Contemplating an Absence of Colour

Absence of Colour
Absence of Colour, Timamoon Arts

Art Blue recommended I make time to see a new exhibition which has just opened at the Timamoon Gallery, and which features as it subject … fractal art. Needless to say, I was immediately curious, so when an unexpected free 60 minutes popped-up I hopped over to take a look.

Absence of Colour is a joint exhibit by Milly Sharple and Ranadeep. As the name suggests, this is a presentation of monochrome and greyscale fractal art by the two artists and is, I have to say, stunning; even the setting is a continuance of the overall theme, albeit it with a slight hint of colour.

Absence of Colour, Timamoon Gallery
Absence of Colour, Timamoon Gallery

Spread across three levels, the exhibition space comprises 24 large cubes arranged eight to a level in a square around a communal area. Four cubes open onto this central communal area, and are linked to the remaining four cubes by short tunnels. All of the cubes has at least one element of art displayed within it. The interiors of the cube further reflect the title of the exhibition, alternating between white and black as you walk through them.

The entire arrangement means it as possible to wander between the cubes, crossing back and forth over the communal areas, or to enter one cube and then proceed through each of them in turn to see the displayed pieces before returning to your start point. Teleporters provide the means to move between the three levels.

Absence of Colour, Timamoon Arts
Absence of Colour, Timamoon Arts

The central level forms the landing point. The cubes here combine pieces by Milly and Ranadeep, while the upper level is devoted to Milly’s work, and the lower to Ranadeep’s. While both artists have used similar software for their work, both employing  Apophysis (although Ranadeep also uses Ultra Fractal and Incendia), their individual styles are apparent in many of the pieces. Ranadeep’s work often features bold lines and linear forms (although not exclusively so), while Milly’s often display more cursive elements and softer lines (although again, these are not exclusive to her pieces).

That all of the pieces have been rendered in black-and-white gives them a remarkable depth; some of the images in the cubes with a black interior have a particular perspective that makes the observer feel they are looking into them, rather than at them, as if they are not pieces of two-dimensional art, but actual constructs located in front of the observer and into which one might climb – or fall. The effect is both captivating and mesmerizing. It is also, while not unexpected given the nature of the art, perhaps far more heady in impact than might be the case had the pieces been rendered in colour.

Absence of Colour, Timamoon Arts
Absence of Colour, Timamoon Arts

Within each cube, as well, stand figures, male and / or female, apparently studying the pieces on display. These are as much a part of the exhibit as pieces on the walls, seeming to represent each of us as we explore and study, the subtle tones, swirls and lines on their bodies reflective of the impact the art on display has on our own thinking and perception.

This is a quite stunning exhibit, in terms of both the art on display and the manner in which it is presented. It’s not often that one encounters an exhibition where the very space in which it is presented actually forms a part of the overall work, but such appears to be the case here. Even the very subtle use of colour in some of the sofa and seats and on certain walls of the cubes, carries a meaning of their own which adds to the whole.

Absence of Colour, Timamoon Arts
Absence of Colour, Timamoon Arts

Definitely not one to miss. Highly recommended.

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Lumiya 2.6.0: fine-tuning the engine for F1 performance

lumiya-logoUpdate May 13th: Lumiya 2.6.1 is now available. This includes a fix to prevent the client crashing when rendering megaprims, improved mesh download speeds and reduced lage when walking.

Alina Lyvette announced the arrival of the latest release of Lumiya on Friday May 9th.

Version 2.6.0 marks the arrival of support for Fitted Mesh and some pretty impressive under-the-hood changes which greatly enhance Lumiya’s performance in the areas of memory use, bandwidth utilisation and 3D rendering – and I found the improvements really are noticeable.

Feature Updates

Fitted Mesh Rendering

The Fitted Mesh support is perhaps the most visible update in terms of new features. I only carried out a quick series of tests, but found the FM demos I had from back when testing the SL Fitted Mesh viewer (I’m ashamed to say I’ve still not actually started using any mesh clothing myself…) worked just fine when rendered by Lumiya.

