trees creates a bucolic, picturesque environment, here shown in its default windlight setting. A small area on the northwest corner of the sim is private, but otherwise all buildings and homes are open to the public.

24 January 2016

The Journey Home (images NSFW)

Now on display at the new Nitroglobus Hall (successor to the old Nitroglobus Gallery), curated by Dido Haas, is an exhibition of artworks by ini (in inaki) entitled The Journey Home. Each of the thirteen two-dimensional and emotionally charged images is impressively composed, merging Second Life textures with those from the physical world, and, while human figures are prominent in each image, they aren't always the focal point, as our eyes are more drawn to composition, line, shape and color.

"I have no idea how to talk about art, and am hopeless to express my self in words, so I do it with pictures," ini remarked as we discussed the exhibition. Three-dimensional artworks by the late Nitro Fireguard occupy spaces on the floor, his street lamps providing an interesting contrast to ini's telephone poles. The Journey Home will remain on display through February, and each of the images is available for purchase. Contributions to help sustain Nitroglobus Hall may be left at the landing point.

23 January 2016

Biomechanical

In April 2014, the extensive group exhibition The Golden Age of the Russian Avant-Garde (read here) included as one of its featured works the stunning Biomechanical by Jo Ellsmere. This carefully wrought dance installation has now been invited to Split Screen by curator Dividni Shostakovich. (Dividni adds that he looks forward to resurrecting the venue's visiting artist program, which closed in mid-2013.) Biomechanical isn't an easy work to re-stage — Jo explained to me that she has to re-enter a substantial amount of data as it moves from one site to another — so its run at Split Screen may be a rare opportunity to see it again.

As I said during the work's premiere: "It's Jo Ellsmere who steals the show. Still images cannot begin to convey what she has created, and even the brief video above [view here] will only provide a glimpse. By carefully scripting five avatars in elegant synchronized movement, she has not only explored biomechanics — a system of actor training introduced in the early 1920s by Russian actor, director and teacher, Vsevolod Meyerhold — she has created a stunning display of technical virtuosity with profound implications for dance, performance art and choreography in virtual spaces. Her human forms are at times one — although the overlapping textures remind us of the multiplicity within — and then unfold into five forms, whether slowly rippling apart or simply diverging, with breathtaking attention to detail and timing. While I have seen similar works by Jo in the past, they seem mere studies in comparison to this newer work, which alone is worth repeated visits." Biomechanical will remain on display through February.

22 January 2016

Through a Blogger's Eyes

Now open at the Art on Roofs gallery — and on display only until Sunday, January 24 (I'm quite late in covering this event) — is an exhibition of photography, Through a Blogger's Eyes, by Inara Pey, who is deservedly well known as one of Second Life's most active bloggers. (Her blog, Living in a Modemworld - Thoughts on Virtual Living, is beyond a doubt the most significant Second Life news source.) As one who travels widely, she has documented locations across the grid — from Frisland, The Colder Water, The Shire, Voile, Everlong, Whispering Wind, Kaleidoscope, to Asalia House and many other locations — in images that focus primarily on landscapes and architecture, capturing a wide range of beauty and creativity. (A machinima featuring Cica Ghost's Roots is also on display.)

"I don't classify myself a photographer or artist," Inara says modestly. "The images I create are intended to illustrate the travel and art sections of my blog ... As such, this exhibition, which Terrygold, Sniper [Siemens] and Elettra [Beardmore] kindly invited me to mount, is a reflection of those travels and the articles it has produced in the pages of my blog. In cataloguing regions and places in SL, I've been very fortunate to see some fabulous sights and meet some talented people, all of whom deserve recognition and time for their considerable work in creating places the rest of us can visit and enjoy. I hope these images spur you on to visit those you may not have previously visited." Each of the approximately twenty photographs is available for purchase for a very reasonable L$300.

21 January 2016

High Water

"It grows organically ... nothing planned," said Morton Funk of his sim High Water. "It's more of a home to me than anything else." Visitors may want to arrive in boots, as the sim lives up to its name, with hardly a speck of land to be seen — trees and grasses emerge from the water to dot the minimal landscape. A few horses languidly move about, and one can hop on to take a stroll (or a gallop by running).

The region's windlight, shown in these images, bathes the setting in a dramatic and rich sunset — "I made it for my first sim a few years ago," Morton explained to me and my partner, Kinn. Explorers will probably need to turn their draw distance up to fully appreciate the photogenic scene. Spots of repose for individuals or couples can be found here and there.