The Borderless Project: immersive explorations in Second Life

The Borderless Project: Delain Canucci

Currently open within the region of Akimitsu, held and curated by Akiko Kinoshi (Akiko Kiyori) and forming a part of her “Akipelago” group of regions, is The Borderless Project, a multi-element, immersive exhibition that brings together a number Second Life artists known for their work in 3D spaces, and / or in using light, sound and immersion to create engaging and interactive spaces.

In the simplest terms, the Borderless Project is inspired by the work of Japan’s TeamLab, originally founded in 2001 by Toshiyuki Inoko, and which in 2021 marks its 20th anniversary with an immersive installation in Tokyo entitled Borderless, billed as “a world of artworks without boundaries, a museum without a map”, and which is the latest in their globe-spanning immersive experiences.

The Borderless Project: Betty Tureaud

As with TeamLab, the Borderless Project team – Betty Tureaud, Delain Canucci, Gem Preiz, Thoth Jantzen, Mitsuko Kytori, Blaise Timtam and Akiko herself – have created an installation that stands as a “gallery without a map” so to speak, through which visitors can wander and explore. Each artist has at least one space, each with at least one installation within it, the majority providing multiple elements within them.

The “gallery without a map” element comes from the fact that the various installation spaces  – located at different altitudes – are all linked by a teleport portals (touch or walk through to activate), which also link to the ground-level location I’m using here as a landing point. However, none of the portals are labelled in terms of artist or destination; therefore there is no implied hierarchy or order to the installations in terms of which should be seen “first”, etc., – visitors have utterly free choice.

The Borderless Project: Gem Preiz, tribute to TeamLab

What is key to spending time at the Borderless Project, is that you have your viewer correctly configured.

Of the recommendations given it is crucial you have Advanced Lighting Model enabled, (Preferences → Graphics → make sure Advanced Lighting Model is checked – there is no need to also enable Shadows), together with media (the button with the movie camera on it, top right of the viewer window) turned on – and note that there are times where you will need to toggle this off / on again in order to pick-up the sounds within individual elements (keep an eye out for the in-world text requests to toggle). Less important is having draw distance set to the recommended 250m+; given the size of the individual installations and the distance at which you’re seeing things, this is frankly overkill.

The Borderless Project: the gardens by Akiko

The “primary” installations are by Betty, Delain, Gem, and Thoth, with Gem and Delain offering the largest by area / content, including two “secondary” displays apiece (Gem proving a hat-tip to TeamLab via two reproductions of elements from their Borderless installation, and Delain a separate “dino cave” that comes with places to sit). The garden spaces by Akiko, Blaise and Miyduko also offer places to sit and relax, and opportunities to play with EEP and more.

Each of the installations is richly diverse in terms of elements, colours and sounds (both local and via media – remember to toggle this off / on as directed), with some of the artists including interactive elements that can be walked into / over or pushed around. In respect of the local sounds, it’s important you avoid running / flying, as the scripted object can take a second or so to fire-up and call the sounds to be played in the viewer, so if you run you could easily miss hearing them – and if you fly, you won’t hear them at all!

The Borderless Project: in one of Delain’s smaller vignettes

I’m not going into great lengths about the individual installations here, as frankly, they should be experienced first-hand, and people should approach them unburdened by my own perceptions and ideas. I will say that when visited the large cubist environment Betty Tureaud has created, make sure you follow the big white arrival at the arrival point and grab + wear the teleport HUD – you might have problems finding your way inside the cubes if you don’t! Also, keep an eye out for the poses within Delain’s vignette settings – they offer multiple choices for photography.

I admit to having a couple of niggles during my visit – notably as a result of the local environment settings within Delain’s main setting, where I found it so dark I walked back through a teleport disk when trying to leave the landing point (and no, I didn’t have Shadows enabled alongside of ALM). More particularly, the low light makes it hard / impossible to read in-world guidance notes in places. As such, it might be better to either make them Full Bright (if they are not) or to add a couple of point lights to illuminate them to make them more obvious.

But niggles aside, there is no denying the depth of content to be found within the Borderless Project, and I enjoyed the several hours I spent exploring, trying and poking (including playing god and shoving the solar system around!).

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