Fun and thoughts on Cica’s Planet in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Planet
What if I’m a princess on another planet? And no one on this planet knows it?

The above quote, from The Carrie Diaries by American author Candace Bushnell, is a musing on the part of the book’s protagonist, the young Carrie Bradshaw (the book is a prequel to Carrie’s later adventure in Sex and the City) as she endures high school in Cranberry, Connecticut and dreams of life in New York City and all she might become / escape once she has moved there to become an aspiring author, and left behind her provincial origins.

It is also a quote that Cica Ghost uses in her latest installation, which opened on Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 – and in using it, she offers perhaps the most perfect encapsulation of what Second Life can be to those of us invested in their digital world.

Cica Ghost: Planet

As such, Planet is a location that can be enjoyed on two levels. It can be taken simply as a whimsical and fun setting, filled with Cica’s usual interactive touches that always make a visit to one of her installations a pleasure; or it can be combined with the quote that accompanies it to offer the opportunity for deeper reflections on life and Second Life.

Caught under a mauve sky where the clouds have been strung into ripples that wash gently along under the light of a distant white star, this is a strange world filled with creatures of strange origins. Some are capable of walking, others of flying and some of slithering, whilst others appear to be rooted to the spot, almost as if they have been extruded out of the ground.

Not that any are particularly threatening – rather the reverse in fact, many of them standing in little groups or close enough together as if to be conversing. They are certainly at ease within their otherworldly landscape and not in the least fazed by the little flying saucers a that hover and flit around certain points over the landscape like little mechanical bugs.

Cica Ghost: Planet

Nor are the locals particularly bothered by the fact an very Earthly-looking rocket ship has landed among them, or that a human has quote literally established a homestead in their midst, one complete with cat potted plants and very Earthly looking grass and tree.

It is here that setting and quote intertwine to add that deeper layer of potential and reflection to Planet. Within her dome, the girl has arrived from another planet, a place where she might well be a princess, but here is just another sharing the land with her strange neighbours, none of them truly aware of the status or otherwise she might hold back in wherever she came from.

Cica Ghost: Planet

Thus, her presence might be said to mirror our own in Second Life. Here we can be anything we desire, unencumbered by who we are in the physical world – be it living the life of a princess or a pauper, so to speak; we can be accepted simply for how we are perceived through our looks and actions and activities within this virtual realm, free from all that might otherwise encumber us.

And, just as importantly, the reverse is true: here we can be that princess or that dragon or an elf warrior on a quest, or a starship captain seeking brave new worlds, or even a tinkerer and inventor of Things, or can simply escape cares and pressures and sit in the digital shade of a tree or sail the digital tides of a broad sea, and no-one around us in the physical world need be any the wiser as to who we become, where we travel, who we meet or the adventures on which we might embark and discoveries we make.

Cica Ghost: Planet

Whether you are looking to simply visit and have a little fun drifting around in little flying saucers or dancing among the aliens or drafting weightlessly within a space ship, or whether you are tickled into stepping through he door that Cica opens to deeper, broader thoughts about life, expression, the power of the imagination and the freedoms presented by SL, Planet makes for an ideal visit, and should remain open through to around mid-to-late February.

SLurl Details

  • Planet by Cica Ghost (Van, rated Moderate)

2021 SUG meeting week #4 summary

Aqua Breeze, November 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting.

Server Deployments

At the time of writing,the release notes for the week had yet to be produced. However, Rider Linden described the RC release planned for the week thus:

So, this week we are rolling to all of the RC channels tomorrow. The main feature we added is the extended error reporting.There is also some extended handling when origin servers return 5XX errors to a script that should reduce some load on the simulator.

– Rider Linden

SL Viewer

The Dawa Maintenance RC viewer updates to version 6.4.12.555248 on Monday, January 25th. The rest of the official viewer pipelines remain as:

  • Current release viewer version 6.4.11.551711, formerly Cachaça Maintenance RC viewer promoted on November 12 – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Dawa Maintenance RC Viewer, version 6.4.12.555248, January 25, 2021.Project Jelly viewer (Jellydoll updates), version 6.4.12.553798, January 7, 2021.
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.12.553437, January 7, 2021.
  • Project viewers:
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer, version 6.4.12.553511, issued on January 7, 2021.
    • Simple Cache project viewer, version 6.4.11.551403, November 12.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, October 26.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

Group Notices

  • BUG-229936 “Group Notices not expiring after 14 days”: this is a known issue for the Lab, which in the words of Mazidox Linden means: “We’re troubleshooting [it]. By which I mean we’re finding the root of the trouble, and shooting it.”
  • BUG-230116 “Sorting group notices by date disconnects the viewer”: this is a new issue, but one that is potentially causing some serious issues for those who attempt to carry out such searches (which Firestorm apparently does by default).
  • BUG-229075 “VWR-4137 / SL-13093 Missed opportunity to fix group notice date sorting” has now been accepted.
  • Beq Janus has been carrying out an extensive investigation into Group notice issues, the short form of which is that notice culling needs to be re-enabled (which the Lab to do “soon”) lest a lot of people start being impacted with failures in handling group notices, and she also have code contributions she may be submitting to the Lab to assist with group notice issues.

