On Tuesday, June 19th, the Lab continued their blog posts about SL15B with the publication of a short video interview / message from Linden Lab CEO, Ebbe Altberg, talking about Second Life, its longevity and more (embedded below).
Ebbe has been discussing Second Life – and Sansar – a lot over the last few weeks with various media sources, and the blog post on the video also includes a link to a chat he recently had with Games Wisdom (June 15th).
In May, Ebbe sat down with Saffia Widdershins of Designing Worlds for a lengthy chat on all things Second Life and Sansar, and he’ll be doing so again on Wednesday, June 20th, as a part of the Meet The Lindens Series of events. You can catch him at the SL15B auditorium at 14:00 SLT.
In the meantime, if you want to catch-up with Ebbe’s Designing World chat, you can do so via the video, or if you prefer, via my transcript of the conversation, which provides a linked breakdown of topics discussed, as will as Ebbe’s comments and thoughts.
I’ll have coverage of the SL15B Meet The Lindens events available in this pages in due course.
Update: San Monique has closed. SLurls have therefore been removed from this article.
“I’m not really a big Bond fan, just that film and the locations in it,” Zakk Lusch informed me ahead of the official opening of San Monique, his latest region design, developed with They Wray DoneAway (They Ellisson). The region takes as its inspiration the first Roger Moore film in the Bond franchise, Live And Let Die (1973), to which Zakk alludes in his comment. He continues, “I just thought I would be fun to try a create something like this, as Bayou type region can be a challenge to find stuff to use. There are loads of little fun things as you look around.”
These little things include Zakk and They themselves who, for the opening, had adopted looks taken from the film – think Baron Samedi and you’ll get the picture – but there are more to be found when exploring this homestead region. However, it would be a mistake to consider it a representation of any single aspect of the film. As noted, the region is very much inspired by Live and Let Die, and thus is an amalgam of interpretations of settings, themes and ideas from the film.
An example of this is the region’s name and look. While the name may come from the fictional the Caribbean island-nation of the film, the overall look is very much that of the bayou region of Louisiana, – and the Bayou Des Allemands featured in a boat chase during the film.
Visits begin in the south, where one of only two upland area rise from the waters of the region. A flat-topped table of rock, this is home to the welcome area and landing point, a paved footpath and steps leading down to the lowlands of the region. It is along this path the another motif for the film can be found in the form of the fortune teller’s booth, echoing Solitaire’s harnessing of the Obeah to discern the future.
The second upland area is a small knuckle of a hill on which is perched a small wooden chapel. Within and around this are further echoes of the film – notably the coffin and the snakes and the Samedi-like skull and top hat sitting on a grave.
The rest of the region is given over to a bayou-style hamlet: wooden buildings fronted by board walks built out over the water. Here again are more references to the film – a tarot reader’s sign, the mask worn by the chap fishing off of one of the board walks, and – if you walk out and around the buildings – a small club taking its name from Mr. Big’s chain of eateries – the Fillet of Soul.
Given this is a bayou setting, the presence of crocodiles shouldn’t be that surprising. But even these echo the film – remember the crocodile farm on the island of San Monique? Thus even the reptiles offer a cinematic link to Bond’s 1973 adventures.
That said, there are some motifs from Live And Let Die that might be considered “missing” – no poppy fields, for example. But again, this is a Bayou setting, and not a reproduction of San Monique. So instead, it offers more a bayou look and feel: broad walks wind over the shallow waters, crocodiles lurk, an airboat awaits its owner – there’s even an illicit still hidden in a shed out on an island shoal among the bayou’s trees.
All of this makes San Monique a visit of a different kind; those who enjoy Roger Moore’s first outing as the eponymous British secret agent will likely enjoy discovering all the little nods to the film. Those who enjoy visiting, exploring and photographing regions in Second Life will find San Monique an engaging visit – and photos taken in the region can be submitted to its associated Flickr group.
As always, should you enjoy a visit, please consider making a donation at the landing point to help with the region’s continued presence. I’d like to extend thanks from Caitlyn and I to Zakk and They for the invitation to visit San Monique.
Salt is an immersive arts degustation. I’ve quite deliberately misappropriated the term ‘degustation’ [the careful, appreciative tasting of various foods, generally taken in good company] as this imparted itself as an ideal transition, because each segment-course is a unique work of its own volition.
