The artefacts of love and lust in Second Life

Artefatos, the G.B.T.H. Project

The hotel sits alongside a canal, the one building lit within the gathering gloom of night. Limned in teal, the entranceway beneath the heavy awning looks cold even in the gloom, but inside is the warm yellow glow of ceiling lights offering a more friendly invitation to come inside, while more of the warm illumination pours out of the entrance leading up to the hotel’s rooms.

This is clearly a discrete establishment: the fact that the rooms can be accessed without the need to pass through the lobby area once a room is booked means patrons – and their guests – can come and go without too much notice. Thus, it is the perfect setting for a lover’s tryst – and for Artefatos (Artefacts), a provocative story-as-art installation by Ash (Ashratum), the latest exhibition presented at the G.B.T.H. (Grab By The Horns) Project, curated by Megan Prumier and Marina Münter.

Artefatos: The G.B.T.H. Project

The hotel lobby offers an introductory guide to the installation. In short, ensure you have Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) enabled in your viewer (absolutely essential, as the installation uses projected lighting and effects) – just go to Preferences > Graphics and ensure the ALM option is checked. Then climb the stairs to each floor in the hotel and visit each room in turn – there are two rooms to a floor for a total of 6 visits (although the 6th room offers more of a farewell, suggestive that the individuals in the stories might all be one in the same), each with a teleport door that should be touched to “enter” the room (touching the door also returns visitors to the landing “outside”) so they might proceed to the next door.

Each room forms a chapter of a story – the meeting of people brought together in love and – particularly – lust; erotic and sexual encounters. Written from a personal perspective (that of the / a woman in each story), they cast those visiting the rooms into multiple roles.

Artefatos, the G.B.T.H. Project

The most obvious of these roles as that of the storyteller’s male lover; written as recollections of recent encounters. In this, some might be stories designed to titillate and arouse as a kind of foreplay between lovers; in others they might be seen as expressions of regret for what has passed, while other hint at an unburdening of hurt. At the same time, there is an air of revealing secrets through the stories, casting the visitor almost into the role of confidante – although this is overshadowed by the sense that we are in fact voyeurs, having stumbled across the intimate letters from lover to former lover.

Thus, Artefatos presents a layering of interpretation through the stories, which are themselves made further tangible through the objects found within each of the room. These both reflect the story specific to each room whilst also casting visitors into two roles: that of the male lover – the props making us very much part of the story; and (again) that of voyeur, witnessing individual moments from each story from the outside, through the study of the artefacts that have been left behind.

Artefatos, the G.B.T.H.. Project

There is more to these objects than passive illustration, however. For those who speak Portuguese, approaching the items in each room allows the story to unfold through the spoken word via local sounds. For those who don’t speak Portuguese, a note card giver in the wall of the entrance hall to each room will supply the story in English, while extracts are projected onto each bedroom wall – hence the need to have ALM enabled.

The audio project can sometimes be disconcerting, as it is possible to stand within the room and hear multiple voices; but it can also deepen the sense of immersion within the installation, regardless of whether or not you understand what is being said. The passages layered one over the other can become fragments of memory; words said in the past, echoing in our ears. Thus we become not only the man to whom each story is projected, but the male half of the story as he perhaps revisits the scene of an encounter, hearing once again the words said to him in its wake or aftermath.

Artefatos, The G.B.T.H.. Project

A fascinating installation offering a different perspective on artistic expression in Second Life, Artefatos further establishes the G.T.B.H. Project as a forward-thinking gallery space in-world, and will remain open through until November 8th, 2018.

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2018 viewer release summaries, week #40

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, October 7th

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 5.1.9.519298, dated September 5th, promoted September 26th. Formerly the Rakomelo Maintenance RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
  • Project viewers:
    • Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) viewer, version 5.1.10.520121, released on October 3rd.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V5-style

V1-style

  • No updates.

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: exomoons, dwarf planets and spaceflight plans

Artist’s impression of the exoplanet Kepler-1625b, transiting the star, with the candidate exomoon in tow. Credit: Dan Durda

A pair of Columbia University astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Kepler Space Telescope have assembled compelling evidence for the existence of a Neptune-size moon orbiting a gas-giant planet 8,000 light-years away. If their findings are correct, it will be the first moon found orbiting a planet beyond our solar system.

