An Artistic Duet in Second Life

The 22 Art Space: Duet

Currently open at the 22 Art Space in Bellisseria, operated and curated by Ricco Saenz and Randy Firebrand, is a shared exhibition of images by two Second Life photographers – Dutch Ireman and Evie – that is built around the theme of Duet, or pairing. Although as Randy and Ricco explain in the exhibition’s introductory notes, the theme was actually suggested by the art offered by the artists, rather – as is more usually the case – the theme informing the art that is offered:

The concept … was born more or less by chance. At first [we] selected four pictures of each artist’s established production and suggested that Evie and Dutch complete the sets of images in a way that would make some sense to them. The results came with a positive surprise: even if each photographer … provided the gallery with photos that could be arranged in sets of two. In other words, the concept for the exhibition just emerged from that: there were duets – both of pictures and of ways to think of those photographs.

Thus, through the rooms at 22 Art Space, are hung eight images by Dutch and eight by Evie, each artist offering them as complementary pairs (4 pairs from Evie, four from Dutch). The images in each pair are able to stand as both an individual pieces in their own right and as one half of a broader story. Take, for example, Dutch’s Connecting and Connected, located on the upper floor of the gallery. Each offers a statement on human connectedness that can be appreciated in its own right; but they also stand together as a pair of images that give a wholeness to that theme of connectedness and connection.

The 22 Art Space: Duet

Given that each artist was given free reign over how they took the four images initially selected by Ricco and Randy and added to them to offer a selection for the exhibition, that both Evie and Dutch both independently arrived at the idea of pairing off their images (rather than simply adding and additional four, either randomly or based along a single collective theme) is genuinely intriguing. It also speaks to an interesting harmony between their individual approaches to the the exhibition that further this idea of  duet: their individual voices as photographers coming together in unison in how they present their pieces as individual pairings.

And just as a duet can comprise contrasting harmonies and  / or voices working together through the combined singing of different lyrics or one offering the melody, the other a descant around it, so too does Duet. Evie, for example, presents images that largely have darker backdrops and /or deeper colours, forming, one might say, a “descant” to the “melody” of Dutch’s work, with its bolder, vibrant mix of colours and backdrop, with both harmonising their their respective use of tone, angles and lighting.

The 22 Art Space: Duet

Completed by various items placed around the gallery that help underpin the idea of duets and pairings – a rug with the yin-yang pattern, a pair of shoes, tennis rackets and balls –  Duets is a small, engaging exhibition that run through until December 11th.

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Visiting Dracula’s Whitby in Second Life

Whitby: Birth of Dracula, October 2021

Tucked into the mouth of the river Esk on Yorkshire’s rugged coast is the town of Whitby. It’s a place that many from outside of Great Britain might not have heard of, yet it is a place steeped in history and literature. It was, for example, the place from which Captain James Cook learned the ropes (literally and figuratively) as a merchant navy seaman. In fact, the ship on which he completed his first great voyage to the Pacific Ocean (1768-1771), HMS Endeavour, was originally a Whitby “Cat” collier (called the Earl of Pembroke). It is a town overlooked by the ruins of a once great Abbey that, in 664, hosted a synod called by King Oswiu of Northumbria, in order to set fast the rule that his kingdom would calculate Easter and observe the monastic tonsure according to the customs of Rome.

In terms of writing and literature, Whitby was the home to the first known Anglo Saxon monk, Cædmon, who resided at the Abbey during the abbacy of St Hilda (657–680). It was also visited by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, whilst the likes of Elizabeth Gaskell, Lewis Carroll and G.P. Taylor all used it within works of fiction and short stories. And most famously of all, in terms of literature, it was in part the inspiration of, and setting for, Bram Stroker’s masterpiece of Gothic fiction (although arguably, it is far more than that): Dracula.

