Blue Orange: where music and art meet in Second Life

Blue Orange
Blue Orange

Blue Orange, is a new music and arts venue in Second Life, brought together by Ini (in Inaka), which opened its doors on Saturday, December 17th, 2016.

“[It] is project to pull together open-minded, friendly people to share time, music, RL and SL art understanding. (rl=sl=rl basically),” Ini says of the concept.  “At first it was an idea to mix urban style with something classy and create bohemian underground music club where people could hear a lot of different music styles, starting from underground alternative, industrial, grunge, indie, noise, psychedelic, folk punk and ending with jazz, neo-folk, instrumental and classical music … Later came an idea to invite creative people who would be happy to share love for art, this how they understand art, how they express themselves and to show how second life as virtual place let to us share it.”

Blue Orange: Indigoclaire and Eupalinos Ugajin
Blue Orange: Indigoclaire and Eupalinos Ugajin

The result is a skyborne “underground” club surrounded by art spaces. The club features a dance floor, two stage areas seating areas. At one end sit two curving arrows. One points the way down an old subway corridor, lined with art by Ini and Gitu Aura, to where ghostly trains rumble through an old station.

A bar by Eupalinos Ugajin sits between the rushing trains, offering those who dare occupy it a drink.  A set of double doors at the end of the platform direct people through to one side of the Art Corner area of the build. This comprises three display halls, of which more anon.

The second arrow in the club area points the way through a hole in the wall and a further art display area, while a set of stairs behind the DJ stage leads one up to an upper level display area.

Blue Orange: Igor Ballyhoo
Blue Orange: Igor Ballyhoo

For the opening, Ini has enlisted artists Igor Ballyhoo, Indigoclaire, Miu Miu Miu, Theda Tammas and Eupalinos Ugajin. Indioclaire and Eupa occupying the middle of the three adjoining halls accessed via the subway platform, with Indioclaire’s 2D art occupying the wall spaces and Eupa’s 3D work occupies the floorspace. Elements of the latter may be familiar to SL art lovers – such as the Dragon from Gravity Is a Mistake (read more here) – and others offer a little interactive fun (you can take a dance on Donald Trump’s hair if you like).

Leading off of this hall are two others. One houses Theda Tammas’ The Cortège, to which visitors are led via a poem inscribed on the floor. The second hall offers a isngle and highly evocative piece by Igor Ballyhoo Sacrificed Angel, which should be viewed under midnight lighting conditions.

Miu Miu Miu’s art sits in the hall reached via the hole in the wall from the club area, so when visiting, be careful not to miss it.

Blue Orange: Miu Miu Miu
Blue Orange: Miu Miu Miu

“I was unbelievably happy when so many people wanted to show their creativity and make Blue Orange bigger, much more ‘wider’,” Ini says of the art exhibits, “not only as music club, but as art project – which is open for all people.”

Music for the open of the club and the art exhibits will be provided by Gitu Aura (12:00 noon SLT through 14:00), Khaz Rotaru (14:00-16:00) and Niels Koolhoven  (16:00-18:00). Those interested in saying up-to-date with events can do so via the Blue Orange inw-world group. Ini informs me that artists will be displaying for 2-3 months at a time at Blue Orange, although they may make changes to the art they are displaying in that time.

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SL project updates 2016 50/3: TPV Developer meeting

Mineral Ridge; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr Mineral Ridgeblog post

The notes in this update are taken from the abbreviated TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, December 16th. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update. My thanks as always to North for recording and providing it.

SL Viewer

Current Pipeline

Expect no further viewer promotions to release or RC status until 2017, as the No Change window is now in effect through until January 2nd, 2017. although this doesn’t necessarily prevent project viewers from appearing (see below).

64-bit Builds

[00:07] The Lab is progressing with the 64-bit builds (Project Alex Ivy – which I assume is a reference to 64 in Roman numerals: LXIV = aLeX IVy). Oz reports they are not quite there with the Mac builds as yet, with more work needed on the library builds. However, Whirly Fizzle has already uncovered  some issues with the Windows build, although she reports it as being largely stable through her own testing. Oz indicates there is still “some chance” a project viewer may appear before the holiday break takes full hold.

