Art and Cyborgs in Second Life

Subcutan Art Gallery: Sophie de Saint Phalle – Cyborgs

Currently open through December 2022 is Cyborgs, an installation by Austrian artist Sophie de Saint Phalle (Perpetua1010) located within her Sucutan Art region  At its heart Copper plate etchings and lithographs, although they are framed in a much broader story.

Leave the security and assurance of your spoiled civilization and immerse yourself in the fantastic and futuristic world of Cyborgs and dangerous creatures.

Cyborgs by Sophie de Saint Phalle

The full story behind the exhibition can be obtained from the information giver board at the landing point. In short, it is the far future and humanity is now an interstellar civilisation. However, it has also faced numerous wars with other civilisations, some of them possibly biological / genetic in nature, so humans have been left weakened and in need of cybernetic enhancement in order to survive, eventually reaching a point where children are conceived in vivo and assigned to full cyborg bodies which define their role in their civilisation.

Subcutan Art Gallery: Sophie de Saint Phalle – Cyborgs

Within the exhibition, the images represent a group of these human-cyborgs now forced to live bound to a single planet, where limited genetic materials are of ever increasing importance, as does the need for these human constructs to express their humanity. 

Set within an environment representing the landscape of the planet to which they are confined, the installation comprises two parts: the landing point and events area – the installation opened with 6 hours of music – with the second containing the art itself. when visiting, it is essential you have Advanced Lighting Model enabled (Preferences → Graphics → make sure Advanced Lighting is checked), and preferably use the local environment (World → Environment → make sure Used Shared Environment is checked). 

Subcutan Art Gallery: Sophie de Saint Phalle – Cyborgs

Within the art area, the etchings and lithograph are presented mounted on a series of granite-like blocks. At least two copies of each etching is presented, generally on the same block (or a neighbouring block), with each version of an etching given a different finish. They form expressive and very human aspects of life – people at work, people resting from exhaustion, male and female alike. None of them looks particularly “cyborg-like”; rather, but for the title given each piece, these could be studies of fully flesh-and-blood humans. 

And it is in this that the power of the art lies: the rich suggestion of largely artificial beings trying to express (or recapture?) their essential humanness through art and carvings; seeking to reconnect with their species heritage and origins.

As well as the images, the landscape includes figurines intended to represent the races which may have forced humanity down this evolutionary path, the creatures they have had to tame – and the artificial bodies into which they have been forced based not on will or desire, but as a result of genetic make-up and algorithms about which they had no knowledge even as the life-forming decisions were being made about their futures. 

Subcutan Art Gallery: Sophie de Saint Phalle – Cyborgs

Sophie’s work is always evocative and captivating, and Cyborgs offers a further dimension to her work displayed in Second Life, whether you opt to view the pieces as etchings in their own right or within the framework of the installation’s wider narrative. When visiting, do also consider using the teleport disk to visit the other exhibition spaces Sophie has created within her Subcutan arts region (about which you can read about in my January 2022 review). 

SLurl Details

  • Cyborgs, Subcutan Art Gallery (Ocean Island, rated Adult) 

The solitude of WQNC in Second Life

WQNC, December 2022 – click any image for full size

At the start of the year I made a return visit to WQNC, an iteration of the Wo Qui Non Coin region design by Maasya I first visited in September 2021. With the end of 2022 approaching, Shawn Shakespeare suggested I make a return and witness the current version of the setting, which has relocated since my January 2022 visit, and downsized to a Homestead region. 

Not that the downsizing makes a difference; Maasya has a talent for creating captivating settings, and whilst this one may well be within a Homestead, that certainly remains true. In fact, I would suggest that it is perhaps a design that speaks closely to her self-described isolationist nature. 

WQNC, December 2022

The setting takes the form of an east-west oriented island, a slender finger of rock rising from the surrounding seas, cut almost all the way through by a canyon, the western end of which blocked by a high table of rock, and what would otherwise by the open eastern end partially enclosed by a high-rise apartment building of indeterminate age. 

It is at the foot of this high-rise that visitors initially find themselves, standing knee-deep in tidal waters lapping a small beach. This gives the impression of literally having just arrived – whether by boat or by swimming or simple luck on having survived some event, is hard to tell. However, the overall design of the location does suggest some form of apocalyptic upheaval may have taken place.

WQNC, December 2022

A tunnel passes under the foot of the apartment building to provide access to the canyon beyond. A teleport sign is mounted on one wall of this tunnel; at the time of my first visit, this provided access to the skybox, but on my return visit it appeared to have restricted access, as attempting to use it left me floating in the air within the tunnel. 

Beyond the tunnel, a path winds through the canyon – a street winding through tall buildings backed against the rock walls of the natural canyon, such that they form their own man-made gorge. Neon and LED lights glow from street lamps and signs on the buildings and signs, some of which are mounted on metal poles to span the width of the road like latter-day Torii gates – much of the signage suggests this island street lies somewhere amidst the string of islands which make up the nation of Japan. 

