Category Archives: Reviews

Sniper’s Second Life 1999 – 2017: The Story

“The initial project, ‘The Little Prince’, would take a long time,” Sniper Siemens explains in introducing Second Life 1999 / 2017 – The Story, which is now open through until the end of June 2017. “For my health and work reasons, I could not make it this year. I apologise for the inconvenience.”

Frankly, I don’t think an apology is warranted; if anything, Sniper’s look at the entire history of Second Life from 1999 through to the present should be a permanent, living installation in Second Life (although Sniper may well shoot me for saying so!).

Second Life 1999 / 2017 – The Story – Project Shining: the start of the ongoing work to massively overhaul SL’s technical capabilities

Before I get into the Story of Second Life, let’s take a look at the story of the story of Second Life. The installation originally began in July 2014 as Second Life History, a relatively modest but informative installation, complete with humorous touches which continue to mark these exhibitions. In February 2015, Sniper returned with The Greatest Story Ever Told, expanding on the original idea, offering more information, a new presentation layout and lots of new little characters to show you each of the many notable events throughout Second Life’s history (and that of its precursor, LindenWorld).

For this latest installation, Sniper builds on the 2015 design, bringing it bang up-to-date with everything that’s happened since that installation was exhibited, with a look at things like  Bento, the starter avatar updates, improvement to Sl web properties such as the Community platform, etc., and a tongue-in-cheek “look” through the gates at Sansar.

Second Life 1999 / 2017 – The Storyremembering Lumiere Noir, one of the many residents who did so much to empower all of us in our time in-world

From the landing point / information point, visitors progress along a footpath passing through the years sequentially, from 1999, with the originals of Linden Research and The Rig, progressing through LindenWorld, Primitars, early experiments with AI creatures, to the birth of Second Life. From there, major notable events, positive and negative (depending on your perspective if you were around at the time). All are marvellously presented, with a great balance between information – presented via static information boards,  interactive elements, and in-world videos.

As well as walking around the installation, visitors can opt to take a train ride through the exhibits. A Canopied station forms part of the landing point. Simply touch the rezzer to generate a car, jump in and touch the car to start your ride. You can stop along the way at any time to take a closer look at exhibits by touching the car once more – just make sure you cam over to them, don’t get out of the car or you’ll have it de-rez on you! A further touch of the car will resume your journey, while barriers at certain points also encourage you to stop in case you risk missing something. With a change of train half-way around, this is a really charming way to see the exhibition (rail traffic allowing!) – kudos to Sniper for including it.

Second Life 1999 / 2017 – The Story – Bento in images and videos

Journey’s end for Second Life 1999 /2017 – The Story is a shady park alongside of the cheeky “look” at Sansar. However, this isn’t the end of the installation. A teleport station will take you on to a look at the History of Burning Life, (or Burn 2 as we now know it).  This can also be toured by rail car – just follow the path to the right as you exit the main landing area and before you enter “1999”.

I am an unabashed fan of Second Life’s history (and I’m flattered to have played a very small and indirect role in this exhibit), so cannot recommend this installation highly enough anyone wishing to gain a rounded understanding on Second Life, Linden Lab and Burning Life / Burn 2. It really is a pleasure to visit, marvellously informative without ever drowning you in a flood of information, and rich in gentle touches and delightful flicks of humour. I also couldn’t help be notice the layout of the exhibit seems to include a fair amount of space for future expansion as well 🙂 .

Second Life 1999 / 2017 – The Story – the central Burn 2 exhibition

Second Life 199 / 2017 – The Story is an absolute delight, and as noted, will remain open through until the end of June 2017. Be sure not to miss it!

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Video by Sniper Siemens

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PeTOu’s perfection in Second Life

PeTOu – click any image for full size

PeTOu is a place that is bound to draw me for a number of reasons. The first is the strong Oriental influence exhibited across this Full region. The second is the way the region uses Linden water throughout to naturally add ambience and harmony to the environment. And the third reason is that is another design by the immensely talented Uta (xoYUUTAox), who was responsible for bringing an ethereal beauty in one of the iterations of a favourite old haunt, Roche (which you can read about here).

