An engaging pot pourri of art at Focus Gallery in Second Life

The Exploratorium, Focus Gallery – MBTY

Focus Magazine’s gallery space is constantly evolving, something that makes any repeat visit both interesting and enjoyable, both for the art on display and to see what is happening in general. My latest visit was in part a reflection of this, as I wanted to see the latest addition to the gallery’s exhibition space: the Exploratorium of Art.

Located at the southern end of the gallery’s skybox space, the Exploratorium presents an “underground” exhibition space for artists where they can display and – if they wish – sell their work.

The Exploratorium, Focus Gallery – Loegan Magic

It is a semi-permanent exhibition – by that I mean, they can exhibit as long as they feel they would like to or until they run out of fresh content, and artists replenish the work at least every month. Ideally, artists will be members of the group and have an interest in participating in the community.

– Focus Magazine Gallery co-owner Angela Thespian, discussing the Exploratorium

Currently, spaces within the Exploratorium are offered to artists on the basis of direct invitation, or as a result of names being passed on by other artists within the community; there is no fee charged to artists for mounting an exhibition.

The Exploratorium, Focus Gallery – Wanderer

Some 16 spaces are offered in the exhibition hall, with some familiar names on display at the time of my visit, including Anibrm Jung, CybeleMoon, Focus co-owner, PatrickofIreland, as well as two or artists whose work I was seeing for the first time. Together, those currently displaying present a rich mix of landscape and avatar studies

Alongside of the Exploratorium is the Focus Artist in Residence (FAIR) gallery, which at the time of my visit featured the work of Jos Loll, Finn Somerset, Kaleb Avedon and Bryce Sun. These are, as with the June FAIR exhibition I reviewed (see: Focus Gallery in Second Life, June 2019). Having witnessed his first exhibition just a couple of months back, I was particularly pleased to see a further display of work by Kaleb Avedon – who is also a gifted live performer in Second Life.

Focus Gallery -Doc Romano

The main gallery space, located in the focus office building, features an exhibition of work by Doc Battitude. I admit to being more familiar with Doc via the region designs of CandleWood (see: Touring CandleWood in Second Life, March 2019) and Iona Shores (see: Exploring Iona Shores in Second Life, June 2019).

When it comes to his art, Doc offers an eye for detail and framing that easily matches that see within CandleWood and Iona Shores and demonstrated by his partner, AdalynneReed. The images here focus primarily on male and female avatars, particularly on the upper level of the gallery space, while the lower level includes a selection of landscape pieces. The latter are, for me, eye-catching, but I must confess The Windmill and The lighthouse Tale particularly captivated me.

Focus Gallery -Doc Romano

Rounding-out the exhibitions on offer during my visit is an outdoor selection of art called The Happiness Photo Walk, featuring images and photos from Second Life and the physical world, taken by Feature group members of things that make them happy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of these feature dogs, although I was a little surprised that only one featured one of our Ruling Overlords – a grey cat looking suitably unimpressed!

Focus Gallery continues to engage with the art on display, and with a developing programme of art-related events and activities, including talks and discussions by artists, the gallery is a recommended destination for all those supportive of art in Second Life.

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Sansar Product Meetings week #37: feedback and Q&A

The following notes were taken from my audio recording of the September 12th (week #37) Sansar Product Meeting, which took the form of a Q&A  / feedback session. As always, key points are summarised, but please also refer to the official video. Note that streaming may have been curtailed prior to the end of the meeting; as I was watching the stream, I have no idea if questions continued to be addressed after streaming ceased.

“Major” Launch and Challenges

  • Sansar is preparing for a “major” launch with one or more partners on September 24th.
  • This will apparently see several more Core Portals at the Nexus come in to use (according to the Nexus maps, one was already reserved the Monstercat, LL’s music event partner).
  • In the run-up to this, there are two Sansar challenges:
    • Future Fashion: design an outfit that can be featured on the main Sansar Store page and which fits with the theme of the upcoming launch. This runs until September 23rd.
    • Attack of the Clones: a series of running (I believe) challenges for users to create avatar likeness of famous people using Sansar’s facial morphing capabilities (not made outside of Sansar and then uploaded). The first selection of faces runs through until Monday September 16th, and features the faces of Ripley (aka Signourey Weaver) from the Alien franchise, Lando Calrissian (aka Billy Dee Williams, not Donald Glover) from the Star Wars films or someone called Pow3r (no, I’ve no idea who this is either). I gather entries are to be posted to Flickr.
Clone one of these three in a Sansar contest. Don’t ask me if it’s just for fun or if there is a prize, as the info is apparently conveniently buried in a Sansar Discord channel.

I’m unable to give further context to these challenges, as the details are buried somewhere in Sansar’s Discord pages (where contests and competitions apparently don’t even have their own channel).

User-Created Guides

A new section has been created in the  forums for specifically for user-created guides, tutorials and tips.