Whitby: Birth of Dracula, October 2021

All of which acts as a long way of introducing the latest public build by Hera (zee9): Whitby: Birth of Dracula, opened as a part of the Halloween season in Second Life, and which is reached via her “Neverland X” landing point, sharing the space with the teleport to Drune Gotham, which I wrote about in September 2021. Now, given I am a huge fan of Hera’s work (and oft wish my photographs could do it real justice), when I say this is yet another superb build, some might opt to see my words as fangirl fussing. However, as one explores Whitby: Birth of Dracula, slowing peeling open its layers of composition, then it becomes obvious that it really has been cleverly brought into being.

The first thing to note about the setting is that it is not intended as a representation of Whitby past or present. Nor is it entirely the Whitby glimpsed through the pages of Stoker’s novel. Rather, it is a rich melding of elements, from the actual locations that feature in the story and are present in Whitby to this day, to representations of the things that are said to have influenced his ideas for the story and elements of Victorian life with which he would have been familiar, through to interpretations as to how Stoker might have imagined scenes from his story as he walked through Whitby’s streets, attempting to thresh out the tale he’d been working on since well before taking a family holiday to the town.

Whitby: Birth of Dracula, October 2021

Thus it is that visitors arriving in the setting (DO make sure you have your viewer set to Use Shared Environment via World → Environment) find themselves on the east bank of the river Esk, a stylised version of Whitby’s waterfront hugging the feet of the coastal hills behind. Caught in a brooding night, these streets offer clever little points of interest for those who walk them. There is the bookshop, for example, displaying a large volume on Vlad the Impaler, a touch that evokes both the idea (now regarded by scholars as mistaken), that the character of Dracula was inspired by the infamous the Wallachian prince, and the reality that Stroker first came across the name “Dracula” whilst perusing Whitby’s library. Across the street sits a tavern – pubs being very common in Whitby, it being a sailor’s town – that both suggests a place with Stoker himself might have partaken the odd tipple and a place where, within the novel, rumours of night terrors might be softly spoken by frightened townsfolk.

Further along the streets visitor will come across the place of business of Madame Blavatsky, offering both funeral services and occult / spiritual services. It offers a clever linking of many of the underpinning themes within Stoker’s novel on matters of religion, life, death, and afterlife with the life and work of Madame Helen Blavatsky. Whist Stoker may not have met her, her thinking did much to elevate matters of the occult, spiritualism and life and death amongst Victorians, which may also have influenced his writing.

Whitby: Birth of Dracula, October 2021

Then there are the famous Whitby steps. While the ones within this setting may not count 199, they do wind up to the headland where sits Hera’s interpretation of both St. Mary’s Church and the ruins of the Abbey that formed such a backdrop to Stoker’s tale. The church, carefully aligned east-to-west, as one would expect, is furnished within and sits with gravestones without. The real St. Mary’s offered further inspiration for Stoker; whilst walking through the graveyard, he came upon a headstone bearing the name “Swales”, which in turn became the name of Dracula’s first victim, after he came ashore at Whitby thanks to the ship he was travelling board ran aground close to the town’s East Cliffs.

The wrecking of Dracula’s ship within the novel actually draws upon a piece of local legend from Stoker’s time: the beaching of the Russian vessel Dmitri. Within Whitby: birth of Dracula, Hera directly references Dracula’s arrival, a sailing vessel lying aground just off the headland, bloody bodies of her crew on her decks, victims of his insatiable appetite, and her precious (to Dracula, at least) cargo still in her hold.

Whitby: Birth of Dracula, October 2021

Up on the headland is a further building, representing the manor house said to have been erected in the 1500s part part using stone from the ruins of the Abbey (which fell to the Danes in a series of raids along the coast between 867-870). Here, the building is offered as a combination of potential settings from the book. The hearse and gargoyles to the front suggest it is the place of shelter for Dracula, as do some of the pictures on the walls inside. However, the interior with its large, uncurtained conservatory, mirrored washrooms and comfortable bedrooms, perhaps also suggest it to be the house in which Mrs. Westenra, her daughter Lucy and Lucy’s friend Mina stay whilst holidaying in Whitby; whilst the placement of certain items on tables and within carry cases suggest it might also represent the living quarters for Dr. John Seward at his asylum, the place from which he, Harker and others used to execute their hunting of the vampire under the guidance of Professor Abraham Van Helsing.

