Isolation, self, and mood at Ribong Gallery, Second Life

Ribong Gallery Artspace: Confined Within Me

It’s been too long sine my last visit to Ribong Gallery Artspace, operated and curated by San (Santoshima) – so my apologies to her for this being the case.

Ribong is a gallery that offers extensive space for 2D and 3D arts, the individual display spaces separated by altitude, giving each a sense of individuality. They can also be reached either via direct LM, or for first-time visitors via the gallery’s lobby. Exhibitions within the spaces can be quite long-lasting (or possibly permanent); I actually reviewed Harbor Galaxy’s Alter Ego, available at Ribong 2535, in October 2019, and Bamboo Barnes’ Receding Reality at Ribong 2243 in September 2020.

Ribong Gallery Artspace: Confined Within Me

More recent to Ribong is Meiló Minotaur’s Confined Within Me, located at Ribong 903. While it is a more recent exhibit than those mentioned above, it nevertheless shares something of a common theme: that of introspection, the nature of self and reflections on identity, although its core theme is perhaps somewhat deeper and potentially darker.

Starting from a large room with a small poem printed on one wall, the installation leads visitors through a pattern of spaces that grow smaller in size, including narrow hallways. Within them are figures, partially embedded in walls, or lined between the narrowing walls, slumped, eyes or mouths covered, whilst further inside the installation the figures become more smoke-like or become themselves wreathed in black, apparently trying to pull themselves apart.

Ribong Gallery Artspace: Confined Within Me

The references to mental illness – depression, anxiety, depersonalisation-derealisation disorder (DPD), the sense of losing one’s own identity – losing oneself -, of being trapped within one’s life – all appear clear. Without the need for extensive exposition, but through simple representation and a six line poem that is itself incredibly powerful in its wording, Confined Within Me visualises a range of conditions that can be so debilitating to those who suffer from them, but so hard to put into words such that others might might understand.

It is an exhibition that is given additional poignancy at this time: With a global pandemic forcing people to keep apart, stay at home, avoid social contact, those caught in the web of mental illness can find their sense of separation even harder to endure, and made more visible through the need to wear face masks – something that may well be referenced by Confined Within Me through the mouth coverings worn by some of the figures (which also represent the sense of not being heard, just as the eye coverings represent the sense of not being seen.

Ribong Gallery Artspace: Silence is the Flower

Opening on Saturday March 20th at Ribong 1920 is Silence is the Flower, by Joss Floss, an exhibition of 2D art. Again, it shares something of a connection with the other three exhibitions, in that it explores communications and feelings, as noted in the artist’s statement on the images presented:

“Silence is the Flower” is a Japanese phrase roughly translated as “Some things are better left unsaid.” These pictures are about not saying and not showing.

– Joss Floss on Silence is the Flower

Ribong Gallery Artspace: Silence is the Flower

Spread across three levels (use the yellow teleport cubes to move between them), Silence presents a series of images in soft focus or which use depth of field in order to focus the eye on the flowers whilst keeping the figure (Joss) either out-of-focus or gently blurred, the idea being to allow the flowers and tone to offer the sense of mood and message within each piece.

What this might be is down to those observing each of the of the images presented here. What is clear is that the direct, unadorned method of presentation allows the eye to focus on each picture, allowing it so suggest its own story.

Ribong Gallery Artspace: Silence is the Flower

Whether taken individually or as part of a visit that also encompasses Alter Ego and Receding Reality, both Silence is the Flower and Confined Within Me offer two engaging exhibitions.

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VWBPE 2021: Grumpity, Patch, Brett and Madori Linden

VWBPE 2021

On Friday, March 19th, 2021 , the second of three sessions featuring Linden Lab staff took place at the 2021 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference. Whilst the second session overall, this was actually the first of a double series entitled Reconnaissance with the Lab and took the shape of a round table discussion with from members of Linden Lab’s staff: Grumpity Linden, VP of Product, Brett Linden, VP of Marketing, Patch Linden, VP of Product Operations and Madori Linden, Product Specialist (Land Operations).

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session, which is embedded at the end of this article. Time stamps are also provided to the relevant points in the video for those who wish to listen to specific comments.

The focal point for the session were four questions, which form the topic headings in this summary:

  • What is Linden Lab excited about that will be of interest to educators and VWBPE community members?
  • What is the greatest concern about education in virtual environments like Second Life right now?
  • How can educators and the VWBPE community work with Linden Lab in creating and supporting vibrant and engaging learning environments?
  • What can educators and the VWBPE community look forward to in the next year?

Note: the second of these Reconnaissance discussions is summarised here.

The Attendees

Grumpity Linden heads up Second Life Product, where she has overseen a shift to growth, a stronger, more balanced economy, movement towards better community cohesion, and an overall forward-looking approach.

Prior to working for Linden Lab (first joining as a contractor in 2009 and then full-time in 2014), she was involved in a number of industries, including technology, higher education, and oil & gas. She enjoys exploring worlds both virtual and physical and takes pride in building bridges – personal and professional.

Grumpity holds a Master’s in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s from same in Computer Science & Psychology. She finds leading the Second Life product a joy because it allows her to draw on both areas of study.

Patch Linden is Vice President of Product Operations at Linden Lab where he works to bring the best of product and support decisions on a daily operational basis to the virtual world platform for Second Life. He also maintains oversight on how all of the various teams within Linden Lab can best work together for the highest good of the Residents and the business.

