London Junkers: celebrating American literature in Second life

UASL: London Junkers, Marking the Twain

3D artist London Junkers is a 3D artist unafraid to offer art and thoughts on a broad canvas (so to speak) that encompasses subjects as diverse as the horrors of war (see: Picasso in 3D – Guernica at LEA) to the likes of the history of aviation (see: To Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth…). Currently within Second Life he has two installations that stand as celebrations of American literature, one of which recently opened, and the other of which is likely to be approaching the end of its run, and so might be vanishing in the very near future.

The latter of these two installations is Marking the Twain, a celebration of the life of Samuel L. Clemens, the typesetter turned  Mississippi riverboat pilot turned journalist who would become one of America’s most famous writers using the pen-name he appropriated from his days days as a riverboat pilot and under which he is lauded as “the greatest humourist the United States has produced”, Mark Twain.

This is an installation that is both elegantly simple in approach whilst also wrapping within it some very rich imagery, comprising four major parts. The first is at the entrance, where London has penned a story that might have between written by Clemens himself, a telling of the most popular tale of how he came by his pen-name from the practice of  tossing a weight on the end of line to measure (mark) the depth of water beneath a riverboat to ensure it did not become less than the two fathoms (the “twain” – equivalent to 12ft) laden boats tended to require to avoid running aground.

UASL: London Junkers, Marking the Twain

Whether this is true or not is hard to tell – Clemens himself claimed he appropriated the name from Captain Isaiah Sellers the “most respected, esteemed, and revered” riverboat captain on the Mississippi, following the latter’s death in 1863, and who had used it to sign reports on the river’s general condition. But howsoever Clemens came by the name, London’s story is a worthy read.

Beyond the plinths carrying the neatly penned story, a stern wheeled steamer of the kind Clemens would have piloted up and down the great Mississippi River rises from the river’s waters on a powerful blast of air whilst a giant pen dribbles into into the river to form letters that drift on the water beneath the boat’s flat bottom. Together, both flying boat and the dribbling pen and its letters offer metaphors for the two major halves (in his own eyes) of Clemens’ life: his time as a fully qualified riverboat pilot, a career he had dreamed of since his boyhood in Missouri, and his most famous years as the writer Mark Twain.

UASL: London Junkers, Marking the Twain

On the deck of the boat – and able to be reached by ramp offered as a swirling tail of the wail that has lifted it into the air – is the tall, stout figure of Clemens himself. He stands, staring into the face of the wind as it carries his boat aloft, in the white suit and homburg hat that became his trademark dress in later life, whilst clutched between teeth and lips hangs a clay pipe rather than the cigar we might usually associate with him.

Thus the figure, whilst not a metaphor, is offered as a composite to further mark these two sides of his life: the suit marking him as the well-established humourist and writer, Mark Twain, the clay pipe harking to his time as riverboat pilot Clemens.

The final part element of the installation can be found in two parts that directly reference Twain the writer.

The first part is perhaps the easiest to understand. On the bank of the river, and seemingly oblivious to the boat’s airborne passage, sits a boy – “Huck Sawyer”  – quietly fishing. He is by name and nature a conglomerate representation of the two major characters from Twain’s most famous works of fiction. Less obvious, perhaps, is the frog that sits alongside the figure of Clemens/Twain on the deck of the boat. Looking a tad dapper in his top hat and bow tie, he has three three small round pellets before him and while he might look to be merely a piece of decoration, he is not.

For both frog and the pellets reference Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog, a humorous story Twain first saw published to a good deal of acclaim in the New York Saturday Post in November 1865. Less than a month later (possibly to greater acclaim) it appeared under the title The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by The Californian (Calaveras being a county in California). Most significantly of all, perhaps, is the story of the frog became the anchor for Twain’s first full-length book, published in 1867. As such, the presence of the frog and the pellets neatly round-out this celebration of Twain’s life.

