Ekphrasis: the rhetorical nature of art in Second Life

Artsville: Angelika Corral – Ekphrasis

Now open within Gallery 1 within Artsville, the arts hub operated by Vally Lavender (Valium Lavender) and managed / curated by Frank Atisso is Ekphrasis, a selection of highly visual pieces of art by Angelika Corral, a Second Life photographer of note, and former co-operator of Daphne Arts in SL.

Comprising 10 individual pieces which – I believe – started as Second Life avatar studies, but which have been have been subject to considered post-processing to present a set of unique images created by the artist with the express intent of evoking a response from all who see them. But not, however, a purely emotional (or even visceral response); rather, the intent is evoke responses along more ekphrastic lines.

In its simplest form, ekphrasis is the use of one medium of art (traditionally the written word, be it prose, poetry or lyric) attempts to define and/or describe the essence and for of another, and in doing so, illuminates the art to a wider audience through its description. Some of the pieces I write in this blog on art exhibitions, of example, might be said to be examples of ekphrasis, in that they attempt to present an interpretive commentary on the art to which they relate. A motion picture based on a novel might also be seen as a latter-day form of ekphrasis, bringing the essence and form of the novel to an audience, allowing them to absorb and interpret it more freely than through the written word itself.

Artsville: Angelika Corral – Ekphrasis

In this, such interpretive broadening can be said to be rhetorical; they seek to persuade the audience towards a given reaction or response. Within her exhibition, Angelika embraces this concept, presenting ten images she encourages us to consider and interpret. to develop our own narratives and stories as we examine them; to allow thoughts and reactions to explore the spirit, if you will, of each piece. The fact that the narratives I see may differ from those you see, matters not.

And therein lies, perhaps, the broader genius of this exhibition; “traditional” ekphrasis is generally considered to be a rhetorical device – the words use by the poet or storyteller illuminating the art to which it relates. While this is certainly true here, it might be said that the images Angelika presents are themselves rhetorical devices; when we observe art, we do so entirely subjectively, our views coloured by our own sensibilities – hence my mention of an emotional / visceral response to any piece of art above.

So here, Angelika offers pieces that through their structure and form, themselves take on the role of narrator; they subliminally encourage us – through our own preconceptions / moods – to drive our personal narrative in a direction that is purely in-the-moment; a narrative that will more than likely shift and change the next time we view each one – be that an hour or a day or a month hence.

Artsville: Angelika Corral – Ekphrasis

Engaging, complex and a visual personification of a concept dating back to ancient Greece, Ekphrasis presents a thought-provoking exhibit of art.

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2022 SUG meetings week #32 summary

Bella’s Nocturne, June 2022 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the Tuesday, August 9th, 2022 Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting. They form a summary of the items discussed and is not intended to be a full transcript. A video of the entire meeting is embedded at the end of the article for those wishing to review the meeting in full – my thanks to Pantera for recording it.

Server Deployments

No deployment plan notes were available on the forums at this time of writing this update.

  • On Tuesday, August 9th, the simhosts on the Main SLS channel were restarted without any deployment, leaving them running simulator version 573176, comprising infrastructure updates.
  • On Wednesday, August,10th, all RC channels will updated to simulator version 573931, adding Premium Plus support to llGetObjectDetails() in LSL.

The long-promised new llReplaceEnvironment and llSetEnvironment should now go out in week #33, as Maestro had found a couple last minute bugs, which required the addition of an ability to override them at altitude and so prevented their inclusion in this week’s RC deployment.

Available Official Viewers

No changes to the current crop of official viewers at the start of the week, leaving them as:

  • Release viewer: version 6.6.2.573358 – formerly the Maintenance 2 RC viewer, dated August 1, promoted August 4 – New.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself).
    • Maintenance (N)omayo RC viewer, version 6.6.3.573882, August 5.
    • Profiles RC viewer, version 6.6.2.573372, issued July 21.
    • Izarra Maintenance RC, version 6.6.2.573282, July 20.
  • Project viewers:
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 6 graphics improvements project viewer 6.6.2.573263, July 21.
    • Performance Floater project viewer, version 6.5.4.571296, May 10.
    • Mesh Optimizer project viewer, version 6.5.2.566858, dated January 5, issued after January 10.
    • Copy / Paste project viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9, 2019.

In Brief

  • More general discussion on parcel ban lines, security orbs and road / water / air vehicle travel (mostly, but not exclusively related to Mainland. This included BUG-231802 “Prevent vehicles from entering parcels their riders cannot access”), which is now being queued-up to be worked on at the Lab. While this will not help with aggressive orbs, it will help with issues of vehicle entering parcels set with restricted access and the passengers being ejected.
  • Scripted simulator communications:
    • Several people have reported llInstantMessage() is failing at times. This is proving hard to reliably reproduce, but the Lab is nevertheless investigating.
    • llRegionSayTo is also reportedly failing at times, but again, more investigation on this is required before definitive conclusions can be drawn.
    • These led to a wider discussion on simulator communications – please refer to the video for details.
  • Pivot points / object hierarchies. Following the discussion on these at the last Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting (see here), a Feature Request Jira has been raised (BUG-232445) and a bare-bones forum thread opened. Commenting on the linking of the two ideas, Rider Linden noted:
The whole discussion about object hierarchies is/was a bit tangential. Strictly speaking the two are not related. (It is a nice to have, but would be a huge multi-month effort to pull off).
  • For other general discussion and comments, please refer to the video below.

