Second place for STÖMOL at digital film festival


STÖMOL, the feature-length science-fiction move produced entire in Second Life, has been awarded second place in the 2020 SUPERNOVA Digital Film Festival.

The film, written, directed, produced and starring Huckleberry Hax, together with Caitlin Tobias, Ylva, Boudicca Amat, Anthony Wesburn and Mich Michabo in leading roles, was one of a number of entries to the festival that were wholly filmed in Second Life and which were open to viewing on-line throughout the festival’s almost month-long run.

The film gained numerous plaudits from those at the festival for its style, content, story arc and composition, including founder and Creative Director Ivar Zeile. It was runner-up to #21XOXO, “a stylized window into the zeitgeist of youth and pop culture,” by Sine Ozblige, and earned a prize of US $750 for Huckleberry and his team.

I was stunned when I watched STÖMOL for the first time. I’ve seen some Second Life animations – we’ve really supported artists that are working in that platform over the years – and I didn’t believe I was going to be taken by a feature length film made in Second Life, but Huckleberry absolutely delivered the goods.

Ivar Zeile, Supernova founder and Creative Director

Very special and deserved congratulations to Huckleberry and his team for STÖMOL’s runner-up status at the festival, it was well deserved. I hope that – as nerve racking as entering this festival was to him – this award will spur Huckleberry to continue filming, and we will get to see the sequel and the answers to the question posed by the film’s end credits (nope, not going  to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it! – but if you are interested, my own review of the film can be found in Second Life’s STÖMOL: a review).

Other pieces filmed in Second Life and featured in the festival were machinima by Erik Mondrian, and a piece by Tizzy Canncci.

Erik had a total of three pieces accepted by the festival, comprising his CalArts Master of  Fine Arts thesis For the Light of Other Shores, a marvellous 10-part series, selected for the Director’s Choice programme of the festival; together with Tripping through Skyscrapers, his video journey through Gem Preiz’s Skycrapers installation ,and Cetatea Poenari, recording a visit to the region of the same name, and both of which featured in the festival’s Everything Abstract-Sonic programme.

For her entry, Tizzy submitted Out of Isolation Came Forth Light, a recording of a performance by artist SaveMe Oh that took place in CapCat Ragu’s installation entitled Isolation, displayed at Ribong Gallery’s Artspace 1789.

I’d also like to offer my congratulations to Tizzy and Erik for entering their work for the festival. I know that Erik had a certain amount of trepidation in making his submissions, but his work  – which I have the privilege to be able to discuss with him and write about (see Erik Mondrian: master of fine arts in and beyond Second Life) as well as follow via You Tube – full deserves recognition through a wider audience.

Film Links

Milly Sharple’s Meanderings in Second Life

Meanderings: Milly Sharple at The Janus Gallery

Milly Sharple is a remarkable artist, creator and patron of the arts in Second Life. An artist and photographer in the physical world, she has always enjoyed art and artistic expression, particularly that of fractal art, a technique she started using in 2005.  It’s a medium in which she has gained deserved recognition: she has sold pieces around the globe, had them used as book and CD cover art and as promotional material, and has had her work used on the face of the bank cards issued by an Indonesian bank. Her work has even brought her to the attention of Salvador Dali’s protégé, Louis Markoya, who asked her to collaborate with him.

Milly was perhaps one of the first artists to bring fractal art to Second Life after she joined in 2008. Gaining familiarity with the platform, it became a place where she understandably wanted to exhibit her work, and following her initial exhibitions, she started receiving multiple invitations to display her work. She thus became immersed in the Second Life arts community, establishing her own gallery and also the Timamoon Arts Community, a place where artists could find a gallery home and like minds, and over the course of four years, she grew Timamoon into one of the most successful arts communities in Second Life.