Eliza Weirwight, discussing Salt
Salt is the title of the immersive installation by Eliza Weirwight, which formally opened over the weekend of June 16th and 17th, 2018. In terms of her non-commercial work, Eliza is perhaps best known for developing installations that reflect issues that concern her. This was certainly the case when I first encountered her work through her 2013 piece 35 Elephants, which you can read about in my article here.
This embodiment of matters that concern and / or have influenced Eliza are very much at the heart of Salt which, as Eliza notes in her introduction (quoted above), stands not as a single installation per se, but as a collection of scenes or elements or vignettes – call them what you will – which stand as pieces in and of themselves, but which all are drawn together via subtle threads of thought and outlook.
I will say from the top that this is not an easy installation to interpret. There is a deep layering of themes, whether they are in support of LGBTQ rights or statements speaking out against violence or inequality. In particular, there is a strong commentary on matter such as the objectification of women, gender-based violence, sexual predation, discrimination, hatred and on the state of “western” society as a whole which some may well find discomfiting. But so too is the installation richly emotive and evocative.
To define Salt, it is necessary to provide a little background information: while it is itself a new installation in and of itself, Salt has been a work gestating in thought and ideas for some time, as Eliza explains:
I was asked to produce a piece for One Billion Rising [Fourth Position]. It was eight little segments addressing things that were concerning to me … Some of the topics had such gravity, I refused to see them as disposable, and I had this idea bouncing around my head for a few years that I want to do this big thing, so I’ve woven a lot of that original work into Salt, because just about everything in this work matters to me. Some of it is my stories, and some of it is other people’s stories
Eliza Weirwight, discussing the origins of Salt
The “other people’s” stories Eliza references encompasses all those who have faced prejudice and / or hatred of any kind, be it based on gender, race, colour, sexual orientation or sexual predation. Within some of these issues she has drawn directly on the lives of others – notably Marilyn Monroe and Phan Thi Kim Phuc; within others, she has drawn upon the work of artist of all genres – painters, writers, poets, musicians, to add flavour (depth) to the framing of the subjects represented by them. These influencers include – but are not limited to – David Bowie, Andy Warhol, M.C. Escher, Edgar Degas, William Blake, Maya Angelou, Pablo Neruda, and Norman Rockwell.
The way these influencers are used is both intricate and subtle. For example, the very design of the structure housing Salt is mathematically precise in it use of shapes, whilst also offering something a challenge to the eye. Thus through it, we catch a glimpse of Eliza’s own appreciation for Escher’s work and the way in which it has captivated her thinking over the years. Elsewhere within the installation, Blake’s masterpiece The Tyger sits with a section related to violence, and thus its complex questioning on the nature of the creative force behind a creature as deadly as tiger becomes transformed into troubling questions on the subject of violence and those who would so willingly visit it upon others, becoming a further provocative motif within the section in which it sits.
Some of these references are delicately nuanced. The row of soup tins in Campbell’s Soup brand colours might initially appear to be “just” a homage to Andy Warhol. However the labels on these cans offer a statement on the ease with which bigotry and vitriol can be espoused on the basis of other people’s sexuality. Given Warhol’s own sexual orientation and attitudes prevalent in “respectable” society towards male homosexuality throughout most of his life, there is a deeper poignancy contained within this piece than might first be apparent.
While the vignettes and scenes within Salt do, as noted, stand individually, so too can they complement each other, adding a further richness of narrative to taste and consider. Take, as another example, the exceptionally poignant section on Marilyn Monroe. Framed around an excerpt of six-page letter she wrote to the psychiatrist who would find her dead a year later, it cannot fail to evoke sympathy at the depth of personal suffering individuals can experience as we reflect of Monroe’s own life and suffering and the price that can be paid as a result of societal expectations.
But there is also a broader narrative here as well. Within the section, there are two images – Monroe examining a small sculpture of Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans by Edgar Degas – a man famous for his paintings of ballet dancers, and second of Monroe practising ballet. Both images offer a visual link back to the preceding section (in which a representation of Petite Danseuse de Quatorze can be found), although there is more at work thematically between the two sections.
As the quotes from likes of Vanity Fair and The Guardian accompanying the representation of Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans note, the manner in which Degas presented ballet dancers can often contain an almost misogynistic delight in portraying the pain and suffering inherent in their craft, somewhat objectifying them. Elsewhere in his art there can be a sense of male sexual predation. Thus, given that a lot of Monroe’s own suffering was a direct result of the objectification she faced, together sexual predation, the placing these two elements together within Salt intertwines the two, presenting visitors with a much more intense sense of narrative shared by both.