Annabel Lee in Second Life

DaphneArts: Annabel Lee

Angelika Corral and SheldonBR, curators of DaphneArts, have something of an affinity with the work of Edgar Allen Poe. In 2017 they hosted an exhibition of art marking 208th anniversary of his birth, and they have also produced works of their own focused on Poe, notably Dream Within A Dream, based on Poe’s poem A Dream Within A Dream, and a static installation modelled on Fall of the House of Usher.

Dream Within A Dream formed the leaping-off point for a series of immersive installations they have produced (and which has most recently encompassed the works of John Donne – see No man is an island). Now, and with an official public opening on September 2nd, 2019, they have returned once more to Poe, with a new immersive installation Annabel Lee, based on Poe’s poem of the same name.

Annabel Lee was the last poem Poe composed; it explores the themes of death, love and the hereafter – all common these for Poe – wrapped within a “ballad” about the death of a beautiful woman. Within it, the narrator recounts his love for the woman – Annabel Lee – which began many years ago in a “kingdom by the sea”. He believes their love was so intense, the angels themselves became envious to the extent they caused her death. Nevertheless, he believes that the love they shared was so deep, neither angels nor the grave can constrain it, and that their souls remain entwined. And so it is, each night he dreams of her, as he lies beside her tomb.

DaphneArts: Annabel Lee

Like so many of Poe’s poems, Annabel Lee is complex as much as it is dark. There is something of an autobiographical element to it, another facet oft present in Poe’s work. He himself fell in love with his cousin, Virginia Clemm, and in the words of the poem – “she was a child” – being just thirteen when Poe married her, and she died just two years prior to the poem being written. Thus there is an element that in writing about the loss of “Annabel Lee”, Poe is perhaps drawing on personal experience.

In keeping with these immersive environments designed by Sheldon and Angelika, a visit commences in a sky box, where visitors are given an interactive HUD as a temporary attachment, and which should be accepted (it will be automatically be attached, and should detach on leaving – if not, just click the Stop button, when displayed). The skybox also includes instructions on setting your viewer’s environment (if you are using Firestorm, then the local windlight should apply via that viewer’s parcel windlight support). Once the viewer is set in accordance with the recommendations, visitors are free to take the teleport board to the ground level and the installation itself.

DaphneArts: Annabel Lee

The ground level presents the poem through what Sheldon and Angelika call “Magical Realism” – the use of sounds, visuals and the spoken word (in this case, Angelika reading the poem) – to evoke a sense that the visitor is immersed within its unfolding story. It’s a technique that might also be described as “immersive literary allegory”: a visual setting that both directly frames the telling of the poem’s story (the “kingdom by the sea”) and the passing of Annabel Lee (shown through the presence of her tomb), whilst also offering cues to the deep story of love and loss.

This latter aspect is shown through the use of elements such as the candles (a clear symbol associated with death) and the path they mark (representing the path we follow through life to its eventual end, which is in turn symbolised by the tomb), and by the house. The latter (perhaps best explored after hearing the poem throughout), shows signs of past habitation with rooms and furniture slowly mouldering. However, these are themselves more broadly representative of the memories of love and life shared but which have come to an end; the memories we fight to hold on to after the passing of a loved one, but which inevitably age and fade with the passing of time.

DaphneArts: Annabel Lee

So it is that this is a deeply atmospheric and evocative setting; one that should be experienced rather than described. It sets Annabel Lee, the poem, almost as fairytale without in any way destroying or distorting the emotional span of the original.

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2019 viewer release summaries week #35

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, September 1st

This summary is generally published 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 for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version 6.3.0.530115, formerly the Bakes on Mesh RC viewer, promoted August 26th – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: flying water tanks, telescopes and weird rocks

The “Flying Water Tank”, aka “R2D2’s Dad”, otherwise know as the Starhopper – rises to 120m (500ft) during its second major test flight, August 27th, 2019. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX successfully few their Starhopper vehicle – designed to prove the viability of their upcoming Starship space vehicle – on August 27th, in its most complex test flight to date.