To the rear of this house is a garden that extends out to a crypt. This offers further echoes of Dracula, although the glass coffin within the tomb itself is perhaps suggestive of the resting place for fair Lucy, after her being turned, but before her final fate befell her after death. Or, perhaps, it is presented as a place for Mina, once her fate is sealed (unless Dracula is first killed).

Whitby: Birth of Dracula, October 2021

And therein lies the magic of Whitby: birth of Dracula. Just is the novel has no singular protagonist, but is instead presented as an epistolary novel, speaking with multiple voices, so does Hera’s setting speak in many voices, each whispering a different interpretation of the places we come across whilst visiting, with some telling the story in their own words and those telling a broader tale of Stoker’s relationship with the town. Different they may be, but together they nevertheless offer the harmony of a setting that perfectly encapsulates the atmospheric essence of Stoker’s novel whilst living our imaginations free to call forth all of the characters within its pages – and even Stoker himself as he vacated in the quiet town of Whitby in the 1980s.

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2021 TPV Developer meeting week #41 summary

Euphoria, July 2021 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, October 15th, 2021.

These meetings are generally held every other week.  They are recorded by Pantera Północy, and her video of the meeting is embedded at the end of this report – my thanks to her for allowing me to do so – and it is used with the chat log from the meeting and my own audio recording to produce this summary, which focuses on the core topics discussed.

SL Viewer

  • The Apple Notarisation viewer, version 6.4.23.564172, was promoted to de facto release status on Wednesday, October 13th. This means the other RC viewers will be updated to match it in due course.
  • A new Viewer Performance Improvements project viewer, version 6.4.23.564530, was issued on Tuesday, October 12th.
    • This viewer focuses on reducing image decoding time, less frame stalls, and initial font rendering time, and there is a dedicated forum thread for discussing it.
    • Currently, the viewer is only available for 64-bit Windows, but other versions will be made available in the future.
    • This viewer should not be confused with the Performance Floater project viewer.

The rest of the official viewer pipelines remain as follows:

  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 6.4.23.564063, on September 21.
    • Simplified Cache RC viewer, version 6.4.23.562623, dated September 17, issued September 20.
  • Project viewers:
    • Performance Floater project viewer, version 6.4.23.564530, dated October 12.
    • 360º Snapshot project viewer, version 6.4.23.563579, issued September 3.
    • Performance Floater project viewer, version 6.4.23.562625, issued September 2.
    • Mesh Optimizer project viewer, version 6.4.23.562614, issued September 1.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, dated October 26, 2020.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9, 2019.

General Viewer Notes

  • The Maintenance RC remains the next viewer in line for promotion to release status.
  • The Simplified Cache RC viewer is currently regarded as pretty much “on hold” due to all the other performance-related work going on with the viewer. It is not felt by the Lab that it will yield sufficient performance gains at this point in time `to be regarded as a part of the viewer performance project(s).
  • The Legacy Profile project viewer remains on hold pending server-side back-end work.

Viewer Performance Notes

  • Part of the viewer performance work is utilising the the Tracy debugger / system analyser. This started as an exercise to analyse the main rendering loop to reveal any high latency operations that could be moved to their own threads.
    • The outcome of this work will likely be pulled into a Maintenance viewer at some point, but it is not currently a part of the Viewer Performance Improvements RC viewer.
    • Given how useful Tracy has been, it is likely that it will be included in the viewer build process, but the switch to include the necessary code will be set to “off” by default, as Tracy requires dedicated external support to be of use.
    • Also at some point, a viewer will be issued using the code that has been revised as a result of the analysis carried out using Tracy, and this will form another performance improvements viewer at some point in the future.
  • Another area of work for improving performance is that of Linden Water.
    • As previously noted in these summaries, Catznip has been investigating the cost of rendering Linden Water in situations where it cannot be see (e.g. when standing in the middle of a multi-region estate so it is completely “invisible” under the terrain). They have found significant FPS improvements can be gained by completely ignoring Linden Water rendering via occlusion checks in these cases.
    • The Lab is interested in improving general performance around Linden Water, and so a branch of the code Catznip has been using will be contributed to the Lab so they can take a look at it.
  • Discussions have started about possibly moving the Windows build tools to be based around VS 2019, as this support Clang tools, as it is thought Clang to offer further performance improvements. However, these discussions are still at an early stage.

