Alpha’s Mythologies in Second Life

Alpha Auer: Mythologies, February 2022

I dropped into Alpha Auer’s Alphatribe Island to take a look at Mythologies, a rather interesting installation she has created which is part cultural collection, part experimentation and entirely fascinating. Alpha is best known for her own original creations and installations, some of which I’ve covered in these pages (most recently in 2019). However, this is something a little different, and the easiest way to explain it is through Alpha’s own words:

Mythologies is a curation of cultural artefacts that were found on a vast 3D resource called Sketchfab where many museums from all over the world, as well as private individuals upload all sorts of 3D models but with an overwhelming emphasis on heritage material that can be downloaded and freely used under Creative Commons licenses.
Thus, instead of doing my own modelling this time around, I decided to use this remarkable bounty to put together an architecture and a number of small landscapes in which deities and characters from different mythologies across history could be present virtually – sometimes sharing spaces and sometimes thematically separated.

– Alpha Auer

Alpha Auer: Mythologies, February 2022

The result is a series of islands placed across a glass-like platform, each the home to the models Alpha has imported, each one more-or-less represent different cultures and their heritage. These range from renaissance Europe through North America to the Middle East, Asia and Far East. However, to define this as a dive into these cultures and mythologies would in part be a mistake, again as Alpha notes herself:

I do not pretend that this is a museum or any such serious endeavour. After all, I do not give any explanations or descriptions – rather it is one of my “follies” to be looked at as such. That said, should you wish to find out more about who these deities and characters are you can find them on sketchfab.

– Alpha Auer

Alpha Auer: Mythologies, February 2022

That side, the way the pieces are set out does actually encourage their study and consideration of the times and culture which gave rise to them and what they represent. To help sate curiosities, Alpha also cites sources from within Sketchfab, such as the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Bonn Centre for Digital Humanities collection –  Alpha can provide licenses to those wishing to find out more, and also – in terms of cultures. Wikipedia is your friend.

The second Level of the installation – reached via a broad stairway – offers access to Alpha’s own store, including her fabulous avatars, and a smaller store containing many of the pieces featured on the main platform, complete with their Creative Commons License.

Alpha Auer: Mythologies, February 2022

Hailing from Istanbul, Alpha is an academic and graphic designer / artist. Widely published, she has presented papers and works are conferences and art spaces, some of which have spanned both the virtual and the physical worlds – such as her co-authored LPDT2/3 series of installations in Second Life and OpenSim, which she developed with MosMax Hax and Selavy Oh, building around Roy Ascott’s concept of distributed authorship – Ascott being one of the artists under whom she studied for her PhD. She very modestly does not consider herself an “artist” or “designer”, but rather a “thingmaker” – it’s an interesting term, given the range of her work, but I personally cannot help but think of her as a marvellously gifted artist / designer.

Separate to these main platforms are a pair of floating island and a third platform; these can be reached by the local teleport system. The islands continue the theme of mythologies and cultures.

Alpha Auer: Mythologies, February 2022

The uppermost platform is home to one of Alpha’s own installations, From Here On There Be Dragons. Originally displayed at Dividni Shostakovich’s now sadly closed Split Screen, it presents a celebration of these mythical, mystical beasts and much of what they represent  both culturally and in terms of our own psyche – and you can read more on my own thoughts from that 2016 installation here. It adds a further dimension to what is a very different exhibition, one very much worthwhile visiting.

SLurl Details

Seanchai Library: Feb 27th – March 3rd, 2023 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 – and this week previews the launch of a very special event.

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, February 27th, 19:00: The Golden Compass (aka Northern Lights)

Originally published in 1995 as Northern Lights, The Golden Compass forms the first volume in Philip Pullman’s multiverse-spanning trilogy His Dark Materials.