Kuidvis Art Space: London Junkers – The Thunderous Train of Air

Meanwhile at the newly-opened  Kuidvis Art Space, London presents The Thunderous Train of Air, another celebration, this time of the life and works of American poet, author and teacher, Ruth Stone.

Again an installation of elegant in its simplicity, this installation takes as its title and encompasses within it the story Stone told journalist Elizabeth Gilbert as to her inspiration as poet, and which Gilbert in turn related thus during a TED talk in 2009, not long before Stone passed away:

As [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming . . . ’cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, “run like hell” to the house as she would be chased by this poem.

Thus, The Thunderous Train of Air offers a scene set within a open field sitting beneath a sunlit sky, the rural piece of which has been shattered by the drive of wind and the arrival of a great steam train, tracks and all, charging through the crop, driving the young figure of Ruth Stone before it as she desperately chases pens and writing book as they are carried in the wind before her, so she might capture the words as they reach her and set them down indelibly in ink.

Kuidvis Art Space: London Junkers – The Thunderous Train of Air

The proximity of the train to the running figure perfectly  encapsulates Stone’s acknowledgement that when the inspiration came, she would sometimes succeed in her race for home and pens and paper, and capture the words of the poem, whilst other times would see the inspiration “barrel through [her] and continue on across the landscape looking for another poet”.

Nor is the train alone as a representation of creativity. To one side of the installation a tornado-like tower of air turns, a single book at its base,. It carries with it the image of the whirlwind rush, even when home safe, and with pen in hand and paper on table, to get the words down in the order they desire, before their memory fades entirely.

Close to this tornado sits a small stage and a microphone, perhaps metaphors for her time as a teacher and the fact that her poetry has one of the most unique voices of the modern age, combining as it does imagery from the natural sciences with a broader non-scientific intellectualism in a complex, and at times philosophical, dynamic.

And be sure to touch the book at the base of the tornado’s funnel, it offers a poem by London, a beautifully written homage to Stone and her poetry.

Kuidvis Art Space: London Junkers – The Thunderous Train of Air

Both Marking the Twain and The Thunderous Train of Air are presented as monochrome pieces that adds depth to their reflections on the two writers and their writing. They are also installations that should preferably be seen under their intended environment settings and with both Advanced Lighting Model (Preferences → Graphics → check Advanced Lighting Model) and local sounds enabled for the greatest sense of immersion.

SLurl Details

A Forest of Mystical Dreams in Second Life

The Forest of Mystical Dreams, September 2021 – click any image for full size

It’s funny how sometimes the mind sometimes plays tricks on you. I tend to have a pretty good ability to mentally file away the things I write about and pull them back out of the murky depths of my memory as needed without the need to run searches and the likes through the pages and posts of this blog.

I mention this because in coming across a Landmark for The Forest of Mystical Dreams, part of my mind initially responded with a, “Yep! blogged!” and the LM was filed in Inventory. Only the underpinning region name  – Spiked dAlliez – kept gnawing at me, and after looking through notes and posts I realised I was wrong – The Forest of Magical Dreams isn’t somewhere I’d written about. So either my mind played a little trick – or age is finally catching up with me, and the mind is starting to slip! Either way, the fact that I haven’t previously documented the setting gave me cause to hop over and have a wander.

The Forest of Mystical Dreams

Occupying a Full private region that leverages the additional Land Capacity bonus, the Forest of Mystical Dreams offers an eclectic mix of terms in its About Land description, ranging from fantasy – elves, mermaids, etc., through to the distinctly adult-oriented (D/s BDSM), the latter of which might put some off a visit, although I would hasten to add that if it is present in the setting, it is by no means overt. It is also a place that is not child avatar friendly,  possibly as a result of the adult themes (if present), so I’ll point that out up front. All that said, the description for the region found on the Profile for the region’s holder and principal designer, Jen Volodar Dorran (Jennifer Beverly) is far more reflective of the regions true nature:

