A nightingale song to prims in Second Life

Ribong Gallery Artspace: Bleu Oleander – A Nightingale Sang

Currently open at Artspace 3042, a part of the Ribong art hub curated by San (Santoshima), is A Nightingale Sang by Bleu (Bleu Oleander), a visually engaging celebration of the magic of working with prims in Second Life.

The piece takes its title from the British romantic song A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (lyrics by Eric Maschwitz and music by Manning Sherwin), published in 1940; specifically the opening to lines of what has become the more traditional rendition of the song (Maschwitz actually wrote an initial opening verse that tends to be dropped from the majority of recordings):

That certain night, the night we met
There was magic abroad in the air.
Ribong Gallery Artspace: Bleu Oleander – A Nightingale Sang

However, rather than referencing the love between two people, the lyrics here are used to underline that moment when human imagination and expression meet the creative promise and digital beauty of the humble prim, a moment when the most magical of relationships can begin.

In this age of external mesh tools, LODs, uploads and the need to familiarise oneself with dozens of workflows and practices in order to create something within the digital void, it is easy to forget just how powerful and rich Second Life’s in-built tools and capabilities are in their ability to give all of us the ability to build and create.

Ribong Gallery Artspace: Bleu Oleander – A Nightingale Sang

Prims don’t need complex workflows or multiple different applications; everything needed to create something captivating lies right here within the viewer, or, thanks to things like texture and script libraries, just a few clicks of the mouse away. And the skills to bring it all together can be acquired whilst remaining within Second Life, rather than far away within the near-isolation of this or that graphics tool.

From the landing point A Nightingale Sang takes visitors on a journey through a darkened space in which reside the most marvellous sculptures created and animated by Bleu. In both 2D and 3D, all of them are constructed by bringing prims together and then using scripts, textures, and the tools of the viewer – notably, for the visitor, the use of Advanced Lighting Model (Preferences → Graphics → make sure Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) is checked – this will also enable projected lighting without the need to keep Shadows enabled) – to create a richly visual installation.

Ribong Gallery Artspace: Bleu Oleander – A Nightingale Sang

Equally spaced through out the rising and falling levels of the space, the pieces are perfectly positioned so that each can be appreciated in turn – again, I’d advise using the local environment settings (World → Environment → Use Shared Environment). Also, as you explore, don’t forget to look up as well as around.

These pieces are simple yet complex living demonstrations of how we can use the tools before us to bring life to what might initially look to be little more than simple shapes to create something unique; of how once we have learn to rez and glue, an entire world of potential lies within our grasp, a world we can explore alone or with friends and in which the limits as to how far we go are defined by how far we want to go.

Ribong Gallery Artspace: Bleu Oleander – A Nightingale Sang

At the top of the installation can be found a little chapel, on the “alter” of which sit those basic shapes available within the Build floater that open the door to universe of creativity. Because, as someone once said: it all starts with a cube.

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A Critter Celebration in Second Life

LeLoo’s World – A Critter Celebration, July 2022

It’s been a year since my last visit to LeLoo’s World, a passage of time that would have naturally made it a destination for a return visit given I have tended to drop in once a year over the last couple of years. However, Shawn Shakespeare showed me a couple of pictures that meant I would have been hopping over as soon as I could.

For the summer of ’22, LeLoo (LeLooUlf) presents a setting she’s called a Critter Celebration, and which brings together wildlife from around the world (and some rather different critters!) in a series of settings carrying environments design to reflect the animals found within them, all linked together by a series of paths and tracks.

LeLoo’s World – A Critter Celebration, July 2022

The entire setting has the look and feel of an animal conservation centre and, needless to say, the opportunities for photography are rich throughout; as is, in theory, the opportunity for a little fun education, as the About Land description notes:

This summer, LeLoo’s World is celebrating the beauty and wonder of nature’s creatures. So put on those walking shoes, set the mindset dial to “happy!” and pick up your copy of the Critter Info HUD for some fun and interesting facts on various animals you will see here. All are welcome to this PG event!
LeLoo’s World – A Critter Celebration, July 2022

The HUD is offered (a little persistently!) on a visitor’s arrival at the landing point. The latter is laid out as something of a small commercial hub such as might be found at the entrance at a conservation park. The HUD, as per the setting’s description, is designed to offer up facts about the animals that can be found within the setting – although I’ll admit for some reason it didn’t want to work for either myself or my Alt.

