The art of Bicycles in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Bicycles – Melusina Parkin

Most of us have probably owned – or still own – a bicycle, whether it be for fun, sports, fitness, part of our daily working routine (or even a requirement to work) or simply an alternative means of getting out and about and enjoying the countryside / local sights. We can lavish care and attention on them to keep them in tip-top condition, or we can simply regard them as a utility and replace them when they get too old or break. But are they art?

Well, yes they can be – as the July / August 2018 exhibition at DiXmiX Gallery demonstrates. Entitled Bicycles, it is a slight departure from the more usual run of exhibitions at the gallery, in that it takes up all three halls as a single display of themed art, featuring images by 25 Second Life photographers.

DiXmiX Gallery: Bicycles – Anu Papp and Ornella Batriani

Taking part in the event are: Calypso Applewhyte, Ornella Batriani, Skippy Beresford, Bliss Bookham, Jimmy Boots, A.DeLauren, Mareea Farrasco, Carisa Franizzi, Gaus, Huckleberry Hax, Kimeu Korg, Loverdag, Mich Michabo, Key Monk, Tutsy Navarathna, Mr Noboby, Randonee Noel, Karen Oliven, Anu Papp, Melusina Parkin, Megan Prumier, Grace Rotunno, Dixmix Source, Twain, and Jonda Zabaleta, with each artist submitting one or two images.

The pieces vary in style and presentation. In some, it is not unfair to say that the bicycles might be considered incidental to the overall image; they were simply a part of the landscape or setting when the picture was taken. Equally, some appear to have been use to frame an image intended to convey a broader emotional response than a focus on the bike itself. Then there also those where the bicycle is clearly the intended focus, bit it being ridden, standing on its own, lying broken, or images just in part. Thus, we get to view the bicycle in numerous ways, whether central to an image or not.

DiXmiX Gallery: Bicycles – Tutsy Navarathna

Which is to say this is a richly diverse exhibition in which the subject matter is more broadly presented than one might think. All of the images are captivating in one way or another, be it the way in which they are offered, the narrative they encapsulate, the use of colour and tone – or the various combinations of these factors. Presentation is also a significant part of the images and their presentation: the collection of monochrome pictures on the upper level of the Grey Gallery, for example, offers a power contrast to the majority use of colour images through the rest of the exhibition, while the considered placement of Cloudy Day by Gaus and Bicycle 3 by Key Monk also providing a contrasts with their surrounding images, and thus capturing the eye. Meanwhile, the two large format images in the foyer area of the Grey Gallery demonstrate how humble velo can be an icon of pop art.

The emotional content of the images is equally as broad as the colours, tones and subjects offered through the pictures. But there is one emotion often associated with bicycles that within this exhibition is conspicuous by its almost total absence: joy.

DiXmiX Gallery: Bicycles – Skippy Beresford

Yes, bicycles can be props to frame moods and offer a sense of depth and feeling, be it with someone leaning moodily back against their bike, or walking it gently over terrain unsuitable for riding, or in the sight of a machine lying broken or bent. But bikes are also fun. Riding one can give a wonderful sense of freedom, a liberating sensation of speed and escape. It is for this reason I fairly leapt at Skippy Beresford’s Last Day of School (seen above). Yes, it’s not unfair to say the bicycle is in some ways incidental to the broader idea of escape from the routine a rigours of the school week – but it’s equally fair to say the sense of exuberance and excitement exuded by the picture perfectly encapsulated the sheer sense of joyful freedom a bicycle can offer.

Which is not to detract from any of the other images displayed here; all do have something to say, and all are fine examples of the subject and the artistry of the photographers. Why not take a ride to DiXmiX yourself and have a look?

DiXmiX Gallery: Bicycles – Jimmy Boots and Mr Noboby

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A musical [Smash] in Second Life

[Smash]; Inara Pey, July 2018, on Flickr[Smash] – click any image for full size

A good, good while ago now, reader Alana Onyett suggested I might like to take a look at [Smash], a region designed by Zoe Jimenez. At the time I did – although I’m ashamed to admit I then filed everything away without getting around to blogging about it. So this piece comes with an apology to both Alana and Zoe.

