Floating in Second Life

Floating

Floating is an accident, pure and simple. It was never intended to be a collaboration between Bryn Oh and Cica Ghost – but that is what it is. Which is not to say that it is anything unfortunate – far from it; it’s an installation that mixes fun with something of a slight social message.

As Bryn explains, the installation was originally intended to be her design, but built to display the 2D art of another person. But for some reason (shyness?), having secured a grant to use the region, the other artist did not follow through on their commitment and no 2D art was supplied – leaving Bryn holding the lease on a region and in need of an idea. Enter Cica Ghost. She and Bryn put their heads together and in a week, Floating had emerged, with the assistance of Desdemona Enfield and Serenity Mercier.

Floating

The core of the build is a city hugging a shoreline; at one end are high-rise apartments overlooking a marina with motor cruisers and boats. The people in the apartments are clearly wealthy or well-off; through the windows of one we can see a family sitting down for a sumptuous meal, a butler in attendance, in another, a family sits in coloured warmth. With the marina and the high-rise buildings, the evidence of wealth, it is hard not to be put in mind of somewhere like Monaco.

At the other end of the curving shoreline it is a different story. Here there are no glittering high-rises, only older buildings, grubbier in appearance, which in turn give way to humble, racked living pods. The beach here is also far from the pristine marina, with piles of detritus, while the absence of colour underlines the lack of affluence. Thus, a comment on the divide between those who have, and those who have less (and who serve?), is made.

Floating

However, this isn’t just a build with a message on society’s disparities; there is also a sense of fun yo be found. At the arrival point, visitors can take an umbrella and float around the build, while free-floating balloons also offer a means to float through the air. But be warned – care needs to be taken as there are blocks that periodically fall from the sky.

Also to be found at the landing point is a zap gun. This can be purchased for L$0, and allows people to hunt and shoot one another. Just make sure you join the experience in the region if you intend to place – otherwise, should you be shot by someone else, you’ll be teleported home, rather than just back to the landing point.

Floating

Floating is a curious, electric mix of art, message and fun (if visiting with others and the guns are being used). Instructions on obtaining the zap gun and on getting around can be found at the landing point.

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Floating (LEA 13, rated: Moderate)

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A new vacation at Pandora Resort, Second Life

Pandora Resort; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrPandora Resort – click any image for full size

A little over a year ago, I had the pleasure of previewing Pandora Resort, the full region venture by Lokhe Angel Verlack (Jackson Verlack) and his Second Life partner, Miza Cupcake-Verlack (Mizaki) – see here, and then writing about it post-opening.  Given the passage of time since those visits, and having seen a number of group notices about the region, I thought Caitlyn and I should hop over and have a look.

Back in September 2016, Pandora Resort was a winter location, high in the mountains. Now it is a tropical paradise – in Miza’s words, “An exotic island resort just off the coast to India is open to cater to the needs of fun, warmth and relaxing experience exposed to vivid lush wildlife and other hidden paradise”, a description which certainly piqued my interest given the time I’ve spent in Sri Lanka and the deep fondness I have for that country.

Pandora Resort; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrPandora Resort – click any image for full size

A visit commences high over the region, on the upper deck of an airliner. Green arrows on the floor direct arrivals down to the lower deck and thence to the cabin door, where a teleport carries people to ground level, and a chance to debark the airliner.  Outside of the ‘plane is a tropical setting,  the “airport” sitting high on a plateau, sandy mountains visible on all horizons, a cobbled path leading the way past swimming pools shaded by pergolas on one side and an open-air dance area on the other, and on down to a reception lobby located part-way down the plateau’s east side.

The reception area offers an opportunity to rest and to look down on the lowland to the north and south. Ancient steps lead the way down through palm trees and lush grasses and along the side of the plateau and so to the to the beach in the south-east corner of the region. A portion of this is given over to a water-side pavilion – a bath house with outdoor seating, shaded baths and massage tables. Hot pools sit on the sands outside of the pavilion, and a path points the way westward, through a further spa area sitting in a rocky cleft, and on to ancient ruins on the west side of the island.

Pandora Resort; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrPandora Resort – click any image for full size

Here lies one of the places visitors need to take a little care. Tucked into the corner of these ruins is an Asian-styled house available for private rent, and off-limits to those not a member to the region’s group even when not occupied. The north side of the island, reached via a wooden board walk and east-side public beach, is similarly given over to private chalets available for rent and forming a discrete resort of their own.

It was here that I was put in mind of beach-side resorts in places like Sri Lanka; individual chalets with an open-plan layout; all it needs is for the landscape to be a little more lush and green, and it would be easy to imagine the essence of Sri Lanka had been captured here. The chalets sit out over water, and offer a  considerable amount of living space for those wishing to rent one. However, casual visitors should again be aware that when occupied, the chalets can be understandably off-limits – but the watery path between them does remain open to free passage.