WQNC, December 2022

Follow the path to its western end, and the rock walls close to a narrow stair leading upwards, the bottom end marked by a traditional Torii gate. Ancient-looking lamps (fitted with LED or neon illumination) light the steps as they climb to the western table of rock to where a shrine is guarded by a pair of stone kitsune.    

Quite where the power for the lights is coming from is a mystery as this is hardly a bustling thoroughfare; the buildings are heavy in vines, shrubs have claimed ledges and windowsills and also the rooftops – together with the odd tree have claimed. Thus, there is a sense of this strange location having been deserted a long time ago – although quite why is for your own imagination to determine; to me, there is a hint of a global catastrophe having overtaken a city (or the world), leaving this enclosed alley with its cliffs of buildings as the sole survivor of a drowned township. 

WQNC, December 2022

The sense of mystery prevalent throughout the setting is added to by the ambient sound system;  a distant sound of electronic drumming reverberates through the air, mixing here and there with echoes of music coming from somewhere – including one decidedly season tune. Also mixed in with the hissing crackle of electrical shorts from fallen power lines. Alongside of this is a sense of isolation and separation, as if this might be the last remnant of civilisation. 

In this, and as noted above, the setting might be seen as a reflection of Maasya’s nature; her Profile defines her as someone preferring her own company, and perhaps not overly friendly towards strangers. This is something I can actually attest to, having been summarily banned from the region (without much of a prior warning) as a result of standing still for too long whilst taking photos during my visit; so I would advise visitors to keep on the move, just in case!

WQNC, December 2022

Outside of this (while at the same time keeping it in mind), the region is as photogenic and eye-catching as Maasya’s previous builds and well worth witnessing. 

SLurl Details

  • WQNC (Blue Reef, rated Moderate)

Cloud Galleries in Second Life

Cloud Galleries, November 2022

November 30th, 2022 saw the opening of the latest arts centre within the broader selection of galleries spaces and art walks making up the Corsica South Coasters, a group which includes the NovaOwl Gallery and the South Corsica Art Trail, both of which I’ve written about in these pages, and CK’s Corner.

The new facility is located on a sky platform and is called – appropriately enough – the Cloud Galleries. It has been created by arts patron Owl Dragonash, and offers 10 galleries spaces available for rent use by artists.

Cloud Galleries: Owl Dragonash

For the opening, se were occupied by:

  • Elan (Ineffable Mote) – primarily paintings from the physical world at the time of my visit.
  • Michiel Bechir – Second Life landscapes.
  • Anna Maria (AnnaMaria Lysette) – avatar studies.
  • Prins (Skylog) – images from Second Life.
  • Suzen JueL (JueL Resistance) – physical world art.
  • Pau (Paula Sieberi) –  abstract expressionism.
  • KayLy (Kayly Iali) – animal and pet paintings from the physical world.
  • Jaminda Moon (Jaminda) – Second Life landscapes.
  • Raisa Reimse (RaisaReimse) – Second Life landscapes and images.
  • Owl Dragonash – Second Life landscapes.

Cloud Galleries: Raisa Reimse 

Set within a garden, the gallery units are all built to the same style, offering split-level display space  indoors, and a small outdoor display / sitting space to the rear.

Unit rentals are set at L$100 a week for 50 LI. CasperLet rent boxes are located at the rear of each studio, should one be available. General enquiries on availability and other requirements for using the gallery units should be passed to Owl Dragonash.

Cloud Galleries, November 2022

As a part of the broader Corsica South Coasters, Cloud Galleries can form part of a wider visit to locations in the group, and can be enjoyed alongside group music events and activities. Details of the group and everything going on within it can be found on the Corsica South Coasters website.

SLurl Details

A gentle November Rain in Second Life

November Rain, November 2022 – click any image for full size

From time-to-time in these pages I’ve asserted that holding a complete region, be it Full or Homestead, is not a prerequisite to being able to design a setting which can be opened for public enjoyment. What matters is not the size of the land held, but the creativeness in using it, and I’ve offered numerous examples of this through these pages: parcels within a region which have been carefully and lovingly curated to present an engaging and inviting place to visit.

Another example of such a location is November Rain, a 4096 sq metre parcel sitting within a Full region, and in which Semina (Semiiina) – Sem to her friends and fans – has established a cosy, atmospheric setting where people can come, explore,  take photos and listen to music.

November Rain, November 2022

Come and explore the autumn themed café: November Rain. Grab an umbrella, take lots of pictures and meet new friends. Curl up with a hot drink in the Café and listen to live music and the sound of autumn rain.