Fitted Mesh on Lumiya: renders perfectly
Fitted Mesh on Lumiya: renders perfectly

I did experience slight issues with mesh clothing failing to render when worn, something I don’t remember occurring back when mesh support was first released. Should this happen, a quick fix seems to be hopping out of the 3D view and back again.

Request Teleport

Another feature update with this release is the Request Teleport option. This can be accessed by:

  • Selecting the person you wish to teleport to from your Friends list, or IM
  • Tapping the MORE option
  • Tapping Request Teleport. This opens the Request Teleport message screen where you can enter your request text (or leave blank, if you prefer). Tapping OK will close the message window and send the teleport request
  • If the request is accepted, you will receive a teleport offer, as per usual; if the request is declined, you will not receive any feedback (which is how Request Teleport is handled in the viewer and not a result of Lumiya failing to receive a notification).
Request Teleport: now in Lumiya
Request Teleport: now in Lumiya

Avatar Interaction

Lumiya 2.6.0 makes it easier to interact with nearby avatars when in 3D view by applying a long touch to the centre of an avatar. This may take a little practice, but when used, will call-up a menu allowing you to initiate an IM session with that avatar, examine them, etc.

Using a long touch on a nearby avatar will
Using a long touch or the Drag to Select option on a nearby avatar will allow you to ineract with them via the displayed menu bar

If you have problems using the long touch method when selecting an avatar, don’t forget you can also use the Drag To Select option in the top left corner of the 3D view and drag that down to point to the avatar in question.

Under-the-Hood

The under-the-hood changes in 2.6.0 range from fixes for known crash issues through to better support for transparency in the 3D world view and new notification sounds (courtesy of Lhasa Mencur) to some really quite significant performance improvements.

The latter include a reduced memory footprint together with much improved bandwidth usage, both of which see Lumiya operate a lot more smoothly (not that it was ever particularly clunky). Much has been done to the 3D rendering performance and management as well.Also these combined mean it should be much easier to run  Lumiya on lower-end system, and for those on high-end devices, to have more of the bells and whistles turned on. In my case, for example, these improvements make it a lot easier to run with High Quality Textures enabled by default on my Nexus 2013 HD.

Feedback

Lumiya has always offered tremendous value for accessing Second Life while on-the-go with a suitable Android device. Even allowing for trying to maintain compatibility with older versions of Android, Alina consistently pulls-off some impressive miracles with the client, and 2.6.0 more than demonstrates this. While the added features may seem minimal (even though mesh support represents considerable work itself), the performance improvements evident in this release are astonishing.

Obviously, with a fairly high-end Android device running Android KitKat and a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon™ S4 Pro, 1.5 GHz / Adreno 320, 400 MHz combination, I stand to benefit the most from the improvements in rendering, but even so, on my old Samsung Galaxy S2 with Android 4.1 Jellybean and Dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A9 / Mali-400 combination, things were still noticeably faster.

For those who require access to OpenSim and are Android users with a decent CPU / GPU combination and a reason screen size, Lumiya stands head-and-shoulder above the rest. For those wanting mobile access to Second Life and have limited screen size, it also beats SL Go hands-down in terms of convenience of use, even if it lacks the full rendering capabilities of the latter.

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Fantasy Faire: tarrying in Medhir Woods and wandering Wiggenstead Mooring

Fantasy Faire 2014; Inara Pey, April 2014, on FlickrMedhir Woods: Fantasy Faire 2014 (Flickr)

Rynn Verwood’s Medhir Woods lives up to its description of an elven outpost.

For most of us, I’m sure, the mention of elves leads to images of Tolkien’s elven races, proud and tall, surrounded by an air of mysticism and calm, offering havens of peace in a turbulent world of change. And so it is with Medhir Woods. Arriving in the region, particularly when the fairelands are busy, is akin to how it may have felt in entering the valley of Imladris after a long journey; one discovers a place of peace and welcome amidst all the bustle.

Fantasy Faire May 2014: Medhir Woods, Inara PeyMedhir Woods: Fantasy Faire May 2014: (Flickr)

The feel of Middle Earth is unmistakable here as one wanders the streets between the houses. The latter may not be as other-worldly as the designs of elves as imagined in Peter Jackson’s films, but given this is a forested enclave, the buildings have the right elven feel about them. Chimes sound in the wind as one explores while birds call and sing from the surrounding woods, and the ways are lit by lamp-bearing statues with a decidedly elven  look.