This Forest is many moons old now . This forest is what my RL vision of “Romance” is.. there is love , and care , my thoughts and dreams and ideas on this sim as it is my canvas to do anything my heart can come up with .. this forest is every changing small spots but always something new to enjoy.
Thank you for enjoying my Romantic Dream ♥
The Forest of Mystical Dreams

This description opens the door to a setting that is caught beneath a twilight sky (under which it should be seen for the best impressions, which I hope the photos herein are indicative of. To describe the region would in some ways be a waste of time; the care put into creating the atmosphere found within it should be experienced, rather than seen. Wandering the trails and climbing the steps and stairs to be found within the setting, I kept expecting to hear elements of Howard’s Shore’s music for The lords of the Rings Trilogy or come across Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel, such is the sense of fantasy woven into the region.

The Forest of Mystical Dreams

Surrounded by off-region hills, this is a place that extended upwards from the ground level to high plateaus and even island floating amongst its clouds, and which plunges under the surface of its waters to offer the havens for merfolk promised in its description.

At the time of my visit, a large new pavilion was under construction on one of the plateaux, but otherwise the region was wide open to exploration, with paths meandering under the rich canopy of trees and passing over the waters cutting through the land via bridges of wood and stone.

The Forest of Mystical Dreams

Lit by glowing stones and plants dotting with firefly-like lights, or which glow with their own natural luminescence and are frequently marked by circling spirit-like sprites, the paths offer the best way to explore, linking-up all of the regions spaces and places of interest, revealing along the way the rich vein of music, dancing and romance that is promised in Jen’s description of the region. The paths will also bring to light the region’s variety wildlife, whiles a climb up into the hills can bring you to settings that vary in form from distinctly Tolkien-elvish is style through to more fairy-tale in form (you also might want to check under some of the rocky plateaus as well!).

But as noted, this is a region that should be seen, rather than described in words, and so to that end, I’m going to round out this piece with a couple more images and the SLurl details once more!

The Forest of Mystical Dreams
The Forest of Mystical Dreams

SLurl Details

2021 SUG meeting week #39 summary

Hazelnut’s Kingdom, June 2021 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the Tuesday, September 28th, 2021 Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting. The meeting was recorded by Pantera Północy, and the video is embedded at the end of this summary. Note this summary focuses on the key points of the meeting; where there is something to report, the video should be referred to should full details of the meeting wish to be reviewed.

Server Deployments

See the deployment thread for updates.

  • There are no planned deployments for the SLS Main channel.
  • The RC channels will be subject to a rolling restart on Wednesday, September 29th. Due to technical constraints this, will update the simulator version number to 564195, however there are no changes in code or configuration from the currently deployed version 563375.

SL Viewer

There have been no updates to the current crop on official viewers to mark the start of the week, leaving the pipelines as:

  • Release viewer: version version, formerly the CEF Update RC viewer, issued July 24 and promoted August 10.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Apple Notification Fix RC viewer, version, issued September 24 – this should remove the warning messages which are currently popping up.
    • Maintenance RC viewer updated to version, on September 21.
    • Simplified Cache RC viewer, version, dated September 17, issued September 20
  • Project viewers:
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version, issued September 3.
    • Performance Floater project viewer, version, issued September 2.
    • Mesh Optimizer project viewer, version, issued September 1.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version, dated October 26.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version, dated December 9, 2019.

