Terrygold’s Empty Chairs: remembrance in Second Life

Solo Arte: Empty Chairs by Terrygold

Empty Chairs is a new art installation by Terrygold that opened on September 1st, 2021. It is perhaps the most personal installation Terry has created in Second Life, although its central theme – that of loss of a family member – is a subject many of us can particularly relate to in the current times, given so many of us have had to deal with the loss of loved ones as a result of the current pandemic.

It’s note directly indicated if Terrygold’s own loss was direct result of the COVID situation as I’ve not had the opportunity to discuss the installation with her. However, given the context of the final part of the installation, I am admittedly assuming this to be the case. But even if not, there is no denying the power Empty Chairs has to speak to all of us on the matter of loss.

The installation can loosely be split into three parts. The first presents a series of images together with words by Terrygold that contextualise the feeling she has been experiencing on the loss of her father in a deeply personal, but utterly understandable way; one that particularly speaks to anyone who has lost a close family member, regardless of our relationship with them., and Terry wears her heart on her sleeve in talking about her father and her impact on her.

I Don’t have good memories of my Dad, he was certainly not a good father. But I remember that one day he took me on a trip with the scooter, a different day for me; I thought he could change… I look at his empty chair at the table. Now the last memory of him is this loneliness. Will this sadness ever go away?

– Terrygold, Empty Chairs

Solo Arte: Empty Chairs by Terrygold

These are not easy words to read, and I know they were not easy to write; but again, regardless of our own relationship with those we have lost, the loneliness – the emptiness – Terrygold brings to her words and these images will be familiar. The manner in which their absence gives rise to that loneliness in the oddest of ways, from a chair now sitting empty, to sights and sounds we encounter as we strive to resume our own lives, the memories that, long filed away now come back unbidden…

There are so many ways in which such memories can be triggered: the empty chair, a walk that brings us into contact with a sight or object they would have appreciated and the realisation it is something they will never again see or we can no longer discuss with them, and so on, all of which are reflected in these images. Also, the use of dark tones and shadows within them not only reflects the fact they are dealing with matters of grief but also offer a metaphor for Terrygold’s relationship with her father.

At the end of the walk is a set of pieces that are brighter in tone, and which might be said to be the second element of the installation. Here a trees grows and forest birds flutter beneath its boughs, and the images speak of the point Terrygold hopes to reach; where the darkness and loneliness have given way to warmer thoughts; when memories of her father no longer revolve around unhappy memories or the emptiness of a chair or room, but rather allow her to recall those happier moments like the ride on the scooter. Here, as well, is a doorway into the final element of the installation: a street scene crafted by Terrygold that appears to speak directly to the loss the pandemic has brought on the world.

Solo Arte: Empty Chairs by Terrygold

Within this scene are many more chairs, all empty, sitting along the street and scattered through the little park, each representing those who have been lost. Among them are boards questioning the cause of the pandemic and our ability to truly live as a part of the world around us, rather than apart from it. Again, the tone is dark – but the thoughts and feeling it presents are ones we can all recognise – perhaps with a sense of familiarity. And here too, at the end, tucked behind the little row of shops is a message of hope.

Visualising and giving voice to grief can often be cathartic- and I hope this is the case for Terrygold. Speaking as one who has been through similar loss as a direct result of the pandemic – and while my own relationship with  the one I’ve lost was far closer, I think, than Terry’s with her father – I will say that visiting Empty Chairs was moving and offering a further sense of release from some of the memories that still give rise to confusion and hurt. But even without my personal experience, I would have found Empty Chairs richly poignant and with a remarkable depth of content and context.

Solo Arte: Empty Chairs by Terrygold

SLurl Details

September 2021 SL Web User Group summary

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, September 1st, 2021.

These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar. A video of the meeting, courtesy of Pantera, can be found embedded at the end of this article (my thanks to her as always!), and the following is a summary of key topics / discussions.