In a world resembling Edwardian England, where magic is commonplace, young Lyra Belqcqua slip into the Retiring Room at the collage where he uncle is about to give a lecture – only to witness the Master of the college add poison to the wine intended for her uncle, Lord Asriel, prior to his arrival in the room. Warning him, she is rewarded by being allowed to remain and witness her uncle’s presentation, in which he discusses something called “Dust”, shows images of the northern lights in which there appears to be a city, and something else called the “panserbjørne”.

At the same time, children within Oxford are vanishing, kidnapped by a sect called the Gobblers, for a nefarious purpose – and Lyra is determined to find out why. In doing so, she is brought back into contact with the Master – who surprisingly gives her an alethiometer, a truth-telling device – and is offered the opportunity to live with the glamorous Mrs. Coulter, which comes as a thrill.

But as the mystery of the missing children deepens and Lyra determines to follow their trail north, so she discovers that Mrs. Coulter is not all she appears to be – and nor is her Dust-obsessed uncle, Lord Asriel.

With Gyro Muggins.

Tuesday, February 28th

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym

Live in words and music at the Glen.

19:00: Cold Clay

It’s autumn in Shady Hollow, and residents are looking forward to harvest feasts. But then a rabbit discovers a grisly crop: the bones of a moose.

Soon, the owner of Joe’s Mug is dragged out of the coffeeshop and questioned by the police about the night his wife walked out of his life–and Shady Hollow–forever. It seems like an open-and-shut case, but dogged reporter Vera Vixen doesn’t believe gentle Joe is a killer. She’ll do anything to prove his innocence. . .even if it means digging into secrets her neighbours would rather leave buried.

Faerie Maven-Pralou reads the second book in the Shady Hollow series by Juneau Black, in which some long-buried secrets come to light, throwing suspicion on a beloved local denizen.

Wednesday, March 1st, 19:00: Seanchai Flicks

Films, popcorn and fun at the Seanchai cinema space.

Thursday, March 2nd, 19:00: Selections from The Crystal Cave

Born into a time shortly after the Romans have departed Britain, now once again divided into a series of kingdoms, Myrddin Emrys, also known as Merlin, is the illegitimate son of a Welsh princess, who refuses to name his father. Small for his age and often abused or neglected, Merlin occasionally has clairvoyant visions which, together with his unknown parentage cause him to be referred to as “the son of a devil” and “bastard child”.

After being taught to harness his abilities by the hermit, Galapas, Merlin eventually find his way to Brittany, who teaches him to use his psychic powers as well as his earthly gifts, Merlin eventually finds his way to Brittany and the court of Ambrosius Aurelianus, where he joins the war leader’s plans to invade Britain and defeat Vortigern and his Saxon allies, and unify the nation as its High King.

Discovering he is Ambrosius’s son, Merlin returns to Britain and is captured by Vortigern, who believes the only way his new fortress can remain standing is through the sacrifice of the “child with no father” – Merlin. The latter, however, discerns the real reason the walls of Vortigern’s fortress keep collapsing and plays into the king’s superstitious nature, and commences his life as a king’s advisor, even whilst seeking to support Ambrosius in his goal. Thus begins the adventures of a young boy who will eventually become the advisor to Britain’s Once And Future King.

2023 SL viewer release summaries week #8

Logos representative only and should not be seen as an endorsement / preference / recommendation

Updates from the week through to Sunday, February 26th, 2023

This summary is generally published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
  • Note that for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Release viewer: Maintenance Q(uality) viewer, version, promoted Thursday, February 2, 2023- no change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Maintenance S RC viewer, version, issued February 24 2023.
    • Performance Floater / Auto FPS RC viewer updated to version, February 21, 2023.
  • Project viewers:
    • PBR Materials project viewer, version, February 24, 2023. This viewer will only function on the following Aditi (beta grid) regions: Materials1; Materials Adult and Rumpus Room 1 through 4.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers


  • No updates.


Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Of nymphalidae in Second Life

Kaleidoscope, February 2023 – click any image for full size

A recent visit took me to a Homestead region called Kaleidoscope, the home of the Monarch Education Project, itself branded as a MORPH / SPARK Project undertaking, with Raven Banrion (RavenStarr) as the core designer. Raven is the name behind a range of projects in Second Life, including Ravenport Reclaimed (which I wrote about in February 2022) and The Pond (I covered in May 2022), and having covered them both, I was keen to take a look at Raven’s latest work.

This is a very different setting compared to the likes of Ravenport and The Pond, offering as it does a literal walk into the world of nymphalidae – butterflies, notably danaus plexippus, the monarch butterfly, and particularly the sub-family of D. p. plexippus, the migratory monarch butterfly found in North America.

Kaleidoscope, February 2023

This subspecies is amongst the most familiar of North American butterflies, its annual southward late-summer / autumn migration from the northern and central United States and southern Canada to Florida and Mexico, and their reverse spring migration back up into the central and northern United States. The Monarch  was the first butterfly to have its genome sequenced, and the first butterflies to be reared in space, after being carried up to the International Space Station (ISS) as pupae.

Offers as a walk through a natural setting, starting high on a tree-crowned plateau on the south-east of the region. From here a trail runs north along a ridge before turning west before it switch backs its way down from the high ridge by way of others topped by wooden walkways to reach the ground. Along the way are information boards offering those following the trail the opportunity to find out more about the monarch – including the migratory habits of D. p. plexippus, their lifecycle and the growing threat to their continued existence in the United States.

Kaleidoscope, February 2023

The latter us believed to be in part due to the increasing destruction of milkweed, the monarch’s natural breeding ground in North America and in changes to their overwintering habitats in Mexico. As a result – and given the butterfly’s role in pollination (which is admittedly as great as the role played by bees) – President Barack Obama issued a presidential memorandum entitled Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, which led to a national strategy in the United States to promote the health of pollinators in North America – and specifically identified the monarch by name. Even so, in 2022, the International Union for Conservation of Nature added the migratory monarch butterfly its red list of endangered species.

Kaleidoscope, February 2023

As well as the information boards, the walk leads visitor past flutters (or kaleidoscopes, if you prefer) of monarch butterflies. These flutter around the trail and board walks, circle trees and flitter in and out of sunbeams. The also hide within the region’s secret location (which can be easily missed – all I’ll say here is waterfalls 🙂 ). Also awaiting discovery are various places where visitors can sit and cuddle / relax and simply enjoy the ambience of the region, or for those who prefer, a walk along the canon floor around which the ridge path runs and descends as it departs the landing point.

Altogether an engaging and informative visit – and don’t miss the opportunities for you to get involved in helping monarch butterflies through the Monarch Joint Venture.

Kaleidoscope, February 2023

SLurl Details

ALS Awareness Week 2023 in Second Life

Harvey Memorial Ensemble ALS Awareness Week 2023

The 2023 Harvey Memorial Ensemble ALS Awareness Week has opened its doors, and runs through until Sunday, March 5th, inclusive.  Organised by members of Supporto Italiano, the event is dedicated to the memory of ALS victim and Second Life resident Harvey22 Albatros, and focuses on music, fun and raising funds for AISLA, the Associazone Italiana Sclerosi Laterale Amiotrofica for research into, and treatment of, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Sometimes also referred to as motor neurone disease (MND) or by the synonyms Lou Gehrig’s disease and Charcot disease, ALS is a specific disorder that involves the death of neurons that control voluntary muscles. For about 90-95% of all diagnosed cases, the precise cause of the disease is unknown; for the remaining 5-10% of diagnosed cases, it is inherited from the sufferer’s parents. There is no known cure, and symptoms generally first become apparent around the age of 60 (or 50 in inherited cases). The average survival from onset to death is three to four years. In Europe and the United States, the disease affects about 2 people per 100,000 per year.