Q&A

Avatar Related

  • Can a texture wheel be added for selecting textures for skins, nails, eyes, etc? No, but texture layering will be in a future release.
  • When will it be possible to change custom skins on an avatar, rather than having to change the entire avatar look? Soon, but dependent on the Sansar licensing system being extended to cover the avatar. This also goes for selling facial presets.
  • Will the baked shadowing issues for under the arms, under the nose, etc., be fixed? There is an upcoming point release to fix the underarm shadows, and may address under the nose, etc.
  • Marvelous Designer related:
    • Will Sansar all the import of more than one materials face from Marvelous Designer? It should, so this may be a bug and will be investigated.
    • Better pining for clothing when editing MD clothing  is being investigated.
  • Body morphing and shape:
    • Full body morphing, when deployed will only be for the system avatar and avatars built off of it. An update system will be supplied to transition all such avatars over to body morph support.
    • Body morphing will not be available for fully custom-built avatars; what will be provided in the future is the ability to transform bones prior to upload.
    • The female avatar will remain “as is” (oddly elongated) for reasons previously indicated (to give a better baseline for body deformation for both male and female avatars, and to allow gender-neutral clothing).
    • It is hoped full body morphing will help alleviate this by allowing users the freedom to alter their body shapes, and allow LL to provide a greater range of starter avatar shapes for incoming users.
Avatar proportions: both male and female body proportions are roughly in keeping with the “norms” – but the female appears to have been vertically stretched (head and body) in order to match the male avatar, resulting in an odd, thin and hipless look

Nexus / Codex Portal Related

  • There is a degree of negativity from some creators towards the Nexus. Given it is less than a month old, it is difficult to tell if this is simply personal discomfiture over such a clear change from the past for those with long-term experience in using the Atlas or whether it is genuinely leading to a bottleneck in discovery / exploration by incoming users.
    • The Lab is monitoring traffic flow through the Nexus, but no changes are being considered at the moment.
    • Changes will be made if the metrics tend to show the Nexus is bottlenecking discovery.
    • improving discoverability within the Prime Portal is being considered, such as adding more searchable categories to the Portal (presumably things like “Science Fiction”, “Games”, etc), and better surfacing of particularly popular worlds.
  • A more elegant means of toggling between logging in to the Nexus or a user’s Home Space is being considered.
  • New loading screens for worlds are to be deployed fairly soon. They will come in two phases: improvements to the loading screen space, followed by UI improvements.
    • These will be tied to the Sansar “backstory”
    • A request has been made for load screen to contain more information, such as the descriptions, creator name(s), etc., from the Atlas / Codex / Prime Portal entry. This will be considered.
  • Can portals be made more interactive (e.g. walk through to move between worlds)? Could an image of the destination world be displayed within and active portal? Both ideas are already being considered.
  • An upcoming change to the Codex will mean that the master instance of any world that is used to create an event space host an event will be added to the Codex of all users attending the event, always direct “re-visits” to that world.
  • The current cap of 20 avatars per Nexus instance will be raised in the near future.
  • The Nexus might be considered as the venue for seasonal events organised by Linden Lab.

General Questions

  • Valve Index support:
    • The headset has been tested and appears to work, but not clear if some client-side changes will be required.
    • No plans as yet to implement the Valve Index finger tracking.
  • Chat / messaging related:
    • Will direct person-to-person Voice calls be enabled? Not really been discussed.
    • Will capabilities such as spell check be added to text chat? No plans, but perhaps in the future.
    • Can an audible notification be added for incoming messages? Will be added to the list of things under consideration; if implemented, will include an option for be disabled for those who don’t like it.
    • Work on chat / messaging features and improvements have been somewhat pushed aside due to the work going into the Nexus, etc., and Avatar 2.0, the questing system and the XP system – but they are something LL plan to get back to.
  • Camera related:
    • Freecamming from sit points: can the F4 (Desktop mode) freecam capability be made available to users when using sit points (in chairs, etc). Under consideration.
    • Will it be possible to focus on in-scene objects and then zoom into them, a-la Second Life? This is on the Lab’s wish list for the Edit mode, but is not a priority.
    • Better zooming at the avatar’s lower body in look book when dressing / adjusting clothing has been requested.
  • Will the ability to upload / edit terrain heightmaps be returning to Sansar? No current plans to do so.
  • Will an Abandon button be made available for users to remove unwanted and incomplete quests from their quest log? Yes, likely to appear in the next-but-one release.
  • Will it be possible to have “neighbourhoods” in Sansar – experiences with individual plots where users can place their own “pod” to live? Unlikely.
    • Landon McDowell, the Lab’s Chief Product Officer indicated that while it is not officially part of the development roadmap for Sansar, ways in which to “stitch” worlds together are still being thought about at the Lab – something Ebbe Altberg alluded to possibly happening back before Sansar made its initial closed Alpha début.
    • The main mechanism that exists – and will continue – in Sansar for “linking” worlds is for creators to drop portals to one another’s worlds (a-la region-to-region teleports in SL).
  • Feature requests and feedback: there are multiple channels through which feature requests and feedback for Sansar can be put to LL (e.g. the feature request form thread, product meetings, Discord, general forum discussion, etc.). LL is looking to try to rationalised this and formalise a process for gather feedback / requests and reviewing / vetting / prioritising against current plans etc.
    • It had been indicated (2017/18) that LL would look to move away from ZenDesk for their bug / feature / documentation / community / blog tool. However, it now appears they are somewhat hoist by their own petard, and unwilling to pivot away from it due to the investment in building a knowledge base.