Directly in front of the landing point is a path marked by a green arrow pointing the way under a rocky arch. However, before taking that, there are stepping stones winding off to the right, passing behind the market stalls that should be followed, lest it otherwise be missed. It offers the way to a little touch of North America, where brown bears, grizzlies and deer are enjoying the rocks and water as eagles circle overhead. Benches and chairs here offer seating for those wishing to stay awhile.

LeLoo’s World – A Critter Celebration, July 2022

Through the rocky arch is a further expression of North America, this a more wooded environment that is home to more bears and deer, together with foxes, raccoons and opossum Beyond this is a fun area for dog lovers; a place where cuddly little critters can also be found, tucked into their own corner and enjoying one another’s company.

From here visitors pass into Africa, and the Serengeti, a place where giraffe, elephants and zebra roam, and hippos and crocs cool themselves in the water. Visitors can rest up here at a safari camp, and it is worth taking your time to mouse-over some of the animals. Doing so will reveal poses with some of them for photography; a trend continues as the path passes on through to the jungles of India, watched over by tigers and where African elephants substitute for SL’s lack of Asian elephants.

LeLoo’s World – A Critter Celebration, July 2022

Onwards, visitors enter the world of the Far East, with SL’s traditional merging of China and Japan: a rich bamboo forest where panda can be found in family groups and beyond which can be found a house with more of a Japanese look and feel, a place where water and Zen gardens are mixed to present a haven for birds and not a few (Norwegian?) forest cats.

Covering half a region and located up in the air to limit the impact of thing like the water plane interfering with viewer performance, with  – as noted – multiple opportunities for photography – A Critter Celebration at LeLoo’s World is a fun, easy-going visit that is highly enjoyable environment in which to spend time.

LeLoo’s World – A Critter Celebration, July 2022

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Art at the Airport in Second Life

Gateway Airport Terminal, July 2022: Rage Darkstone and Nils Urqhart

Erik Mondrian pointed me towards Gateway International Airport on the Mainland continent of Sansara – not, as might be suspected, because I’m a sometimes SL aviator, but because it is the setting for a newly-opened art exhibition featuring 2D and 3D artists.

Located in the airport’s gallery, a spacious setting with a large main floor and suspended walkways around it, the untitled exhibition features Zia Branner and Nils Urqhart presenting 2D art works, with Terra Merhyem and Rage Darkstone offering 3D pieces. The gallery itself is spacious.

Gateway Airport Terminal, July 2022: Zia Branner

The 2D art – more of Nil’s superb landscape photography from the physical world and Zia’s ever-engaging abstract art, together with a series of stunning floral pieces – is neatly spaces and framed around the outer wall spaces on the main level and catwalks and on some of the inner supporting walls. Each piece is ideally sized and positioned for individual viewing.The 3D pieces have been placed throughout the main floor and along the catwalks so that they stand both as individual pieces and both frame and have elements of the 2D works as backdrops. As might be expected given these pieces are by Terra and Rage, the 3D works are instantly attractive and engaging, with some static and others mobile, colours scintillating and samples twisting and turning as if alive.

Gateway Airport Terminal, July 2022: Terra Merhyem and Zia Branner

With still-life elements celebrating dance and motion, Rage’s selection of pieces presents a richly flowing narrative, their colours and tones perfectly off-setting the blue tint of Nils’ winter landscapes. Across the hall, Terra’s vibrant and animated pieces are grouped as a series of individual collections of mobile sculptures which also flow one to the next, while their colours and motion offer a transitioning reflection of the sense of life within Zia’s art. Also to be found within Terra’s pieces are books of her art, ready to be enjoyed by visitors.

