Behind the Avatar in Second Life

Club LA and Gallery: Behind the Avatar

Now open at the Club LA and Gallery, curated by Fuyuko ‘冬子’ Amano (Wintergeist), is Behind the Avatar, an exhibition of images by Panteleimon Aeon. On display are eleven pictures (one of which forms a free gift to visitors) by Pan, which present Second Life as it might be seen through the eyes of an avatar, and in which we’re being allowed to share.

Each picture features a setting and a solitary avatar – mainly Pan himself, although Like Dreaming of Angels  and …Through both clearly feature a female avatar, and  Isoldes Remorse might feature a woman under the hat and coat.

Club LA and Gallery: Behind the Avatar

The avatars are mainly presented from the rear or in a three-quarters profile from the rear. In this way, they are not necessarily the central focus of each piece – although our eyes are obviously drawn to them. Rather then become come a part of the image, blending, if you will, with their surroundings whilst also offering a glimpse of what they might be reflecting upon whilst looking at the scene themselves.

I was first introduced to Pan’s work by Sorcha Tyles. At the time I commented, “Pan’s work is visually striking, combining a sense of posed set piece with natural flavour. The result is that while each may well have been composed, so to could each have been easily caught as a moment from the subject’s life; a frozen instant of an unfolding story, the subject unaware they have been so captured.”

Club LA and Gallery: Behind the Avatar

This is again very much the case with the images in this selection, offering as they do a wonderful sense of depth, emotion, and feelings. Each very much carries a story within it, combining avatar and setting into a whole – whilst also allowing us to more metaphorical see from behind the avatar – and through the eyes of the artist himself.

As such, this is an expressive display, and a superb means to gain familiarity with Pan’s work for those who have not previously encountered it. Behind the Avatar can be found on the mezzanine area to the right of the main gallery entrance, with stair leading up to it from the garden end of the hall.

Club LA and Gallery: Visions – Kimeu Korg

While visiting, be sure to check Transitions by Myra Wildmist, which I reviewed at the end of October, and Visions by Kimeu Korg.

The latter is another set of studies of Second Life, often featuring and avatar or avatars, some of which are beautifully humorous, while others weave a story in the observer’s mind. All are beautifully executed and the exhibition as a whole should not be missed.

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Linden Lab: images, logos and IP

Image via lawdonut.co.uk

Update, December 14th, 10:07 UT: Linden Lab has issued an apology on the specific situation involving Strawberry. Included in the blog post is a broader statement concerning the use of their trademarks and the guidelines thereto, and how the Lab will be revising things somewhat for the future. 

The apology and statement are both welcome (not the least by Berry herself!), and kudos is offered to the Lab for openly admitting the error both reasonably quickly and positively.

 

As I was heading for bed last night, I caught a blog post by Strawberry Singh concerning  a trademark complaint she has received from Linden Lab.

Specifically, Berry was informed that a video tutorial she had produced a year ago had been found to be in violation of the Lab’s Trademark Guidelines. These guideline specify how terms like Second Life®, Blocksworld®, SL™ , InSL™, and the eye-in-hand logo might be used.

The guidelines are reasonably clear, and even include a point that journalists and media outlets have special permission to use these marks in articles, vis:

License for Press Use of the Second Life Eye-in-Hand Logo. We’ve given journalists and media outlets special permission to use the Second Life Eye-in-Hand Logo in published articles, blog entries, and news programs specifically about the Second Life virtual world, subject to our Guidelines and Terms and Conditions

Berry, as a blogger / vlogger, thought she was in compliance with the above requirement. The replies she’s had from the Lab – both through Tia Linden, the Lab’s IP Specialist, and other Lab personnel indicate this is not the case.

One possible way of looking at this issue – and according Linden Lab due fairness in their possible concerns – is that YouTube is a platform with a reach that goes well beyond that of a Second Life audience. As such there could be concerns about the use of the various logos and trademarks, etc., being seen as some form of “official” production  – or, were they to be used with other content related to Second Life – as an implied “endorsement” of products, activities, etc. However, were this the case, the matter could perhaps have been dealt with through a request for a suitable disclaimer to the start / end of the video and to its YouTube description.

Admittedly, this doesn’t cover concerns around licensing / monetisation which some might see as being a possible cause behind the notice being issued. But then, this doesn’t appear to be the Lab’s primary concern. Rather, as indicated in Tia’s e-mail – and underscored by the updates Berry has provided since I first read and responded to her post – is over the use of images from specific Second Life web properties and the use of a logo which had – according to the trademark guideline quoted above – previously been allowed. To quote from Tia’s e-mail response to Berry:

More specifically, we do not allow images of our avatar building page, home pages or Second Life Eye In Hand Logo to be used in any capacity. Please do not use images of any Second Life web pages or logos ( with the exception of our inSL logo noted at http://secondlife.com/corporate/brand/insl/#) in your video or any other work. You may provide a link to our website or registration page in your video if you wish.

Note the bold emphasis is mine, to underscore the specific issue: the statement that certain images and logos now cannot be use in any capacity.

