Nature’s beauty in Sansar

Skye Naturae Virtualis

Alex Bader is one of the foremost creators of landscape elements in Second Life – trees, plants, land forms, textures, building kits, and so on, for temperate and tropical settings (he also produces a range of castles and buildings).

He’s also been working in Sansar as a part of the overall Creator programmed (Closed and Beta), and a visit to his experience there was added to my list of places to visit after Cube Republic (another creator of excellent plants and landscaping items in Second Life) prodded me about it recently.

Skye Naturae Virtualis

Unsurprisingly, Alex’s experience – called Skye Naturae Virtualis – is focused on nature: plants, trees, rivers, trails – which have been the hallmark of his work in Second Life. What is marvellous about it is the depth of realism Alex has achieved within it. So much so, that I can honestly say it is perhaps the first virtual environment I’ve seen that has made me regret not having ready access to a VR headset, just so I could experience visual immersion for the sheer pleasure of the setting, rather than out of any technical curiosity. It’s a place that quite honestly makes you want to be there.

You arrive on a woodland trail, rocks and cliffs visible through the trees, the sounds of birds and of flowing water. Ahead, the trail leads between tree trunks, fork to the left and right. Some paths are only short, others lead onwards, splitting again, crossing a bridge, offering a way to grassy slopes.

Skye Naturae Virtualis

This is very much a work-in-progress, with Alex noting that he plans to add to the setting over time as he creates more plants, trees and other elements for Sansar. This can be evidenced by one of the paths winding its way into a rocky cleft, the way only to be blocked by boulders, the path beyond them petering out in a space that looks like it is waiting to have detail added.

Alex says his hope is to, “Create a natural virtual space, just as exciting and captivating as the real (no harm in dreaming the impossible!).” On the strength of what is already available within the experience, I’d say he is achieving the impossible. Skye Naturae Virtualis is one of the most natural-looking environments that can be enjoyed in a virtual space, almost perfectly bringing together setting, sky, sunlight and sounds into a whole. Beautiful in Desktop mode, I can well imagine that in VR mode it could leave you feeling you’re almost anywhere in the temperate world, be it one of the national parks of the United States, the forests of Canada, the lowland Alps of Europe, the woodlands of Germany or anywhere else you care to think of.

Skye Naturae Virtualis

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Art Project 3 at Blue Orange in Second Life

Blue Orange: Xirana Oximoxi

Currently on display at Blue Orange, the music and arts venue in Second Life curated by Ini (In Inaka), is Art Project 3, featuring work by Aicha-Tubal Amiot, Gitu Aura, Rebeca Bashly, Chibbchichi, Jadeyu Fhang, NicoleX Moonwall, Nevereux, Bryn Oh, Xirana Oximoxi, and Theda Tammas.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, part of the delight in visiting this particular venue is its subterranean look and feel, which offers something of a warren of spaces which take time to explore, and make the discovery of what lies within them more interesting. This exhibit is no exception, although my visit did leave me with a feeling the art spaces have been expanded, with everything turned around a little, making navigation this time around a little harder – the LM I regularly use delivered me within the club space itself, rather than out on the subway platform as used to be the case (there’s no official landing point).

Blue Orange: Gitu Aura and NicoleX Moonwall

The art on exhibition is split between four main areas. The first of these is the Art Corner hall just off of the club, featuring a sculpture by Rebeca Bashly, art by Ini herself, and Mindgames by Gitu Aura and NicoleX Moonwall, a display area above the club, featuring pieces by JadeYu Fhang. A hall leading off of this area leads to Alchemy by Nevereux, defined as, “a series of visual allegories meant to detract you from a physical plane and deliver you into mysticism via transformation and criticism.” Note there is a warning to those who are sensitive to flashing lights with this exhibition, but it only applies to the hallways leading to it.

The second Art Corner hall, accessed via the subway station platform outside of the club, features Waiting Box by Theda Tammas, while a further hallway from this again leads to a section of Alchemy. This shares the same warning for those with a sensitivity to flashing light, which again only applies to the entrance hall.

Blue Orange: Nevereux

Above the club is a further hall, this one featuring elements some may recognise as being from OpeRaAxiEty (see here). The final art display area is devoted to 2D art, and split between the hall connecting the club with the subway station platform, while art and drawings by Xirana Oximoxi can be found in a hall down the stairs running down from the hall featuring Rebeca’s art.

Such a broad mix of art makes highlighting individual elements that much more difficult, particularly given the calibre of the artists brought together here. As such, these are displays best enjoyed individually as you pass through the halls and hallways of Blue Orange. However, were I to pick one with a particular appeal, it would be Alchemy. There is a depth of interpretation to be found within it – which is not to in any way diminish any of the others; for example, it’s always a delight to see Bryn Oh’s 2D art.

Blue Orange: JadeYu Fhang

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