Looker and Sophie at Basilique in Second Life

Basilique: Sophie Marie Sinclair (Perpetua1010)

Recently opened at Niccoli Sweetwater’s Basilique region is a joint exhibition of art organised by the Focus team, and featuring the work of Looker Lumet and Sophie Marie Sinclair (Perpetua1010), both of whom are artists new to my eyes. This is something of a “split level” exhibition of work,  the core being located at Basilique’s skyborne exhibition and event space, Palazzo di Basilique, with some of Looker’s work also appearing at the ground level Galleria rotunda.

Located on the Lago di Garda terrace at the rear of Palazzo di Basilique, Sophie Marie Sinclair presents Yellow Expressions, a portfolio of her physical world art with – as might be expected from the title – something of a yellow theme running through them.

Basilique: Sophie Marie Sinclair (Perpetua1010)

Sophie’s background is perhaps as fascinating as her art. A graduate of the Academy of fine Arts Vienna, she is also by turn also a cartoonist, having had a a particular focus on political satire, an author and a ghost writer for certain well-known comedians. As a painter, she is an experimentalist in terms of materials she uses, but has a leaning towards plaster, glue, terracotta, stones, bones, ash, charcoal, and the use of natural pigments.

Sophie describes her artistic focus as being on the nude body and also abstract art, and the former is certainly demonstrated in Yellow Expressions, which features 10 studies of the male and female form, most of which appear to be pen or charcoal drawing finished in a water or ink wash to provide the natural yellow tone within them, with one piece (Mind N) offering the suggestion of a more oil-like and textured / layered finish that also involves richer hues.

All ten pieces are superbly rendered, their finish highly suggestive of being produced on porous plaster rather than canvas, something that gives them a highly tactile sense, whilst their neo-classical styling presents them as pieces that would fit any home environment admirably.

Basilique: Looker Lumet

Straddling the upper terrace at the front of Palazzo di Basilique and the ground-level Galleria rotunda, Looker Lumet offers a selection of his Second Life landscape photography (although he also produces avatar studies and portraits as well), with 12 pieces on the terrace, eight of which are also offered within the Galleria. I’m not entirely sure of the reason for this, although I assume it is to allow visitors to Basilique itself to view an art display without them necessarily being aware of the exhibitions up at Palazzo di Basilique.

Either way, Looker’s landscape work is rich in atmosphere, with the pieces offered in this selection perhaps leaning more towards darker tones and hues, some of which are fitting, given the theme (such as with The Graveyard in the Forest), whilst with others it offers a genuine and fitting depth of broodiness that emphasises Nature’s changing moods or the overall tone of the piece in question (see Abandoned and Seasight).

Which is not to say this is a “heavy” exhibition in terms of colour and tone: there are several brighter pieces that stand as memories of happy times on the beach or the splendour of a day’s sailing, all of which stands as an engaging exhibition.

Basilique: Looker Lumet

I gather both Sophie’s and looker’s work will remain at Basilique through until mid-October.

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Basilique is rated Adult

Wandering Poughkeepsie in Second Life

Poughkeepsie, September 2020 – click any image for full size

Poughkeepsie is a parcel covering just under a quarter of a Full region which has the bonus LI capacity applied, that was recently highlighted in the Destination Guide, prompting me to hop over and take a look.

Held and in part designed by Peresphone Kore (LeriaDraven) – Loly Hallison performed a lot of the general landscaping -, the parcel has an interesting description and greeting, reading in turn (via About Land and a sign post at the landing point):

An amazingly whimsical photography sim with plenty to see and do. From date night, chilling by the fire, relaxing in the library, or taking on a game in the arcade (yes the games really work!) This is all my own creation and I’m super excited for this!
Warning. You are about to enter someone else’s dream.
Poughkeepsie, September 2020

Both the description and the sign present a huge promise, and visually, the parcel does deliver on this promise. Located in the north-west of the region, it offers a north-facing beach cupped between a curtain wall of rock that runs diagonally across the back of the parcel from east to south-west, and an upland area. The curtain of cliffs neatly separates Poughkeepsie, with the western table plateau overlooking the north beach and the lowlands running back from it to the feet of the cliffs.

