Holly Kai Art at the Park: February – March 2016

Art at the Park, February – March 2016

The second ensemble exhibition in the Holly Kai Art at the Park series commences on Sunday, February 21st 2016, and runs through until Sunday, April 10th.

For this exhibition, we are both pleased and privileged to be featuring the work of five talented artists, who between them offer a rich diversity of art and styles. They are: Goodcross, Hana Hoo, Io Bechir, Sisse Singh and our 3D artist for this exhibition: Mistero Hifeng.

The exhibition will open with a special gala event at the Holly Kai Pavilion – see below for more details.

About the Artists


GoodcrossAnyone encountering images by Goodcross cannot help but be stunned by their richness of imagery and narrative. Covering a broad spectrum of landscapes, images of SL art, avatar studies, and composed pieces, his work is never anything like than utterly compelling.

I first encountered his work at the ever excellent Dathúil Gallery, operated by Max Butoh and Lυcy (LucyDiam0nd), and on seeing it, knew I had to see him display his work at Holly Kai Park.

“I love creativity,” Goodcross says. “The process, the people and the whole gamut of ideation. I’m utterly passionate about it. When I came to SL, I was gob-smacked by the rich graphics. As time passed by, I learnt a lot about not just photography but so many different aspects that you could use your creativity for: building, texturing, making poses, creating lights, flirting (hell yeah that’s creative too! 🙂 ), and finally making strong, enduring bonds with real people. I have been very lucky.”

Hana Hoo

HanaHana Hoo is a woman of many talents: artist, writer, traveller, roleplayer, storyteller and more. Her blogs, The Runes of the Gatekeeper’s Daughter and Desert Mice and Dreams, which focuses on her story writing, are a joy to read.

Hana’s art is often a wonderful mix of the physical and the virtual, the two enticingly mixed to present not so much an image, but a tale; a place where the line between our perception of what is real and what is a dream becomes blurred,the two fading seamlessly into one another.

“I am a storyteller, but at the same time I am very visual because a good image will tell a story of its own,” Hana says of herself. “I love to explore the mystery of light and shadow at play and I’m fond of both woodland and old stones. In SL I began to see some of my own stories reflected in fantasy landscapes, so I began to use some of the images I photographed here with my stories.”

In this, Hana’s work serves as something of a reflection of our own relationship with virtual environments as well; for most of us, the “divide” between our physical and virtual selves is also blurred, a space where we can ebb and flow from one to another.

On first encountering Hana’s work, I was amazed by its ethereal power and beauty, and I’m absolutely delighted that she agreed to be a part of things at Holly Kai Park.

Io Bechir

Io Bechir“My hope is to communicate my impressions with regard to my experiences here over the past three years,” Io says of her display at Holly Kai Park.

“During this time period I fell in love. I met some amazing and wonderful friends. I suffered a broken heart. I came to realise my own strength. I took up sailing. I found my voice as an artist, and discovered new ways to express my Self in this limitless space of ethereal light and imagination. Probably, many of the same experiences you have had.”

The result is an evocative and highly personal series of images, rich in colour, context and narrative, each one very much a story – a chapter, perhaps – in its own right. Thus Io’s display becomes an autobiography in images, embodying each of them with a power to reach deeper into us than had then been merely posed for an audience. Through them we are offered the opportunity to join with Io’s exploration of Self and share in her discoveries.

Io’s work amazed me when I first encountered it, and I’m very pleased she accepted an invitation to participate in Art at the Park.

Sisse Singh

sisseAn established Danish artist working in watercolours, gouache, powder and ink, Sisse has seen work displayed in the physical world in public and private art galleries, culture centres, government offices, banks and offices.

Inspiration for her art comes from many sources: her surrounding, nature, the people she meets and her own imagination, and at Holly Kai she presents two aspects of her work. On one deck is a series of her floral watercolours, each beautiful reproduced; on the other is a display of abstracts, portraits and landscapes. Together, the two decks allow us to witness the rich diversity of Sisse’s work.

All of the pieces are offered for sale, and in a special way: not only can you buy an in-world copy of one of Sisse’s paintings, you can also – if it is available – acquire the original in the physical world. Simply e-mail Sisse at her website, or IM her in-world, with the details of the piece you would be interested in acquiring, and she will inform you of its availability and price.

Mistero Hifeng

MisteroI’ve been an avid admirer of Mistero Hifeng’s sculptures ever since I first encountered them almost two years ago. His gallery space and his exhibitions have been a regular feature in my coverage of SL arts because they are so beautifully evocative and captivating.

Indeed, even if you are not familiar with his name, you’ve very probably come across at least one of his pieces if you are an SL explorer; his work has captured the eyes of many region holders across the grid, and as a consequence, his work graces many public and private spaces.

Mistero’s work presents a subtle blending of realities: very human figures often in very extraordinary – you might say surreal – situations, driven from deep within the imagination. Little wonder, then, that he takes a Tom Watts quote for his profile description:

I can almost always rode both the reality and the imagination. My reality needs imagination like a bulb needs a socket . My imagination needs reality like a blind man needs a cane.