November Rain About Land

I was alerted to the café’s existence by reader Morgana Carter, who IM’d me the SLurl and a note after my recent piece on three Mainland cafés (see The coffee houses of Heterocera in Second Life), suggesting it might be a suitable addition to that series. Whilst clearly not on the Mainland, after visiting November Rain, I had to agree that the setting did deserve being written about (in fact, I’m not alone in this, given the location has recently been featured in the official blog).

Located on a sky platform, this is a setting that doesn’t need a lot of description in terms of exploring and looking out from things; it is small enough to get around easily, and the focal point is obviously the café in terms of where to go.  What I will say is the to appreciate the setting fully, visitors should used the local environment settings (menu World → Environment → Used Shared Environment).

November Rain, November 2022

This is because November Rain is richly atmospheric, the environment settings reinforcing the sense of the month in the Northern Hemisphere, a time when autumn is definitely on the wane, the days are shortening and darkening, the weather is on the turn with rain and leaden skies – but there is also a promise of winter and the romance of snow and starry skies lies just over the horizon, complete with cups of hot chocolate and roaring fires.

The stone-built café sits at the end of a gate path winding through the surrounding trees.  A large sign to one side of the landing point offers links to the expected info on the setting, its guidelines and the opportunity to join the local events group. A link to a calendar of events is also provided, although at the time of my visit this appeared to be largely devoid of dates. Still in bloom, the woodlands around the café offer and assortment of details to discover: a fox curled up sleep here, a reindeer with antlers strung with lights there, a vixen with her cubs sheltering from the rain falling from the evening sky, cats playing on the front porch…

November Rain, November 2022

Inside, the two rooms of the café offer a warm and decidedly cosy setting, the first room offering couch seating and the café’s serving counter with a rich selection of cakes and drinks suitable for the festive season. More seating can be found in the second room, together with a stage for live music sessions and a small dance area underneath the skylight. For those who like the outdoors, a table and chairs can be found under a parasol next to the front door to the café, while back among the trees is a romantic little hideaway.

Compact, rich in detail with plenty of opportunities for photography (limited rezzing available to group members, but please pick up after yourself if you make use of it). November Rain is a delightful visit.

November Rain, November 2022

SLurl Details

Emergent Gallery revisited in Second Life

Emergent Gallery, November 2022

It’s been over two years since my last visit to Ilrya Chardin’s Emergent Gallery space. At that time, it occupied a landscaped 1/4 Full region, offering an exhibition space for Ilrya’s 2D and 3D work, together with a small number of invited artists. Now, two years on, the gallery remains within that same 1/4 Full region, but now comprises a series of art facilities built directly over water and linked one to the next by paved footpaths.

The largest of these, within the landing point directly before it together with teleport information boards to Ilrya’s other current exhibitions in Second Life, is the main gallery building. Inside, the entrance level comprises a collection of Ilyra’s 2D and 3D work. Above this, on the mid-level, a series of exhibition spaces host art from guest artists, with a further level – the Penthouse Level – above that with additional exhibition halls.

Emergent Gallery, November 2022: CybeleMoon and Chuck Clip

Now to be honest, I’ve no idea if the spaces within the gallery are offered to artists on a rental basis or are invited exhibitions that change over time. However, at the time of my visit, the mid-level comprised displays by Chuck Clip, CybeleMoon (Hana Hoobinoo), Mareea Farrasco (three artists for whom I have a lot of admiration), Riannah Avora, Kisma Reidling and Eylinea Seabird. The Penthouse, meanwhile, hosted exhibitions by Carelyna, Chelo Baron, LIV (RagingBellls), Sheba Blitz, and Toysoldier Thor.

Together, these 11 artists present an engaging mix of 2D and 3D art, while outside, five smaller halls offer exhibition space for a single artist each. Again, whether these are offered for rent or to host limited-period exhibitions by invited artists is something I’m not sure about; however, at the time of my visit, they housed exhibitions by Zia Sophia (Zia Branner), Suzen JueL (JueL Resistance), Ladmilla Medier (Ladmilla) and Eli Medier and two more artists who I admire greatly: Hermes Kondor and Sisi Biedermann.

Emergent Gallery: Adrian Harbinger

The final and second largest hall within the gallery is given over to a permanent exhibition of 2D and 3D art offer by Ilyra and as a tribute to several of the SL artists she admires. However, this is not the end of the exhibits or exhibit spaces. An open-air space offers the potential to be used to be for either 2D or 3D art, or a mix of both. This latter point is ably demonstrated by the space hosting a display of 2D and 3D work by Adrian Harbinger.

With two further platforms hosting Ilyra’s 3D pieces and more individual 3D pieces also sitting over the water, Emergent offers a lot for art lovers to appreciate. As such, it remains an engaging centre for art in Second Life.