For those who like music – notably electronic dance music and indie (but by no means limited to these to genres) – [Smash] could well be the place to spend a little time sounding out (if you’ll pardon the pun!). Where one region may boast one or two venues for music, this is a region that boasts a good dozen different venues, indoors and out, set within and over what might be described and something of a post apocalyptic environment with twists of steampunk and sci-fi.

[Smash]; Inara Pey, July 2018, on Flickr[Smash]

Such is the number of venues within the region – which forms part of a larger grouping of sims – that the easiest way of getting around, particularly from the landing hub, is to use the provided network of teleport discs. These allow rapid transit between the different clubs. Alongside of these – for those arriving at the landing hub – there is also a teleport experience.

To use this, touch any of the individual signs scattered next to the landing point and which advertise the various club venues. You’ll be invited to join the region’s experience and on acceptance, will be transported to the destination advertised by the sign you touched. Thereafter, you’ll be automatically transported to any of the venues on touching the applicable sign (unless you remove yourself from the experience, in which case you’ll have to re-join it).

[Smash]; Inara Pey, July 2018, on Flickr[Smash]

However, while the teleport systems are convenient, when you’re on the ground I recommend wandering on foot, as there are plenty of opportunities for exploration and photography – although do note there are private rental homes scattered around the outer edges of the region as well. There are also stores to be found among the taller buildings, clustered towards the centre of the region, offering an excuse for shopping.

Events wise, this is a busy location – as the [Smash] website schedule quickly reveals, with around 40 DJs hosting sets through any given month, with up to seven sessions per day. Times are slightly biased towards the American side of the Atlantic, but there’s enough spread across sets for most people to manage at least one or two sets through any given week.

[Smash]; Inara Pey, July 2018, on Flickr[Smash]

Each of the venues within the region has its own uniqueness / quirks, all of which again offers a good excuse for exploration. I admit to finding The Pool a particularly novel location for a night club, given there is still water in the pool and very imaginative use has been made of the diving boards. Similarly, the Steamport, with its two venue areas – indoors and out (hit the teleport board to get into The Globe)  – sitting over the landing hub, is both imaginative and eye-catching.

My own musical preferences perhaps run in a slightly different direction to those on offer at [Smash], but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating the amount of work that has gone into the design – which really is nicely done – or the amount of effort all concerned put into bringing it to life as a centre for DJ-led music in Second Life. So, even if EDM or indie or techno aren’t to your particular taste, I’d still suggest that if you enjoy exploring places with a difference in SL and which offer opportunities for photography, you find time to hop over to [Smash] and discover it for yourself, if you haven’t done so already.

[Smash]; Inara Pey, July 2018, on Flickr[Smash]

And again my apologies to Alana and Zoe for taking a fair while to get this post out!

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  • [Smash] (Whiskey Smash, rated: Moderate)

Starz Art Corner in Second Life

Starz Art Corner: Sisi Biedermann

Starz Art Corner is a Mainland boutique art gallery operated and curated by StarZ (StarZ33 McCullough). at the time of my visit, it was hosting four exhibitions: the three lower floor display areas offering works by DJ Silky (Sandralee Palianta), Baub Alred (Baub Clarity), and Sisi Biedermann respectively; the upper floor devoted to a special and personal display of art by StarZ herself.

I’ve always enjoyed Sisi’s art within Second Life; her paintings are always engaging, rich in colour and pleasing to the eye. At Starz Art Corner she presents what is probably my favourite among her many exhibitions: Wild Animals in Art. It’s an exhibit that presents exactly what it says on the introductory poster: wild animals as the subject of art. It does so in the most endearing and eye-catching of ways: the animals presented against – or as part of, in some cases – tiled mosaics of the most vibrant colours.

