Deadpool Reborn in Second Life

Deadpool Reborn; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrDeadpool Reborn – click any image for full size

Earlier in September 2018, Megan Prumier posted images of Deadpool Reborn, with a note that the design she and Xjetx Chrome first opened back in 2013 (and about which you can read about here) would soon be opening. I’d al but forgotten seeing the notice, but fortunately, Shakespeare dropped me the new landmark.

Like the original, Deadpool Reborn is in part focused on a run-down carnival that is not quite all it seems. For those who remember the original, there are several elements here that should ring the bells of memory: the great red Ferris wheel, the broken roller coaster and so on. However, as something I don’t recall from the original, the carcass of a city sits beyond the boundary of the carnival, adding its own ominous air to the setting.

Deadpool Reborn; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrDeadpool Reborn

This is not a place for enjoying all the fun of the fair or holidaying in the city; again like its namesake, Deadpool Reborn is – for those so inclined – about hunting clowns and zombies as they wander the streets. To assist in this, weapons can be obtained from a large case just outside of the carnival grounds, alongside the landing point.

Within the fairgrounds, the decaying rides offer both atmosphere and backdrop for photography, while the clowns and scurrying mechanical spiders with their broken doll heads present an obviously malevolent edge to things – although they are by no means alone.

Deadpool Reborn; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrDeadpool Reborn

A stage area sits to one side of the carnival’s cracked asphalt, a board revealing it is a place of entertainment and given the season that’s approaching it will no doubt some Halloween themed parties to come. Nor are the sideshows entire static as well; for those willing to explore, there is a little non-zombie killing fun to be had, in a slightly macabre manner.

In terms of the city, one can only guess at what may have befallen it; natural disaster, plague or some terrible experiment gone wrong. Whatever it was shows signs have having struck fast, and was certainly enough to bring down one elevated road with traffic still upon it; but it did not happen recently. The streets are now well overgrown; the building shattered and slowly falling apart – and yet, oddly, there is still power available to light street lamps and lurid neon signs.

Deadpool Reborn; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrDeadpool Reborn

As noted above, this is the place where the clowns and zombies roam for those who fancy going hunting – although I confess that, after Hell’s Crossing, the zombies here are pretty tame, both easy to locate and easy to dispatch, either with the supplied weapons or your own. This tends to limit the appeal the region might have as a shoot-em-up.

The carnival isn’t the only echo of past builds; within the city are elements reflecting another of Megan’s designs: A Little Bit of Soul. While this is now gone from Second Life, you can read about it here, and recapture aspects of it in the split-level design of Deadpool Reborn’s city, notably the overgrown motel building, and the nearby backstreet market area.

Deadpool Reborn; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrDeadpool Reborn

Which is not to say this area of the region is merely derivative: there is enough here to make it unique in its own right, and offer plenty of opportunity for photography. There’s also some nice touches in menace through the positioning of static NPCs (look up for some of them).

So, if you’re looking for somewhere a little more unusual to explore, why not celebrate Deadpool Reborn? When doing so – keep an eye out for the cavern system!

Deadpool Reborn; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrDeadpool Reborn

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Four kilometres of art in Second Life

DC Spensley Retrospective

Despite receiving an e-mail invitation, I regret I was unable to attend the official opening of David “DC” Spensley’s towering – in a literal sense – art retrospective on September 22nd, 2018. However, as soon as time allowed, I did take the opportunity to jump over and immerse myself within it.

Known in-world as Dancoyote Antonelli, DC is one of the pioneers of visual arts in virtual worlds, working independently and in collaboration with other early pioneers to create 3D art that were considered ground-breaking at the time. In the United States, his work has been referenced in mainstream press, including The New York Times, Reuters, Step by Step Design, and Fibreculture Journal.

In 2006, DC also founded the world’s first virtual, aerial dance company – the ZEROG SkyDancers. On seeing the troupe perform, former Linden Lab alumni John “Pathfinder” Lester compared their work as genre-expanding as the Cirque Du Soleil. More recently, in 2014, DC and the ZEROG Skydancers again pushed the boundaries of performance art and dance, with Avant Garden. This mixed reality performance featured dancer Kathleen Moore performing on stage at the Little Boxes Theatre in San Francisco, a rear protection screen allowing her to interact with the troupe as they performed within Second Life.

Kathleen Moore performs on stage at the Little Boxes Theatre in San Francisco, August 2014, interacting with members of the ZEROG Skydancers performing in Second Life.

For this retrospective, DC presents many elements of his work (and notable elements by other artists) in which is likely to be the tallest structure yet built within Second Life: rising 4,000 metres from its water level base, the Tower of Light. The art is presented on a total of 40 levels extending from the tower, with a number being interactive either by touch (control panels and media boards) or physical avatar collision. Information plinths are placed on each level to deliver contextual notes and insights on each of the elements being presented, making this an informative, as well as visual installation.

Movement between the levels is achieved via a teleport HUD available from the landing point, or by sitting on a tour cushion,. The latter also allows for direct transfer to a desired level within the two (by means of a smooth vertical ascent rather than a TP), or can take riders on a “grand tour”, visiting each of the levels in turn. All three option are valid means of travel, delivering the visitor to each level alongside its associated information plinth, although I enjoyed the “grand tour” the most.

DC Spensley Retrospective

In a considered touch, the “tour cushions” will not simply poof should a visitor stand at any given level. Instead, they remain rezzed for long enough to get up, inspect the art, try any supplied controls or watching any associated video (if trying them / watching while seated proves inconvenient) before sitting once more in order to resume a journey to other levels.

Exploring the Tower of light is also both an exploration of DC’s thinking and his approach to art and of something of the history of visual arts in SL as a whole – although it should be noted this is not a chronological journey through DC’s art. Rather it is a thematic voyage, enfolding within it his concept of “hyperformalism”, exploring the nature of “native” art produced within a virtual world.

Rather, the historical aspect is born out of the majority of these pieces either being created before the advent of true mesh capabilities in Second Life, or which eschew the use of mesh in keeping with the aim of hyperformalism. Thus, these are primitive art, a term I use in reflection of their construction, not as a suggestion of any lack of sophistication they might otherwise contain; rather the reverse in fact: the nature of primitives actually requires these pieces to be sophisticated in design and scripting (and examples of all the scripts can be found in the relevant information note cards provided by DC).

DC Spensley Retrospective

It is also the information cards that offer insight into DC’s thinking and ideas around hyperformalism, with some also acting as a glimpse of part of the platform’s history. Of those who, like me, have been active in SL for the last decade, some of the names mentioned are liable to set memories tumbling: Qarl Fizz, Dekka Raymaker (who only returned to SL in August 2017 after a 6-year hiatus), and Nomasha Syaka to name but three (Nomasha’s sculpted horse was a decorative mainstay in many of my early SL homes, and is still to be found within the Library section of inventory).

When visiting, I would suggest allowing sufficient time to visit all 40 levels within the Tower, rather than breaking a tour up over two or more visits, as this offers the fullest potential to appreciate both the art and the concepts involved in DC’s work.  And as a purely subjective opinion, I would suggest using the viewer’s default midnight setting when travelling through the installation. This removes the distraction of the surrounding clouds, and more particularly adds a tangible depth to the colours within the Tower and the art it presents, giving a greater sense of presence whilst touring.

DC Spensley Retrospective

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