SL15B: Ciottolina, Viviena, Thoth and Ginger

SL15B: Ciottolina Xue, Little Paradise in Second Life

The main festivities for the SL15B anniversary celebration are now over; the parties have all happened, the DJ and live performers have left the stages – but the regions remain open to visitors through until July 1st, 2018.

This being the case, and with the numbers packing some of the regions likely to decrease, now is an excellent opportunity to visit some of the resident built exhibits within the anniversary regions, so I thought I’d offer a short series of looks over the next few days at some of the ones that caught my eye, starting with some of the art exhibits.

Ciottolina Xue – Little Paradise in Second Life

Self-taught in 3D art, Ciottolina Xue is – in the interests of full disclosure – someone whose art I admire and who is a personal friend with Second Life. However, this isn’t why I’m including her in this article – I’m doing so because Little Paradise in Second Life is engaging and beautifully conceived.

Offering a sculpted garden environment, accessed through wrought iron gates, Little Paradise presents paths – some under open sky, others passing under the boughs of trees – that lead visitors around a series of rose-centric sculptures in which scenes of babies (and the occasional adult) are set.

SL15B: CiottolinaXue, Little Paradise in Second Life

It is, first and foremost, a very personal setting – many of the child sculptures represent Ciottolina’s Second Life persona, with some of them, together with the adult sculptures representing those with whom she has friends, and who have supported her throughout her time in Second Life.

Roses are my sensations; sensations that have taken over with time, passing by and emotions perceived by meeting new people who I esteem today. People who have become fond of me and without Second Life I never would have met. Some of them have become acquired mothers, aunts, uncles and other are precious friends. They support and encourage me in every step I take. People who are very capable in what they do.

– Ciottolina Xue

SL15B: Ciottolina Xue, Little Paradise in Second Life

But just as these little scenes are personal to Ciottolina, so too can they represent all of us: the roses offer us a chance to recapture memories of our times in Second Life and the scenes within them reflect our own friendships and relationships over the past however many years we’ve been active in SL. Similarly, the paths through and around the garden represent our own journey through Second Life.

Little Paradise is designed to be seen in a night setting (accept the parcel windlight on entering if you are using Firestorm or a viewer supporting parcel level windlight, otherwise try setting your viewer’s time of day to midnight); however, it also works under daylight settings as well – as I hope the images here demonstrate.

The Art of Viviena

Located alongside Little Paradise in Second Life is an enclosed art display by Viviena, marking her return to SL15B after illness prevented her being a part of SL14B – she was previously an official photographer at SL11B through SL13B.

Presented under a night-time sky, Vivena offers another garden environment, this one home to her Second Life photography, with individual easels set out along the winding path, each home to one of her images. These are all landscapes, taken from right across the main grid – just click on and image and use Edit to obtain the name of the region if it is not immediately familiar to you.

SL15B: Viviena

What is delightful about Viviena’s work is it shows no real sign of post-processing, but instead offers images of Second Life as we can expect to see it in-world. Each picture is perfectly composed, cropped and presented for our appreciation. This makes her work a must-see, whether exhibited in-world, or displayed on website such as the SL15B site, or through her Flickr stream.

As well a presenting their art, the gardens offered by Viviena and Ciottolina allow a perfect escape should exploring the rest of SL15B start having you feeling a little tired.

SL15B: Viviena

Thoth Jantzen – Moments of Immertia

Djehuti-Anpu (Thoth Jantzen) is an artist whose work never fails to captivate me. Specialising in mixed media, Thoth’s work is always immersive, interactive and captivating. For SL15B, he presents Moments of Immertia, a multi-layered piece which includes some past work as well a new pieces.

A visit to Moments of Immertia does come with some prerequisites, and the instruction boards in the exhibit explain. In short:

  • Make sure you have Advanced Light Model (ALM) enabled via Preferences > Graphics – this is essential, but you do not need to have shadow rendering enabled as well.
  • If you can, raise you viewer’s rendering to High or Ultra (you can reduce draw distance down to about 100 metres to help compensate for the rendering load, if required).
  • Make sure your viewer is set to auto-play media, and disable your media filter (if your viewer has it and you use it) – you can reset both to your preference on leaving the exhibit.
  • Allow the parcel windlight settings, if your viewer supports them. If not, set your time to midnight.

To this I would add a small warning. if you are prone to motion sickness or are sensitive to flashing lights, note that parts of Moments of Immertia involve moving and rotating colours and moving optical surfaces which can fill the screen.