Pandora Resort; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrPandora Resort – click any image for full size

The west side of the island offers two bays of shallow water, one of which cuts quite deeply into the land, ending in a small, secluded beach under the lee of the central plateaus. A second beach on deep cut of this bay, and located under an ancient, broken aqueduct, provides another area for swimmers to enjoy.

There are one or two incongruities with the region – the little airport with its huge jet, for example, or the fact that the island – whilst quoted as being off the coast of India – is inhabited by African elephants. However, the latter is likely to be down to the availability of elephants on the Marketplace, which is biased towards the African variety. The former doesn’t actually detract from a visit, simply because once within the region, the airport

Pandora Resort; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrPandora Resort – click any image for full size

For those of us facing the onset of winter, Pandora Resort – Namaste – offers a welcome retreat to reminder of sunshine, vacations and warm seas. It might even, for those fortunate enough to have travelled to tropical climes, open a doorway to past holidays and time spent at luxurious resorts.

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Melusina’s Mysteries in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mysteries

Melusina Parkin returns to the Nitroglobus Roof Gallery for October, with an exhibition called Mysteries, and it is a thought-provoking display of photography.

“Missing faces, veiled ones, obscure looks,” Melusina states in introducing the exhibition. “Statues and mannequins populate Second Life with their mysterious mood. Sometimes they are creepy, sometimes they are gentle, always they are silent.”

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mysteries

Thus, Mysteries presents thirteen images of mannequins, figures and statues captured from around Second Life. Such figures, to be found all over the grid, whether in stores or art events, parks or role-play regions, homes or photography studios, all have some kind of story to tell – be it part of a larger setting or contained within the frame of their own display as a work of art or object of everyday use.

So to, through Melusina’s collection, do they tell a story or stories within this exhibition. The images have clearly been selected with care to project this, Mystery 10 through Mystery 13, for example, are displayed together on two walls, presenting an unfolding narrative – although what that narrative might be is up to each of us as we view the images. Others, such as Mystery 7 perhaps tell a story quite independently of the other pieces in the collection. But however one looks at them, the stories are there, individual or collected, waiting to be heard.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mysteries

But there is more here as well, if we’re willing to look a little deeper. Our avatars are, in a sense, our own mannequins. Through them, we get to decide not only how we interact with one another, but how we actually appear to one another. We can project – or inhabit – our avatars at will, using them to reveal or hide, project or protect, many different facets of who we are. They are both a window into who we are and a shield by which we can hide the things we do not wish to have seen. Mystery 2 and Mystery 3 perhaps embody this most specifically.

So as Melusina states, Mysteries may present an apparently lifeless population – but in doing so, it makes us wonder about human feelings and thoughts – and particularly, perhaps about our own feeling and thoughts, about our identity, relationship with others,  and our openness.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mysteries

Mysteries is another nuanced, fascinating exhibition from Melusina; and yet another not to be missed.

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Milly Sharple’s Creations in Second Life

Cynefin – Creations: Milly Sharple

I’ve long admired Milly Sharple’s art, as I’ve tended to mention in the past. I’ve reported on her work – which includes region designs as well as art; and along with many others, disappointed to hear she was retiring from Second Life art and shutting down her facilities at Timamoon Arts and Isle of Lyonesse.

However, such was the outpouring of support from those wishing to see Milly continue to display her art in, she relented and established a new gallery called Cynefin, where she is now exhibiting a select of work called Creations.

Cynefin – Creations: Milly Sharple

One of the major attractions for me with Milly’s work is her fractal art; I’ve written about it on numerous occasions, and Creations includes examples among the 52 pieces on display. However it also includes pieces representing her more recent experiments with mixed media, combining her work with fractals with her photography. Also to be found are samples of Milly’s landscape photography from within Second Life – all of which makes Creations a fascinating and worthwhile visit.

The gallery space is set within a single-storey building of modern design which is ideal for exhibiting Milly’s work. A central entrance lobby featuring six pieces of Milly’s more recent work in mixed media, which opens out into two large gallery spaces with rooms for wall-mounted and free-standing displays of Milly’s art.

Cynefin Creations: Milly Sharple

The art itself is, as always, is magnificent; the richness of the pieces has to be seen in order to be fully appreciated. The diversity of styles on display – as is evidenced on entering the lobby space, where one is greeted by six attention-holding pieces – means this is a truly superb exhibition. As such, written words do not do any of the art offered the justice it deserves; nor does picking out any particular piece or group of pieces for specific mention above the others. However …

There is a series of seven female studies which I have to admit completely captivated me with their presence and depth (five are show in the image below). At first appearing as “simple” studies, there is a richness of style within each of them. With some this borders on the abstract, with others there is a hint of Milly fractal work within the mix of human study and floral painting. They are – even by the extraordinary standards of Milly’s art as a whole – stunning.

Cynefin Creations: Milly Sharple

Milly’s work stands as some of the most beautiful art in Second Life – and frankly, the grid could have been a duller place without it.  Seeing her return with a new gallery space, and one so rich in content is both a pleasure to see and a joy to welcome. I’m looking forward to many future visits.

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