Of course, the feeling of being deep within Middle Earth is somewhat heightened by the tall bulk of Hope’s Haven which rises to the north of Medhir Woods. But even without this, when one takes the design here, complete with a slightly misty, perpetual autumnal sun-set, it is hard not to feel as if one is within an outpost from the twilight years of age of the Elves,  when the Dominion of Men has come to the fore.

Fantasy Faire May 2014: Medhir Woods, Inara PeyMedhir Woods: Fantasy Faire May 2014: (Flickr)

For those seeking further respite from the excitement and rush of the Faire, Medhir Woods offers a place of sanctuary (and also the scene of role-play earlier in the week) even amidst its own calm. This can be found under the arch from the landing-point and down the stone steps. Follow these as the lead to a greensward overlooking the bay around which Medhir Woods sits. Here there are benches located in the arms of the stone stairs, offering a place of rest and contemplation. A small gazebo stands close to shore at the edge of the greensward, reached by a stone bridge, and offers a view westward out over the inland sea.

A photogenic location, Medhir Woods is a delightful setting, one which, for me, stands as a favourite place in which to spend time while at the Faire.

Fantasy Faire 2014; Inara Pey, April 2014, on FlickrWiggenstead Mooring: Fantasy Faire 2014 (Flickr)

There is something delightfully playful about Kayle Matzerath’s builds for Fantasy Faire. Luminaria, his build for 2013 for example, presented a wonderful and colourful town of winding streets, broad gardens and gingerbread houses and stores. Having stepped into the breach at the eleventh hour after Nya Alchemi had to unfortunately withdraw due to health reasons, Kayle has this year created a place of heartwarming whimsy with Wiggenstead Mooring.

With its floating islands linked by rope bridges occupying the sky over a rocky land filled with great flowers and huddled trees, where water offers a place to bathe or paddle, it’s hardly surprising that the Rickety Weasels established their clubhouse here. One would be hard put to find a more playful environment anywhere in the Fairelands.

Fantasy Faire 2014; Inara Pey, April 2014, on FlickrWiggenstead Mooring: Fantasy Faire 2014 (Flickr)

Up on the islands, the stores are a whimsical delight, with some looking like tepees, a patchwork of hides stitched together, draped with cloths and held-up by stout poles, others looking as if they’ve been built from dried mud and with mushroom-like growths sprouting from their tops chimney-like. Linking the islands supporting the stores are smaller islands on which sit palm tree-like plants topped with brightly coloured flowers.

Such is the design here, you cannot help but smile as you walk from island to island across the bridges – something which can be as restorative as finding a quiet corner somewhere and simply sitting down. Travel to the south-west corner of the region and you’ll find the Jolly Crocodile.

Here loud-mouthed Fimbleby awaits your challenge and to get you on the road of the Fantasy Faire Hunt. Solve the puzzles here and you’re ready to participate in the second part of the hunt, which takes place in the Palace of Tears – but you’d best hurry if you’ve not already faced Fimbleby; he’ll be packing-up his things and heading home when the Jolly Crocodile closes its doors as the Faire draws to a close on Sunday May 11th (although the Palace of Tears hunt will continue for another week to give you a chance to draw breath and complete all of the hunt).

Fantasy Faire May 2014: Wiggenstead Mooring, Inara PeyFantasy Faire May 2014: Wiggenstead Mooring

Close to the Jolly Crocodile is a bridge leading down to ground level. Take this and you’ll find paths to explore through the rocks and plants. Deep among these sits the headquarters of the Fairelands Sheriff’s Association, ready to extend the long arm of the law (as they have been throughout the Faire) and ensure the peace is kept. Don’t miss, as well, the little island in the bay on the north side of the region.

If there is a word to be used to sum-up Wiggenstead Mooring I’d likely settle on “fun”; it’s fun to look at and it’s fun to visit and as such, in many respects, it is a visualisation of one of the elements which lay at the heart of Fantasy Faire for all who attend.