Emergent Gallery: Sisi Biedermann

SLurl Details

The Tranquil Beauty of Oshu in Second Life

Oshu, November 2022 – click any image for full size

It’s fairly well established through the pages of this blog that I have a thing for regions with a Far Eastern design, whether they are intended to offer a Japanese setting, a Chinese setting or a fusion of the two. Learning about such places (particularly if they are intended for public visits, rather than focused on residential settings!) tends to have me reaching for my camera and then mashing the teleport button.

So when Ryū Ojo (Sosaki) sent me an invite to visit her Full region design of Oshu, it moved pretty much to the top of my list of places to visit and start prepping a post about. However, on my arrival I quickly realised that rather than following my usual practice of visiting a region, exploring and writing notes, then returning to later to photograph and blog, this was a place I had to write about immediately – although in fairness to Ryū, she is still working on the final details within the region, so if you do drop in on reading the post around the time it is published and see some unfinished elements – blame me for being too keen to write about it, not Ryū!

Oshu, November 2022

Oshu is Ryū’s first full region build, and she has gone all out with it, opting to use the additional Land Capacity option available to Full private regions. In doing so, she has created what is effectively a tranquil setting cast with a Japanese theme that is completely timeless in nature. When exploring, you feel you could just as easily be in a remote part of modern-day Japan, far removed from the hustle, noise and heat of city life in the modern era as you could setting foot into a feudal province in the country’s Edo period. However, also awaiting discovery are elements which offer visitors a touch of fantasy and of futurism.

No formal landing point hand been set at the time of my visit, although Ryū indicated to me one would eventually be set, complete with a welcome area, so things many change in this regard when you visit when compared to the description of  my explorations below. That said, my wanderings commenced in the north-east uplands of the setting, where a board meadow backs itself against the off-region surround.

Oshu, November 2022

This is the first indication of the care Ryū has been taking in designing the region, carefully blending it along the northern edge and to the west and east with the surround, giving the impression that the region is part of a greater landscape, one rising to high mountain peaks as can be found throughout the islands of Japan, their foothills blanket in rich woodlands.

This meadow is itself a place of mystery; great standing stones lie within the shade of autumnal Japanese maples, their general colour and look suggesting then have been hewn from the rock strata running through the region (including thrusting up through the grasslands of the meadow), but who may have roughly formed and erected them is a mystery. Upslope from the meadow, and backed by a ridge of rock, is a stone arch. Perhaps it may have once been part of a larger structure with some connection with the standing stones, although its carved nature suggests that it is of later origins than the standing stones. Lit by a shimmering green light, it is in fact an experience-based portal offering a connection with Naruru Bay, a modern-era role-play-focused Homestead region.

Oshu, November 2022

The core of the region is focused on a small settlement surrounded by trees. At the time of my visit, these were still being furnished, with the largest being built over a pond, falls to one side allowing the water to tumble to a smaller pond and thence over larger falls which step there way down over southern cliffs to where a channel meanders out to the south-side bay.

This settlement is an utterly tranquil location, the trees shading it from the Sun (and hiding it from view), the paths and terraces linking the houses to Zen gardens,  and bridges spanning the waters, all watched over by dragons either made of bronze or flying free. As well as its sense of serenity, the settlement contains the greatest sense of timelessness within the region, while a long stone stairway descends the slope below the west side Zen garden, pointing the way down to the southern bay and a temple of light built out over the waters.

Oshu, November 2022

Time should be spent exploring the region, as it offers many points of interest and detail. Wildlife and domestic animals can be found throughout, as well as elements of fantasy – the aforementioned dragon, a kitsune statue and, for those who seek it out, a hidden secret.

The latter is not easy to find, but it lies beneath the settlement: a series of tunnels winding down to a series of caverns where huge fungi grow, and a path might be found passing from cavern to cavern to eventually come to two pairs of doors. At the time of my visit, the entrance to these tunnels came by way of passing through a tall curtain of water and then carefully treading between it and another; however, Ryū noted to me this may change.

Oshu, November 2022

However, these tunnels further contain another aspect of the timeless mix within the region: the tunnels leading down to the caverns appear to have been cut suing modern tools and are lit by electric lights, suggesting they were made using tools of a later era than the Edo looks of the settlement. The caverns, meanwhile have that sense of fantasy, whilst the pairs of double doors take visitors into a sci-fi like set of rooms of unknown purpose (again, at least at the time of my visit).

For a first-time Full region build, Oshu is engaging and richly detailed and something for which Ryū should be justifiably proud. Primarily designed for photographer / explorers, Ryū also indicated to me it might also offer some degree of role-play (possibly connected to Naruru Bay  given the presence of the portal), although time will likely tell on this. In the meantime, this is a destination well worth visiting, and which I hope Ryū will submit to the Destination Guide when she is happy with the design, so that it might be appreciated by folk from across SL.

Oshu, November 2022

SLurl Details

  • Oshu (rated: Moderate)