Assis in April: masks, cards and reflections on the world

You Wear That Face, Assis Art Galley
You Wear That Face, Assis Art Galley

I dropped into Assis Art Gallery as a result of discovering a lapsed notice of an installation opening there at the start of the month. Curated by Joaopedro Oh, the gallery is currently home to four exhibitions for the month of April (and possibly longer), three of the photographic, and the last a 3D exploration of identity.

The various exhibits are displayed in different levels within the gallery space, and a teleport is required to move between some of them – look for the blue mask in the lobby and temporary building levels.

Hikaru Enimo, Assis Art Gallery
Hikaru Enimo, Assis Art Gallery

Located in the gallery’s lobby area is a small exhibition of photo art by Hikaru Enimo. These are quite exquisitely rendered, and occupy a space towards the back of the lobby space. Small though it may be, the works on display are worth casting a very close eye over, as they really are marvellous life studies.

In the Gallery’s “temporary building” area are two exhibitions which can be viewed without the need to teleport between them.

Gatekeeper Gustafson, Assis Art Gallery
Gatekeeper Gustafson, Assis Art Gallery

The first is a series of real life studies by Gatekeeper Gustafson. This as another stunning display, with some of the pieces containing two images each which are displayed in turn for around 30 seconds apiece. The themes for the photographs, whether paired like this or individually framed, are diverse, as are the post-processed finishes evident in some, making for a fascinating display of studies and subjects, which again rightly demand time to be appreciated.

Alongside of this, just down the stairs. is a further exhibit called Playing Cards, by Edward Nussbaum. This comprises images set as the face cards from a deck of cards, together with the joker and ace. The face cards and aces are displayed in sets of four, each image in a set representing one of the four suits in a card deck.  There is a high level of  nudity in the images presented in this display, together with sexual themes and a degree of homoeroticism, so be prepared!

Edward Nussbaum, Assis Art Gallery
Edward Nussbaum, Playing Cards, Assis Art Gallery

Accessible via teleport, Blue Tsuki’s installation is called You Wear That Face, and is a simple but effective exploration of identity. Blue describes the piece thus:

We all wear masks. In SL we present ourselves with a mask every day. In this landscape find a hole in the ocean, armillary spheres of orbiting electrons, shafts of memory and our masks. “You Wear That Face” is a nexus, a vortex, an analogue of neurons and a self-reflexive look at our mask in a sideways dream.

You Wear That Face, Assis Art Galley
You Wear That Face, Assis Art Galley

This is a mix of physical elements and particle displays which combine to from a dream-like space with a lavender-coloured ocean flowing into a central vortex (which you’re standing over when you arrive), and over which golden armillary spheres float.

A spiral of prims descends into the vortex beneath you, images flickering across them in rapid succession, perhaps representative of the many masks we wear within SL (and life itself?). Around the spiral sit four rectangular shafts and four masks each within a pattern of particles. These are interactive pieces – click to sit on them – which place you either looking out from behind one of the masks – again, the reference to identity – or floating at the mouths of the shafts and looking down onto old photographs – our shafts of memory.

You Wear That Face, Assis Art Galley
You Wear That Face, Assis Art Galley

There is not set order for viewing the exhibits, so you can visit them as your muse takes you. If you do start from either the lobby or temporary building, watch out of the Assis Art Gallery signs – these will furnish you with a notice on the exhibitions and news of the gallery. If you visit you Wear That Face first, the teleport is the small red inverted pyramid in the centre of the vortex (under your feet on arrival).

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The Drax Files Radio Hour 13: terms and conditions

The Drax Files Radio Hour 13 features Richard Goldberg, artist, creator, member of MadPea Productions (and a personal friend, I’ll say that up front 🙂 ), talking about the Linden Lab Terms of Service. As just about everyone is aware, these were changed in August of 2013, only to cause considerable upset and furore once the specifics of the changes – notably section 2.3 – became apparent.

Ahead of Richard, however, the show features a follow-up chat (3:30 into the show) with Dennis Harper, Senior Product Manager at OnLive, discussing OnLive’s revised pricing structure for their SL Go service (alongside a huge expansion of the number of countries in which the service is available). While pointing out that the service has met with an overwhelming thumbs-up in terms of the added accessibility it brings to Second life for those on the move, he frankly admits that it was clear pricing was an issue.