Harvey Memorial Ensemble ALS Awareness Week 2023

Whilst visiting, people are encouraged to make donations to AISLA in any one of a number of ways:

  • By clicking the donations kiosks in front of the event stage.
  • By clicking on the AISLA information boards to go directly to AISLA’s donations web page, where credit / debit cards or a PayPal accounts can be used to make a direct donation.
  • By purchasing a Paola Mills tee-shirt design from the vendors on the west side of the arena, between the 2D and 3D art displays.
  • By purchasing one of the special Harvey Memorial Rabbit paintings by Terrygold (L$200 each) – these can be found on the west side of the events schedule board.
  • By entering the Ensemble Week prize draw to win a MotoDesign Chopper motorcycle  – the draw is a limited entry event (90 numbers), and located on the east side of the events schedule board – thewinning draw will be made in Sunday, February 27th, 2022.
  • By participating in the Art Auction.

100% of L$ donations and payments, with all winning bid payments from the Silent Art Auction, will be forwarded to AISLA a the conclusion of the event.

Harvey Memorial Ensemble ALS Awareness Week 2023

The Art Auction this year features works by the following artists (2D) – Celestial Demon, Dadi88, Kika Yongho, Karma Daxeline  (karma.weymann), LikaCameo, Maddy (Magda Schmidtzau), Maloe Vansant, and Once Again (manoji.yachvili) and Terrygold; (3D) Dreams (barry Richez); Ciottolina Xue, Jipe Loon; Livio Korobase, Moki Yuitza and Moya Patrick (Moya Janus).

The 2D artists have donated multiple works as single auction sets, with the 3D artists donated a mix of individual pieces and small collections. To participate, right-click on the auction boards and then entering the amount you wish to bid. Winning bids will be announced at the end of the event. A raffle with gift cards valued at L$2,500 and L$5,000 is also running across the event.

Harvey Memorial Ensemble ALS Awareness Week 2023

The Harvey Memorial Ensemble ALS Awareness Week in Second Life is always an engaging and fun festival, with even more added to the mix this year yo make hopping along and participating even more worthwhile – so why not take the time during the week to do so?

SLurl Details

2023 SL Puppetry project week #8 summary

Puppetry demonstration via Linden Lab – see below.  Demos video with the LL comment “We have some basic things working with a webcam and Second Life but there’s more to do before it’s as animated as we want.”

The following notes have been taken from chat logs and audio recording of the Thursday, February 24th, 2023 Puppetry Project meetings held at the Castelet Puppetry Theatre on Aditi. These meetings are generally held on alternate weeks to the Content Creation User Group (CCUG), on same day / time (Thursdays at 13:00 SLT).

Notes in these summaries are not intended to be a full transcript of every meeting, but to highlight project progress / major topics of discussion.

Project Summary

General Project Description as Originally Conceived

LL’s renewed interest in puppetry was primarily instigated by Philip joining LL as official advisor, and so it really was about streaming mocap. That is what Philip was interested in and why we started looking at it again. However since Puppetry’s announcement what I’ve been hearing from many SL Residents is: what they really want from “puppetry” is more physicality of the avatar in-world: picking up objects, holding hands, higher fidelity collisions. 
As a result, that is what I’ve been contemplating: how to improve the control and physicality of the the avatar. Can that be the new improved direction of the Puppetry project? How to do it?

