Category Archives: Reviews

Another World in Second Life

Another World is the title of a full region installation by Solkide Auer. It is described (literally) as, “a flight in a pure geometric ambience where shapes and colours try to give a momentary lapse of relaxation. Nothing else than be at peace with yourself” – although I’m pretty sure “lapse” should actually read “period”, and I blame Google translate for the error, not Solkide.

Open through until the end of June, this is an intriguing piece – region windlight (or midnight) is recommended, and you will be to have Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) enabled in your viewer (Preferences > Graphics) to appreciate the build. Projected lights are used extensively throughout the build, so if you leave ALM off, all you’re going to see is a lot of grey.  Shadows are not required to see projected lights, so you don’t have to enable them (reducing any performance hit); however, if you can, the nature of some of the shapes in the build means than the play of light across them gain added depth.

As the description states, this is a world of geometric shapes – spheres, hexagrams, hollowed spheres, squares, circles, straight lines, sine curves – all brought together in a landscape which takes on many different forms as you travel through it. Parts of the lower section resemble a gigantic roller coaster, the sine curves twisting and rolling through and around the other shapes as coloured light play across them. Elsewhere, it might be taken to be a giant’s building set, the larger shapes such as the hexagrams apparently made up of girder-like sections somehow locked together; in other places it has the look of a great machine, with elements coruscating and / or pulsing with colour.

There are a number of ways to appreciate the installation, and I recommend that you try as many and yo can. First and foremost, there is the aircar ride, available from the landing point. I suggest riding this in Mouselook if you can. There is also a series of teleport doors available, which will deliver you to different points and levels in the build, presenting the chance to see it from different aspects.

Camming also offers the opportunity to see this build and the lighting from angles neither of the other two options can offer, so if you’re practiced with ALT-camming, I recommend you have a go. Better yet, if you have a gamepad, joystick or Space Navigator, flycamming is highly recommended.

Whichever you opt for, in whatever order – make sure you have the music stream enabled. The occasional advert can be a little jarring, but the music really does set the mood for this installation.

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Ani and Haya at Serena Imagine in Second Life

Now on display through to the end of the month at the Serena Imagine Arts Centre are exhibitions by Anibrm Jung and Hayael Bracula, two artists I’ve previously featured in these pages, and who between them have two unique perspectives on the worlds around us.

Anibrm Jung specialises in physical world photography, focusing on nature. Many of her images captured from her own garden, and all of them recorded using only her Nikon D60 camera and natural light. Everything is framed directly through the viewfinder, and no cropping nor image manipulation is used after the fact. In this way, we are able to see each picture exactly as she did when taking it, allowing us to share her own sense of closeness with her subjects.

The result is stunning images, rich is substance and detail; vibrant demonstrations of the art of working with nature, often at the macro level, skilfully utilising depth of field or soft focus to marvellous effect to produce truly stunning images.

In the north-west corner of Serena Arts, Ani is exhibiting over 20 of her images ranging from fabulous shots of the coast, through beautiful captures of nature, to the aforementioned pictures from her garden, many of which feature studies of cats and her macro lens work – which really is extraordinary. These are images which would grace any home, either in Second Life or the physical world, and all are available to buy. I challenge anyone not to be captivated by her work, particularly when it comes to the likes of aKELEI or Over the Moon! – the latter of which beautifully captures a Blood Moon.

Sitting between Ani’s exhibition and the region’s landing point is Heaven, a substantial exhibition of work by Hayael Bracula, which feature more than 40 pieces of work.

Haya focuses on images captured within Second Life, with a particular  – but by no means exclusive – slant towards avatar studies. Using a range of approaches to her work, coupled with a skilled application of post-processing, Haya’s work always draws the eye into it. There is a deep well of detail to be found in her studies, revealing much about mood, thoughts and emotions, both with her subjects and ourselves. These are, in many cases, pieces which are more about encompassing a statement than offering a narrative, and they do so extremely powerfully.

Scattered among the avatar studies is the occasional landscape or scene (one of which is actually repeated in the exhibition). These again reflect Haya’s approach to her work, setting a tone and style that is unique to each so that – in contrast to the more numerous avatar studies – do perhaps suggest a narrative to us.