360-Snapshot Viewer

[05:59] The 360 snapshot viewer remains on hold while development is focused is on the 64-bit viewer builds. As soon as working versions of the latter are available for all the OS platforms, efforts will be switched back to 360-snapshots.

Viewer-side Voice Updates

[01:54] A new Voice update viewer should be available early in the New Year. This should fix a number of bugs and add improved diagnostics. There is currently no time line on when older versions of the Voice package will be blocked from connecting to the service, as “other things” are now seen as having a higher priority.

New Strategy for Rendering Fixes

[16:45] Up until now, fixing for rendering issues have been handled as a part of the Lab’s “standard” methodology for viewer updates: develop a fix for an issue and release it in a Maintenance release candidate viewer. This hasn’t always worked, with some fixes introducing problems of their own (the solid grey / black rendering of invisiprims perhaps being the most visible in recent times), which then prevent other fixes in the same Maintenance RC from progressing while the Lab works on the rendering fixes.

To try to avoid this, the Lab is going to experiment with separating out rendering fixes and moving them to their own release branch of the viewer. This should both prevent other Maintenance fixes and updates from being bottlenecked, but also allow for better QA testing of rendering system fixes / changes.

Sounds and Animations: HTTP and CDN Delivery

[02:22] In 2013 / 2014, the Lab made a huge change to how avatar appearance information and texture and mesh assets are delivered to users, shifting them away from UDP (User Datagram Protocol) delivery through the simulators, to HTTP via Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) – see my past reports on the HTTP updates. and CDN work.

For 2017, the Lab plan to move sound and animation assets (which may or may not include gestures) to delivery via HTTP and thence to CDN distribution and delivery. There is no precise time frame for this work, but once fully implemented (including by TPVs) the UDP  / simulator messaging and routing for these assets will be removed.

While some have experienced CDN related issues with textures and meshes, the hope is that the move will make the delivery of sounds and animations more robust and faster (sounds are reported as being “amazingly slow” to delivery over UDP via the simulator – 10K/second), and remove more of the heavy lifting of assets from the simulators.

Other Items

First TPV Developer Meeting for 2017

[24:26] The December 16th meeting marked the last TPV Developer meeting for 2016. The next meeting will not by until Friday, January 13th, 2017.  This is largely due to the fact that not a lot will have changed between now and the second week of January to make a meeting worthwhile.

Second Life and Oculus Rift

[33:28] In July 2016, Linden Lab suspended development on Oculus Rift support in the viewer, but left the door open a crack for the potential for the work to be picked-up at some point in the future. However, as things stand with the current generation of headsets, this is not going to happen in the foreseeable future.

The belief is that the rendering requirements – particular frame rates sit well above those which can be reasonably achieved in Second Life through the viewer (Oculus VR quotes a minimum of 60 fps and a preferred rate of 90 fps, which the Lab sees as being doubled to 120 and 180 fps when rendering an SL scene in stereo).

Firestorm 5.0.1 Download Issues

[20:16] Jessica Lyon gave further insight into the recent issues with people trying to obtain the Firestorm 5.0.1 Bento release (see my review here, and subsequent updates on the download situation here and here).

While there were some indications demand would be high – the Firestorm Preview group had expanded to over 8,000 people – it nevertheless outstripped all expectations, and the Firestorm download server almost came to a standstill. To try to correct this, the server was restarted, driving traffic back to the web server in the process, which then overloaded and crashed.

Firestorm hope that with Bento out the door, the viewer can resume a more “normal” QA / release cycle through the Preview and Beta groups. However, a mirror site for new release downloads will be maintained going forward. Options for hosting the Firestorm JIRA service, considered a major resource hog on the FS servers, are also being considered, although there are pro and cons involved in making changes.

Jess also took the opportunity to again thank Linden Lab for stepping up and providing a mirror for downloads.