SL Go: pricing restructure discussed
SL Go: pricing restructure discussed

The company actually moved rapidly in this regard as well. While we were asked not to make any public statements at the time, those of us involved in the preview programme (and, I assume those in the closed beta), were asked to complete a survey and provide feedback and thoughts pricing options and points. There were also some direct exchanges with a number of us on the matter as well.

From Dennis’ feedback, it seems those who did respond to the survey may have been indicating roughly the same amount for a monthly subscription (I suggested $15.00-$20.00 in the survey, with the lower figure being comparable to the company’s CloudLift monthly subscription), with the result that the company opted to go even lower, with the $9.95 charge, while retaining the pay-as-you-go (PAYG) option (which again, I personally felt was important and offered the greatest flexibility of appeal if offered alongside a subscription plan), which has also been dropped to a flat rate of $1.00 per hour.

An important point of note with the subscription mechanism is that it commitment-free. If you sign-up to the subscription service and find that you’re not using the service less than 10 hours a month, you can switch-over to the PAYG model. Similarly, if you start-out on the PAYG model, you can swap to the subscription model if you find it more cost-effective – then swap back, if your usage time then decreases; any unused hours you have under the PAYG plan will be “banked” for you until you switch back.

I’d actually asked OnLive about the status of SL Go for the iOS platform, but Dennis covers that topic in the interview ahead of my getting feedback from OnLive, saying that is it coming, but is still a little way down the road. He also manages to get-in a plug for the OnLive CloudLift service, which also launched at the same time as SL Go.

Richard A. Goldberg
Richard A. Goldberg

Richard’s interview comes at around the 21:30 mark, starting with Drax reading from Section 2.3 of the August 2013 Linden Lab Terms of Service, and specifically Section 2(.3).

Richard and I have been, and without going into specifics, very closely involved in matters relating to the Terms of Service since the changes were made. As such, I’ve come to respect his position and viewpoint – which admittedly, has been pretty closely aligned to my own. As such, this is an interview I’ve been looking forward to hearing since Drax indicated he’d be talking to Richard some three weeks ago.

Richard makes a very strong case as to why the ToS as we have it today goes too far. In essence, this can be defined in a single term: lack of limitations. There might actually reasons why the Lab may wish to extend their existing ToS – such as to offer content creators additional routes to market within the Lab’s stable of properties (such as through Desura), should creators wish to do so, or to make services like SL Go (whose servers must be able to cache data, much as the viewer does, on your behalf).

However, there appears to be no reason why, even allowing for these situations, the Terms of Service need to have a perpetual, unlimited scope or purpose. As Richard states – and the handful of IP and Copyright lawyers I’ve spoken to agree with him – it should be a relatively straightforward matter to sit down look at the ToS wording and revise it in such a way that allows the Lab to meet all reasonable goals and expectations required of their services and platforms and provide a comforting degree of limitation for content creators and artists  with regards to the licences assigned to the Lab (and their sub-licensees) in terms of the scope, purpose and duration of said licences.

Beyond the immediate issue of the ToS situation, Richard paints a very good picture of the broader issues of rights and copyright and the increasingly uphill battle artists and creators face. In this regard, I would recommend anyone wanting to better understand matters listen to this entire interview and consider listening to the views of Agenda Faroment and Tim Faith as recorded in these pages through my transcripts of the October 2013 ToS discussion panel on the ToS, and the SLBA March 2014 Copyright & Fair Use presentation.

Outside of these two items, there’s the inevitable mention of VR headsets, plus pointers to the various links on the web page itself. In reference to one of these – the Petrovsky Flux – I’d also point to my article on the subject and also Ziki Questi’s update, both of which should provide further information on matters.

A final case, alien encounters and faerie legends

It’s time to kick-off another week of fabulous story-telling in Voice, brought to Second Life by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library SL.

As always, all times SLT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.

Sunday April 6th,13:30: Tea-time at Baker Street: His Last Bow

Tea-time at Baker Street sees as Caledonia Skytower, Corwyn Allen and Kayden Oconnell reading stories from His Last Bow.

