Viviana Houston concert to benefit MIC Imagin@rium

MIC's watery exhibit space not only offers a unique environment for installations displayed there, the gallery's own builds are works of art themselves
MIC’s watery exhibit space not only offers a unique environment for installations, the gallery’s own builds are also works of art and well worth exploring, celebrating as they do the cultural heritage of Rome

On Monday, April 20th, starting 13:00 SLT, Viviana Houston will be singing at a special Save the Culture concert to help raise money for the MIC Imagin@rium gallery in Second Life.

One of the leading privately held venues for art for a number of years, MIC has drawn  respect from across the community for hosting a wide range of art installations and exhibits, and for also offering a beautiful venue for a range of activities and which celebrates the rich cultural history of Rome.

However, a shortfall in finances of around L$50,000 means the gallery is currently unable to meet its upcoming tier, and the aim of the concert is to help raise funds to make up the shortfall and allow MIC to remain active in Second Life.

No Signal, MIC, May 2014
No Signal by Nessuno Myoo, MIC, May 2014

To further assist in the fund-raising effort, there will be a special sale of MIC Imagin@rium fashion at the gallery’s store in the Temple of Portunus, commencing on Sunday, April 19th.

“This has been a hard thing for me to face,” Mexi said. “After years of hard work from a lot of people, we have encountered a shortfall in tier. I had considered taking the region offline; but there is always the worry that once it goes offline, it may never come back.

Viviana Houston, singing in support of MIC from 13:00 SLT on Monday, April 20th
Viviana Houston, singing in support of MIC from 13:00 SLT on Monday, April 20th

“We have several projects going on in the physical world, which have meant we’ve been unable to host any installations lately, and so funding from donations have fallen sharply. However, most of that is behind us now, are we are convinced that if we can get past this immediate problem, we’ll be OK for the future.

“Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Viviana, we now have a real chance to make-up the shortfall, and I hope everyone will come along to the concert and help us keep MIC Imagin@ruim alive for people to continue to enjoy.”

One of the hallmarks of MIC Imagin@ruim is that as well as hosting in-world art exhibits and installations, it has also bridged the divide between the physical the virtual. One such example of this came in December 2013, with Red Shoes, which saw MIC and 25 artists in Second Life collaborating with the Il Margutta Gallery in Rome and Mexican visual artist Elina Chauvet.

Giorgio Mayo's piece for Red Shoes at MIC, December 2013
Giorgio Mayo’s piece for Red Shoes at MIC, December 2013

Save the Culture with Viviana Houston will take place in the MIC  Amphitheatre on Monday, April 20th. On offer will be great music and the opportunity to help a wonderful venue for art continue into the future. And if you can’t make the event, donations to Mexi will be put directly to the region’s tier.

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Visiting a place for supernatural tales

HyakuMonogatari; Inara Pey, April 2015, on Flickr HyakuMonogatari (Flickr) – click any image for full size

Hyakumonogatari is one of two regions designed by 兇 (Merurun), the other being its neighbour Heinakyo. I was drawn to them after reading a blog post by Abinoam Nørgaard recording his explorations of both.

Hyakumonogatari in particular attracted me because of the apparent link with the ancient parlour game Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (百物語怪談会) or A Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales, which was popular in Edo period Japan and may have started as a game of courage played by  the samurai class.

HyakuMonogatari; Inara Pey, April 2015, on Flickr HyakuMonogatari (Flickr)

Given that Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai was a game played at night, involving the possible evocation of spirits, ghouls and demons, it should come as no surprise that the region bearing its name (at least in part) has a dark, heavy atmosphere occasionally split by flashes of lightning (note that other than the topmost image in this piece, I’ve used lighter windlights in my pictures to help show some of the details of the region).

The main landing point is a temple courtyard, huddled at the foot of a tall mountain. Crows caw from the trees and paper lamps strung between wooden poles provide the main illumination. Follow the path around to the imposing bulk of the gate house standing before the temple’s shrine, and you’ll see a wooden bridge passing eastwards over a narrow gorge to a small town beyond which straddles the two regions, Heinakyo offering more of a retail environment as one travels through it.

HyakuMonogatari; Inara Pey, April 2015, on Flickr HyakuMonogatari (Flickr)

For the intrepid, however, it is the route north and west which is the one to take, following the path and steps up the mountain and under a train of torii gates. Here the mist lies heavy and the default lighting is dim, adding to the atmosphere. As shines to honoured ancestors appear, so to does the path become increasingly unpredictable.

There are two routes here. One will take the traveller directly up to a high shoulder on the mountain. The other, which might take a little bit of finding, leads into the heart of the mountain, although the fact it has done so might not at first be obvious. Here you’ll find an old, careworn temple, the home of a couple of additional stores, and which plays on the idea of the Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai. Keen-eyed will find an alternative route back down to the main temple, while those careless of foot may find themselves taking a fall or two…

HyakuMonogatari; Inara Pey, April 2015, on Flickr HyakuMonogatari (Flickr)

Taken together, HyakuMonogatari and Heinakyo make for an interesting visit. both look as if work on them might still be in progress in places, but the village and temple are photogenic. And should you fancy getting a group of friends together and lighting a series of andon in one room, ready to tell supernatural tales in another, this is the place to do so.

And to keep to the tradition of Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, just make sure you bring a mirror and a table on which to lay it…

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Bright Canopy launches new blog – and a competition

Bright CanopyBright Canopy’s new blog has launched, and with it a competition as well.

The blog, which will be used to keep people up-to-date with developments in the project and news on things like the upcoming pre-launch beta testing, is still a work-in-progress, and the introductory note indicates there may be a few changes as things settle down.

As well as the introductory note, the blog also carries a brief update, which includes some news on the forthcoming pre-launch beta programme, and also information on the aforementioned competition.

This is a photo contest, and on offer is a free month’s subscription to Bright Canopy once it officially launches.

Those interested in participating are invited to submit a snapshot, taken in-world, which can be used as the background image for the Bright Canopy desktop  – the screen users will see when they log-in to the service,  and which allows them to launch the viewer to access Second Life or OpenSim.

Snapshots must be at least 2000×1378 pixels, and must be PG in nature – so no nudity! The guidelines for the competition note that Bright Canopy are looking for images that will make a good desktop background; things like in-world landscape pictures. They note that avatars can be included, but shouldn’t be the primary focus.

Submission can be made via one of the following methods:

All entries should feature the hashtag #SLFreedom, and those entering via Twitter or Google+ message should also follow Bright Canopy, while those entering via Facebook are asked to Like the Bright Canopy page. In addition, all entries must be submitted through the chose channel no later than 23:59 pm PDT on Friday, May 24th, 2015. Please make sure you ready the competition notes and guidelines in the Bright Canopy blog prior to entering.

There’s currently no date for the official launch of the service, so the winner may have a short wait before the closing date and getting access to Bright Canopy.

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Disclaimer: I am actively involved in helping to manage and run the Bright Canopy blog.