The Starhopper craft, dubbed “the flying water tank” on account it both lacks its conical nose (damaged beyond repair during a storm at the start of the year) and the fact it was fabricated for SpaceX by a company that specialises in building water tanks, lifted off from a pad at SpaceX’s test site in Boca Chica, Texas, rising vertically to a height of 150 metres (488 ft) before translating to horizontal flight to crab across to another pad at the test facility and then descended under power to touch down once more.

While the flight lasted less than a minute, it has, according to Musk, paved the way for two dramatic follow-up flights.

Aiming for 20km flight in Oct & orbit attempt shortly thereafter. Starship update will be on Sept 28th, anniversary of SpaceX reaching orbit. Starship Mk 1 will be fully assembled by that time.

– Elon Musk via Twitter, after the successful flight

As well as the Starhopper vehicle, SpaceX is currently building two full-size Starship prototypes – “Mk 1” is being built at Boca Chica, with “MK 2” under construction in Florida. It appears that the “Mk 1” vehicle will be used for the 20km flight.

Starship Mk 2 on the left of the image, standing upright and with additional elements nearby, under construction in Cocoa, Florida. Credit: SpaceX

Musk’s announcement of a potential attempt to reach orbital altitude drew questions on whether SpaceX plan to use their Super Heavy  – essentially the “first stage” for Starship launches – with one of the Starship prototypes, or just make the attempt with the Starship on its own. In the past, Musk has indicated that a fuelled but unladen Starship should have the power to achieve orbit, but that would presumably be using all six of an operational Starship’s Raptor engines. By comparison, the Starhopper has a single Raptor motor and the Starship Mk 1 and Mk 2 craft will have 3 Raptors – at least initially.

As it stands, the “first generation” of Starship / Super Heavy is designed to be 9m (29 ft) in diameter and stand around 118m (390 ft) tall on the launch pad. Super Heavy is to be powered by 31 Raptor engines and the 48m tall Starship by 6 Raptors. Together they will be capable of lifting around 100 tonnes of payload to orbit, with Starship capable of reaching the Moon or Mars with that payload or up to 100 crew and passengers.

All of that is pretty mind-boggling. It makes Starship / Super Heavy the most powerful launch system ever built in terms of thrust. But SpaceX is apparently going to go beyond that. Following the Starhopper test, and responding to a question, Musk indicated that a “next generation” craft based on Starship / Super Heavy could follow in “several years”. While planning a follow-up to Starship / Super Heavy is not surprising, the scale of the follow-up version is: in a further tweet, Musk suggested it will be 18m (60 ft) in diameter – twice that of Starship / Super Heavy.

Mathematics tells us that doubling the diameter of a circle quadruples its area. This means that if the current ratio of dimensions for Starship / Super Heavy is retained, the “next generation” version would stand a mind-boggling 230 m (780 ft) tall and have eight times both the surface area and propellant tank volume of the current Starship / Super Heavy. All of which leads to a fuelled launch mass of around 40,000 tonnes.

An artist’s impression of a future “next generation” Starship / Super Heavy launch combination compared to SpaceX’s current family of launch vehicles, the current (2018) and previous (2016 and 2017) BFR designs. This assumes the “next generation” vehicle will have Musk’s stated 18m diameter and retain the same proportions as the current Starship / Super Heavy combination. Credit: Teslerati.

Given the size of such a vehicle, coupled with all the support infrastructure it would require during fabrication (never mind launching), it would seem unlikely it would retain the same proportions as the current Super Heavy / Starship combination. But whatever overall dimensions are proposed, the new vehicle will require some new motor system – were it to use the Raptor engines that Super Heavy will use, the lower stage would require 100 of them to get the stack off the ground.

More information on this possible “next generation” vehicle might be given when Musk provides a public update on the status of Starship / Super Heavy on September 28th, 2019.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: flying water tanks, telescopes and weird rocks”