A 1917 anthology of previously published Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, His Last Bow originally comprised seven stories published byThe Strand Magazine between 1908 and 1917, but an eighth was added to later editions.

And so it is that we come to Holmes’ final adventure before retirement proper and beekeeping beckon, in the titular story of this volume of Doyle’s works.

The year is 1914, and Britain stands on the brink of war. In England, Von Bork, a German agent, has been gathering a vast amount of military intelligence over a period of four years. With his family already safely returned to Germany, he is now awaiting the arrival of his star agent with one more piece of information prior to making his own return home where he is assured he will be greeted as a hero.

His informant, an Irish-American by the name of Altamont who has been working for Von Bork for two years, duly arrives at his home that night, bearing the precious information. With their agreed exchange made, Von Bork takes the package Altamont present to him, the final piece of military intelligence Von Bork desires: the Admiralty’s latest signal codes. Could it be that all of Britain’s military secrets are about to be laid bare to a country that will likely be her greatest enemy come the outbreak of war in Europe?

Find out more by joining Caledonia, Corwyn and Kayden!

Monday April 7th, 19:00: From an Alien Point of View

When humans interact with aliens who are actually alien, we run into the fact that we’re as weird to them as they are to us. This can cause the most remarkable misunderstandings…. More thought-provoking sci-fi from the collection of Gyro Muggins.

Tuesday April 8th, 19:00: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

FairylandFaery Maven Pralou concludes Catherynne M. Valente’s tale about twelve-year-old September. Living in Omaha, she has a very ordinary life until her father goes to war and her mother goes. leaving her at home on her own.

One day, she is visited by a Green Wind who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland, where the new Marquess, of about the same age as September, is unpredictable and fickle.

This Green Wind tells September that only she can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t, then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. And so begins an extraordinary adventure, which sees September travelling through Fairyland, accompanied by a book-loving dragon, and a boy named Saturday …

Wednesday April 9th, 19:00: Tír na nÓg

Tir-Na-nogTír na nÓg (“Land of the Young”) is, in Irish folklore and mythology, one of the names of the “otherworld”, in part a supernatural realm of everlasting youth, beauty, health, abundance and joy. It is also the title of the first volume of Marni L.B. Troop’s The Heart of Ireland Journals.

In looks, the Faerie are folk little different to humans, other than their pointed ears, although they are vastly different in other ways, and Casey is a princess among them.

She is horrified when a stranger from Iberia arrives on the shores of Ireland, home of the Faerie, believing them to be the gods of his people, but the kings of the Faerie respond to his overtures by having him slaughtered.

Thus the Faerie kings bring down the vengeance of the Iberian people upon their own folk, and war comes to their land. Caught in the middle, and herself in love with an Iberian called Amergin, Casey tries to find a way to bring peace between the two peoples so that they might live together. Unfortunately for her and her beloved, things do not go as she had hoped.

Join Caladonia as she continues reading this intriguing faerie tale.

Thursday April 10th

16:00 The Ballad of Donny Granger

The Ballads of Donny Granger, Book One is the first full-length illustrated novel from the mind Stephanie Mesler, also known in Second Life as Freda Frostbite. Want to know more? Then join Freda at the Seanchai library!

19:00: Geraint, Son of Erbin, Part 2

One of the Three Welsh Romances associated with the Mabinogion, the other two being The Lady of the Well (or Lady of the Fountain) and Peredur son of Efrawg, both of which have featured at Seanchai library. All three are version of Arthurian tales that also appear in the work of Chrétien de Troyes.

Geraint, son of Erbin is analogous to de Troyes’ 12th-century poem Erec and Enide. It tells of Geriant’s courtship of, and marriage to, Enid. A knight of Arthur’s court, Geraint is derided behind his back as having gone soft after his marriage. Enid become distressed on hearing what is being said, and Geriant mistakes her upset in not being a true wife of a knight as meaning she has been unfaithful to him. Not trusting to leave her at court, he command her to join him on a dangerous journey …

Join Shandon Loring to learn the rest of the tale.

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Details still TBA, so please check with the Seanchai Library blog as the week progresses.

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Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule. The featured charity for March and April is Project Children: building true and lasting peace in Northern Ireland one child at a time.

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