Starz Art Corner: Sisi Biedermann

In viewing these paintings, it’s tempting to use the phrase, “lions and foxes and bears, oh my!” (in difference to the fact there’s no painting of a tiger here), but this runs the risk of trivialising the sheer beauty of the pieces on offer, which fully deserve to be seen first-hand. They are truly marvellous pictures in which the animals and birds come across as very much alive even when – as with the wolves and the elephant – seemingly a part of the mosaic background.

Flanking Sisi to one side is Baub Alred, a digital artist who uses physical world people as the inspiration for his art, which can tend to focus on ” the area of magic, mythos, & the macabre”.

Starz Art Corner: Baub Alred

For Starz, he presents some 13 pieces which definitely – thanks to the frequent inclusion of a little ghost, as well as the appearance the odd skull and foggy backdrop – have a decidedly Halloween feel to them. These are again marvellous pieces, beautifully executed, each with a sense of fun that is often finely juxtaposed with a more serious leaning title.

To the other side of Sisi’s exhibition is DJ Silky, who presents 19 pieces of 2D part and one 3D element – a large vase with an animated texture. There is a rich variety of styles and subject here: with five monochrome pen-and-ink pictures face off against coloured painting comprising acrylics on canvas, vector paintings, house paint on plywood and a set of very unique 2D representations of scenes painted inside wooden wine boxes.

Starz Art Corner: DJ Silky

There is a richness and depth to all of these pieces that is again incredible and which definitely holds the eye; the monochrome drawings and two vector painting in particular captivating me.

Dark Times is offered at the title for StarZ’s exhibition on the upper floor of the gallery. It’s a deeply personal exhibition with a series of dark themes:  verbal abuse, depression and alcoholism – but it is also about happiness and survival, as StarZ notes. As such, she offer the pieces within the exhibition as both a means of reflecting on her own dark times, and also to offer those who are facing their own struggles and demons a sign that life can move beyond what might seem to be the most insurmountable barriers and horrifying depths of pain and depression.

Starz Art Corner: Starz

The dark sounding theme of this exhibition contrasts strongly with the rich use of bold and primal colours in many of the images presented. However, colour can often be a means to define moods, emotions, feelings – love, anger, hurt, pain, resentment – that the depth of colour in these images is entirely appropriate, both in terms of giving voice to those emotions and responses felt by the artist and, conversely, as a means to demonstrate that even in our darkest moments light – as exemplified by colour – can prevail.

Abstract and expressive, Dark Times is a powerful display of art, one that hold a person within a personal mix of emotions and responses which can in turn further draw them deeper into the substance of this exhibit.

Starz Art Corner: Starz

Individually and collectively, these four exhibitions make for an engaging and provocative visit without the visitor being necessarily overwhelmed by any one of them. All of which makes time spend at Starz Art Corner very worthwhile.

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On Strawberry Lake in Second Life

Strawberry Lake; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrStrawberry Lake – click any image for full size

Strawberry Lake is a public / residential Full region designed by Neva (Mirias) and Shay McAuley. it’s a picturesque place with a charm of its own, perfect for exploring and photography – providing the privacy of the local residents is respected.

There are nine residential parcels to be found here, the majority of them placed around the outer edges of the south, west and north sides of the region, with one sitting amidst the public areas, which lie across the middle of the region and to its eastern side.

Strawberry Lake; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrStrawberry Lake

A visit begins in the south-east, where a small built-up area sits, suggestive of a corner of a town. Cobbled streets sit alongside an open square bracketed by a gymnasium on one side and a little parade of shops on the other. The landing point isn’t on this square so much as under it, on a subway station platform that helps add to the illusion that this is the place sitting at the edge of a town somewhere.

Teas and cakes can be enjoyed on the square, but visitors are liable to be drawn to the cobble roads leading the way further into the region. One of these offers – by way of a bridge spanning the deep but narrow gorge of a stream – to the rural heart of the region. The second road points north to where the glass and concrete bulk of a great conservatory sits, and impressive structure that can also be reached via the wooden board walk that runs along the high cliffs of the eastern edge of the region, to where a little summer house nestles close to the conservatory, but separate from it.