Finally, also note that due to the quirks of SL, parcel media textures may not always activate as expected. If you find yourself in what is clearly intended to be an immersive media space and media is not playing, simply toggle the parcel media (movie) button off and back on again.

SL15B: Thoth Jantzen – Moments of Immertia

Virtual environments are should be immersive, providing experiences difficult or impossible to replicate in reality. That’s the point of this exhibit – to provide a few moments of immersion in strange virtual environments – just to give you a “wtf?” moment or two. Some of the displays may even give you pause to reflect.

– Djehuti-Anpu (Thoth Jantzen)

On the ground level of this exhibit sits COVFEFE: The New World Disorder, a (rightfully, in my personal view) irreverent consideration of the mind of the 45th President of the United States, whose head resides within the wreckage of a chess board – symbolic, perhaps of the impact this POTUS has had on the world as a whole. Chess pieces are tumbling through the air, and visitors can become part of the chaos by sitting on any of them, while touching the head poking up through the woodwork will offer some pearls of, um, wisdom from Duh-Donald, which are either direct quotes or concatenations of quotes from the man himself.

I’m so smart, I’m highly educated! I know words … I know the BEST words! COVFEFE!

– Duh-Donald, COVFEFE: The New World Disorder

SL15B: Thoth Jantzen – Moments of Immertia

COVFEFE: The New World Disorder shares the ground space with two more elements: TJ’s Tetrapylon, where visitors might ask the oracle and where touching is again encouraged. Alongside of this is In Surreal Time: Evolutions of a Theme, TJ’s contribution to the First Biennale Digitale part of the Santorini International Biennale exhibition of art and architecture (which is now in its fourth edition).

Directly in front of the latter is the teleport to the remaining elements in the exhibit:

  • Vertigogo – a mirrored room and observation deck based on materials and projection.
  • OMFG! and WTF? – massively immersive multimedia environments.
  • K-Scope 1.0 – TJ’s first immersive media environment and introduced to the public in 2008.

These all require your viewer’s ALM and media options to be set per the notes above.

SL15B: Thoth Jantzen – Moments of Immertia

No amount of worlds can do this exhibit justice, it genuinely has to be experienced – and really shouldn’t be missed (again, remembering the above cautionary note on motion and light sensitivity).

Ginger Lorakeet – Inside Art

There can be few who are unfamiliar with Ginger Lorakeet’s images which allow avatars to become a part of an overall picture. She has presented her work at a number of past SLB events, and is once more present at SL15B with her Inside Art – and this time with a set of images that follow something of a fantasy theme.

SL15B: Ginger Lorakeet – Inside Art

Ginger’s images are always well presented, but the ones offered at SL15B are special. Using muted colours and tones well suited to the overall theme, they each offer an entire narrative, and these individual narratives can in places perhaps be woven into a complete story.

Whether or not you’ve seen Ginger’s work at part SLB events or elsewhere, these pieces are very definitely worth the time to visit and try.

SL15B: Ginger Lorakeet – Inside Art

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2018 viewer release summaries, week #25

Logos representative only and should not be seen as an endorsement / preference / recommendation

Updates for the week ending Sunday, June 24th

This summary is generally published on every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
  • Note that test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version 5.1.6.516459 and dated June 15th, promoted June 21st – formerly the Pálinka Maintenance Release Candidate – New
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Quinquina Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.1.7.516813, released on June 22nd.
    • Windows 32-bit Unloop RC viewer withdrawn.
  • Project viewers:
    • Animesh project viewer updated to version 5.1.6.516525 on June 22nd.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V5-style

V1-style

  • No updates.

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: stations, Ceres, doubts and rockets

Tiangong-2, with one of the two docking ports visible. Credit: China News

China may be preparing to de-orbit its Tiangong-2 orbital laboratory, possibly to avoid a situation similar to that relating to the so-called “uncontrolled” re-entry of their Tiangong-1 facility, which re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and broke-up / burnt-up in April 2018.

Orbital information published by the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Force Space Component Command, through the Joint Space Operations Centre, indicates that Tiangong-2 has moved from an altitude of around 380 by 386 km down to 292 by 297 km.

No official announcement regarding the status of the Tiangong-2 space lab has been made by the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSE), however, China has made no secret of its plans to establish a permanent orbital presence over the Earth in the 2020s – and that to do so, they would discontinue operations with both Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2. and de-orbit both.

