29 January 2015

Borderlines

Now open at LEA24 is Borderlines, a creation by Lemonodo Oh. It's not typical of what one might expect to find on an LEA sim — at least it might not strike one as "art" in the usual sense, even for those with a broad definition — and is rather more of an experiment in terrain. It's easy to create terrain in Second Life that varies in texture by using region tools and playing with texture elevation ranges. But let's say you wanted to recreate a very specific real life environment, where the textures have to fall in exactly the right spots. Lemonodo has done just that, replicating a slice of California coastline (which you can see as you arrive, or look here) by mapping images onto 64x64 meter pieces of mesh, sculpted to take on the appropriate elevation and curvature. The result is a sweeping vista, an interesting but not precisely literal recreation: the starting texture is, after all, a two dimensional map.

Lemonodo was inspired by the work of Vanessa Blaylock, who happens to be working next door at LEA23, and who often organizes crazy and very enjoyable multi-sim walks. "Vanessa has a project about walking," says Lemonodo, "and somehow because of her interest in that, I came up with defining a three-dimensional study area of a coastal region in maps and translated it to 64 sq m meshes and flat prims as appropriate. There are numerous borderlines associated with the project, which came out to be less conceptual than my original vision to accommodate walking, but in the end, the concept hasn't suffered much." As you explore the sim, you'll discover some images (taken by Lemonodo) that appear as you approach: closeups of the rocks and other areas, and he tells me that he'll set up a flickr stream to hold additional photographs. I was surprised to find, at the landing point, media on a prim — the magnificent 1977 opera Neither by Morton Feldman and Samuel Beckett. Lemonodo explained that he uses ambient music in his gallery but "Morton Feldman takes it up a notch." Enjoy the 50 minute long opera if you have the time.

27 January 2015

Prehistorica: The Dawn Kingdom

Ah, the good old days when triceratops roamed, plesiosaurus prowled the seas and pteranodons glided through the skies. If you have a hankering for those Cretaceous or Jurassic Period giants, head over to Prehistorica: The Dawn Kingdom, where you can live out your days as if it were tens of millions of years ago. You're also welcome to visit as a human, but be careful that you're not devoured by a tyrannosaurus (as I'm about to be in the image above) or speared by a triceratops (next image).

Don't have a dinosaur avatar? You're in luck, because plenty are available for sale right there, including a free sample. The mesh animals are remarkably detailed, are gigantic, move quite naturally and include easy-to-use HUDs for roaring, eating and so on. And to start your journey you do, of course, have to travel backwards in time, swirling through a time vortex of some sort, and it's a delight (next image) — I repeated by trip several times just for fun.

Of course, you don't need to be in Prehistorica to enjoy the full benefits of your newfound avatar. I don't think I'll ever forget the moment I (as an apatosaurus) strolled down Route 66 through Bay City past the Brewery, much to the general bemusement of its inebriated occupants. And just to show the size of these things relative to objects in a "regular" sim environment, I've posed below with AM Radio's iconic locomotive at The Far Away, one of my favorite spots to wander in prehistoric garb.

25 January 2015

Otium

"Get away from your necessities and obligations and slip into the intellectual leisure of the creative dimension," begin the parcel description for Otium, a sim designed by Franz Markstein. Visitors are greeted by a large, expansive beach, replete with chairs and umbrellas, that looks out over calm waters. Within view of the beach lie five isolated islands, one of which is an off-limits rental property.

Overlooking the beach, set on a high stone plateau, is an intimate village (middle image) in an old European style that offers five shops (Franz's shop, Otium, being among them) and also a number of rental homes (only one being available as Franz and I chatted). Overall the sim imparts a sort of idyllic laziness, the sort of place that really invites you to do nothing other than park yourself in a beach chair, alone or with a friend, and gaze out to sea. Photographers will also enjoy the sim's natural beauty.

20 January 2015

Umbral Photography

If you're hunting for a photogenic location, one that affords both landscapes and beautiful interior views, then Umbral Photography might be the place, designed by Coqueta Veeper (Coqueta Georgia) and owned by her and vlady Veeper. Several islands, defined by massive rocks that jut from the ground, are home to dwellings, small buildings and delicate winter trees, some white and some black. And the building interiors are carefully designed and well appointed — I took a liking to an assortment of books on a coffee table (middle image).

For photographers and other visitors, rezzing is turned on, although I'm sure the sim owners will appreciate those who tidy up after themselves. (vlady said to me invitingly, "Feel free to do whatever you want here.") Umbral Photography is only the southern half of the sim of Hydra Isles; the northern section (seamlessly connected by landscape) is Umbral, "a small place for those who like BDSM or the D/S relationship," where the predominant language is Spanish. You're welcome to travel here, too, but just be aware of the theme in case that lifestyle isn't your cup of tea.

19 January 2015

Moya's Memory

Now open at MetaLES, curated by Ux Hax, Lanjran Choche and Romy Nayar, is Moya's Memory, an installation by artist Patrick Moya (a.k.a. Moya Janus). In "real life," Moya is an artist based in Nice, France — a replica of his house (inside and out) in on display in this exhibition — and he maintains three sims of his artwork in Second Life. Here, in this almost dizzying installation, we're treated to a mix of his real and virtual artwork — indeed, Moya really seems to make no distinction between the two, with some of his real life work reflecting virtual space, and his real life artworks appearing throughout Moya's Memory.