If this is now the case, it is worrying for many of us who routinely blog about Second Life and have used such images and logos. I  have, for example, used the eye-in-hand logo in what I have believed to be in accordance with the trademark and branding requirements. Where do we now stand if we are now seeing a shift in position from Linden Lab? Are we now in violation of a new prohibition on image use? Are the various guidelines on trademark and brand use about to be revised? If so, how do such chances sit with conception such as Fair Use?

Of course it could come down to poor wording within an e-mail, and the underpinning reasons for the notice don’t extend beyond the one specific video. But if this is the case, then we should still be given further clarification on the use of images and logos.

I’ve written to Linden Lab raising these broader questions on the use of logos and images. Hopefully, I’ll receive a reply and will follow-up with a post should this be the case.

A poignant Second Life machinima for Christmas

Jenny’s Holy Night

Nikira Naimarc is a budding machinima maker who contacted me about her first film, Jenny’s Holy Night, asking me if I’d like to watch it.

When most of us would consider entering machinima cautiously, perhaps with a piece of a few minutes duration to test the waters publicly, Nikira went for something far more ambitious. At little under 20 minutes in length, Jenny’s Holy Night easily qualifies as a mini movie.  And it is a moving piece.

“It is a Christmas video, Nikira told me, when she contacted me. “It’s based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Little Match Girl. We premièred in November, and I’ve had very positive feedback.”

First published in 1845, The Little Match Girl is the sad tale of a poor little girl attempting to sell matches on New Year’s Eve. Ignored by the passing people, she is too afraid to go home lest her father beats her. Instead, she sleeps in the cold, dreaming of better times – times she may never see.

For Jenny’s Holy Night, Nikira has updated the story to a modern setting and has moved it to the days leading up to Christmas, with the little girl now an orphan trying to sell little Christmas wreaths she has made to unsympathetic shoppers, concerned only with their own needs.

Made with the support of Die Villa video, who have also made available on YouTube through their channel, Jenny’s Holy Night is a poignant tale. It is a reminder that “the season of giving” can be especially hard for those who don’t have the luxury of having the money to give in order to receive what they need; that that all too easily exist unseen and outside of the excitement of the holiday season – until it is too late.

Please take the time to watch the film below, and if you appreciate it, do consider leaving a comment for Nikira here or on the film’s YouTube page.

The beauty of a snowflake in Second Life

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug – click any image for full size

“Snefnug is Danish for ‘snowflake’. Welcome to our home in the Arctic circle.” So reads the description for the midwinter landscape of Snefnug, a Homestead region designed by Stella Pelous (Stella Mahogany).

Danish it might be, but with the high peaks of snowy mountains surrounding it, Snefnug is – as the description suggests – perhaps representative of a landscape somewhat further to the north in Scandinavia. Covered in a heavy blanket of snow, the region offers a relatively flat landscape within the bowl formed by the surrounding mountains, from which it is separated by water. This water also cuts into the land to form a deep inlet running from the west, which faces a channel reaching to the open sea beyond the mountains.

The landing point is at the eastern extreme of this inlet, looking out over the water and snow falls from a hazy sky. To the north and south, fingers of land point outwards, linked by a wooden bridge spanning a narrow sliver of water which extends a little further inland from the bay, its passage eventually stopped by the trunk of a mighty oak tree.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

The bridge is guarded at either end by wooden gatehouses, strong A-frames supporting steeply sloping roofs. But the gates are thrown wide, allowing free passage across the water, rather than forcing visitors to trudge through the snow and around the great oak. Whether you head south across the bridge or turn north and west along the northern side of bay is entirely up to you.

Should you head north, the way will take you past a track leading the way to a barn where fir-trees are being sold for Christmas, while a barn heated by a stove and cosy gazebo lit by a warm fire body offer very different places to sit and pass the time. Through a woodland of denuded birch trees, fir-trees and oaks, sits a studio cabin of modern design, warmly furnished – but with doors locked.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

Across the bay, on the southern shore, sits a boathouse and quays, the rooms above the boathouse unfurnished, but the building itself offering an imposing shoreline presence. Behind it, a track runs by a snowed-in carousel to a little café with a fireside terrace – the perfect place to enjoy a hot drink while exploring.

The land around and to the north of the café is a mix of open, snow-covered ground, woods, and a tree-lined avenue, inviting exploration. Deer roam the land here, and all routes eventually bring you to another house, roofs laden with thickly laying snow, but doors unlocked and inviting people inside. A short distance to the east, a set of stone stairs wind up one of the region’s two highland areas – a flat-topped plateau of rock on which sits a chapel. A second plateau sits close by, but doesn’t offer a way up its vertical sides.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

Those who enjoy walking in winter wonderlands will doubtless enjoy a visit to Snefnug, it is a delightful, open place with plenty of opportunities for photography, exploring and sitting – whether on your own or with a friend or close one. Do keep an eye out for all the little touches with the wildlife around the place from the bird-riding mouse and his (her?) companion to the raccoon family enjoying an outing in the snow.

Another picturesque winter seasonal regions well worth a visit.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

SLurl Details

  • Snefnug (Callisto Bay, rated: Moderate)