To be fully and properly appreciated, this is an exhibition that must be seen with the Advanced Lighting Model mode enabled in the viewer (Preferences → Graphics make sure Advanced Lighting Model is checked), and make sure you are using the local shared environment. Also, as a last point, keep an eye out for the exhibition gift!

Gateway Airport Terminal, July 2022: Nils Urqhart

Richly contrasting, finely balanced and very visual and appealing, a superb exhibition of work by four very talented artists.

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A photogenic Dukedom in Second Life

Dukedom, June 2022 – click any image for full size

As regulars to my Exploring series may know, Busta (BadboyHi) is a region designer whose work I enjoy, and I recently had the opportunity – courtesy of an LM passed to me by Shawn Shakespeare – to visit a design he has put together for Kn0cks Shad0ws (Whozyer Daddy) and his Full region, Dukedom.

Designed primarily for photography, the region is divided north-to-south by the presence of an elevated rail line, making this a setting very much of two parts. To the west, and occupying the majority of the region, are wild lands, a place of tall trees, waterfalls, streams and touches of the bayou along the west coast. Along this shore are wooden cabins, shacks and an old houseboat that mix their presence with mangroves, wetlands and a rocky shoreline to suggest a little community eking out a living by finishing – something added to by a number of fishing boats, one of which has seen much better days…

Dukedom, June 2022

This is a place where wildlife abounds. gulls wheel and turn overhead, ibis stalk the mouths of the streams emptying into the coastal areas, alligators bask in the  dirt of the local tracks and ignore the fact potentially tasty seals are not that far away, also basking themselves out of the water; deer watch more domesticated animals – cattle, goats, and geese; peacocks strut their stuff, bids sing in the trees and more. Ways around the coast and through the hunched uplands behind it are marked by rough trails, boardwalks, tree-trunk bridges that span the streams and hard-packed earth paths and steps.

Sitting between the streams and set a little back from the waterfront lies a roughshod deck extending outward over rocky ground from where a glass-fronted cabin sits. At first looking to be a cosy retreat, closer examination with reveal it to be something of an apothecary-come-magic store; a place well in keeping with the bayou vibes exuded by the lands below. Around it are offered several places to sit, including a welcoming cuddle sofa.

Dukedom, June 2022

The sofa and benches around the cabin are a just a handful of all the places people can find to sit and pass the time; places that include swings watched over by baby chimps, and the carving of a giant hand holding a blanket in its palm which begs the question, was it carved over the bank of the stream against which it sits, or has come to reside there after the fact. Back down as the waterside sits a comfortable deck ideal for a small group, sitting alongside a makeshift watchtower.

Further back among the trees awaits more to be found among the trails; with two further cabins being chief among the sights. Each is comfortably furnished and offer welcomes to those passing, and both sit close to where the elevated train line cuts across the region and, beyond it, the purely urban setting.

Dukedom, June 2022

Occupying a little over one third of the region, this urban area sits as a busy, if a little run down, corner of a much larger town. The area under the elevate tracks looks to be undergoing repair / renewal, lots of people are out and about on the streets, a building is being heavily refurbished / rebuilt, cars are everywhere, and a military helicopter is clattering around overhead.

The latter might have been called by the local law enforcement as they attend a rather grisly homicide that has been committed on some waste ground to one side of the town. It’s a scene that – as is the way of things – has drawn a crowd of its own, some of whom are more interested in catching the situation on film and selfie, rather than offering respect for the life lost. But not everyone is drawn to the tragedy; at the back of the waste ground, a skateboarding area has been set-up and is of much more interest to local teens – although perhaps that is also a reflection on modern-day human nature and indifference…

Dukedom, June 2022

Throughout the region there as many points where photography is possible, although sadly, group membership is closed, so no props rezzing available. As an adult-rated region, there are apparently some adult-rated items spotted around – but nothing too obvious that I noticed from my ramblings through the wilds and along the streets.