Leviathan Linden

  • Previously referred to as “avatar expressiveness”, Puppetry is intended to provide a means by which avatars can mimic physical world actions by their owners (e.g. head, hand, arm movements) through tools such as a webcam and using technologies like inverse kinematics (IK) and the  LLSD Event API Plug-in (LEAP) system.
    • Note that facial expressions and finger movements are not currently enabled.
    • Most movement is in the 2D plain (e.g., hand movements from side-to-side but not forward / back), due to limitations with things like depth of field tracking through a webcam, which has yet to be addressed.
  • The back-end support for the capability is only available on Aditi (the Beta grid) and within the following regions: Bunraku, Marionette, and Castelet.
  • Puppetry requires the use of a dedicated viewer, the Project Puppetry viewer, available through the official Second Life Alternate Viewers page.
  • No other special needs beyond the project viewer are required to “see” Puppetry animations. However, to use the capability to animate your own avatar and broadcast the results, requires additional work – refer to the links below.
  • There is a Puppetry Discord channel – those wishing to join it should contact members of LL’s puppetry team, e.g. Aura Linden, Simon Linden, Rider Linden, Leviathan Linden (not a full list of names at this time – my apologies to those involved whom I have missed).

Additional Work Not Originally In-Scope

  • Direct avatar / object / avatar-avatar interactions (“picking up” an apple; high-fives. etc.
  • Animations streaming: allowing one viewer to run animations and have them sent via the simulator to all receiving viewers without any further processing of the animations by those viewers.
  • Enhanced LSL integration for animation control.
  • Adoption of better animation standards – possibly glTF.
  • Given the project is incorporating a lot of additional ideas, it is likely to evolve into a rolling development, with immediate targets for development / implementation decided as they are agreed upon, to be followed by future enhancements. As such, much of what goes into the meetings at present is general discussion and recommendations for consideration, rather than confirmed lines o development.

Bugs, Feature Requests and Code Submissions

  • For those experimenting with Puppetry, Jiras (bug reports / fixes or feature requests) should be filed with “[Puppetry]” at the start of the Jira title.
  • There is also a public facing Kanban board with public issues.
  • Those wishing to submit code (plug-ins or other) or who wish to offer a specific feature that might be used with Puppetry should:

Further Information

Meeting Notes

General Progress

  • LSL Integration:
    • See: OPEN-375: “LSL Functions for reading avatar animation positions”.
    • Rider Linden has not been able to get a lot done on the scripted control due to being out of the office. He does have the LSL function discussed in the last meeting so that it is correctly sending the necessary data down to the agent’s viewer.
    • He is now working now on how to feed that into the IK, and has a general framework, although he notes it’s been slow progress.
  • Simon Linden has been working on animation importing. This is additional work in terms of the Puppetry project, but comes as a result of discussions at previous meetings.
    • He is looking to add additional .BVH support, and possibly .FBX (e.g. .FBX using some specific skeletons and settings; the goal is to be able to get data out of animation tools and into SL without requiring 2 years of Blender skills). Given the general move towards glTF, this is seen as being more preferable (there is a possible appetite within LL for a re-write of the animation system, although it not on the immediate horizon (or a visible horizon at present).
    • Requests are still being made to allow animation priorities to be changed post-upload and edit animation values dynamically – it is not clear how much of this will be touched.
    • Changing the manner in which animation priorities currently work is not something LL are planning on touching.
    • Right now the messages that transmit what animations to play do not have a way to specify a priority, just the animation’s asset ID and the viewer will get the priority from the asset. This may change in the future, but the focus right now is on getting scripted animation control improved.
  • Leviathan Linden is continuing to work on animation streaming, but progress has been delayed due to bug hunting and fixing. However, he hopes to get the code into the Puppetry project viewer branch sooner rather than later. He has noted that this is very sensitive to bad framerate on the sender and on the simulator. This probably means that before animation streaming and/or puppetry could be “delivered”, some technical debt on the server at least.
  • The focus at the moment is on putting everything that has been worked on together and then making sure it all works within the viewer. After that comes the issue of making sure that things work between viewers (e.g. that 20 people running animation streaming in a scene does not result in the viewers collapsing or being unable to playback all the streams; ensuring the new capabilities paly nicely with existing “canned animation” systems (e.g. dance machines, etc.).

In Brief

  • It’s been noted that moving the simulators to 64-bit is being worked on.

Date of Next Meeting

  • Thursday, March 9th, 2023, 13:00 SLT.