Meanderings: Milly Sharple at The Janus Gallery

For her incredible and expressive fractal art, Milly uses the Apophysis software package, which allows her to create soft, flowing, liquid effects that sets her work apart from other, more rigidly geometric fractal art with which we might be familiar as it is displayed in Second Life. This approach gives her work a stunningly organic look and feel, rich in life and often encompassing the intricate beauty of the Mandelbrot set.

However, Milly is not constrained to only producing fractal art; as a mixed media artist her expressive range is broad and deep – and I have long been an admirer of this aspect of her work as much as I am her fractal art. Indeed, I’m honoured to be able to have a copy of what I regard as one of the most engaging pieces of art in my modest personal collection -her  Woman with Cat – hanging on the wall at our SL home. As  with her fractal work, Milly’s mixed media art couples a rich use of colour with an etching-like finish to bring individual pieces to life in the most incredible manner.

Meanderings: Milly Sharple at The Janus Gallery

I mention all of this because Milly has a new exhibition of work currently being hosted at Chuck Clip’s Janus Gallery, which opened on September 27th.

Meanderings brings together all of the above elements of Milly’s art and adds to it with a selection of her black-and-white portrait studies in a captivating microcosm of her talent. On display are seven large-format fractal pieces (with the patterns of two repeated on benches in the gallery’s two halls, and a third mirrored and inverted in the foyer that so blends with the décor, it might easily be overlooked), eight monochrome portraits and eight mixed-media pieces that are – without being in any way superlative – utterly stunning.

These latter pieces bring together all aspects of Milly’s art: her fractal work, her skills as a portrait artist and her  expressiveness as a mixed media creator; there is a richness of life about them that is utterly absorbing, Similarly, the depth of life in the black-and-white portraits cannot fail to hold the eye; these are pieces that, whether inspired by real people or their images, or have been drawn entirely from Milly’s imagination, not only capture the likeness of the subject, but offer a very real sense of their life essence. Further, these monochrome pieces share a strong sense of narrative flow that can also be found within each of the mixed media pieces, thus presenting a thematic thread to connect them, whilst their arrangement around two of the much larger (and richly organic) fractal pieces offers a natural visual connection to them.

Meanderings: The Mystic and The Flirt (with its hint of Kate Bush) two of the entrancing mixed media pieces presented by Milly at The Janus Gallery
Taken together the three styles of art present within Meanderings offer a rewarding introduction to Milly’s art for those unfamiliar with it whilst also offering a unique thematic and narrative flow through the differing mediums, making this both an engaging and outstanding exhibition.

SLurl Details

2020 Simulator User Group week #40 summary

Swan, July 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the September 29th Simulator User Group meeting – although there is not a lot in practical terms to report, the meeting largely given over to another music event.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates. However, there are currently no planned deployments for week #40.

SL Viewer

The Love Me Render #4 RC  viewer, version, containing only fixes for EEP issues was issues on September 24th, and promoted to release status on Monday, September 28th.

In addition, the previous iteration of the Lover Me Render viewer, version, was withdrawn. This leaves the remaining official viewer pipelines as:

  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Mesh uploader RC viewer, version, September 8.
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Jelly project viewer (Jellydoll updates), version, issued August 26.
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version, June 30.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version, July 16, 2019.

Region Performance

There have been a number of reports of region performance issues that appear to be coupled to simulator version 548903. These reportedly manifest as rubber banding when users walk around, viewer-based profiles being very slow to load, estate bans taking about 30 to 45 seconds to take effect, and experiences  not functioning correctly – such as repeatedly asking people who have already joined it to do so. Some have also reported HTTP communications issues. Restarting region apparently resolves these issues initially, but simulator performance starts to degrade once more.

It’s not clear if Jiras have been filed with specifics of the issue, but those Lindens at the meeting were interested in learning more. For my part, I had noticed an increase in the time taken to load viewer-based profiles of late, but as this has generally happened in “busy” regions, I’ve assumed it is the general load on resources, rather than indicative of a potential broader issue.

