Stepping through the Gates of Memories in Second Life

Gates of Memories; Inara Pey, January 2016, on Flickr Gates of Memories (Flickr) – click any image for full size

Gates of Memories is a place where we are reminded that we don’t remember days,
we remember moments. Wandering through the region, designed by photographer shelly70, it is easy to understand why she feels this is the case: the region is filled with moments in time, each of which creates an impression waiting to be captured by eye and camera to become a memory to which we can return again and again.

Caught in the depths of winter, the snowbound region presents a rural setting where the rolling ground is blanketed in white and trees denuded of their leaves stretch frosted, gnarled fingers and arms towards a cloud heavy sky from which more snow swirls and falls.

Gates of Memories; Inara Pey, January 2016, on Flickr Gates of Memories (Flickr)

Close to the landing point and just through a gated arch, sits a quaint cottage, garden hidden beneath the snow, tall lamp-posts lighting the way to the front door. Paper lanterns. the air inside heated by tiny fires burning in cradles slung below them, turn and dance in the falling snow, their colour contrasting strongly with the otherwise near monochrome setting. A second cottage sits across the region, smoke also curling from its chimney, hinting at warmth inside, the footpath to the front door swept clear of snow in welcome to visitors.

While the surrounding landscape may seem sparse under the lowering sky, there is actually a lot here to be discovered. The open spaces mean that things can be carefully placed so that they can naturally stand apart from one another, allowing the visitor to come upon them in a way that presents each in turn as a moment in time.

Gates of Memories; Inara Pey, January 2016, on Flickr Gates of Memories (Flickr) – click and image for full size

Art is very much central to these moments, particularly the work of Mistero Hifeng (a factor bound to attract me, as I simply adore his work), with pieces large and small to be found right across the region, sometimes standing alone whilst elsewhere forming the focal point for a particular setting – as with the couple standing in the centre of a little skating rink, the ice around them scored and crossed by the passage of skates.

But Mistero’s work isn’t alone in being celebrated here; those exploring the region will also come across figures by Rebeca Bashly (another artist I admire) and Angelica Leiner, as well as quirky characters by Krikket Bkackheart and Raya Jonson, whilst elsewhere a touch of fantasy can be found as unicorns play in the misty snow.

As well as offering moments in time to visitors, Gates of Memories  is itself a moment in time; one beautifully conceived and presented – and certainly one not to be missed.

Gates of Memories; Inara Pey, January 2016, on Flickr Gates of Memories (Flickr) – click and image for full size

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Bananas, trumpets, trailblazers and cacti

Le Cactus
Le Cactus

Maya Paris is a colourful, inventive and imaginative Second Life artist with a wonderfully wacky wit and knowing glint in her eye – as anyone who has visited the likes of Celebrity Blow Your Own Tits off, or Sauce will know only too well.

Now, at the invitation of Eupalinos Ugajin, she’s brought back a celebrated favourite creation:  Le Cactus, and it is every bit as wild and as wacky as ever, offering news delights for those who have not previously paid it a visit, while those who do remember it can revisit an old favourite for a fresh dollop of fun presented in a way that only Maya can master.

Le Cactus
Le Cactus

“[It’s] a celebration of the extraordinary talents of cultural trailblazer Josephine Baker, queen of the trumpet Valaida Snow, the lampshade-hatted dancers of the Casino de Paris and the offbeat irony of Jacques Dutronc,” Maya says of the installation, located high above LEA21. “Throw a banana on your head, dance on a cactus and tickle a tentacle. Everything’s interactive, so click away!”

And everything is interactive. At the landing point there are seven vinyl records, each of which will give you a costume to don; beneath them sits a box offering a HUD and the helpfully entitled “Le Cactus: What to do here” note card.

Le Cactus - Josephine!
Le Cactus – Josephine!

The outfits are as imaginative and a colourful as the setting (which has a delightful Art Deco look and feel to it), and you can wear them with your avatar either completely masked, or with body clothed and visible. I went for fully hidden for most of the outfits, but showed myself whilst wearing the Valaida and Josephine outfits (see right, flapping away).

The HUD provides links to YouTube and short films about both women and a playback of Jacques Dutronc singing Les Cactus.

From here it’s off down the stairs to click, dance, spin, swap outfits – all to the early jazz of Radio Dismuke, if you have the audio stream on (and you should). Then, when you’ve had enough, drop into one of the bar-side sofas, or claim your drinks and refresh yourself.

Like any bar, the atmosphere at Le Cactus increases in leaps and bounds the more there are enjoying the place, so grab your friends, mash-up the outfits, stick and banana on your head and have fun.

When you’ve done with your visit to Le Cactus, don’t forget to drop-in at group level, where other things will be going on. Eupa revealed a little of Life on Jupiter to me, which is currently under construction and promises to be every bit as offbeat as le Cactus, and joined me at the bar for a time, suitably attired for dancing, but opting to wear a model of Skylab as floating headgear, rather than the suggested banana.

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