The planet, Kepler 1625b, is between 5.9 and 11.67 times the size of Jupiter. It orbits a G-class main sequence star with around 8% more mass than our own in the constellation of Cygnus, every 287.4 days. The planet has been known about for some time, but whilst re-examining the data gathered by the Kepler space observatory that led to its discovery, Alex Teachey and David Kipping from the University of Columbia noticed anomalies in the way the planet dimmed the star’s light as it transited between the star and Kepler – anomalies that in ordinary circumstances should not have been there, but which were enough to get the astronomers 40 hours observing time using the Hubble Space Telescope.

Able to study the star with four times greater precision than Kepler, HST was used to observe Kepler 1625 both before and during one of the planet’s 19.5 hour transits across the star. In doing so, it recorded not only the anticipated dip in the star’s brightness, but also a second dimming along the same orbital path, starting some 3.5 hours after the first had started. The Hubble data also revealed that Kepler 1625b started its transit across the star 1.25 hours earlier than it should have.

When put together, the most likely explanation for both the “premature” transit and the extra dimming of light from Kepler 1625 is that a vary large, somewhat distance moon is orbiting the Jupiter-like Kepler 1625b. The presence of such a body in orbit would set a common barycentre (centre of gravity) between the planet and the moon that would cause the planet to “wobble” from its predicted location in its orbit, leading to variations in the start times for transits. Similarly, the presence of a large moon orbiting it would cause the additional dimming in the star’s brightness during a transit.

Diagram of the sequence of HST photometric observations. The purple object represents the planet Kepler 1625b, and the smaller green object is that exomoon, showing how the latter transits the star about 3.5 hours after the planet. Credit: NASA / ESA / D. Kipping (Columbia University), and A. Field (STScI)

Before the exomoon’s existence can be confirmed, further observations by Hubble are required. However, the preliminary data gathered suggests it could be around 1.5 percent the mass of its parent star – which is a very close mass-ratio between the Earth and its moon. However, given both the massive planet and its moon appear to both be gaseous in nature, should the moon’s existence be confirmed, it raises intriguing questions as to how it was formed.

In the case of solid satellites like the Moon, their creation is likely due to a collision between Earth and another planetary body that left debris that coalesced into the Moon. Such a path of formation for a gaseous body, however, is exceptionally unlikely: anything impacting with Kepler 1625b, for example, would likely be absorbed into it, rather than throwing off matter to form a separate orbiting body.

One of the most intriguing theories for the moon’s possible existence is that it may have started life as a separate planet orbiting Kepler 1625, but over time it came under the gravitational influence of the massive Kepler 1625b, and over time was drawn into orbit around it. If this should prove to be the case, it could have interesting implications for future exoplanets and the moons that may be found orbiting them.

NASA Delays Commercial Crew Launches and Tensions with Russia Increase

NASA has confirmed that the first uncrewed test flights of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing CST 100 Starliner commercial crew transports intended to fly astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) have been delayed.

SpaceX Crew Dragon (l) and the Boeing CST-100 Starliner: initial flights delayed. Credit: SpaceX / Boeing

Under the original schedule, the uncrewed flight test for Crew Dragon had been scheduled for November 2018 and would have been followed by a 2-week crewed flight with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in April 2019.  Under the new schedule, these flights will now  occur in January and June 2019 respectively.

Similarly, the first uncrewed flight for the CST-100 Starliner is now planned for March 2019 with the crewed test previously scheduled for mid-2019 now set for August 2019.

If SpaceX and Boeing maintain the new schedule, NASA believe the first operational commercial crew mission could take place in August 2019 – which would suggest a Crew Dragon would be the vehicle used, given the CST-100 would just have completed its crewed test flight, requiring some post-mission analysis. The second operational will then follow in December 2019. Both of these dates straddle the end to the US government’s extended contract to use seats on Russia’s Soyuz vehicle to send US astronauts to and from the ISS.

While unrelated, the news of the delays came as US / Russia tensions concerning the hole found in a Soyuz capsule became strained once more.

As I’ve previously noted (see here and here), at the end of August a slow leak was detected in a Soyuz MS-08 docked at the ISS. Initially, it was thought the hole causing the leak was the result of debris puncturing the Soyuz hull. However, it emerged the hole appears to have been drilled. Core thinking around it was that a mistake had been made during the vehicle’s fabrication or in preparing it for flight at the Baikonur cosmodrome, and then hastily covered up. In either case, it is believed a substance unfit for purpose was used in the repair, which gradually degraded in space prior to failing completely, causing the pressure loss.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: exomoons, dwarf planets and spaceflight plans”