Talia’s Still Waters in Second Life

Still Waters, September 2020 – click any image for full size

I’ve long appreciated the region design work of Talia (Natalia Corvale),  having written about her designs for Broken several times. So it was with a sense of anticipation that I hopped over to Still Waters, a further homestead region she recently opened to the public at large. And as someone who appreciates open spaces and rural settings that can have some subtle quirks, I  found myself instantly at home and appreciative.

Still Waters is a prime example of sensible region design, one in which consideration of layout, theme, and thoughtful selection of items give rise to a setting that is self-consistent and rich in detail but doesn’t unnecessarily tax the computer running the viewer. Multiple use of landscape elements helps reduce the use of unique high-res textures, whilst considered placement ensures the viewer is not burdened at any point by a mass assault of mesh demanding to be rendered.

Still Waters, September 2020

The region sits as an island sitting within an almost entirely land-locked lake occupying a bowl formed by three-covered hills. I say lake rather than coastal inlet, as the ducks and swans swimming the waters would indicate they are freshwater, rather than of the salted variety. This water sweeps into the island to form a broad bay, the land reduced to a curved ribbon of green and autumnal hues, backed to the west by a ridge of uplands that broaden to the north to become a broad terrace of rock overlooking the bay, whilst dropping down to the south to become a low-ling headland.

The landing point sits at the mid-point in the curve of the bay’s shore, a wide deck built out over the water, a wooden lodge standing behind it waiting to greet visitors. The deck offers numerous places to sit, including in the rowing boat tied-up alongside, together with a small summer house sitting to one side between deck and lodge. The lodge is cosily furnished – as are all the buildings presented in the region – and visitors can wander through it to the back door, or around it from the deck, according to their preference.

Still Waters, September 2020

South from the lodge, a wooden bridge passes over a narrow channel of water. This flows under an arched canopy formed by two lines of four plane trees apiece, standing on either bank of the channel. They serve to shade the channel and hide a small, comfortably furnished gazebo sitting over the water, warmed by its own fireplace.

The bridge leads to way to a meadow of long grass, the home of a wagon, horses and a tractor. Check the horses carefully, and you’ll find one is a Water Horse that’s available for a visitor to ride (if you have a wearable Water Horse or Teagle, you can also wear and ride that for exploration). Beyond the meadow, the grass shortens and two quirky tree houses await discovery and exploration, a winding path linking them.

Still Waters, September 2020

West and north of the landing point, the land remains open and grassy before climbing up to the northern headland and its table of rock. Gabled gates mark the patch up to the top of these uplands, watched over by another open-sided pavilion offering seating before a stone fireplace, and a little garden chair sitting on the lip of the promontory above the path.

At the top of the path sits another wooden house, this one raised about the grass on stout legs, reached by steep steps.  The interior of the house offers another warm welcome with places to sit and bric-a-brac to admire. Young pygmy goats frolic in the field next to the house, their presence an interesting contrast to the general autumnal feel to the region, suggesting as it does a time earlier in the year and the lambing season; something that adds an interesting twist to the setting.

Still Waters, September 2020

Still Waters is a genuinely peaceful, gentle setting, rich in outdoor spaces (something sorely needed as many of us are once again feeling the pinch of 2020’s lock downs), and with multiple places to sit and appreciate the view and share it with others.

Completely photogenic and rounded-out by a perfect sound scape, this is not a destination to miss.

Still Waters, September 2020

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Milena’s Plead Guilty: a treatise in art in Second Life

Plead Guilty: Plead Guilty

Milena Carbone (Mylena1992) opened her latest art installation on September 23rd, 2020. Entitled Plead Guilty, its an installation of for distinct, but locationally and thematically connected exhibition in which the setting – the Adult-rated Noir’Wen City. As with all of Milena’s work, Plead Guilty is intended to get the grey matter sitting between the ears chugging on a four cylinders; it’s also an installation in which the location plays something of an integral role, given the way it struck a chord with Milena as she explored it ahead of her exhibition.