Strawberry Lake; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrStrawberry Lake

Even with the private residential parcels, a lot is packed into Strawberry Lake. There are public places to sit and cuddle, paths to follow, little corners to find. The centre of the region is naturally rugged, the landscape cut by water formed into small streams which, but for a couple of tables of rock, would allow it to become an island. Decks vie with camp sites and shaded swings to offer places to sit, while rowing bows bob on the waters for those who prefer.

To help people find their way, lamps light board walks and paths, while lanterns float serenely overhead. Even so, parts of the region can be a little difficult to get around and some scrambling over rocks may be required. It’s also worth noting that a couple of the streams should be regarded as natural boundaries between public and residential areas, so wading across them isn’t advised.

Strawberry Lake; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrStrawberry Lake

Strawberry Lake can be a little eclectic in some of the choices made with the broader décor of the region. Skeletons lie outside the conservatory building (although not without a sense of romance), some of the images to be found in the public areas are of a distinctly adult lean, when found, as is at least one statue; and there is also something of a religious lean in a lot of the statuary which is one place interestingly juxtaposed with the adult images. .There are also little touches of humour scattered around as well.

At the time of our visit, a photography competition was under-way – although the given closing date was Sunday, July 15th. Full details are available from information boards within the region – notably at the landing point. However, and in short for those wishing to hope over an participate before the competition closes: the region should be a feature of entered photographs (up to two per entrant, posted to the region’s Flickr group with the title “Photo Contest”), and there’s a crash prize pool of L$3,500 to be divided between the top three entries. None competition images are also welcome within the Flickr group.

Strawberry Lake; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrStrawberry Lake

Picturesque, eclectic, and potentially offering a nice little corner of Second Life for those looking for a home, Strawberry Lake made for a relaxing visit.

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Italian artistry in Second Life

Astral Dreams Project

Astral Dreams Project is an exhibition celebrating Italian arts and creativity in Second Life, and to which I was recently invited to seen by the exhibition’s creator, Oema Resident.

“I was asked by Jack Davies and Mina Arcana, (the holders of the famous Astral Dreams region) to work with them to create an artistic project that helps to promote work of Italian artists in Second Life,” Oema informed me ahead of my visit, and framing the exhibition for me.

Astral Dreams Project: Ciottolina Xue

Given Italy’s role in the development of art and artistic expression in all its forms down through the centuries – architecture, painting, sculpture, design, and so on – an exhibition celebrating the work of some of the many Italian artists in Second Life really is appropriate; and Oema, Mina and Jack have clearly endeavoured to fold as many aspects of artistic expression into this installation.

Take, for example, the setting itself. This is a reproduction of the Piazza di Spagna, Rome, one of the most famous squares in that city, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church located at the top of the Spanish Steps, which descend to the Fontana della Barcaccia. Within the exhibition setting, these elements come from the collections of Italian SL designers Acqua Aria and Dogma9, who are also responsible for the buildings used to represent the rest of the piazza – although a little licence has been taken in places. The Palazzo Barbieri, for example, site to one side of the square. In the physical world it more correctly belongs within  Piazza Bra in Central Verona; but its presence here is very much in keeping with the theme of the project.

Astral Dreams Project: Paola Mills

The square itself presents two rows of boutique gallery spaces for 2D art displays, facing one another across the cobblestones, while the buildings either side of the Spanish Steps (one of which occupies to location of the Keats-Shelley Memorial House) are presented as galleries spaces for the sculptures of Ciottolina Xue and Mistero Hifeng.

During my visit, the 2D display spaces featured the work of Paola Mills, Lorys Lane, Renior Adder, Desy Falcone, Magda Schmidtzau, Clarisa Congrejo, CandieSheel, Degoya Galthie, Jarla Capalini and Oema herself. I’m not 100% certain if these artists will be rotated with others, or if they will remain on display throughout the life of the project. Oema did indicate to me there are events in the planning to introduce further artists; but this doesn’t necessary mean those currently on display might vanish; there is still room for more.