Web Properties Updates

  • Back-end work is still on-going and has taken up a lot of time through August.
  • The updated SL logo has been added to further web pages.
  • New User sign-ups:
    • The e-mail validation check on the new user sign-up pages has been improved.
    • Error messages for selected names that are unavailable have been made clearer
  • Land updates:
    • The bug that required Show in Search to be enabled when selling land has now been fixed.
    • There have been some repairs to broken links in the e-mail sent to those obtaining a new Private Island.
    • The land auction page has been fixed to correctly show the highest bidder on a parcel, and further translations of the page have been added for localisation.
  • Marketplace improvements:
    • The ability to single-click empty a shopping cart has been implemented.
    • The meaning of a number of Marketplace error messages have been made clearer.

Mobile Update

  • There are some bugs with the iOS update LL had hoped to roll-out to the test group in August. These are being ironed out, so it is still internal to the Lab.
  • The Android version is still awaiting the iOS version progressing.

Marketplace Related

  • For some reason, some Marketplace merchants are using the Bulk Redelivery option introduced in August to re-send copies of demo versions of goods to people. At least one Jira has been filed on this, and LL will be fine-tuning the capability.
  • While it has been this way for years, the question was asked as to why payment details must be provided when opening an MP store. The response was that primarily, it is to prevent bots taking out MP stores.
  • It was suggested that flags should be added to allow users to report items that are not as advertised (e.g. “Item Not As Advertised → Misleading Listing Terms” or “MP listing flag Item Not As Advertised → Item(s) Not As Described”. These were seen by LL as potentially useful flags.
  • Item variations (e.g. multiple colour options for clothing items) is still a feature LL plan to add to the MP, but the work on providing / implementing it has not yet started, so no time frame as yet on when it might surface.
  • There are no plans to allow multiple MP stores under a single account – apparently the MP just isn’t set-up to support this.
  • As an alternative to multiple stores under an account, a request was made to allow goods in stores to be categorised by the store owner. A feature request Jira on the idea was requested.
  • The request was made to allow users to prioritise / rank the items they add to their wishlists so others can see the items they are really interested in.  Again seen as a Jira request.
  • A “recommended for you” / “you might also like” feature based on a user’s purchase habits on the MP is something that is unlikely to be implemented, as the MP infrastructure is not geared for this.
  • The ability for creators selling limited quantity items to publicly show the number left has been previously asked for in meetings – a feature request Jira has been requested.
  • BUG-231142 “Questions and Answers’ tab for marketplace product pages” is a feature request received and accepted by the Lab. Reed Linden requested MP store owns consider it and perhaps offer feedback on the idea at the next WUG meeting.

MP Reviews and Flagging

  • A request was made to allow creators to disallow reviews on things like demo versions of products to prevent bad reviews on the strength of people not understanding a demo may have limited functionality, etc.
    • While it is acknowledged that some bad reviews can be left that may be unwarranted (and can be flagged as such), disabling reviews for items really isn’t an option, as this could be equally abused by creators (by blocking reviews on the basis that they do not like what has been written, however valid. There is also the fact that reviews are at best subjective: just because a creator may not like  / agree with critical views, does not necessarily mean they are “bad”.
  • A separate suggestion was made to allow the possible automatic removal of 1 and 2 star reviews. Essentially, it one receipt of such a review, the creator could respond via their own comment and the user leaving the original comment would then have 7 days to respond. If they do, the review remains, if they don’t the review is removed.
    • This was also seen as a potential means for unscrupulous  creators to game their reviews, and thus not something LL would consider.
  • When dealing with reviews, it was suggested by LL that if there are better / alternative flags creators could use to highlight abusive / off-topic / unfair reviews, this would be a better option. Request for possible additional flags should be made via Jira.
  • A suggestion was made to better denote creator responses to review comments, such as through a border around them or having them appear in a different colour, so as to make them easier to spot. This was seen as a useful suggestion, and a Jira on it has been requested.

In Brief

  • Premium Plus remains on hold.
  • Two-factor Authentication (2FA) is still being worked on.
  • BUG-216465 “Viewer web widgets not HTTPS ready” was apparently fixed in an August update, although the bug report was still open at the time of the meeting.

Congratulations to Keira, Welcome Back to Reed

  • This was the last Web User Group meeting to be led by Keira Linden, as she is transitioning to take over management of the Support Operations team – congratulations to her.
  • As a result, Reed Linden has returned to the Web User Group and will again be leading in from the October meeting – so welcome back Reed.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, October 6th, 14:00 SLT.