When visiting Noir’Wen City, I was struck by the density: density of urban planning, density of shops and the almost suffocating presence of the pleasure of the flesh…
Noir’Wen City illustrates for me the dead end of our civilisation of pleasure, the headlong rush into hedonism, the need for more and more dopamine for less and less desire …
Within the exhibition Plead Guilty, I wished to denounce this massive massive drift towards addiction, this infernal cycle of the hedonic system of our brain…

– Milena Carbone

Given this description, it might be said that Plead Guilty stands as something of a treatise through art, and as such, its four parts are best visited in the order suggested by Milena through her introductory note cards and the wearable book she has produced on the installation, which can be obtained at the landing points for each of the four installation exhibitions.

Plead Guilty: Nude Is Art

The first of the four parts, Nude Is Art, is located within the Noir’Wen Castle above the Adult club, Les Boudoir des Libertines (the front entrance of which forms the landing point – take the stairs to the right as you look at the club). As the exhibition’s name suggests, it is an extensive collection of nude studies located in the castle’s enclosed courtyard and surrounding rooms on the same level. Ten of the images within the courtyard’s cloisters represent the relationship between a couple, and the natural role nudity plays within it. Thus, it could be said to be a commentary on “nudity as innocence” – an act entirely free from the vice-driven lust, but which,  in the privacy of their home, is a simple expression of love and comfort a couple can feel for one another.

The remaining images within the various rooms are more general in nature, drawn from Milena’s admitted enjoyment of imaging the nude avatar form, and which continues the theme of the more innocent presentation of nudity as a statement of art. However, they are faced by images from real life that show homophobia, violence towards the LBGTQ community, people of colour and women; images that remind us that while society may see itself as “enlightened” and free to accept the needs of desire without love and guilt-free gratification, in actual fact it is still often driven by the intolerance bigotry and petty hatreds that long marred  humanity’s development, and which remain all too present in the world today.

Plead Guilty: Sermon of Madhi

The Sermon of Madhi, located in the city’s church, offers further commentary on the intolerance our society can express. building on a situation Milena first explored in Locked. It tells the story of a homosexual relationship in the style of renaissance religious paintings, with the central triptych expressing the tragic core of the story.

Nine Levels of Love, located within the City’s art centre, takes as its core, Diotima’s Ladder of Love (also referred to as Plato’s Ladder of Love), together with five virtues – knowledge,  empathy, concord, spirituality and justice. These are arranged so that visitors can sit on a ring of five seats, each with an image representing one of the virtues on its upright back, facing the nine paintings inspired by Diotima’s Ladder. The aim is to encourage discussion (amongst multiple visitors) or consideration (if on your own) on the place of virtue in modern life, and the nature of love itself in today’s physical, self-centric world. A mosaic again depicting the crueller, baser aspects of modern life hangs on the wall at the entrance to the exhibit, challenging us to further consider the virtues and idealisms of love espoused within the gallery in the context of the world at large.

Plead Guilty: Nine Levels of Love

The final part of the exhibition, Plead Guilty, is a collection of images found hanging over the main streets of the city. These feature those responsible for Noir’Wen together with friends and volunteers, each study framed against a Police arrest backdrop, and collectively presented by a poem inspired in part by Dante’s Divine Comedy, which can be viewed on-line by touching any of the little cube vendors that sit with a extract of the poem, below each of the portraits as they are strung across the city’s main streets.

This is a complex exhibition to untangle, containing what might at first appear condemnatory statements  given the artist’s opening statement. Take the Plead Guilty portraits hanging over the city streets for example.