Both Ani and Haya will be on display at Serena Imagine Arts Centre through until the end of May, 2017, and if you haven’t already done so, a visit is recommended.

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Costa Blanco in Second Life

Costa Blanco, Costa Blanco; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Costa Blanco – click any image for full size

Caitlyn and I first visited Costa Blanco in January 2017, but I didn’t get to blog about it at the time, so a re-visit seemed in order.

Designed by Gabrian Lascelles (Gothicgaylord), the region is described as “situated in the southernmost province of Sweden, and is connected by weather and theme with Bretagne in France.” It’s an interesting description, and the general environment for the region has much of a feel of being suited to either southern Sweden or Bretagne (or even here in the UK!). However, the design of the region throws in multiple elements – a Mediterranean style villa by the landing point, for example – such that Costa Blanco has an eclectic feel to it which makes exploring interesting and offers many opportunities for photography.

Costa Blanco, Costa Blanco; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Costa Blanco

The aforementioned landing point is in the north-west part of the region, directly outside of the villa. Grapes are growing on the vine here, as a cobbled drive leads down the slope of a low hill to where a scattering of farm outhouses and barns sit. Some of these have clearly seen better days, as their boarded windows and doorways can attest, while the tractors sitting in and around them also speak of age and hard-working lives. Given the way the hay is baled, it would seem this is still a working farm, but the overall impression is that the focus is now more on providing stables for horses, than working the land.

Costa Blanco, Costa Blanco; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Costa Blanco

Dirt tracks run around and through the farm, offering multiple choices for wandering. To the south, a single track runs along a finger of land pointing eastwards. At the end of this sits another old outhouse in which sits a little display of photographs captured in the physical world. This tumbledown galley shares the headland with an old barn and a cosy little cove, around which places to sit and snuggle can be found, some of many to be found throughout the region.

A sandy beach sweeps  down the eastern shoreline of the land from the north, and out onto the slender headland, giving the impression that this is a stretch of coastline facing east, looking out to where a smaller island sits. Reached via a little motor boat available from a beach-side pier, this rocky island offers a little retreat, complete with summer-house,  and a look-out point in the form of the disintegrating wreck of a boat made fast against the rocks. As the motor boat poofs when you leave it, getting back the mainland appears to be a case of flying or of teleporting back to the landing point.

Costa Blanco, Costa Blanco; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Costa Blanco

Given the number of cuddle spots here – we particularly enjoyed the secluded hot spa – Costa Blanco is ideal for romantics. Those seeking more active pursuits can ride the region’s horses while photographers can have a field day with the setting as a whole. There is something about the air of age and general shabbiness present in the buildings, coupled with the natural unkempt nature of the trees, grass and bushes which make Costa Blanco an eye-catching visit.

Costa Blanco, Costa Blanco; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Costa Blanco

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Black and White Women in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Black and White Women

Now open at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is Black and White Women, and exhibition of photography by Christower Dae.

“Chris likes to explore, experiment, is curious and loves making pictures. Photography for Chris is immortalizing avatars in ambiguous attitudes,” Dido states in the liner notes for the exhibition. “His dedication to the avatar portraits, to the capture of those expressions that a skin can offer by giving (according to many people) a soul to the avatar and its personality begins.”

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Black and White Women

The result is a series of stunning avatar portraits presented in black and white, focusing on the female face. Presented in the familiar large format for Nitroglobus. However, these are no ordinary portraits. Each offers a considered, unique moment in time captured in the life of each subject; that all are presented in black and white services to heighten the beauty within it.

Each of the images is perfectly framed to offer a story; what that story might be is left entirely up to us: there are no visual clues within the pictures themselves; those which do offer any background do so in soft focus, ensuring attention remains on the face before us. Shown in close up, every detail of each face is presented to us: the brush of freckles across a cheek, the reflection of light within an eye, the spread of eyelashes, the fullness of lip – all are beautifully captured and rendered.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Black and White Women

I’ve seen many images of avatars in Second Life, both through exhibitions and via Flickr, but Black and White Women is one of the more remarkable sets of such studies I’ve seen. The natural cast to each is – to repeat myself – genuinely unique. This is an eye-catching exhibition, one I recommend visiting.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Black and White Women

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