Astral Dreams Project: Mistero Hifeng

I say this because both the Palazzo Barbieri and the Trinità dei Monti were, at the time of my visit, home to reproductions of classical Italian paintings, so they might yet develop into further gallery spaces for SL artists. If nothing else, the “Coming Soon” sign that was displayed outside the Palazzo Barbieri indicates that this at least would be a further gallery space in the near future.

There is perhaps a slight preponderance of avatar studies among the 2D art currently presented. This is not surprising, given the popularity of this genre of SL photography. However, it does run the risk of overwhelming the eye, and is perhaps why, that among the 2D artists, I found myself repeatedly gravitating towards Renior Adder and Degoya Galthie, both of whom offer quite different displays to the rest (which also should be taken to mean I did not appreciate the art of the other artists around the piazza!).

Astral Dreams Project: Degoya Galthie

I don’t have dates for further openings in the project, but I will be keeping my eye on it to see who else might have their work exhibited – and I certainly recommend it as a worthwhile visit for those who enjoy SL art.

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In the Wild in Second Life

In the Wild; Inara Pey, June 2018, on FlickrIn the Wild – click any image for full size

Given it is summer in the northern hemisphere and many are experiencing heat waves (even those of us in the UK!), the mind  turns inevitably to holidays and vacations. Often, however, we can’t always just take off to somewhere where the sun and warmth are more fun; but fortunately, there are plenty of places in Second Life that at least give the illusion of escape when we’d all rather be somewhere other than slowing baking in the heat at home.

Take In the Wild, for example. Sitting at the eastern end of the Orchard Heights Estates, it offer local residents and visitors alike the opportunity to escape the demands of physical and virtual life, and simply relax in a parkland setting offering much to see and do. For those seeking a little piece of privacy for a day, it also provides vacation cabins and tents for daily rent.

In the Wild; Inara Pey, June 2018, on FlickrIn the Wild

Designed by Liyora Resident, this is an exceptionally picturesque region, rich in detail with plenty of opportunities for photography and fun. Comprising three islands connected by bridges, the park offers a good mix of land and water, with trails and lookout points on the former, and sampans, bumper boats and kayaks on the latter – there’s even a swimming area with floating slide available, as this is a family friendly park.

The largest island includes the landing point, overlooking the waters and complete with an information board. A long covered bridge links it back to the rest of the estate, reached via a track snaking down the hillside. Above and behind the landing point is one of the park’s rental cabins, sitting atop a high cliff and presenting superb views to the south and north-west. Between landing point and cabin is a second track, pointing the way to the bridge leading to the next of the park’s islands.

In the Wild; Inara Pey, June 2018, on FlickrIn the Wild

This is where the water fun can be found – the swimming circle with its slide, and the bumper boats, together with a couple  of static water vehicles  which give the park a sense of being used, rather than offering actual rides. This is the largest of the island, backed by another high shoulder of rock on which a further cabin sits, guarded by the tower of a windmill and partially overlooking a circular inlet cutting into the lowlands.

Out on a north-eastern headland of the island is a public picnic area offering another fine lookout point, sitting as it does on a shoulder of rock just below another of the park’s cabins and the local lighthouse. Before this headland is  tongue a of land ending in a finger of rock where a further bridge connects to the smallest of the three islands, and home to another holiday cabin as well as the park’s music events area.

In the Wild; Inara Pey, June 2018, on FlickrIn the Wild

As well as the cabins, there are several tens scattered around the islands, also available for daily rent and provided pre-furnished and a modest LI allowance for rezzing props, etc. Paths through the park take a variety of  forms: dirt tracks, wooden board walks and sets of paving stones loosely place across the grass. Like spots offer solo places to sit in the shade of a parasols and. The kyayks mentioned earlier can be obtained via a waterfront rezzer a short walk from the landing point. and come in single and tandem seat versions.

In the Wild can be summarised as a well-designed region, one that is – as already noted – very picturesque. It is certainly well deserving of a visit.

In the Wild; Inara Pey, June 2018, on FlickrIn the Wild

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