The use of the Police mugshot backdrop might initially be seen as accusatory – those pictured being seen as guilty of aiding and promoting through the development and operation of Noir’Wen, the selfish hedonism the installation is attempting to denounce. But look again: the poses within  the images belie this; they offer a genuine take on the individuals feature as they are seen through Milena’s eyes – they are genuine portraits. It is perhaps with a third or at least longer look that the the underlying message might be revealed – the mugshot backdrop hinting that in fact we are all guilty of leading lives driven by a pursuit of happiness that has perhaps turned increasingly selfish over time, and which allows us to use it as veil to ignore the increases in intolerance and bigotry that once again become increasingly apparent in society.

Plead Guilty: Sermon of Madhi

Given all of this, Plead Guilty perhaps isn’t the easiest or most comfortable of installation to face. Each exhibition element requires time to absorb and interpret – so it is as well that (I believe I’m correct in saying) the installation forms a central part on Noir’Wen City’s Autumn Festival that runs through until December 20th, as this offers time to visit and revisit the installation and absorb it. However, for those who appreciate art that carries a theme or social statement, I would encourage taking the time to visit; and for art lovers in general, I would also note that these are all pieces worth viewing even if you prefer to separate them from statements or thematic interpretation, as they are exquisitely  produced and presented.

SLurl Details

An alien, a princess bride and a vampire slayer in Second Life

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home in Nowhereville, unless otherwise indicated. Note that the schedule below may be subject to change during the week, please refer to the Seanchai Library website for the latest information through the week.

Monday, September 28th: Anything You Can Do

Gyro Muggins reads Randall Garrett’s (writing as “Darrell T. Langart”, one of his many pen-names) story of an alien encounter first published in serial form in 1962.

What do you do when you finally make contact with E.T. after it crash lands on Earth and you find that, unlike Hollywood, it’s not here  for reasons of conquest- but that, despite its clear intelligence, it just doesn’t care about the destruction and death it wreaks across a city, because its norms of behaviour are so thoroughly  – well, alien – compared to ours, and its sheer power means very little can actually harm it?

Well, you obviously take a man and rebuild him – but not with bionics; rather you do so purely biologically- so that he can match anything the alien can do. But then, when you’ve done so, is your creation still human?

Tuesday, September 29th:

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym, Live in the Glen

Music, poetry, and stories in a popular weekly session at Ceiluradh Glen.

19:00: What Need has a Dragon for a Tiger Suit?

Ktahdn Vesuvino shares an original tale: an experience tied to the millennium change, Asian culture, a production company and sand sculpture. It all combined to a conjure an experience that became extraordinary in many ways, live on stream.

Wednesday, September 30th 19:00: The Princess Bride – a 90-minute special

Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible – perhaps even inconceivable – to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than Rob Reiner’a 1987 film of the same name, adapted for the silver screen by none other than the novel’s author, William Goldman. And yet, there is so much more to the tale.

Goldman frames his story as a tale written by (the fictional) “S. Morgenstern” that his father read to him when he was but a boy. On reaching adulthood, he claims he looked forward to nothing more pleasing than sharing this masterly tale with his own son, only to discover that rather it being a swashbuckling tale, “Morgenstern’s” original was actually a plodding political satire on his “homeland” of “Florin”. The tale he remembered from his young years was actually the result of his father just reading the “good bits” of the story, and ignoring the rest.

Determined his son and other youngsters should benefit from his father’s approach to the tale, Goldman claims (by way of footnotes in the book) that he decided to produce an abridged version of “Morgenstern’s original focusing on just the “good bits” his father would read. And so it was that (his tale-around-a-tale goes), The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and Hight Adventure was born.

So, as recently requested by Seanchai library attendees, join Caledonia Skytower as she presents more of the story of Buttercup, Westley, Inigo and all.

Thursday, October 1st, 19:00: Tales of the Slayer

In every generation there is a chosen one. Shandon returns with the first official spooky tale of the season, from Volume II of the chronicles of noted vampires slayer, Buffy –  by Michael Reaves. Also in Kitely – teleport from the main Seanchai World