With PeTOu, Uta has worked with her partner, Nagi Alekseev, to recreate some of the ethereal wonder present in her design for Roche, expanding it to encompass much more, rooting it in a much broader, but no less enchanting, environment. There are also a number of secrets to be unlocked and enjoyed for those willing to take the time.

PeTOu

A visit commences on the west side of the region at a landing point where – if you’re not careful – it is easy to miss a set of teleport boards. However, rather than taking any of them right away, I do recommend you start by letting your pedal extremities do the work and explore the region on foot. There are two obvious routes away from the landing point. The first is a calf-deep ribbon of water winding through a rich expanse of rapeseed and under the boughs of cherry blossoms; the second is a sort wade across the water to where the rapeseed climbs up over rocks and grass, and old stone steps offer the way to a footpath.

Whichever you take, you’re going to want to take your time – there is a lot to discover under the canopy of blossoms. The footpath for example, will take you up to a little traditional Japanese house sitting on a hill, a little garden to one side, complete with ponds presided over by a stately egret. A cobbled path offers a route around the garden, while on the other side of the house, a rocky path sweeps down to the water once more.

PeTOu

Before the path disappears under the water, however, visitors can turn away from it across a wooden bridge spanning a narrow channel, lanterns floating on the waters below. This leads the way to a network of bridges reaching out over an expanse of deep blue water, a pagoda sitting on the far side atop a rocky bluff. Two great golden dragons guard the waters, one of which has apparently crushed a pier under its weight.

Close by, on the nearer shore of the land, and reached by following another path from the little house on the hill or via a path leading up from the watery path through the rapeseed, is a much larger house. This overlooks the network of bridges, as well as offer much to see in and around it – do be sure to follow the stepping stones under the arc of Torii gates to the rather unusual sculptures at the far end.

PeTOu

PeTOu is truly a marvellous setting, rich in soft colours under an night-washed sky, perfect for photography and with lots of little gems to be found – keep an eye out for the white flowers which hide sitting poses within them, for example. Once you have finished your explorations, be sure to make your way back to the landing point and the waiting teleport boards.

While one of the boards – “Oriental” – will carry you to the ground level bridges and their dragons, the remaining five provide access to little vignettes in the sky. All are very different from one to another, and each has its own attraction / whimsy. The R2 Cafe, for example, has a little winter scene and a colourful teleport back to the ground (which you’ll have to look for!), while Paris Roofs presents a romantic rooftop tryst under a summer shower dropping into the street below.

PeTOu

Finished with an ambient sound scape, and matched with a piano music stream with minimal adverts, PeTOu is a marvellous environment for exploring and for simply getting away from everything, be it time spent on the ground, or up in one of the skybox locations. All told, highly  recommended – and if you do enjoy your visit as we did, do please consider making a donation via one of the tip jars so that others might also continue to enjoy the region.

SLurl Details

  • PeTOu (Everheart, rated: moderate)

A return to Storybrooke Gardens in Second Life

Storybrooke Gardens – click any image for full size

Lauren Bentham’s Storybrooke Gardens has long been a favourite of mine, particularly when it is dressed for winter (see here and here for more). With spring now upon us, Lauren has remade and expanded Storybrooke, so Caitlyn and I recently hopped over to have a look.

The new design means that there is now even more to see and enjoy, including part of the space retaining the snowy looks of the Gardens in winter – of which more anon. Winding past the landing point with its bright little tent, the familiar springtime trail still wind through the trees, lanterns hang from posts and branches, inviting visitors to follow. It meanders past little vignettes of charm and past cottages and houses available to rent, gathered here and there in little hamlet-like groups, sheep and deer grazing around them, foxes roaming nearby.

Storybrooke Gardens

This is a place of story-time fancy, so don’t be surprised when you bump into some familiar characters as you explore – both indoors and out (although again, do please be aware some of the houses may be privately rented when considering venturing inside anywhere). Humpty Dumpty, for example sits (a little headless) alongside the trail at one point, while gingerbread men peep and wave around the base of a tree at another and little fae folk hover and play. Those who are regulars to Fantasy Faire may also recognise little touches from popular FF creators adding to the magic of this realm.