Fantasy Faire May 2014: Wiggenstead Mooring, Inara PeyFantasy Faire May 2014: Wiggenstead Mooring

Teleport to Wiggenstead Mooring.

Keeping up with Fantasy Faire

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SL projects updates: TPV developer meeting, Friday May 9th 2014

A TPV developer meeting took place on Friday May 9th. The core items discussed in the meeting are reported below, with timestamps in the relevant paragraphs indicating the point at they are discussed in the video embedded here. My thanks as always to North for the latter.

SL Viewer Status

[00:35] As noted in part one of this week’s updates report, the de facto viewer was updated on Tuesday May 5th with the promotion of the Interest List viewer (version 3.7.7.289461). The viewer contains what’s being referred to as a number of “non-trivial” merges, as the team responsible for the viewer took the opportunity to clean-up “a lot of old and unpleasant code”, and this “touched on a lot of things”. As such, it may be a while before this code filters into all TPVs.

[01:27] On Thursday May 8th, the SL Share-2 RC updated to version 3.7.8.289775 (download and release notes). This viewer includes the ability to upload Tweets and snapshots to Twitter and / or snapshots to Flickr, and to use pre-set filters on images being uploaded to either service and / or to Facebook, and to create your own filters.

The remaining viewers in the release channel (Sunshine / AIS and the Maintenance viewer) and the Zipper project viewer will be updated in week 20.

[02:11] There are two or three other viewers which are expected to be appearing in the near future. One of these contains a number of Snowstorm contributions (such as STORM-1831, currently awaiting two minor bug fixes), Baker Linden’s group ban work should be generating a viewer soon (see below for more), and there is a viewer which contains a series of memory leak fixes which is currently in QA.

Group Ban List

[03:40] Baker reports he has two “major” bugs and three or four “minor” bugs still to deal with; however, it doesn’t appear is if these are going to stop the viewer arriving as a project viewer. As noted in part two of this week’s report, the repository for the code has already been made public, and TPVs have been invited to pull code from the repository if they’re in a position to do so (the group ban viewer is built to LL’s 3.7.8 code base).

Obviously, and again as noted in part two of this report, the code will not be usable on the main grid until such time as the server-side changes have been deployed, and this isn’t likely to happen for a couple of weeks or so, so don’t expect it to be appearing in release versions of any viewers for a while.

The server-side code is available on a channel on Aditi (DRTSIM-234 14.05.05.289712 – which includes the Morris region where the Server Beta meeting is held and now includes the BUG-5929 fix), and there may be a grid-wide Aditi deployment of the server-side code. If this is the case, it will likely be confirmed via a Server Beta group meeting.

One aspect that has not been looked into as yet is ensuring that when someone is ejected / banned from a group, they are also ejected from group chat. Currently, due to the way the back-end services operate, if someone has the group chat window open when they are ejected from a group, they can continue to chat / spam into the group chat up until the point where they close the window. Commenting on this, and given that Simon Linden has been working on the chat service, Baker has indicated that he’ll look into things with Simon and see if this problem cannot be resolved.

Leap Motion Integration

[12:18] In November 2013, Leap Motion approached Linden Lab about integrating their gesture controller into the view.  Due to the amount of work the Lab had on its plate, the work was handed-off to TPV, with members of the Firestorm team working with Leap Motion to get things integrated.

Since that time, the work has been subject to a number of hiccups – including the need for Leap Motion to update their software. As it stands, the work is slightly stalled as the Firestorm team no longer have the resources needed for the work, so a call has gone out to TPV developers who are willing to take a lead in bringing this work to fruition.

Third-party Library Work (Webkit et al)

[26:14] Monty Linden is continuing his work in cleaning-up the third-party libraries used within the viewer build process. This work has been focused of late on Webkit, which is used for a number of tasks, such as powering the built-in web browser and to display profiles, and is used with Media on a Prim (MOAP) and many in-world televisions. However, Monty has more recently been working on the COLLADA DOM library as a means of “taking a break” from Webkit. He describes this as the “last big one” on his list.

Despite still having to finish-up with Webkit, Monty is already in a position of being able to use a windows version of the viewer which makes use of his updated and cleaned-up libraries, although he emphasises the work is not ready to enter prime-time use as yet.

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