Attend the 100th Drax Files Radio Hour in Second Life

radio-hourThe Drax Files Radio Hour is celebrating its 100th (ish!) episode during Christmas week 2015, and to celebrate, they’re holding a special live recording session, and inviting people to attend as part of the audience.

The podcast series first launched back in January 2014, although the initial idea for such a series goes back as far as the latter half of 2013. Hosted by Draxtor Despres and Jo Yardley, the show generally presents an hour long segment each week, focus on news, opinion, interviews and reports on all things virtual – virtual worlds, virtual reality, virtual living.

If I’m totally honest, the show was, early on, far too infatuated with all the hype surrounding the Oculus Rift, which led to a certain slant becoming increasingly (and sometimes painfully) apparent. However, this doesn’t negate the fact that overall, the series has presented some pretty thought-provoking and also very informative podcasts. Virtual harassment, virtual identity, examinations of the Lab and Second Life, digging into the Terms of Service, looking at virtual worlds and education – all these and more have been covered, while interviews with folk from the Lab, from education, the worlds of VR, AR, and interactive fiction,  and (again) more have offered many defining moments for the show.

For the 100th show recording. Drax and Jo will be talking with Oz and Vir Linden, Jessica Lyon and Ed Merryman from Firestorm, and Kiana Writer and Kess Crystal from MadPea Games, in a far-reaching discussion encompassing a look back over 2015, a look ahead to 2016, and embracing the upcoming Gateway trial programme, the recently announced Project Bento, and maybe a little more besides.

Drax tells me that those attending the recording get a free 100th episode celebratory cap
Drax tells me that those attending the recording get a free Drax Files cap

The show will be recorded at the Firestorm Amphitheatre on Wednesday, December 23rd, starting a 12:00 noon SLT. however, those wishing to be a part of the audience as advised to get there a little ahead of time to both secure a seat and help ensure the recording can start relatively promptly.

Singapore to be Lit Up by Second Life machinima

Lit Up logoLit Up Singapore is an annual international literature festival held in Singapore, organised by Word Forward and The Writers Centre, Singapore Ltd. Founded in 2009, the festival features writers and performers from around the world who come together to celebrate literature, story telling, the spoken word as performance art, and more.

Second Life storyteller Singh Albatros contacted me about Lit Up 2016, which is set to include a unique collaboration between himself and four noted Second Life Machinima makers, something which may open the door for closer ties between The Writers Centre in Singapore and Second Life.

Following the successful UWA 3d Art and  Machinima Challenge, Pursue Impossible, the organisers of Lit Up have invited the makers of the top three winning machinima films – Kobuk Farshore, Tutsy Navarathna and the team of Lilia Artis and Haveit Neox – to each produce a short machinima film based on Singh’s poems and micro-fictions.

Kobuk Farshore, Tutsy Navarathna and the team of Lilia Artis and Haveit Neox have all been invited to collaborate in making films
Kobuk Farshore, Tutsy Navarathna and the team of Lilia Artis and Haveit Neox have all been invited to collaborate in making films to be shown at Lit Up Singapore 2016

“We are delighted the artists have accepted the invitation and commission,” Singh told me. Better known in the physical world as respected storyteller Chris Mooney-Singh, he is the festival’s Artistic Director, and recently his verse novel Foreign Madam and the White Yogi was highly commended in the prestigious Victorian Premier’s Literature Award’s Unpublished Fiction category.

He continued, “We’ll be conferring further with all four after the holiday period, and as Writer in Residence at The Writers Centre Singapore, I am excited to see how these top artists each interpret my work; it will be a fascinating project, and something unique: debuting a virtual collaboration for a physical world festival.”

Chris Mooney sigh, Writer in Residence at The Writers do and Artistic Director for Lit up 2016, will be providing material upon which the three films will be based
Chris Mooney-Singh, Writer in Residence at The Writers Centre and Artistic Director for Lit up 2016, together with his digital alter ego, Singh Albatros

“These diversely talented machinima makers have each been offered a commission to create something for a cutting edge live literature digital arts festival in Singapore,” Lit Up’s media contact, Rahimah Rasith, said of the invitation, when announcing the news on December 16th, 2015.

“In a sense we feel we have been passed the torch by the UWA’s Art Challenge director Jay Jay Zifanwe and the University of Western Australia in forging a creative alliance,” she continued. “Following UWA’s lead we hope to execute other in-world events and stream them live to Facebook.”