In Brief

  • Some are reporting an uptick in 502 responses to outgoing HTTP requests that is described as “not common, but common enough” to cause concern, although the requests usually go through as expected on retry. The uptick appears to coincide with the updates to HTTP-out proxies. The usual Jiras on target URL, source regions/objects, owners, etc., have been requested from those experiencing these issues.
  • Some are also reporting issues with texture loading taking longer of late, including textures that should be locally cached by the viewer. The simulator and messaging is being pointed to as a potential culprit, although a) this shouldn’t affect cached textures; b) aside from the initial object and texture information, textures (as with all assets) come via the CDN, not through the simulator.
    • It’s been suggested that changes to the Interest List in support of the 360º Capture project viewer could be the cause, and this hasn’t been ruled out.
    • Similar issues had been noted with Firestorm following its release. However these have tended to be in terms of initial viewer start-up at the start of a session (when VFS load seems to take abnormally long), but these do not appear to be related to this issue, as this appears to occur across all viewer flavours – official and TPV.
    • Again, Jira reports on the issue giving viewer details, locations and actual timing snapshots (using ALT-CTRL-3 to display the texture queue) would be useful to the Lab. Also tests using the TextureTest2 and MeshTest2 regions on Aditi (which are structured to test exactly this sort of thing) that can be reported would also be useful.
  • BUG-231113 “PRIM_POINT_LIGHT sets the wrong colour (not a duplicate)” has been accepted (and pending more detailed investigation). It is not clear if the viewer is amending the script-supplied light parameters prior to sending them to the simulator, or whether the change is on the simulator side of things.
  • The last part of the meeting comprised grumbling about blog reports apparently not being addressed (or possibly more correctly, not being addressed in a time frame those experiencing an issue – which may not be everyone or even a majority or users – want it to be addressed). In response, it was pointed out that there is a lot of working going on under-the-hood that is not user-visible, but nevertheless is of a high priority.

The 2021 SL Renaissance Festival for Making Strides

via the SL Renaissance Festival 2021

The 2021 SL Renaissance Festival is currently open to visitors through until the end of Sunday, October 3rd, 2021. A signature event coordinated by the American Cancer Society, the event is in support of  Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (MSABC), an RFL of SL signature event aimed at raising awareness of the risks of breast cancer and raising funds to support research into, and treatment of, the disease.

Taking place across four regions adjoining the core American Cancer Society regions the festival presents a range of merchants, activities and entertainments linked to the medieval / renaissance periods for visitors to peruse, participate in and enjoy.

Please refer to the official SL Renaissance Festival web site for:

The jousting arena where residents can enjoy tournaments or even face Lindens and Moles at a special event on Thursday, September 30th, 2021

The event tournaments include daily rounds of jousting, archery, mounted archery, and mêlée, all of which are open to anyone who’d like to try their hand at any of them. In particular, and for those who wish to try their hand at jousting there is the added attraction of jousting against staff from Linden Lab and Moles from the Linden Department of Public Works.

Tickets to joust in this special event, which will be held between 12:00 noon and either 14:00 or 15:00 SLT on Thursday, September 30th, with tickets costing L$1,000 (proceeds to RFL of SL / Making Strides) to participate. Those from the Lab taking part comprise Constantine Linden, Derrick Linden and Patch Linden along with Abnor Mole, Alotta Mole, and Maximus Mole. Tickets can be purchased via the special kiosks at the event’s Welcome Areas.

The Tales of Heroes

As well as pavilion-based shopping within the festival’s shopping regions, visitors can also obtain special items by participating in the Stag Hunt. Just find the stag statue(s) in participating shops and in the role-play areas, and claim the goodies inside for a payment of L$25 (all payments go directly to Making Strides).

In addition, the event features:

All of which adds up to a lot to see and do! To help visitors get in the mood of the event, the landing points in the main merchant areas include a range of period costumes and accessories on sale with all funds raised again going directly to Making Strides.

URLs and SLurls

Hikaru Enimo’s Reflection in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: My Reflection

Who doesn’t know Hikaru? Dido Haas asks in reference to Hikaru Enimo in her introduction to the October art exhibition at her Nitroglobus Roof Gallery in Second Life. Well, to my embarrassment, I have to hold a hand up and say “me”; for despite Hikaru being a photographer, blogger, event organiser and Editor-in-Chief of L’Homme Magazine SL, I have not had a prior opportunity to view his work. Thus My Reflection, as his exhibition at Nitroglobus is titled, has been an opportunity for me to become better acquainted with, if not the man, then at least his work.