The center of the build is a huge printed circuit board, literally Moya's memory, over which textures move in every direction. And surrounding the PCB, in rolling snow covered hills, are different aspects of his prolific work: figurines and puppets, prints and drawings, media, and so on, along with elements that influence or inform his artistic process. I'm not sure how many times the name "Moya" is depicted (it's everywhere), but it comes off as more playful than egotistical. (If you're interested in learning more about Moya, Wikipedia has an informative entry here.) Moya's Memory will remain open for approximately two months.

17 January 2015

William Weaver's Build 009 - Girl in a Window (slightly nsfw)

Last month, I rezzed William Weaver's Light Build 001 overhead Babele Fashion (read here), and now I've additionally rezzed his Build 009 - Girl in a Window ("Minus some minor parts," says William). When you arrive, you'll find yourself (the teleport gods be willing) in a tiny enclosed space with an open window on the west wall, and the image of a window on the inside of the east wall. If you have advanced lighting on, with shadows, and you're familiar with using Firestorm's Phototools or at least working with environmental settings, you might be able to achieve some interesting photographic results.

Unlike Build 001, this one doesn't focus on projected colors but rather sunlight or moonlight projected in from outside. For these images, I've used several different Phototools windlight settings, and have moved the sun to near dusk (providing almost horizontal light) and then focused the east angle to bring the sun through the open window. We have rezzing turned on in the sim, so you're welcome to add a prop or two — just please clean up when you're finished. I look forward to seeing what others might create.

15 January 2015

Lives of the Monster Dogs

Now on display at LEA6, as part of the Linden Endowment for the Arts Full Sim Art Series, is Lives of the Monster Dogs, an installation by Vilvi Rae that celebrates the furry community in Second Life. "'Furries' have been part of Second Life right from the beginning," explains Vilvi. "This colourful fandom of anthropomorphic animal characters reaches beyond virtual worlds, including large and varying creative talent. Lives of the Monster Dogs (name borrowed from Kirsten Bakis' enchanting novel) is an exhibition presenting that creativity, an attempt to give a glimpse of the furry community, showcasing some of the hidden talent it holds in its paws and claws."

The two-dimensional images are, as Vilvi said, from outside Second Life, but there are links to some of his excellent inworld machinima as well. I must admit to not having found myself very interested in the images (not against furries at all) despite the obvious curatorial care. The exhibition environment, on the other hand, is stunning: a series of platforms connected by delicately curved walkways formed by prims of increasing or decreasing depth, inspired by the work of Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Lives of the Monster Dogs will remain on view through January.

12 January 2015

Mistero Hifeng at LEA29

There's something inherently emotionally arresting about Mistero Hifeng's works: figures that seem captured in a moment of time, sometimes in pairs, sometimes alone, and often in a disquieting pose, as if something painful is occurring. Indeed, often some part or piece of the figure is literally in pieces, flying away, as if we're witnessing an explosion from the inside, thrusting bits of heads, limbs or torsos into the surrounding space. (I suppose one could argue the reverse, that the pieces are coalescing, actually coming together to form the figures, but somehow I don't think that's what we're seeing.)

Now, at LEA29, a substantial selection of Mistero's works are on display. While most are pre-existing, individual, stand-alone works, the sim has been designed to unify them to reasonably good effect. (I'm not sure the grand pianos really add much to this otherwise unworldly scene.) Mistero, who tells me that he creates his objects in Cinema 4D, also maintains a sim of his own which includes a shop — a landmark to that location is available at the landing point.

11 January 2015

Timeless Memories

Plenty of wintery sims have opened their doors in Second Life the past couple months, but none quite achieves the ethereal beauty of Timeless Memories, designed by Elvira Kytori: pale blues and greens, lavender, periwinkle, pinks, gold and shimmering white meet the eye in every direction. Small stretches of forested land barely emerge from the water that embraces the snowy region, connected by wooden boardwalks that snake about, guiding the visitor from one area to another.

At different turns, one encounters little vignettes such as the middle image, along with charming homes and places to play, all emerging as one approaches through the green-grey mist that envelopes the sim. If you're a photographer, you might enjoy posting your images on the sim's flickr group. I asked Elvira about a statement in the sim's description — "As I am unsure how long I will keep this sim let me know if you would be interested." — and she replied that she might consider a transfer to the right person, but that it would be difficult to give it up, and one can easily see why. Contributions may be left at the landing point.

10 January 2015

Second Life Geography Institute

We often see Second Life maps on the web or within the viewer, but seeing the grid expanded under one's own feet is a different experience. At the Second Life Geography Institute (SLGI), Ana (Anaimfinity) provides just that, with an exploded map on which you can walk around (or just stretch out for a nap, as I did below). The grid being the grid, dynamic changes dictate that what we see here — the maps appear to be about a year old — is no doubt out of date, but the larger continents of Sansara, Jeogeot, Heterocera Atoll, Satori, and so on are likely unchanged. (If you're looking for poor orphaned Zindra, it sits off to the side, unconnected to the larger map.) The SLGI, which was built in early 2014 but seems unfinished (there are other areas to explore overhead the map), connects to the Second Life Railroad (SLRR) that winds through more than 80 regions in the Heterocera Atoll continent.