TLS Changes

As per the announcement by April Linden on October 8th, Linden Lab will be turning off support for Transport  Layer  Security (TLS) 1.0 and TLS 1.1  security protocols on all log-in services on November 1st, 2021. This action is in line with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) have officially deprecated both protocols in March 2021.

This means that any viewer or client (including any scripted agents to log-in to Second life) that utilises either TLS 1.0 or TLS 1.1 will be unable to do so from November 1st onwards. Only clients and viewer using supported TLS protocols (e.g. 1.2 or above), will be able to access Second Life. In particular, this step will impact Lib.metavers.open-based viewers and clients.

A request has been made for Aditi log-ins to have TLS 1.0 and 1.1 disabled so that viewers can be tested for other potential impact of the change ahead of it being made for the main grid.

In Brief

  • iOS keeps being raised at the TPV Developer meetings, so in short:
    • A dedicated iOS client app is in development.
    • The initial versions are focused on communications (so no 3D rendering, inventory support etc), and have been subject to limited internal testing.
    • The client has gone through Apple’s review process, but has not been offered to a wider “beta test” audience, as there has been a further round of updates, and currently work is paused.
    • An Android variant of the client is in development, but is also paused and remains some way behind iOS.
    • See my updates tagged SL Mobile, which are added to as an when there is further reportable news out of the Lab.
  • The last part of the meeting is devoted to a general discussion on animation overrides and their limitations (both scripted and client / viewer-side). While the Lab has no plans to update the current approach to AOs in the immediate future, the discussion is worth listening to / reading via the meeting video below.

Scare Me Silly 2021 in Second Life

Scare Me Silly 2021

Scare Me Silly 2021, in support of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), opened its doors on Friday, October 15th, 2021, and will remain open through until October 22nd.

Organised by Team Diabetes of Second Life, the event features live performances. DJ parties, a hunt and a quest, tricks and treats, a haunted mansion, ghostly rides and – of course – shopping!

Participating merchants this year comprise:

::Pharmacist:: , ::Pharmacist::, !!Firelight!!, .lovelysweet., “G” Candy Shoppe, ARKONA, Xtal Store, ~Soulstorm~, ART & FASHION, Artisan Eden, BE BOLD, Bitter Pixie, Blink2Wink, Botanica, Cosmos Boutique, Couture Chapeau, Dark Fairy Fashions, Dreamscapes Decor, Ever Green, Evolve, Family Ties Creations & Photography, Fire Within, Grumble, Halloween Delights, ikr!, Illustrious, Just imagine… by Vita, Just Ordinary, K R E E P, Kalani’s Designs, Kittycat’s Creations, Lady Slippers and Apparel, Le Feal, LeCock, Lil Monsters Inc., Little Wonderland, Manikin, Mara’s Mysteries Boutique, MG Designs, Multifarious, N – Est. 2007, Peeps, Pendragon Designs, PIXEL BOX Design, Pixelancer, Potomac Homes, Premier Wrestling, QUE RICO Design, Redangel, Shy’s Creations, SLC Fashion, SomeOne Stole My Sign, Sophie’s Boutique, Tchelo’s, Technicolor Dolls, Telsiope’s Couture, The Rug Shop, The Undiscovered Jewel, TRS Designs, Wythburn, &Xplicit Designs.

Shops can be found one three sides of the event space, with the fourth home to the the outside of the event space, the centre taken up by the artists participating in the event’s art show.

