Art Made in Second Life: FionaFei’s fabulous shuǐmò

Fiona’s Reflection, as featured in Art Made in Second Life

FionaFei is a relative newcomer to Second Life and its art world, but she is someone who has made an enormous impression on those who have witnessed her art. I’ve personally had the delight in discovering it, and in writing about it on two occasions (see: Captivated by FionaFei’s art in Second Life (May 2019) and FionaFei’s shuǐmò Reflection in Second Life from November 2019).

As such, it was a joy to see that Fiona and her work are the subject of the first video (embedded below) in the Second Life series Art Made in Second Life (itself a further branching of the Made In Second Life video collection).

FionaFei (via Art Made in Second Life)

Fiona specialises in reproducing shuǐmò ink wash painting as 3D sculptures and setting within her appropriately-named Shui Mo gallery space in Second Life.

Also called shuǐmòhuà (suiboku-ga in Japanese) shuǐmò, uses different concentrations of black ink to create an image. Found throughout East Asia, it first emerged in Tang dynasty China (618–907), before spreading to Japan (14th century), Korea and to India. Beside the use of black ink in place of colours, it is also marked by the emphasis of the brushwork being on the perceived spirit or essence of the subject, rather than directly imitating its appearance.

Through her installations, Fiona marvellously brings the entire essence of shuǐmò to virtual life. In doing so, she allows the spirit of this ancient art form directly inhabit us, by making our avatars part of her work by virtue of our presence within it, whether we participate through direct interaction (as with the umbrellas in the “foyer” area that sits between the pieces referenced in the video (Reflection and Rising) or through our entry into, and exploration of, Reflection itself.

Within pieces like Reflection and Umbrella Landscape, and before them Wo Men Dakai (about which I wrote in Captivated by FionaFei’s art in Second Life), Fiona offers a combined celebration of this ancient form of art, a means of reflecting on her heritage, and an opportunity to present her own philosophy on life, as she notes both through the video and in her own writings.

As a Chinese American who immigrated from China at a young age, I created the Shui Mo series as a way of connecting with my ancestry and celebrate centuries of art from old masters who painted using traditional Chinese ink brush style….

…I see life and my journey as a painting. It can be forever an evolving piece … At any given time, you think you’ve reached the end of it, but you can always add to it, layer it, and change it. In a sense, each brush stroke is like a footprint.

– Fiona discussing her art and her world view

Three of Fiona’s traditional Chinese scroll painting – which are actually 3D sculptures, the centre on animated

What is particularly attractive about this short video (running to just under 2 minutes) is the manner in which it reflects the emphasis of shuǐmò. Rather than dwelling at length upon Fiona’s art, or presenting an in-depth look at her life and how she came to Second Life, it provides broader – dare I say  – brush strokes of both. Thus, and like shuǐmò, it captures the spirit of her work and presence hear, rather than more directly presenting the appearance of both, leaving us with the opportunity to discover more by visiting Shui Mo and Fiona’s Flickr gallery.

For my part, I cannot emphasise the sheet beauty and alluring appeal and depth to Fiona’s work, and urge anyone who has yet to witness it to both watch the video and take the time to visit her gallery in-world and fully immerse themselves in her art and vision.

Additional Links

2020 Content Creation User Group week #2 summary

Elvion, November 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from my audio recording of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, January 9th 2020 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements (e.g. the sky, sun, moon, clouds, and water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day), and includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

Due to performance issues, the initial implementation of EEP will now likely not include certain atmospherics such as crepuscular rays (“God rays”).


Current Status

  • The EEP RC viewer updated to version on Thursday, January 9th.
  • Bug fixing continues, notably around alpha rendering issues.
  • It is believed there are about a dozen remaining issues to be dealt with before EEP may be ready for formal release.


First introduced in 2012 (and developed over the following year), Pathfinding was intended to provide a means for more interactive non-player characters (NPCs) in Second Life. Unfortunately, the implementation of the system proved to be so cumbersome (and leaving aside some of the incorrect perceptions about Pathfinding on the part of land holders), the it has never really seen that much use in Second Life.

With the arrival of Animesh, there has been renewed interest in using Pathfinding in conjunction with Animesh characters, but again, the current implementation is proving a bottleneck (e.g. highlighting / indicating “walkable” areas in the viewer; whether the navmesh is actually visible; the effort required to Pathfinding, etc.).

  • A forum thread highlights the issue, and it has been suggested that if a Jira can be raised highlighting the specific problems, it might be something the Lab could take a look at to try to improve some of the visualisation issues within the viewer (Navmesh visibility, etc.).
  • However, a broader pass at improving / overhauling Pathfinding is not on the Lab’s current road map for SL.

Pathfinding Resources

In Brief

IP rights, UV Maps and “working copies”: there has been recent discussion on the forums, through various user groups (notably Governance, which I’ve been unable to attend for the last couple of months due to RL) concerning IP rights and things like mesh VW maps, compatibility, weight painting etc. The questions have arisen of late due to a mesh appearing on the Marketplace that achieves compatibility with all the other meshes of the same nature by providing amazingly close replicas of them.

Currently, the primary course of response to concerns over potential infringement – imperfect is it may appear to be where this issue may be more esoteric in nature, given that the meshes in question all tend to use things like UV maps derived from originals supplied by Linden Lab – is for a creator with concerns over infringement to file an DMCA complaint with LL.

BOM take-up: Bakes On Mesh take-up is seen as being a little slow. Some mesh body / head makers have yet to fully adopt BOM flagging on their products for example (so while Maitreya support BOM on their current body via a HUD, the body still has some 800 individual mesh elements that the viewer needs to handle, compared to the (roughly) less-than-fifty used by the Slink Redux (BOM) body). Also, there are continued concerns about BOM’s ease-of-use when compared with the use of HUD-based applier systems. While the latter can be more resource-intensive, the form is seen as requiring better scripted tools and / or better inventory visualisation mechanisms (even better base alpha support) in order to be more attractive to users.

Next CCUG meeting: Thursday, January 23rd.


2020 SL Home and Garden Expo applications


The 2020 Home and Garden Expo (HGE) in support of Relay for Life of Second Life and the American Cancer Society, will take place this year from Saturday, February 15th through until Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020, inclusive, and applications are still open for those who wish to participate.

The organisers are specifically looking for the following groups of participants:

  • Creators of home and garden items of all kinds; from houses and landscaping to furniture, décor and knick-knacks.
  • Breedable creators and markets.
  • Builder resources aimed at the home and garden market.
  • SL rental estates.
  • SL Media covering the home and garden and/or art scene in SL.
  • Visual artists.
  • Fashion / wearable creators (limited participation, see below).

Creators, etc., interested in participating in the event should follow the links below:

Expo exhibitors are required to have two Relay For Life of Second Life 100% donation items at the Expo. These items must be new and exclusive to the Expo for the duration of the event. Gachas are permitted at the Expo, with proceeds evenly split between the Creator and RFL of SL.

Fashion and the Wearable Arts Awards

2020 will mark the first time Second Life fashion will be included in the Expo. To be eligible to apply as a clothing vendor, creators must also agree to participate in the Expo’s first ever Wearable Art Awards. Further details for fashion creators can be found as follows:

Further general information can be found at the Home and Garden Expo website.