Deep in the heart of (west) Texas via Second Life

MARFA, January 2021

Note: This is a Preview article; until Saturday, January 30th, access to MARFA is restricted to members of the [Valium] group  and invited guests of Vally Lavender.

Up in the high desert lands of the Trans-Pecos (and more specifically within the the Chihuahuan Desert) sits the town of Marfa. It’s not a particularly big place – the 2010 census put its population at around 1,900-2,100 – but it is a place of romance and mystery. Founded in the early 1880’s, even the town’s name has an air of romance about it.

“Marfa” is the Russian form of “Martha”, leading to the hypothesis the town is named for a character in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. However, this is apocryphal – the town is actually named after Marfa Strogoff from Jules Verne‘s novel Michael Strogoff.

MARFA, January 2021

The town started as a watering point for trains travelling the Southern Pacific Railroad and for most of its life, never grew particularly large. It reached its zenith in the period between 1920 and the end of World War 2 – the former decade marking the start of a period of rapid growth that included the establishment of military training facilities through the war years.

Following the closure of those facilities in 1945, the town gradually shrank both in the number of residents and its actual size: by 2010 it was said to cover just 4.1 square kilometres. It did, however, enjoy a period of movie making popularity in the 1950s with various western films made in and around the town – most notably Giant (released in 1956), starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean – the film being the last Dean made before his death in a car accident.

MARFA, January 2021

In the last two decades Marfa has again become a popular location for films – notably There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men both filmed in 2006 – and for television, even featuring in an episode of The Simpsons (Mad About the Toy).  However, the town has perhaps become most famous for two things: the growing arts community within its borders, and the mysterious Marfa Lights.

And now it has a further claim to fame, being the inspiration for the latest ValiumSL region design – MARFA – instigated by Vally Lavender, who sent me an invitation to visit the region ahead of its Group opening on January 22nd, 2021.

The work of Vally, together with Fred Hamilton (frecoi), Lotus Mastroianni and Sofie Janic, MARFA captures several iconic elements of its west Texas namesake – the railway line, the surrounding desert prairie, a homage to the Presidio County Courthouse that dominates the centre of the town, the aforementioned arts community – as well as the general feel of “small town USA”.

MARFA, January 2021

Arts first came to Marfa in the 1971 when Minimalist artist Donald Judd relocated from New York to the town. Initially he displayed his work in two large hangers, but over the ensuing years he expanded his presence in and around the town, indoors and out. Following his death in 1994, two foundations took over the work of maintaining Judd’s legacy, with one of them – the Chinati Foundation – now occupying 30 buildings in the town and providing space for 13 artists in residence.

Chinati was also responsible in launching an open-house arts event that attracted – and still attracts – people from across the USA and around the world to visit it as a centre for contemporary arts, with more artists moving to the town in recent years to establish workshops and galleries. The town has also seen a writers-in-residence programme launched, together with a new theatre company, with pop art installations such as Prada Marfa being established within driving distances of the town.

MARFA, January 2021

This arts influence is fully reflected in MARFA, with reproductions of Prada Marfa (artistically relocated to the edge of the town)  and Judd’s unmistakable concrete “boxes”, while a trailer park that offers a bit of a nod towards Ready Player One sits as the venue for music and performance arts. I was a little disappointed the town’s high water tower was not presented, but this was countered by the presence of the large cut-out of James Dean, part of a display at Marfa celebrating the town’s connection with Giant.

Alongside the trailer park sits the MARFA observatory. Based on the Marfa Lights Viewing Platform, it allows visitors to the region a vantage point from which to witness the digital version of the mysterious Marfa Lights which routinely appear to the south / south-west of the town, attributed to everything from UFOs to ghosts or spirits – although science suggests they are the result of odd atmospheric reflections of vehicle lights or the light of camp fires. Legend has them dating back to at least the time of the town’s founding, although the first actual published record of the phenomenon wasn’t made until 1957 (the references to the 1880s only appeared in print in 1985).

You might just see mysterious orbs of light suddenly appear above desert foliage. These balls of light may remain stationary as they pulse on and off with intensity varying from dim to almost blinding brilliance. Then again, these ghostly lights may dart across the desert … or perform splits and mergers. Light colours are usually yellow-orange but other hues, including green, blue and red are also seen. Marfa Mystery Lights (MLs) usually fly above desert vegetation but below background mesas.

Marfa resident James Bunnell

MARFA, January 2021

Rich in photographic opportunities and offering several opportunities to appreciate art (including the Empty Chair Gallery), MARFA additionally offers a number of small rentals for those who fancy they’d like to experience life in the town.