I would also say that as a Full region with both the private island additional land capacity and with a lot of mesh and textures, Dukedom can hit some people’s performance, so be prepared to make some adjustments to your viewer if required. But that aside, Dukedom has a lot to commend itself; just take your time when visiting – and try not to disturb the sleeping bunny!

Dukedom, June 2022

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Artsville: a new arts venture in Second Life

Artsville, June 2022

Artsville is the name given to a new collaborative arts hub in Second Life, which opened over the weekend of June 24th through 26th with a trio of 2D art exhibitions. The hub is the work of Vally Lavender-Prodigy (Valium Lavender), who provides the space for the hub on her ValiumSL region; Frank Atisso, who has closed his own Art Korner to focus on curating Artsville, with the overall design and layout of the hub by Megan Prumier.

In the latter regard, Megan has produced an engaging, modern setting for the hub in the form of artificial island-platforms sitting directly above the surrounding water, each with its own features and attractions and linked one to another by flat glass walkways.

Set under a twilight sky that gives the impression the Sun has not long since set, these stucco-finished platforms and the buildings to be found on some of them has an understated, slightly sci-fi presence, edges limned in white strips and low lamps periodically spaces around edges – this is very much a place where Advanced Lighting Model is needed (Preferences → Graphics → make sure ALM is checked and disable Shadows if required) to appreciate the point lighting.

Artsville, June 2022

Between them, the two largest of these island-platforms present, respectively, the landing point, offering a minimalist touch of horticulture in the form of box hedges and junipers given a topiary twist, and the island housing the three 2D gallery spaces, of which more in a moment.

Four glass walkways reach outward along the cardinal edges of the landing point, each marked by a great arch. Beside offering the way to the 2D galleries, these walkways respectively lead to: a small island with the promise of Coming Soon; the centre’s café and presentations centre; and a further sets of island platforms of various sizes, each featuring 3D at by Mistero Hifeng.

Artsville, June 2022: Maloe Vansant – Freaking Beauties

Whether the 3D art areas represent a single, permanent display or will feature other 3D artists over time, I’m not actually sure. However, they offer a sense of space and peace as they all eventually leading the way south and east to where an impressive event space has been placed out by Megan, with one of the routes to it leading through an impressive sculpture tunnel constructed by Megan.

The 2D galleries are arranged on three sides of a platform which almost mirrors the landing platform, with the exception that the glass-over-the-water area forms the events space for exhibition openings. For its first exhibitions, The galleries are simply numbered 1 through 3, and for Artsville’s opening, they bring us exhibitions by Maloe Vansant, presenting Freaking Beauties; in Gallery 1; Hayley Dixon’s Just a Little in Gallery 2; and in Gallery 3, When You Open A Door, by Scylla Rhiadra.

Maloe’s Freaking Beauties is the most visually striking of the three, presenting a series of avatar studies offered in powerful, vibrant colours and strong contrasts; the magic of post-processing giving them a captivating and eye-popping edge, with a richness of tone and focus to draw the eye into each of them.

Artsville, June 2022: Hayley Dixon – Just A Little

With Just A Little, Hayley Dixon offers a short introduction. In it, she notes how, by adding just a little colour and / or light into an image, it is possible to completely transform it.

This is thoroughly demonstrated within the 10 images she presents, all of which are presented in black-and-white or monochrome tones, and which use light to great effect. Some make use of light in the most minimalistic of ways, drawing the eye into them, causing us to almost adopt a tight focus on the lines before slowly pulling back in the manner of a cinematographer so that the complete scene and its narrative might become clear (such as with pause); others intentionally contrast the use of light and dark in an almost yin/yang balance to present their mood and story.

Just A Door is another thought-provoking series by Scylla Rhiadra. Like Hayley’s, it comes with an introduction. However, I would urge visitors not to read it directly – or at least, to not read beyond the first question and the two sentences that follow it.