Boarding the Arctic Express in Second Life

DRD Arctic Express
DRD Arctic Express

Inspired by the 1985 children’s classic, The Polar Express, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, the DRD Arctic Express, built by sisters Jaimy Hancroft and Ewoyn Swords, is currently being showcased in its own region for the holiday season. As the region is a venue for the Lab’s Jolly Holiday Crawl, and DRD is the subject of segment #42 of the Drax Files World Makers; (see my review here), Caitlyn and I took time out on a Friday afternoon to pay it a visit.

The express sits to one side of a snow-bound landscape under an overcast sky, patiently awaiting passengers to climb the steps and board the carriages. Those who do will find there’s considerable comfort to be had within. For example, the First Class saloon located immediately behind the engine and its tender, provides soft sofas and armchairs in which to relax, with decorated Christmas trees offering a seasonal sparkle, while cookies and hot chocolate are on hand to ward off the cold.

Travel in style
Travel in style

Behind this sits the dining car, where the tables are set for those seeking a filling repast – just take a seat and discover for yourself!  Travel further back through the train, and the first class carriage awaits, and behind it, the club car. The latter offers a range of alcoholic beverages for those seeking something with a little more edge than hot chocolate to help them recover from the cold air outside. Bringing up the rear of the train are the standard and third class carriages.

Hauling all of this – so Google informs me – is a mighty 4-6-6 locomotive modelled after the Berkshire 2-8-4 engine from the book (and its cinematic counterpart). This is beautifully detailed on the outside (and the cab number includes a special significance for Jaimy and Eowyn, being three of the digits from their late father’s birth date). While the cab might appear a little plain, there is fun to be had  – simply touch the boiler and select Sit to find out more!

Enjoy a meal and a glass of wine
Enjoy a meal and a glass of wine

Across the snow from the train, for those who feel a need to stretch their legs, is a little DRD outpost where those joining in with the Lab’s Jolly Holiday Crawl on December 19th will be able to claim some special DRD gacha items.

Perfectly showcased, DRD’s Arctic Express makes for a pleasant visit and an ideal location for photography.  I’m not sure how long it will remain available for visits, but it’s definitely not one to be missed, either on its own, or as a part of the Jolly Holiday Crawl.

DRD Arctic Express
DRD Arctic Express

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Cerebral Frame in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Cerebral Fame
DiXmiX Gallery: Cerebral Frame

Currently on display at DiXmiX Gallery, is a selection of thirteen images by Isa Messioptra brought together under the title Cerebral Frame. Taken over the last year or so, the collection comprises both colour and monochrome images spread across the main and mezzanine floors of the gallery, mixing nude studies, examinations of human emotion and moments caught in time.

These are striking pieces – all of which are offered for sale by the artist – each one coming across as a scene from a much larger canvas or story. However, it is left to our imaginations to paint that larger canvas with a narrative sparked by each of the scenes we are witnessing, and so frame them.

DiXmiX Gallery: Cerebral Fame
DiXmiX Gallery: Cerebral Frame

Nor is the narrative necessarily individual to each of the pieces display. For example, displayed on the mezzanine level are four monochrome images – In The Eve, Fragrance and Thank You For The Funky Time at the top of the stairs, and Heirloom, slightly separated from them – which together suggest a common narrative might flow between them, as if each is a paragraph or chapter of an unfolding story.

From a personal standpoint, I found two pictures in particular evocatively striking:  Out Of One Comes Many (seen above) speaks volumes on the subject of composition and of self. It embodies the idea that we are never one person, but the result of multiple selves, which are capable for surfacing  at any moment, sometimes breaking through the painted exterior we are presenting to the world, offering a complete different self narrative to that we may want to project.

DiXmiX Gallery: Cerebral Fame
DiXmiX Gallery: Cerebral Frame

Above Us Only Sky (directly above) is a piece I’ve seen before, and am still struck by its richness and depth on seeing it again. Produced in colour, the opportunity for narrative it presents is  stunning. so much so that is is very easy to become lost within it as one tries to fathom what is being seen and how the mind seeing it is reacting.

This is another superb exhibition by Isa, and one not to be missed.

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