SLurl Details

Open access from Saturday, January 30th at 11:00 SLT.

  • MARFA (ValuimSL, rated Moderate)

 

 

Journeys, music, power and mystery 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, January 25th, 19:00: The Dark Bright Water

Gyro Muggins reads Patricia Wrightson’s second novel charting the life of Wirrun of the Inlanders.

First encountered in The Ice Is Coming, when Wirrun set out on a quest to overcome the rise of the ancient enemy of Australia, the ice-bearded Ninya, the young janitor now has a reputation as a Hero among the Inlanders (Wrightson’s fantasy view of the Australian Aboriginals). It’s not a title he appreciates; he would much rather just get back to his janitorial work.

But the spirits of the land are restless: Yunggamurra, a river spirit is lost, so uses her siren-like powers of song to draw to herself those who might might take her home. Her singing come to Wirrun’s ears, and those of an elderly aboriginal emissary, and he realises he must journey to the very heartlands of Australia to better understand what he is feeling.

This he does, with the old emissary and his friend Ularra. Once there, he discovers that a storm is indeed rising within the domain of the spirits, and he is uniquely placed to both find Yunggamurra and prevent the coming storm. And so his new adventure begins.

Tuesday, January 26th

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

Music, poetry, and stories in a popular weekly session.

19:00: Ursuala Le Guin’s Gifts

Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the clans of the Uplands possess gifts. Wondrous gifts: the ability—with a glance, a gesture, a word—to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. Fearsome gifts: They can twist a limb, chain a mind, inflict a wasting illness.

The Uplanders live in constant fear that one family might unleash its gift against another. Two young people, friends since childhood, decide not to use their gifts. One, a girl, refuses to bring animals to their death in the hunt. The other, a boy, wears a blindfold lest his eyes and his anger kill.

In this beautifully crafted story, Ursula K. Le Guin writes of the proud cruelty of power, of how hard it is to grow up, and of how much harder still it is to find, in the world’s darkness, gifts of light.

With Willow Moonfire.

Wednesday, January 27th 19:00: In Walt We Trust

More from Craig Johnson’s Sheriff Longmire Series with Kayden Oconnell and Caledonia Skytower.

Thursday, January 28th:

19:00 Evermore

With Sandon Loring. Also in Kitely! Find teleport from the main Seanchai World grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI.

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Finn Zeddmore presents contemporary sci-fi-fantasy from such on-line sources as Escape Pod, Light Speed, and Clarkesworld  magazines.

Landscapes and Still Life in Second Life

Konecta Art Gallery: Isle Biedermann

Open through until Saturday, February 13th at the Konecta Art Gallery, operated by Gonzalo Osuna (Jon Rain), is a selection of art by the talented Isle Biedermann. Occupying the lower floor of the gallery, the exhibition presents 20 pieces of Isle’s work under the title Landscapes and Still Lifes, although I  do not think it unfair to say the bias of the images leans somewhat to the former.

These are elegant pieces shot from around Second Life – although some have that certain depth about their subject matter that at a casual glance, they appear to have originated in the physical world. Take Bayou 1, Goatswood,   Tea Time and Goatswood Churchyard as examples of this. Others are particularly evocative in the story they offer – just take Time Travellers Club Guestbook as an example of this: whom do the names on the page belong to? Where (or indeed, when, give the nature of the book’s title, did they come from or go to?

Konecta Art Gallery: Isle Biedermann

Staying with the book theme, one can almost sense the spirit of Hercule Poirot or perhaps Jane Marple hovering at the edges of Crime and Punishment, the soft colours suggestive of the calm before the discovery of a terrible act forewarned by the book dropped on the floor…

Other pieces among the selection beautifully capture the season and / or Nature’s many faces; Windmill in the Snow and La Digue particularly captivate here, the former for its depiction of the perfect walk on a crisp winter’s day, the latter for the manner in which we can almost feel the fading warmth of the lowering Sun and scent the promise of rain in the evening’s air.

Konecta Art Gallery: Isle Biedermann

Indeed, such is the depth of all of these pieces, we’re left with a feeling that they are not so much here to be enjoyed, but entered into and experienced; that more than images, they are gateways to the worlds Isle has witnessed, offering us the chance to step through them and witness those worlds first-hand. Offered for sale at an exceptionally modest price, they are pieces waiting to grace any Second life home or form a part of any private collection. Definitely not an exhibition to miss.

And whilst on the subject of collections, when visiting the gallery, do be sure to pop upstairs, where Gonzalo is displaying pieces from his personal collection of Second Life art.

SLurl Details

2021 viewer release summaries week #3

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, January 24th

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 viewer version 6.4.11.551711, formerly Cachaça Maintenance RC viewer promoted on November 12th – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Dawa Maintenance RC Viewer updated to version 6.4.12.555058, January 20, 2021.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

  • No updates.

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

  • Speedlight updated on  January 22nd – avatar rendering – release notes.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links