The results of this blending of reality and imagination are frequently extraordinary in look and appeal, richly evocative and perfectly suited to either indoor out outdoor display, and I hope his selected pieces at Holly Kai Park will amply demonstrate the latter.

Gala Opening

Erin68 Frog
Erin68 Frog

The February – March Art at the Park exhibition will officially open at 2:00pm SLT on Sunday, February 21st with a special gala event at The Pavilion, Holly Kai Park (just walk across the bridge from the landing point).

Erin68 Frog and Satin will be providing the music for the first hour, which will be followed by a live stream thereafter for those wishing to continue in the party spirit. Formal dress is requested.

Should you wish to sail to the park rather than teleport, mooring slips are available on the east side of the park, with auto-return set to one hour and re-rezzing possible from the piers.

We look forward to seeing you at Holly Kai Park!

SLurl Details

This post also appears on the Holly Kai blog.

Project Bento User Group update 5 with audio

Project Bento extends the avatar skeleton, adding a significant set of bones (e.g. 30 for the face, 30 for the hands Project Bento - extending the SL avatar skeleton
Project Bento – extending the SL avatar skeleton

The following notes and audio were taken from the weekly Bento User Group meeting, held on Thursday, February 18th at 13:00 SLT on Aditi.  For details on each meeting and the location, please refer to the Bento User Group wiki page. Audio extracts are provided, however, due to circumstances beyond my control, I missed the first 20 minutes of the meeting, so the following update is not a full summary of all that was discussed.

The Default Avatar Mesh and Bento

An area of concern regarding Bento is that while custom-built avatars can make use of the new Bento skeleton, and some work has been done on making some of the appearance sliders for the default avatar mesh compatible with Bento, there is next to no way at presents for the default Second Life avatar mesh to make full use of a Bento extensions. Much of this wouldn’t actually matter,  given that many of the circumstances where the new bones are being used would likely require the use of a custom mesh avatar. However, there are two noticeable areas where the it does have an impact: hands and faces.

Essentially, Bento introduces 30 bones into the face and 30 bones into the hands. However, these cannot currently be leveraged by the default avatar mesh, as demonstrated in the first 20 seconds of the video below.

As such, there has been discussion over the last couple of Bento meetings on ways in which this might be addressed. However, there are significant problems in trying to make the existing default SL avatar compatible with the Bento skeleton. One of these is that the default skeleton is designed in three core sections (head, upper body, lower body), each of which can only be rigged to utilise a maximum of 15 bones.

This means that trying to rig the default avatar to make correct use of the Bento skeleton additions isn’t that easy; the head and hands, for example, simply cannot support the number of bones offered by the Bento project. A further complication as that when it comes to facial expressions, the default avatar uses morphs rather than pure animations to achieve various expressions, and these could conflict with animations which utilise the Bento bones.

One solution would be to completely overhaul the default avatar or replace it. However, this is a massive undertaking, and one which could easily result in a lot of existing content breakage, as such it is not something the Lab is entirely sanguine about doing. Another idea put forward was for the Lab to provide two default heads, one utilising the default morphs and the other Bento bones and their associated animations. However, the limit of how many bones the default avatar mesh can support made this idea a non-starter.

Cathy Foil summaries the discusses on the avatar head, which occurred prior to my arrival at the meeting

During the discussion, Vir and Oz revealed that having the default avatar make use of the Bento skeleton is something the Lab has been pondering. However, it is not something that will be implemented during this initial phase of Bento due to the amount of work involved. However, it could be looked at as part of follow-on work from Bento.

Vir and Oz Linden raise the potential for Bento follow-on work to provide a means of making the default avatar head and hands more compatible with the Bento bones

That the Lab are considering trying to make some changes to the SL default avatar to leverage Bento capabilities lead to the suggestion by Medhue Simoni that perhaps the Lab should at the same time more broadly overhaul the avatar to provide a consistent set of vertices and weights throughout.

The idea here would be to present an avatar form which content creators could more readily use to model and rig fitted mesh items to a single, consistent set of vertices and weights, rather than each having to work to their own weightings. This would allow fitted mesh clothes to work more precisely with the avatar appearance sliders than is currently the case, and thus provide a more consistent and better feature set going forward.

The problem here is again exiting content breakage. One suggestion for dealing with this, put forward by Cathy, is that if the Lab decided to go the route suggested by Medhue, they could need to provide two default avatars, which users could swap between as needed dictated, by means of something like the gender change options currently found in the avatar appearance panel.

Comments on a wider re-working of the avatar skeleton

Appearance Sliders and Bento

As noted above, there has been some work completed on hooking some of the Bento bones to the appearance sliders – notably around the head and hands. Now that the updated skeleton is moving towards a final design, the hope is that perhaps more bones within it can be linked to the sliders.

Vir and Cathy on Bento and the appearance sliders

Continue reading “Project Bento User Group update 5 with audio”