Artsville, June 2022: Scylla Rhiadra – Just A Door

This is because – for me – framing the exhibition through the supplied exposition beforehand risks diminishing the power and layering of metaphor waiting to be peeled back within each of the ten images and their accompanying texts – all of which combine to form a rich treatise on love, relationships, attitudes, the unlocking (or blocking) of potential; the richness of allowing the imagination to flower and bloom (and the potential emptiness of turning it aside). It is a layering that deserves to be examined free from the preconceptions which might result from reading such notes in advance, so as to allow their narrative richness of each piece to percolate freely through our subconscious thinking and challenge us in the most subtle of ways.

Which is not to say Scylla’s exploration of her work should be ignored; it does provide additional depth and underpins the exhibition as a whole. But in coming to it last (which, fortunately is easy to do given it is tucked between the entrances to the gallery, and so can be missed when initially entering), we allow her words to underscore our own thinking on, and reaction to, the individual pieces, rather than having her words shape that thinking.

Artsville, June 2022: Scylla Rhiadra – Just A Door

Artsville is an engaging new addition to the SL arts scene, and I look forward to further exhibitions there. I do, however, have one small critique: the gallery spaces could benefit from lighter interior finishes than was the case at the time of my visit; the tomb-like darkness left me squinting to make out details of some images, and then scrambling around in inventory for an alternate EEP by which to view the art (the images of the exhibitions shown here have all be had their contrast altered via post-processing to better present them); a lighter finish to the interiors would eliminate this kind of distraction.

Outside of that, all three exhibitions form engaging displays of art well worth visiting, with Artsville as a whole equally engaging in its general presentation.

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Bella’s Nocturne in Second Life

Bella’s Nocturne, June 2022 – click any image for full size

BellaSwan Blackheart is the creative mind behind Bella’s Lullaby, a place I’ve frequently visited and written about down the years; so when Tara (TaraLiaMe) forwarded to me the Landmark of another of Bella’s creations in May, I knew I had to take a look – although admittedly, it’s taken me a while to get to see it and to write about it.

Occupying a 4096 sq m parcel on a Full region, Bella’s Nocturne is a sky build, offering a setting which presents a corner of what might be a little town somewhere in Europe (going on the general aesthetic of the buildings, at least). The Landing Point sits within an enclosed square, what is clearly a communal space in which can be found a fountain, places to sit and enjoy ice cream and appreciate music.

Bella’s Nocturne, June 2022

It is the piano within this square that perhaps offers the best clue to a definition for the setting.

An instrumental composition of a pensive, dreamy mood, especially one for the piano.

For this is indeed a dreamy setting; a place caught under the cloud-reflected light of a lowering Sun (thus removing it somewhat from the other definitions for nocturne), giving it a n air of calm.

Bella’s Nocturne, June 2022

A narrow alley points away from the square to lead to a broader road sitting at right angles to the alley, but equally caught between tall shops and houses. Walking from alley to street, it is not hard to imagine the melodies of the piano flowing gracefully off the walls of the buildings and over the lengthening shadows, spreading a sense of peace along alley and street, giving cause for cats to snooze on benches and birds to join in with the music as they sing to the closing of the day.

That the buildings are façades makes no difference here; it is the little details along the the street, down the alley and around the square that are important; they offer a sense of place and – more importantly – plenty of opportunities for the photographer. To assist in the latter, the parcel has open rezzing for visitor to allow for props; but (and as I generally remind people) please be sure to pick up you items when you are done!

Bella’s Nocturne, June 2022

At the far end of the street stands a DJ’s twin deck, suggesting a street party might be in the offing, while tucked into a corner of the square sits a little gate, the sign fixed to it giving away the secret that lies beyond: a quiet retreat of a wild garden, a place where bees are encouraged amongst the richness of flowers, and a shaded couch awaits those seeking retreat.

Small without feeling crowded; rich in detail without feeling overloaded and designed to be enjoyed with draw distance dropped down, Bella Nocturne is a cosy, comfortable visit.

Bella’s Nocturne, June 2022

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