Lalbu’s Desert at DiXmiX

DiXmiX Gallery: Lalbu

Now open at DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source is Desert, which I understand is the first exhibition by artist Lalbu. Unfortunately, as Dixmix maintains the habit of not providing bylines on the artists who display at the gallery (marking DiXmiX Gallery as one of the few that doesn’t), I have no idea who Lalbu is, nor can I tell you any more about them.

In fairness, the lack of further information might be because that is how the artist would prefer things – but without any outline commentary supplied by the gallery, it’s hard to know.

DiXmiX Gallery: Lalbu

That said, from an art appreciation standpoint, a lack of background information doesn’t prevent one from recognising this series of images for what it is: a remarkable set of studies offering a glimpse of life in the sub-Saharan / Sahel region of Africa. Each image is focused on a single figure, dressed in what might be regarded as “traditional” desert garb. Female and male, these are intense studies, an entire story written into each one of them.

Such is the emotional depth of each piece, coupled with pose, framing and tone, we don’t need the accoutrements of daily life to recognise these people and the lives they live in what is one of the hardest regions in the world to live on a daily basis. Every single picture speaks volumes in the most marvellous way. Looking at them, it is impossible not to be drawn into the tales that have to tell.

DiXmiX Gallery: Lalbu

Take Desert #12 as an example. A close-up profile of a man standing at what might be the entrance to his tent. There is an intensity in his eyes that speaks volumes: intelligence, determination – love; emotions reflected in the soft turn of his lips. But there is more to the image as well: notice the slight scar under his left eye that has a story of its own to tell. Each picture in this collection has a similar depth and layering of story to tell.

As a total aside, I’ll also confess to being drawn to Desert #12 for another reason: the question of who may have been the model / inspiration for the piece. Was this an avatar study post-processed to resemble a painting or is it – as I lean towards – and original piece of art; and if indeed the latter, might the actor Michael Dorn served as inspiration for the piece, because the profile resemble is uncanny.

DiXmiX Gallery: Lalbu

And this is why it really would be nice to know more about Lalbu – because the truth is, these images are so remarkable, the story behind them, which necessarily involves the artist, deserves to be told.

Nevertheless, this  is definitely not a exhibition to be missed.

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Making a (Linden) houseboat a home

The landscaping within the region offers communal areas to encourage people mix – such as the beach alongside the houseboats in the group where mine is located

As I reported that the time, Linden Lab launched their new Linden Homes on Monday, April 15th (see: Lab launches new Linden Homes), and according to reports I’ve received, they are proving very popular, with the first allocation of houseboats in particular running out.

So what are these new units like as a potential home? Well, pretty bloody good, actually. While I can’t speak for the town house designs, the houseboat styles offer good variation between them in terms of looks and space, and many of the parcels offer a fair about of flexibility for boat / seaplane moorings.

My Windlass boathouse with additions – fireplace flue, two sets of exterior stairs, moorings, etc., and (inset) how the default Windlass looks

While it is pot luck on the parcel you are allocated (and remember, you can abandon and re-try), I was pretty lucky on my first attempt: a parcel on one of the outer sandbars of Bellisseria, offering a nice view over the strait to the continent on one side, and a public beach and open sea on the other. The houseboat also sits with a beam-to-land orientation, leaving me with a body of water on the parcel that has a good breadth and depth, and avoids feeling quite so hemmed-in by the houseboats on either side.

With a land capacity of 351, there is a lot that can be done with these parcels in terms of decorating and (in the case of the houseboats) plonking down a boat or two (or three) or some boat / floatplane combination. For my part, I felt the Windlass houseboat offered the most flexibility for internal space (I particularly liked the fact the little nook under the stairs to the roof suggested itself as a good place for a fireplace).

The interior space (shown empty in the inset) offers plenty of flexibility: room for a raised bedroom and lower lounge (or vice-versa)

Another aspect of this design I like is the split level nature of the living space, which naturally lends itself to various options. With a little custom work, it’s easy to produce a railing system that nicely separates the two halves of the living space, or even add full internal walls, depending on your preference.