Sweetwater Valley in Second Life

Sweetwater Valley, August 2022 – click any image for full size

It was off to Heterocera once more after Shawn Shakespeare passed me the Landmark for Sweetwater Valley, an utterly engaging region-sized retreat set out as cliff-top parklands running around the edge of a narrow passage of water which has over time, cut its way into the landscape to leave a lone table of rock rising between cliffs and open sea.

Sitting on the north-east coast of the continent, the setting has been designed by Selena XOXO. The landing point sits on the southern side of a broad bricked path as it arcs around the top of the cliffs, and is set a short distance back from their edge.

Sweetwater Valley, August 2022

To the east, this path runs straight and true, passing an ice-cream concession before dropping down a stairway to sit just above the water’s edge. Here, a small wharf sits and a gondola can be taken for an (automated) ride around the base of the offshore island.

Westward, the path curls gently north, passing the entrance to the park from the local highway and also by an old Ferris wheel, to become something of a headland sitting between open waters and the mouth of the gorge. Here sits a tiered area for relaxing and / or dancing, and where steps descend to where a carpet of flowers sit under the shade of trees and a further hidden place to sit and contemplate or cuddle can be found. A further waterside wharf can also be found here, tucked below the terraces, allowing people to hop off (or onto) the automated gondola as it circles the waterway.

Sweetwater Valley, August 2022

The centre island can be reached via the span of a single high bridge sitting atop three tall arches as they march across the waters of the gorge from the western cliffs. This bridge offers access to a waist-high paved footpath which circles the island, occasionally dipping down towards the waters below or providing access to terraces and places to sit.

Facing the bridge as it reaches the island is a set of stairways leading up to the flat top of the island’s plateau, passing by way of a shortcut linking it to the setting’s landing point. The top of the island is a place given over to dance and music, where Elvis is busy swinging his pelvis and Samuel L. Jackson is shruttin’ his funk in moves John Travolta could only dream of in Pulp Fiction. OK, so maybe they are not actually Elvis and Mr. Jackson, but you get my drift…

Sweetwater Valley, August 2022

Finished with a custom soundscape and environmental settings (although it looks good under a variety of the latter), Sweetwater Valley is rich in detail, with sculptures scattered throughout and little touches than encourage one to stay and explore (including a farther ride on the water, for those who spot it under the island!). Yes, there are a few places where the grass and flowers disconcertingly march away from rocks and edges to float in mid-air, but not enough to in any way put one off.

Above all, this is a pace that lives up to its About Land description, requiring very little more to be said about it other than – go see for yourself!

Beautiful hangout with good music, and an awesome dance area. Take that someone special on a romantic Gondola ride. Lots of cuddle spots.  

– Sweetwater Valley About Land

Sweetwater Valley, August 2022

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This week with Seanchai Library – August 8th-12th

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, August 8th, 19:00 Mark Twain Shorts

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 –1910) known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. He was lauded as the “greatest humorist the United States has produced”, and William Faulkner called him “the father of American literature.”

Caledonia shares selections tonight, including his humorous story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” published in 1865, and based on a story that he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California, where he had spent some time as a miner.

Tuesday, August 9th

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym

With music, and poetry in Ceiluradh Glen.

19:00: The Last Cuentista

There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita.

But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children – among them Petra and her family – have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race.

Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet – and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity’s past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard – or purged them altogether.

Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?

Caledonia Skytower read Donna Barba Higuera’s 2021 winner of the  Newbery Medal and Pura Belpré Award.

Wednesday, August 10th, 19:00: Seanchai Flicks

A special for Star Wars month as the Seanchai cinema space plays host to videos and throw popcorn around!

Thursday, August 11th, 19:00: Keep it Brief!

100-word stories with R. Dismantled.

2022 viewer release summaries week #31

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

Updates from the week ending Sunday, August 7th, 2022

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: version 6.6.2.573358 – formerly the Maintenance 2 RC viewer, dated August 1, promoted August 4 – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts::
    • Maintenance (N)omayo RC viewer, updated to version 6.6.3.573882, August 5.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

  • No updates.

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday special: Nichelle Nichols, First Lady of Space

via NASA / Paramount +

While I have written about the passing of noted individuals involved in astronomy and space exploration in previous Space Sunday articles, this obituary – coming a little later than intended – focuses on the life of a woman who never actually flew in space or worked directly on any space programme, but who nevertheless has a profound impact on the shape of the US space programme from the late 1970s through mid-1980s. who who served as an inspiration for woman and those from diverse ethnic backgrounds to seek careers with NASA, and who sadly passed away on July 30th, 2022

Her name is Nichelle Nichols, known the world over as Lt. Uhura from the original Star Trek TV series and the first six of the franchise’s big screen outings, and this is her story.