Opportunities for photographs lie around every corner and along every path; for those looking for romance and a place to share a cuddle or two will find much to please them here, both under the trees and up in tall towers of varying descriptions. Camp sites, benches, blankets, even a bicycle suspended beneath dozens of colourful balloons, offer places to rest and enjoy. And, as noted above, those seeking a last touch of winter also won’t be disappointed.

Storybrooke Gardens – A Winter’s Tale

A short distance from the landing point is the entrance to A Winter’s Tale. This is a place where the snow lies heavy on the ground, frost wraps itself around bark and bough, and quaint little cottages, roofs laden under heavy white blankets, huddle close to the imposing bulk of a great castle. Above the two imposing guardians of the path leading up to the castle’s great doors, circles a magical boat held aloft by two translucent balloons, its deck offering a vantage point from which to observe the lands below.

Not far from the castle the single spire of a wizard’s tower points to the sky rises from the snowy landscape, a winding path curled around its rocky base leading to its front door. Children skate on the frozen pond at the foot of the tower, while reindeer keep an eye on all who climb the path to find out why lies inside.

Storybrooke Gardens

Towers are very much a part of this landscape – both winter and spring – as are windmills. They variously rise above tree-tops or swing their sails lazily in the breeze, adding yet more story-time feel to the land. Beneath all of them, the local folk sit and read or play, wave greetings to passing visitors, and go about their own little tasks, adding a further depth to all the scenes to be found through the Gardens.

Lauren has always had a gift for expression with her region builds, but sitting in the sky (not always the easiest place to create something with a truly natural look and feel), Storybrooke Gardens is perhaps one of her most magical environments. One we were delighted to once again visit and explore.

Storybrooke Gardens

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Journey of Life in Second Life

Paris METRO: Journey of life

Journey of Life is the title of a new exhibition of art by Satus Voltz (satus9), which opened at the Paris METRO Art Gallery on Saturday, March 18th. In terms of broad theme, it in some ways continues and extends the examination of life seen in the previous exhibition at the gallery, Life Is A Journey by Elin Egoyan (which you can read about here). However, where Elin considered our physical lives in her exhibition, Satus here considers time and travels through Second Life.

Twenty-three pieces of art are offered for display. They offer both an intriguing presentation of evocative individual pieces and a finely balanced collection when taken as whole, bringing together a number of subtle pairings, from the balance between monochrome and colour in the landscapes, through the use of either anticipation or pensiveness as an emotional driver in the avatar studies or the subtle mixing of purely 2D images with those with a 3D aspect; all the way through to the mix of landscapes and avatar-focused  images. In short, this is a richly diverse collection of pieces which are not only encapsulated within the overall theme, they beautifully demonstrate Satus’ artistry and expression.

Paris METRO: Journey of life

The use of 3D elements with a 2D art display perhaps isn’t new. Several artists  – notably Molly Brown – have incorporated 2D and 3D art into a single whole in the past; and on entering the gallery to encounter Shattered (in the foreground of the banner image at the top of this piece), I was immediately put in mind of her work. However, the sheer dynamism and narrative in Shattered is breathtaking. Elsewhere, the use of a 3D element is more subtle but no less emotive and effective; from starlight filtering through the fan of branches of distant trees, to the fall of rain or the use of dandelion seeds and dust motes drifting through the air.

Then there is balance between monochrome and colour in the landscape pieces, which brings a certain harmonic tension to them. We are at once drawn towards the three black-and-white images sitting among their more numerous colour companions, but at the same time, they encourage is to consider the use of colour as well as light and shade within the colour pieces.  A similar tension can be found within the more avatar focused studies. Within these, the pensiveness within pieces like Departure, Burning House (both of which are shown below), and I Don’t Wanna Live Forever, is countered by the depth of anticipation evidenced in Silent Awakening, Polar Express and Confetti of The Sky, with both emotions perfectly brought together in  Can’t Take You With Me.

Paris METRO: Journey of life

Evocative, emotive, beautifully (and naturally) composed, the images in this exhibition are utterly entrancing and perfectly set within an environment accented by Satus. Absolutely not to be missed.

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