The (Linden) Bear necessities of (Second) Life

Bear Castle, November 2021

There can be very few of us who do not have at least one Linden Bear sitting in Inventory somewhere – and most likely more than one (I have a good handful tucked away, and I’ve not been a major collector). Primarily created by the staff at the Lab (together with the Moles of the Linden Department of Public Works), they are one of the Great Staples of Second Life, much sought-after by many, and held as prized possessions.

Linden Bears were, alongside of Linden Collector Cards, the brainchild of Nicole Linden, who joined Linden Lab as the first female international liaison, and the first female Linden from Australia, far back in the mists of time. I have no idea if she ever realised how popular they would be, but Linden Bears have become something of a rite of passage for Lab employees, who are expected to create one (with those at senior level being asked at virtually every public appearance they make if they have one available to give to collectors!), with special in-house courses being given in their construction.

Bear Castle, November 2021
At one time, Linden Bears used to all be made to the original template developed by Nicole Linden – but I have absolutely no idea if that is still the case today. What I do know is that, as well as individual bears being produced by Lab staff,  there has also been a long tradition of creating celebratory bears to mark events and occasions – such as the “1,000,0000th Bear” produced to mark the 1,000,000th user entering SL (at precisely, for those interested  at precisely 8:05:45 SLT, October 18th, 2008).

All of this is by way of introducing the fact that for the bear minded, Claire Atheria has opened the Bear Castle, an incredible display of 497 Linden (and Mole!) bears, 281 of which are from her personal collection(!), with the rest being provided by Maryposa Paine, Michael Takakura, Nicci Pond, Melvin Starbrook and Prokofy Neva.

Bear Castle, November 2021

Located alongside Route 8A within the continent of Satori, Bear Castle sits on a table of rock overlooking the road (and so hard to miss when casually travelling through lower Satori) and is brimming forth with bears from Lindens and past and present, Moles and from Claire and other residents. So many in fact, that they call cannot fit inside the main building or its courtyard, but can instead be found gathered in the pavilion alongside the museum proper and also lining the road (so be sure to cam around / descend the steps from the landing point and have a good look around). Such is the collection that, look long enough and you’ll find some of Nicole’s original bears as well as some more recent creations such as Magic Mole’s Ebbe Linden Bear, as offered to help raise funds for RFL of SL, and various “Team” bears offered on behalf of different Linden working teams, and more.

Of course, not all Linden Bears are bears, so within the collection might be found Leo Linden’s lion, Blue Linden’s dragon, one of April Linden’s bunnies, Terrance Linden’s Monkey, Torley Linden’s … abstract art (no-one could create a bear quite like Torley!), and several of Alexa Linden’s annual bears, to name but a few. Not all bears are of the same approximate size either – so be prepared to zoom in at times –  and also zoom out!

Bear Castle, November 2021

For those wishing to start their own Linden Bear collection, Claire also offers some hints and tips on where to find them through a note card giver, and even a “starter pack” of 50 sharable bears by LL staff and members of the LDPW! All of which makes for a pleasing visit / trip down memory lane.

Given this is all about the bears, I cannot help but close by “borrowing” a song from Disney’s version of Baloo Bear and tweaking the lyrics a little:

Look for the bear necessities
The Linden Bear necessities.
Forget about your worries and your strife;
Our Linden Bear necessities
Are why avies can rest with ease
Collecting bears right here in Second Life!
Bear Castle, November 2021

With thanks to Claire and all involved in this project.

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Opening Bamboo’s Drawers in Second Life

Hannington Art Foundation: Bamboo Barnes – Drawer

Bamboo Barnes opened her latest exhibition, entitled Drawer, at the Hannington Arts Foundation, owned and operated by Hannington Xeltentat. It also marks my own overdue resumption if covering art exhibitions at HAF.

A self-taught digital artist from Japan, Bamboo has used Second Life as a means of both refining her talent and displaying her work, growing from producing avatar studies to creating intricate pieces that both engage and challenge the eye and mind. Her work, generally vibrant in colour, and also evocative, provocative, and emotive, is among the most striking and unique in Second Life – and has also made the transition into the physical world.

Drawer features 20 images that appear to be self-portraits that – as is Bamboo’s style – lean towards the abstract, whilst using various techniques – collage, overlay, and so on – such that individual pieces can also touch upon the likes of impressionism and surrealism. Each image is perfectly capable of holding the attention in and of itself, but when taken together, how might they relate to the exhibition’s title and the poem Bamboo presents within its introductory notes:

Drawer that don’t close properly.
Drawer that you no longer use.
A faded picture stuck in the back, ton messed wrinkled one.
You’ve forgotten what was like but the smell comes back.
For the days you have loved close your eyes, close the drawer.

– Bamboo Barnes

Hannington Art Foundation: Bamboo Barnes – Drawer

To me, these lines suggest two potential interpretations. The first is on the theme of introspection; something Bamboo has dwelt upon through exhibitions such as Receding Reality and Mindstorm. However, here it is perhaps more layered, referencing that spark of joy when finding something created long ago than had been put away and forgotten, and which in turn brings forth memories and feelings that had themselves been locked away unheeded in the filing cabinet of the mind. Are, then, these images each a visual aide-mémoire, bringing forth those long hidden thoughts and emotions that led to its creation?

O might this been a broader commentary that we cannot remain caught up with dwelling on (or in) the past? That life moves on perpetually, carrying us along with it – and for the artist this means accepting what has been created can not no longer be changed, no matter how more advanced we have become or how out outlooks have changed; and for the artists, this means accepting what has been, and it is towards canvases new that one should now turn? And in this, is there not a salient reminder to us all, that while looking back can yield understanding or discovery, so too should the drawers of memory be pushed closed, keeping safe that which has been, while the eyes look towards what is yet to be?

Hannington Art Foundation: Bamboo Barnes – Drawer

As always, Bamboo offers us much to appreciate through her art, and much to ponder both in terms of how each piece came to be and what it represents, and the challenge she present through the five lines of blank verse.

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