Born Grace Dell Nichols on December 28th, 1932 to Samuel Earl Nichols, a factory worker who Lishia (Parks) Nichols, in Robbins, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), where Samuel Nichols served as both the local mayor (1929) and its chief magistrate. From the start, she was determined in her aims: as a youngster, she informed her parents she did not like her given first name and asked them to change it, any they suggested “Nichelle”, which she adopted.

By the age of 16, Nichelle Nichols was singing professionally for Duke Ellington. Credit: Unknown

Studying ballet, dance, music and singing at High School and the Chicago School of Ballet, Nichols landed her first professional gig when just 16, singing in a revue at The College Inn, a well-known Chicago night spot.

It was there that jazz legend Duke Ellington witnessed her performance and he invited her to join his big band as a singer / dancer. This was followed by time with Lionel Hampton’s band, which she joined as a lead singer and dancer.

Nichols’ acting break came in 1959, when she appeared in Porgy and Bess, Starring Sammy Davis Jr., Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Danridge and Pearl Bailey. While she was uncredited in the film, her appearance led to a series of small stage roles, then in 1961 she was cast opposite Burgess Meredith in Oscar Brown’s Kicks and Co, a musical satire poking fun at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy.

The show wasn’t a success, closing not long after it opened, but it ran for long enough for a curious Hefner to attend a performance. He was so impressed by Nichol’s stage presence and singing voice, he immediately offered her the chance to sing at his original Playboy Club, which has opened to great success as a nightspot in 1960.

Three years later, Nichols gained her first TV part, a small role in The Lieutenant starring Gary Lockwood (2001 a Space Odyssey) and created by a certain Eugene “Gene” Roddenberry. The episode, entitled To Set It Right, guest-starred Don Marshall (Land of the Giants) and the legendary Dennis Hopper, and dealt with the controversial subject of racism – so controversial in fact that NBC initially refused to air it, a decision that Roddenberry later said helped spur him in his desire to create Star Trek and use the science-fiction format by which to tell morality tales and socially-aware stories without upsetting the network censors.

Nichol’s role in The Lieutenant was small but memorable (and actually led to a short-lived affair with Roddenberry). More particularly, in appearing in the show, she joined a distinguished list of actors who would go on to have an impact on Star Trek, including cast members Majel Barrett (with whom Roddenberry also had an affair before eventually marrying her) Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner and Walter Koeing, and guest stars Ricardo Montalban (Khan Noonian Singh from Space Seed and later, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) Paul Comi (Lt. Styles, Balance of Terror), and Lockwood himself (Lt. Commander Gary Mitchell from Where No Man Has Gone Before).

As Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek, Nichols became an icon for women and people of colour the world over, and particularly in the Untied States. Her position as a female officer serving on the bridge of a quasi-military vessel (part of an organisation clearly modelled on the US Navy), was unprecedented, while the role itself was one of the first times an African American actress was portrayed a non-stereotypical role on television.

However, thanks to the core focus on the series leads – Shatner and Nimoy – by the end of the first season, Nichols was dissatisfied in having little to do, and on the final day of shooting, Wednesday, February 22nd, 1967, she handed her resignation to creator-producer Roddenberry, stating her intention to take an offer to appear on Broadway. Rather than accept, Roddenberry requested she take time to think about leaving the show some more before making her decision final.

Nichelle Nichols in her iconic and inspirational role of Lt. Uhura in Star Trek. Credit: Paramount – CBS

The following Saturday, February 25th, 1967, Nichols attended an event at the Beverley Hills Hilton in connection with the Nation Institute (although later attributed as an NAACP banquet) at which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, was to speak. It was an event to go down in history as the first time Dr. King publicly condemned the war in Vietnam. However, for Nichelle Nichols it was memorable for another reason entirely. Ahead of King’s address, she was informed her “greatest fan” wanted to meet her.

I said, ‘Sure.’ I looked across the room and thought whoever the fan was had to wait because there was Dr. Martin Luther King walking towards me with this big grin on his face. He reached out to me and said, ‘Yes, Ms. Nichols, I am your greatest fan.’ He said that Star Trek was the only show that he, and his wife Coretta, would allow their three children to stay up and watch. When I told he I was leaving the series, he said, ‘you cannot, you cannot! For the first time on television, we will be seen as we should be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful, people who can sing dance, and can go to space, who are professors, lawyers … If you leave, that door can be closed because your role is not a black role, and is not a female role; he can fill it with anybody even an alien.

– Nichelle Nichols, recalling her 1967 meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

So deeply affected by King’s words, Nichols didn’t only return to Start Trek and stay with it through the Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the last outing for the entire original series cast, she sought to do more for the people of whom King spoke.

Most notably, she helped found and run Women in Motion, a company that initially produced educational materials using music as a teaching tool and which focused on young women and girls. However, during a visit to a NASA facility, she commented about the lack of apparent diversity among the staff. NASA responded by asking her to help them broaden their recruiting activities, providing a grant to Women in Motion to help with the work.

Nichelle Nichols one one of the two Apollo Mission Operations Control Rooms (MOCR, popularly referred to as “Mission Control”) in 1977. Credit: NASA

Continue reading “Space Sunday special: Nichelle Nichols, First Lady of Space”