This is something of a person exhibition of pieces for Hikaru, as again the liner notes make clear. Each piece is intentionally designed to offer insight into the moods and emotions the artist was feeling during its composition of each shot, rather than just trying to evoke a mood or response in the viewer of his work. The result is a baker’s dozen of fabulously monochrome pieces that are presented in the large format that marks exhibitions at Nitroglobus, all focused on Hikaru’s avatar (joined in places by his dog), that are deeply expressive, and in which pose, tone, lighting and setting have been carefully crafted to as much give insight into the artist’s mindset as much as any facial expression.

Indeed, given that many of the images offered – in difference to Hikaru’s own comments on his use of his avatar’s gaze – eyes and face are not visible, the depth of feeling that is conveyed in some of these pieces just through pose completely captivates. Just take My Reflection 07, My Reflection 09 and My Reflection 10, for example, all of which contain a sense of listlessness borne of solitude and / or boredom. Similarly, Reflection 12 is a completely stunning narrative of mood in which, while it partially reveals a downcast face, the statement come no closer is perfectly portrayed through the placement of the stripped bars across the doorway before Hikaru’s avatar; so much so, I would suggest, that even whilst rendered in monochrome, bars mentally convey the idea they are in fact stripped yellow-and-black in that familiar warning do not cross.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: My Reflection

Where his avatar’s face is visible, the conveyance of mood / feelings is more directly pronounced, but not less marvellously framed. My Reflection 11 and My Reflection 04 (which I would not is definitely NSFW when viewing!) for example, utilise the placement of a hand over or before the face to charge each piece with its emotional content, the use of splayed or crooked fingers speaking volumes as to the thoughts that lie behind the avatar’s eyes even as those eyes remain hidden by lowered lids. Similarly, and alongside of it, the curl of cigarette smoke rising beside the steady gaze of Hikaru’s avatar in Reflection 01 draws us into his eyes and the sense of mood within them. And then there is My Reflection 14, where pose, directed gaze and the presence of a window (or door) frame between us and the avatar offers an entire story.

And it is in the idea of contained narrative that Reflections further unfolds before us. For while these are images intended to reflect Hikaru’s own moods, thoughts, feelings – and yes, his vitality – at the time of their creation, such is their depth and composition, we cannot help be see each as part of a larger canvas. Each image invites us in to it, awakening our imaginations to weave stories that can fill the rest of that unseen canvas. Stories in which our own role might also be defined: are we merely a observer of a moment in Hikaru’s life, or are we an invisible participant – lover, partner, friend, passer-by – looking upon someone we care for, like or just happen to see – or who has caught us unexpectedly within his gaze?

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: My Reflection

Evocative, rich, personal, emotive and a tour de force of an artist’s talent for expression and story-telling, My Reflection is both a superb introduction to Hikaru’s work for those who like myself have not been fortunate enough to encounter it previously, and as a richly layered series of images that superbly straddle the line of “personal” and “public” in their conveyance of mood and narrative respectively.


Tales from the (Seanchai) Library 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 27th 19:00: The Weigher

A world dominated by sentiment big cats where the rule of law is enforced by the Weighers, a combination of judge, peacemaker and accountant through a brutal code of honour and combat. Without their violent intervention in things, all-out war and anarchy would ensue.

When two human explorers – fragile, weak and potentially easy prey – arrive on that world, Slasher, a Weigher of skill and talent in physical combat, finds herself defending them. In doing so, she finds herself a disgraced outcast.

Join Gyro Muggins as he resumes the story by Eric Vinicoff and Marcia Martin.

Tuesday, September 28th

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym

With music, and poetry in Ceiluradh Glen.

19:00: Nightbird

Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumoured to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell.

Willow Moonfire read’s Alice Hoffman’s novel.

Wednesday, September 29th, 19:00 Selections from Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters

With Caledonia Skytower and Ktadhn Vesuvino in Ceiluradh Glen.

Thursday, September 30th

19:00: Abandoned

With Shandon Loring.

21:00: Ghostbusters

If there’s something weird
And it don’t look good
Who you gonna call?
Cale & Shand!

With Caledonia Skytower and Shandon Loring in Ceiluradh Glen.