If there are sufficient funds available, it is hoped that the festival will be able to fly all four of the machinima artists involved in the collaboration to the 2016 event in November 2016, where they will be able to meet with members of the Writers Centre and with Chris, in addition to seeing their films premiered at the festival and participate in panel discussions on the relationship between virtual art and the physical world.

Kobuk Farshore’s winning entry in the UWA’s MachinimUWA VIII: Pursue Impossible – one of the prize winners offered a commission for Lit Up 2016

This could be the start of an exciting new collaborative effort between art and media spanning the physical and digital worlds, and I look forward to covering this project, and any developments which spin out from it, in the future. In the meantime, I extend my thanks to Singh for contacting me about the project, and extend my congratulations to the four machinima makers.

Tarot mysteries in Second Life

Escenas / Scenes: The Death
Escenas / Scenes: The Death

Scene IV – The Death is the title of the fourth and final part of Ux Hax and Romy Nayar’s 4-part series of scenes entitled Escenas / Scenes, now open at MetaLES. Taken together, all four parts are apparently intended to tell a story, although they are not necessarily being presented in chronological sequence – and the first, second and third parts have certainly been intriguing, with their rich influences of the major arcana from the tarot.

This tarot theme continues, and is perhaps most evident in this final scene, which is subtitled The future dawns, the loneliness will be difficult for us – although how we construct a story from it might well be down to each of us to determine. As with the first three parts of the series, this piece is on a truly gigantic scale; something which quickly becomes apparent on arrival, where you find yourself standing on top of a huge table, complete with an equally large bowl of fruit and two toppled goblets. But these draw the attention only briefly; it is the individuals around or near the table which capture and hold the eye.

Escenas / Scenes: The Death
Escenas / Scenes: The Death

Sitting to one side of the table is Death, skull covered by a cowl, left arm outstretched, on which sits our friend, the crow, messenger of the underworld. Resting her hand lightly on that of Death, and seated alongside him, is a woman dressed in a bridal gown and veil, a goblet of wine delicately held in her other hand.

At the head of the table, helping himself to a bunch of grapes is the Devil, whom we originally encountered in the second part of this series. On the table in fromt of him lie the other cards of the major arcana previously seen in Escena / Scenes – the Hermit, the Chariot, the Scales of Justice, the Wheel of Fortune,  the Fool and the Tower. Facing the Devil, and standing at the far end of the table, stands Temperance, pouring forth another goblet of wine.

Escenas / Scenes: The Death
Escenas / Scenes: The Death

Of all the characters here, only the veiled woman might seem a little out-of-place. At least until one considers the High Priestess of the tarot. Originally called La Papessa, or “The Popess”, a woman shown in papal gowns, and a triregnum. Later, it became the High Priestess, and catholic influences removed, to be replaced with more subtle hints – the pillars of Boaz and Jachin, which also have symbolism within freemasonry, and between which the High Priestess is usually depicted as sitting.

In this tableau, it would seem the bridal gown might be symbolic of La Popessa, and the idea of the church as the “bride” of Christ, echoing the more catholic elements of the early tarot, which the tall candelabras standing either side of the chairs on which she and Death sit  might be seen as symbolic of the pillars of Boaz and Jachin. There is also, perhaps, something else here: a subtle inference of the relationship between religion and death.

Escenas / Scenes: The Death
Escenas / Scenes: The Death

So what are we to make of all of this, the four scenes taken together? One possible interpretation might be that taken as a whole, this could be seen as a commentary on our relationship with death: the one aspect of the tarot which has been present throughout, if not always visible until this point in time. His is a presence which can be seen is the old woman’s struggles to escape the hole in EL Tiempo / The Time: in the presence of the Hanged Man himself in Decisiones / Decisions: and the vanishing / materialising cradle in El Miedo / The Fear. They are images which remind us that Death is ever-present, and can call on us at any time.

Hence the use of the tarot, and the religious symbolism such as the allusion to the church through the High Priestess and the boxed presence of what appears to be a set of rosary beads on the table. Through the one, we attempt to divine our fate, and through the other, we seek comfort from our fear of death. Yet the fact remains, Death is always our companion; never seen, but always present, playing our fates like a deck of cards. And thus he presides at this table, and through the unfolding tableaux Ux and Romy have presented.

But that’s just one idea; you might well see things differently.

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