Décor-wise, the interior and exterior walls, floors, etc., can be “repainted” via the house control panel. For this Windlass, this can lead to an interesting half-and-half look which breaks up the colour scheme. Additional textures can be obtained from the house / houseboat selector, so any elements you add can easily be blended in.

Another view of the interior, showing the fireplace tucked under the stairway

For me, the only issue with my Windlass is that the door is on the landward side of the house, and the shape of the parcel meant a trek around the houseboat and along the public piers the set between the parcels. However, the design is such that it was pretty easy for me to add more direct access by dropping in my own piers for mooring, and adding a couple of stairways: one up to the houseboat’s “balcony”and thence inside, and the other to the roof.

Given there is a total 351 LI to play with, adding details like this doesn’t mean you’re “eating prims”; but if you are worried about counts, remember that if you build yourself, a considered use of prim and mesh and Convex Hull accounting can help reduce LI cost. The stairs, railings, room divider and moorings (and lighting) I added, for example, weigh-in at just 30 LI combined (I used Kriss Lehmann’s Botanical Brick Path kit with a little bit of re-texturing for the moorings, simply because I had it to hand and linking works will with Convex Hull physics. The stairs came from Jed888, and are full perm).

The windless offers options for adding steep to reach moorings, if required, while the other houseboat designs offer water access from their decks, albeit with smaller interior spaces

As noted, the land capacity is more than sufficient to allow a boat or two (or more) to be rezzed. However, me being me, “one or two” is never enough given I change out ‘plane and or boat more times than I change my outfits :). So, I had to install a rezzer so I can pick and chose which boats / planes are rezzed with ease and without the need to drag, drop and position from inventory. It also means I can easily clear space friends to be able to moor when visiting. (For more on this see: Adding a little vehicle space with a rezzing system.)

Adding to my original post on the new Linden Homes, everything has been pretty well-considered. The houseboats and houses offer plenty of scope, the region offers a lot of general interest to see when exploring (with more to be added inland, as it is expanded in the  future) and it’s good to see the public areas include interactive elements to make them more interesting.

Potentially, my only critiques are in two areas: there should be more rez points for vehicles. There’s plenty to see when exploring by road / water, but the limited number of rez points tends to put people off taking a break and having a look around. There are certainly places where one might expect rez points – such as the little boathouses around the coast.

I’m actually surprised the little boathouses scattered around the coastline done offer rezzing points

Rez points are also helpful when region crossings go wrong, so having more (even just the road sign style on mainland highways for road vehicles) would be useful. My other critique is that a region of this size really should have a small airstrip or two, again with rez zones. A couple of grass strips suitable for small aircraft to get in and out of would add further depth to Bellisseria, both for people living there and for curious visitors who would like to fly in and take a look.

But the key question is, does my new Linden Home make me want to abandon my existing private island home? Well, truthfully: not yet; but that is only because things are still new, and I want to see how neighbourhood develop and communities grow. In the future, it may well be that a swap back to living in a Linden Home might well be on the cards.

I’ll let you know!

Footnote: When drafting this article on Tuesday, April 16th, I did actually gripe about the allowance of parcel banning / banlines within Bellisseria. This had already started impacting activities on and over the continent (try landing a ‘plane on water when your only option is to approach a channel over the tops of houseboats and then run slap into banlines …), and there were complaints at things like the LL Governance User GRoup on the matter. With my gripe, I mused on why LL hadn’t supplied a simple / regulated security system for the new homes, and disabled the use of parcel banning at estate level. However, as per a forum post by Constantine Linden, it turns out this is precisely what the Lab is doing in response to the general level of disappointment raised over the issue. So, kudos to the Lab for responding so positively and quickly! (And my thanks to Duckie Dickins for pointing out the forum post as we were discussing things!)