Sansar Lectures: Murder in VR

The Murder in VR lecture series. Credit: Linden Lab

Psychological profiling is a tool that today is in commonplace use within law enforcement agencies around the globe. It’s a means of literally getting inside the mindset of a murderer – notably the serial killer – and working out what makes them tick in order to understand things like their underpinning motivations: why they kill, how they might select their victims and murder locations, etc., all in an effort to be able to identify them, perhaps pre-empt them, and bring them to justice.

Profiling has largely entered the public consciousness over the last 30-ish years thanks to crime novelists, films and TV shows, particularly those featuring the FBI. Perhaps the earliest public recognition of criminal profilers came in the form of actor William Petersen: long before he took up the sample kit and got involved in forensic investigation through the original CSI series, he starred in the 1986 film Manhunter, portraying fictional FBI criminal profiler Will Graham from Red Dragon, Thomas Harris’ 1981 psychological thriller.

Dr. Lee Mellor. Via

I mention all of this because an examination of criminal psychology and psychosis is the subject of the second in an interesting series of lectures being presented in Sansar during October.

These lectures are being led by Anglo-Canadian criminologist writer (and – wait for it – alternate country musician; who said people can’t be multi-talented?) Dr. Lee Mellor.

I’m actually a little peeved with myself for missing the first lecture in the series, which took place on Wednesday, October 9th, as I gained an introduction and interest in criminal psychology while at college, thanks to a study of Criminal Shadows: Inside the Mind of the Serial Killer by David Canter, one of the UK’s ground-breaking criminal psychologists and founder of the International Academy for Investigative Psychology, an academy for researchers seeking to apply social science to investigative and legal processes .

Fortunately, that first lecture is available on the official Sansar Twitch channel, and also via YouTube. The rest of the series lines up as follows:

  • Friday, October 11th: Psychopathy and Psychosis – when you use the term ‘psycho’ are you referring to a psychopath or psychotic? Do you even know the difference? Lee Mellor helps us understand the basic neuroscience, psychological features, behaviours, and crime scenes of psychopathic and psychotic offenders through case studies.
  • Monday, October 14th: A motive for Murder – Dr. Mellor examines a plethora of motives to commit acts of murder from the utterly mundane to the thoroughly bizarre, and argues that there is rarely a motive, but rather, a number of intersecting motives, along with debunking the idea of the ‘senseless’ crime.
  • Wednesday, October 16th: M.O. and Signature – an exploration of the crucial concepts of modus operandi and signature, their differentiations, and the necessity of being able to identify and distinguish between the two in order to effectively link crimes and bring an offender to justice.
  • Friday, October 18th: Fetishism and Paraphilia – delves into the bizarre, fascinating, and controversial world of kinks, fetishes, and paraphilia: some utterly harmless, others indisputably dangerous – and some of which can manifest in crimes from breaking and enter to pre-mediated murder.
  • Monday, October 21st: Sexual Sadism  – for details, please refer to the Sansar Events page, once they have been published.

Note that(all lectures commence at 15:30 PDT, and can be found in the Sansar Events page on the web.

While clearly intended to sit hand-in-hand with the Halloween month, this set of lectures actually goes much further than a “gimmicky” play on horrors an things that go bump in the night (in this case, bodies hitting the ground / floor): they can actually help demonstrate how an environment like Sansar can be used for educational / lecture purposes and provide a forum for discussion of real world events, situation and circumstances.

Sadly, given the timing of the series – very late evening for me, when my time tends to be busy in both the physical and the virtual realms, I’m not sure I can make all of the lectures – but I certainly hope to grab them via Twitch or YouTube.

Ani’s Gallery: new home, new exhibitions

Ani’s Gallery – Jeremynl, October 2019

In July, I had the opportunity to visit Ani’s Gallery, a new home for the art of Anibrm Jung, and for exhibitions of art by invited artists (see: Art, nature, and stories in Second Life). As is often the way with thing in Second Life, since that time Ani’s Gallery has relocated  – and in the process gained a new look. This being the case, I was delighted to be able to jump back and visit the latest exhibitions currently in progress.

As I have noted in previous reviews of her work, Ani is an award-winning photographer in the physical world who has been active in Second Life since 2006. Based in the Netherlands, she has specialised in photographing nature, many of her images captured from her own garden, and all of them recorded using only natural light, with everything framed directly through the viewfinder, and with no subsequent cropping or image manipulation.

Ani’s Gallery – Anibrm Jung, October 2019

More recently, Ani has broadened the scope of her exhibitions in Second Life to incorporate images taken in-world, and this is very much demonstrated with the portfolio of images she has on display in the Gallery’s lower level. Featuring two dozen images, it is an engaging selection that might be broadly split between landscape images and others more reflective of the art that can be found in Second Life.

In this latter regard, Ani is particularly drawn to the mesh sculptures of Mistero Hifeng, with five of the images representing his work. As an admirer of Mistero’s art, I can understand the attraction: his pieces always encompass a depth of narrative and powerful sense of emotion, and through her framing and composition, Ani adds to both as she presents pieces to be found on Mistero’s own region in a manner that invites further emotional and narrative translation.

Ani’s Gallery – Anibrm Jung, October 2019

Also evident in this particular exhibition is a talent for considered post-processing – something Ani avoids within her real life photography, as noted above. Here, she offers a lightness of touch and eye for balance and tone to present her work in a variety of finishes: watercolour and pen-and-ink; colour and monochrome. In doing so, she adds further depth to an engaging exhibition.

Located on the upper level of the gallery is an display of Second Life photography by Jeremynl. This is largely focused on avatar studies, which can perhaps be split into three groups: those featuring Jeremy on his own, those modelled by Dianna, and those featuring Jeremy and Dianna together. Sitting a little incongruously but nevertheless captivatingly among these are two pieces, each entitled Tree of Life Painting and which, I must confess, particularly held my attention due to the richness of expression each holds.

Ani’s Gallery – Jeremynl, October 2019

Which is not to say Jeremy’s portraiture fails to captivate; far from it. There are stories to be found within his studies, sometimes suggested by their titles – as with Tougher Than the Rest and I will be right here waiting for you, but more often simply by the image itself (particularly as some pieces appear to have all ended up with the same title).

I do confess to being more drawn to the images of Jeremy himself; no disrespect to Dianna (or indeed to Jeremy and Dianna where they appear together), but there is a more natural, less intentionally posed look and feel to several of those of Jeremy on his own – again, take the two pieces noted above, together with Playing and Who’s Got a Lighter?  – that offer an open invitation to frame a story around them.

Ani’s Gallery – Jeremynl, October 2019

Both of these exhibitions make for an engaging visit, and Jeremy’s work will remain on display at Ani’s gallery through until October 30th, 2019.

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