Artists participating in the art event comprise: 4pril resident, Aquaris27 Resident, Bagnu, cutewillow.carlberg, DamnedFool Bonde, Elise Sirnah, Eucalyptus Carroll, Fluer Heartsdale, iidreamrii resident, Jamee Sandalwood, Karma Weymann, maggiemagenta, Matt Thomson, Moora McMillan, Pieni (Resident), Sasheba Looming, ShawnDeLyons Resident, Sophiependragon, SummerSuperb, ViktorSavior, & Vita Theas.

Scare Me Silly offers a full schedule of entertainment, as follows (all times SLT):

  • Friday, October 15, 2021:
    • 16:00 – live vocalist Bubbles Song.
    • 17:00 – live vocalist Sarita Twisted.
  • Saturday, October 16, 2021:
    • 11:00 – live vocalist Lyric Serendipity.
    • 12:00 noon – live vocalist Mimi Carpenter.
  • Sunday, October 17, 2021:
    • 12:00 noon – Costume Party with DJ John.
  • Monday, October 18, 2021:
    • 16:00 – live vocalist Jesie Janick.
  • Tuesday, October 19, 2021:
    • 16:00 – live musician Abby Jaidov.
    • 17:00 – live musician Thunderfoot.
  • Wedneday, October 20, 2021:
    • 16:00 – live vocalist Unbeso Grande.
    • 17:00 – live vocalist Phi Mayo.
  • Thursday, October 21, 2021:
  • 16:00 – live musician Suzen Juel.
  • Friday, October 22, 2021:
    • 16:00 – Samm Quendra.

Hunt

This year the Evil Pumpkin Hunt offers a number of exclusive prizes available from a number of this year’s merchants. The prizes cost L$10, with 100% of proceeds going to Team Diabetes.

Scare Me Silly, 2021

About the American Diabetes Association

 Established in 1940, the American Diabetes Association is working to both prevent and cure diabetes in all it forms, and to help improve the lives of all those affected by diabetes. It does this by providing objective and credible information and resources about diabetes to communities, and funding research into ways and means of both managing and curing the illness. In addition, the Association gives voice to those denied their rights as a consequence of being affected by diabetes.

About Team Diabetes of Second life

Team Diabetes of Second Life is an official and authorised fund-raiser for the American Diabetes Association in Second Life. Established with the aim of raising funds in support of diabetes treatment and to raise awareness of the disease in SL, Team Diabetes of Second Life was founded by Jessi2009 Warrhol and John Brianna (Johannes1977 Resident), who serve on the Advisory Board along with Eleseren Brianna, Veruca Tammas, Rob Fenwitch, and Dawnbeam Dreamscape.

SLurl and URL Details

A Haunted Hollow in Second Life

Haunted Hallow 2021

If you fancy a weekend of spookiness and horror stories, then be sure to head over to Haunted Hollow, presented by Elite Equestrian, Seanchai Library, Tarot @ Teatime, and Virtual Community Radio.

Once Upon a Time there was an Enchanted Hollow somewhere between the Hudson River Valley and the land of the Brothers Grimm. It was here, under the glow of the Hunter’s Moon, that the tales gathered. They settled in as cooling breezes whirled the falling leaves, nestling between the autumnal heights and that place where the brook waters blend with the salty sea. Mind your step! In the centuries between this moment and when these stories were born, some few of them may have begun to twist, just a very little.

The introduction to Haunted Hollow

Having opened on October 7th, the event actually runs through until the end of the month in a celebration of all that we associate with Halloween. I was asked not to blog about the event until after October 13th so as to give members of the organising groups the opportunity to explore and appreciate the sky platform setting for the event, although there is still the rest of the moment in which to enjoy things.

Haunted Hollow 2021

Highlights of the event include:

  • Not one, not two, but THREE treasure hunts.
  • Pony rides with adorable free gifts.
  • Participating in Free Bird’s annual live trick or treat event.
  • Presentation of author Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October.
  • Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree.
  • Special story sessions, and “A Grimm Brothers Halloween” on the day itself.
  • Two Live Tarot@Teatime episodes.
  • Live Tarot Readings.
  • A dedicated “Spooky Music Stream” provided by Virtual Community Radio.
  • Three viewing rooms to stop and watch short features on the theme of death and transition.

