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.

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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.