Patch started as a Resident in 2004 before joining Linden Lab in 2007. Prior to joining Linden Lab, he held leadership roles focused on customer service and product development where he always maintained a customer-first focus while striving to deliver best-in-class products and services. He has a deep passion for creativity and uses that to bring enjoyment to others. He continues to evolve his skills to include virtual worlds, 3D Design, 3D printing, modelling, photography and videography.

Grumpity, Patch, Brett and Madori (individual images via Linden Lab)

As VP of marketing, Brett Linden manages the team responsible for developing media campaigns and strategic content partnerships for Second Life. Together they focus on both the acquisition of new users and the retention of existing users for the virtual world. In the past decade, he has produced numerous virtual and “mixed reality” events and panels on various academic topics with an emphasis on legitimising and better surfacing the many cultures and communities within virtual environments.

From Rolling Stone to Billboard, Brett has also written for major publications and managed multimedia initiatives for and RealNetworks. He has co-founded numerous media sites on-line, including the Second Life Destination Guide and Rolling Stone Radio. As a co-founding editor at, he interviewed Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Shania Twain, and Bjork.

Madori Linden is a product specialist on the Land Operations team. Among other things , she works with educators and various types of specialty regions; from their inception and development to maintenance and support.

Her LBL (Life Before Linden) was a winding path to Second Life. She studied Socio Cultural Anthropology with a specialisation in fringe societies within techoology. The contacts made there led to a career in marketing and being the co-owner of an event production company Having children brought her back full circle to education. Second Life was the vehicle for all of those passions to merge.

She works towards making sure that #AVVILEARNING (avatar virtual learning) won’t be just an idea, but part of the future of learning.

What is Linden Lab excited about that will be of interest to educators and VWBPE community members?

[Video: 6:10-24:23]

  • Patch: the new energy the new ownership is putting in the platform and the investment on the table to take Second Life to new heights.
  • Grumpity:
    • Excited by completing the transition to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the continuing work to optimise Second Life in it new environment.
    • Also the potential for the AWS environment to perhaps offer new products as the company moves forward.
    • The transition took several years to complete, consuming a lot of engineering effort, and it offers the potential to enhance the longevity of Second Life using the best hardware and infrastructure available.
  • Brett:
    • Also excited by the energy within LL that is being driven by the new board. Especially impressed by the way Brad Oberwager (board member and Executive Chairman) frames his thinking in a very customer-centric way (“Hows does this benefit the users? How does it benefit SL?”).
    • The ability to stream content into Second Life, as originally demonstrated in the Adult Swim streaming of episodes from The Shivering Truth in May 2020. This is a capability that has meaningful enterprise and educational applications
  • Madori: not so much excited by given the circumstances, but pleased in the way people have seen Second Life as a means to maintain contact while socially distanced. In this, the incoming new owners with their drive to grow the platform has been fortuitous.

What is the greatest concern about education in virtual environments like Second Life right now?

[Video: 14:13-22:11]

  • Patch: safety. Fortunately, SL has a lot of capabilities to help with this and keeping students safe. The foremost is the RegAPI capabilities, which can be used to create a dedicated on-boarding experience. This allows for elements such as custom name accounts, making identification easier, limiting the number of accounts an organisation is bringing into SL, deliver users directly to a defined in-world location. There’s also the ability to lock regions from being accessed by others and to prevent students leaving the learning spaces, etc.
  • Brett: not a concern, but what has been noticed is that some educators have noted that using second Life as a medium is less intrusive than expecting parents to put heir young children in front of a camera for remote schooling.
  • Grumpity: echoes Brett’s comments, noting that teenagers as well can feel exposed in having to face a camera and be observed by others in close details, whereas SL embodies a freer sense of presence, one that is perhaps more familiar to teenagers today, who have a lot more exposure to have an on-line presence, whilst also maintaining a sense of distance / privacy that can be important.

Questions Arising

Will there be a renewed push, with allocated staff support, for growth in Community Gateways featuring direct SL registration?

  • Madori: the support is already there. In fact, there is a new community gateway that started on Friday, March 19th.

Any thoughts to bring back something like TEEN Grid – where there was more protection for young folks?

  • Grumpity: Teen Grid doesn’t provide the same level of protection and unique features as found in the RegAPI capability.

Many students are using Chromebook and similar, which cannot easily run SL. Is this being addressed?

  • Grumpity: this is understood, and LL are looking to find a potential partner who can help achieve this [streaming solution], as well as internal efforts to being SL to mobile devices [e.g. tablets with keyboard input for a fuller educational experience]

How can educators and the VWBPE community work with Linden Lab in creating and supporting vibrant and engaging learning environments?

[Video: 24:38-36:42]

  • Madori: if you have specific ideas that may benefit SL – reach out to the Lab; it may be something that is feasible and could benefit the community as a whole. LL can better visualise needs by hearing about them.
  • Brett:
    • From a Marketing and communications aspect, is extremely interested in hearing about case studies, success stories and innovative uses of the platform that can both help promote the community concerned and demonstrate the relevance of SL.
    • Lab Gab is a potential opportunity for educators to tell their stories to the wider SL audience.
  • Grumpity:
    • Would be every interested in finding out more about the learning management tools educators use and what they are looking for in learning platforms and tools – although the volume that were suggested by the audience illustrates the problems in trying to offer a solution that will satisfy all needs.
    • Also wanted to mention the turnkey solutions LL have developed specifically for educators. These can be found at Explore Second Life.

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