As well as these activities. visitors to the Haunted Hallow can take the rambler tours (aerial or ground based) of the Hollow, or stop by for one of the trick or treat events hosted by Elite Equestrian. Join Seanchai Library as they present hours of stories for the season, including an encore presentation of Ray Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree.” Explore the caves and discover video screening spots.

Haunted Hallow, 2021

Details of activities can be found at the landing point and via the event’s calendar. So, if you fancy a spooky visit or sitting down to a tale of terror, do be sure to hop along over the weened or through the rest of the month.

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Ordinary People in Second Life

Vibes: Melusina Parkin – Ordinary People

Melusina Parkin is, as I’ve oft noted, one of the foremost photographer-artists in Second Life. Her work is always rich in content, style and interpretation, always offering the most unique views of our virtual world through composition, angle and focus, here exhibitions carefully crafted around a given theme. This is once again the case with her latest exhibition Ordinary People, which has just opened across all three exhibition halls at Vibes Gallery, curated by Eviana Robbiani, presenting three dozen images captured from across Second Life that brings the uniqueness of candid photography to the platform in both images and subjects. As such, this is, among all of Melusina’s unique exhibitions, one of the most captivating.

Candid photography is the technique of capturing an image of one or more persons without creating the appearance they have been specifically posed; whether or not the subject(s) in the photograph are aware of or consent to the image being captured is entirely secondary to the image itself (although if they are entirely unaware of the photograph having been taken, it might be referred to as “secret photography”). Candid images can be taken indoors or out, and in the latter regard share a strong overlap with street photography (which may not be focused on streets, despite its name, but can often feature people in natural situations within street settings).

Vibes: Melusina Parkin – Ordinary People

In truth, and in regards to secret and street photography, Ordinary People contains a mix of both within its overall theme of candid photography, offering images of people going about their lives, seemingly oblivious to the presence to the camera. However, these is more to be found here; for these are not images from the physical world, be have been captured entirely within Second Life, and their subjects are not avatars but what we might refer to as static NPCs – non-player characters.

Like avatars, they are made of pixels; like statues and mannequins, they don’t talk nor move. They could be seen as objects, as a part of décor, but at a closer look they are revealed to have expression, and their still poses show activity… 

– Melusina Parkin

NPCs occupy a unique place in Second Life. they are neither avatar nor statute, as Melusina notes; and while they are not “alive” in the manner in which we occupy our avatars, nor are the entirely devoid of life; again, as Melu points out, they carry facial expressions that given them a certain depth of life, and their presence within a region or setting, whilst frozen and in the manner of décor, actually brings life to the environment in which they are found.

Vibes: Melusina Parkin – Ordinary People

Thus, the images in this exhibition are very uniquely layered in their composition and presentation. Within two of the gallery halls, the images are presented in black-and-white, and in the third, they are offered in warm colours. The former carry within them the sensation of everyday life: people coming and going from work, out and about sight-seeing, and so on. The latter suggest calmer, warmer moments: taking the time to read the paper, a walk through a garden with a loved one, sitting on a bench and (perhaps) feeding the birds: their colour giving the impression of calm and easy-going conversation.

Then there is Melu’s always considered use of angle, focus and cropping, which here leads to a rich sense of life waiting to be found in many of the images – such as those featuring crowds crossing the street, or the suggestion of activities going on just outside of a frame in which we only see the legs or hands of the subjects, rather than their entire bodies. On top of this comes the care that clearly went into creating each image, from the selection (or creation) of the location through the selection of the characters and their placement, the lighting and the shot itself – all of which gives each of the pieces event more life.

Vibes: Melusina Parkin – Ordinary People

And this sense of life continues within the gallery halls themselves, where many of the characters featured in the pictures have returned to witness the results of Melu’s work. All of which makes for a truly engaging exhibition.

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