Measuring 10.4 metres in length and some 3.3 metres in maximum diameter, Tiangong-2 weighs 8.6 metric tonnes – making it the same overall size and weight as Tiangong-1, launched in 2011. The re-entry of that unit came after a series of alarmist headlines claiming it would “crash” to Earth after it was reported the Chinese only had partial control over it. Because of that tabloid farrago, some have speculated the alteration in Tiangong-2’s orbit is to allow China to retain full control over the facility, including when it re-enters the atmosphere.

Jing Haipeng (l) and Chen dong (r) aboard Tiangong-2. The only crew to visit the facility Credit: CCTV

Launched in September 2016, Tiangong-2 hosted a single crewed visit that same year, which lasted 30 days. In 2017 served as a test-bed for verifying on-orbit automated docking and refuelling capabilities  – two aspects of operations vital to the Chinese ambitions of developing their large-scale space station – using the Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft.

Tiangong-2 carried a range of science payloads, including POLAR, a gamma-ray burst detector developed by an international collaboration including Swiss, Chinese and Polish institutes. According to principal investigator Nicolas Produit, this astro-particle experiment collected excellent data during six months of operations, with science results to be published shortly. It is the kind of international collaborative effort China would like to develop with its new station.

Artist’s impression of the planned Chinese space station complex. Credit: CCTV

China is aiming to launch the first module of the space station proper, named Tianhe, around 2020. This mission first requires the nominal return-to-flight of the heavy lift Long March 5 launch vehicle, which suffered a launch failure in July 2017. When completed, the space station will mass between 60 and 100 metric tonnes, including two experiment modules due for launch in 2022. It will be capable of hosting three astronauts in rotations of up to six months at a time. A further element of the station will be a free-flying Hubble-class space telescope capable of docking with the station to receive propellants and undergo maintenance and repairs.

More on Ceres and the Building Blocks of Life

In February 2017, I wrote about the discovery of the basic building blocks of life on Ceres, which has been the subject of the joint NASA / ESA Dawn mission since March 2015.

The discovery of aliphatic compounds on the surface of Ceres was made by an international team of scientists who had been reviewing data from the Visible and Infra-red Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) aboard the spacecraft. Now, a new study conducted by a team of researchers from Brown University suggests that these patches contain more organic material than previously thought.

Dawn spacecraft data show a region around the Ernutet crater where organic concentrations have been discovered (labelled “a” through “f”). The colour coding shows the strength of the organics absorption band, with warmer colours indicating the highest concentrations. Credit: NASA/JPL / UCLA / ASI / INAF / MPS / DLR / IDA

Aliphatics are a type of compound where carbon atoms form open chains that are commonly bound with oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur and chlorine – all of which are necessary for the evolution of life. This doesn’t actually mean that Ceres supports life, because these molecules can also arise from non-biological processes. Nevertheless, the presence of these compounds does raise the questions.

The team behind original discovery of the aliphatics, found within a 1000 km² region around of the Ernutet crater, concluded that between 6 and 10% of the spectral signature detected on Ceres could be explained by organic matter. As hydrothermal activity had been detected on Ceres, the researchers hypothesised that the molecules were endogenous in origin – that is, they came from inside the protoplanet. Given that ammonia-bearing hydrated minerals, water ice, carbonates, and salts have also been detected on Ceres, there is the suggestion that it may have an interior environment that can support prebiotic chemistry.

Dawn mission (NASA / JPL) – click for full size

However, rather than relying on Earth rocks on which to base their work and findings, the team from Brown University used carbonaceous chondrite meteors, which have been shown to contain organic material that is slightly different from what we are familiar with here on Earth. As a result, they determined that the organics found on Ceres were distinct from their terrestrial counterparts – and the up to 40 to 50% of the spectral signal we see on Ceres is explained by organics – far more than originally estimated.

If this latter estimate is correct, it raises the question about where it came from – 40% is a lot for the compound to be entirely endogenous in origin. Rather, the high concentrations seem to be more consistent with being deposited by a comet impact.

Given that the asteroid belt is composed of material left over from the formation of the Solar System,  determining where these organics came from could shed light on how organic molecules were distributed throughout the Solar System early in its history, and the role this distribution may have played in the development of life here in Earth.

If, however, the compound deposits are endogenous in origin, there is still the question of what mechanisms were / are in play to result in such high concentrations emerged in Ceres’ northern hemisphere, and then preserve them in these locations. This is a question unlikely to be answered without follow-up missions able to obtain and analyse samples gathered from the surface of the protoplanet.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: stations, Ceres, doubts and rockets”