Topped to a large house, the rocky plateau falls directly to the sea to the west, but also hides a low-lying corner of the parcel in which sits a second house complete with a west-facing beach of its own, both screened by giant oaks. This house, and the one top the plateau appear open to the public, with the latter reached by curving stone steps rising from the landing point, the former by following a winding path that curls around the base of the rocky table. This second house, sitting within its screen of giant oaks has something of a Halloween feel in the grounds on its landward side, whilst the shingle beach on its waterside offers the opportunity for a game of chess.

Poughkeepsie, September 2020

Each of the houses is fully furnished, offering multiple rooms to explore, while the house on the plateau additionally offers a rock-and-wood terrace / deck for outdoor seating and an outbuilding that looks like a greenhouse converted for use as a little café. A barn and field, home to cattle and sheep may at first give the impression this is a working farm. However, given the expansive nature of the house, and the small number of animals, it’s hard not to wonder if the latter are more a hobby for the owners, rather than a working source of income.

The lowlands of the parcel offer their own attractions. There’s the sandy, north-side beach, with multiple places to sit and a view of an off-shore (and off-region, although it doesn’t appear to be phantom / without physics) fairy-tale castle. On the grass behind the beach is a little open market area offering fresh fruit and veg, with a seating area ranged before it, complete with cakes, toffee apples and drinks available to visitors. It again suggests that maybe the house up on the plateau is might be a working farm – but equally, it also stands as a vignette on its own.

Poughkeepsie, September 2020

Also to be found in the lowlands are ruins, a folly and the unexpected – an old British red telephone box – as well a sculptures and a fair amount of local wild life. There’s even a touch of Tolkien waiting to be found, although saying Mellon before it as instructed by the runes didn’t result in the expected (and by “saying Mellon” I do mean touching it to see if anything happened, given its scripted nature).

Photogenic, rich in detail and with much to see, Poughkeepsie makes for a rewarding visit – but I say so with a caveat: a visit does come with something of a performance hit. How much of this is down to what is in the parcel itself, and how much is down to what’s in the region as a whole, is hard to say (some of the sculptie giant oaks in the parcel do have high render costs). I found my system peaked a 7 fps with shadows enabled at a moderate draw distance, mostly hovering at 4-5 fps. Disabling shadows raised this to the mid-teens., although even this could drop into single-digits – so be prepared to make adjustments if you’re on  a mid-range system and are used to having things like shadows on all the time.

Poughkeepsie, September 2020

Nevertheless, Poughkeepsie offers a rewarding visit for those willing to make any necessary adjustments.

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All4Art at IMAGO Land in Second Life

All4Art, IMAGO Land, September 2020: Mareea Farrasco

Recently renewed and reformed, the All4Art Project, managed by Carelyna Resident, opened its latest ensemble exhibition at IMAGO Land, on September 17th, 2020. It features the work of Sandi Benelli, Leonorah Beverly, Carey Chenault, Carisa Franizzi, Rose Hanry, Black Rose and Carelyna, together with Mareea Farrasco, who is also providing the setting for the exhibition on her IMAGO Land.

Described as being attached Mareea’s IMAGO Galleries, IMAGO Land is described as “an open area for visitors who love to explore or simply relax and for landscape photographers. Conceived as small islands, the different spots have different destinations: a park, a fishers village, a vacation resort, a beach, a country home with its yard, a bar and a dance floor, etc. As such, the location is perfect for the art on display, given the emphasis throughout on natural and natural – particularly coastal – settings.

All4Art Project, IMAGO Land, September 2020: Carey Chenault

The landing point for the exhibition sits within what might be called the social / events area of this half-region design, located on one of the larger islands in the the group that includes the dance floor and an old barn converted into a simple bar area. From here, three wooden board walks offer a choice of routes around the rest of the setting – which you take is entirely up to you, as the art is spread out around the various islands awaiting discovery as one explores.

Most of the artists participating in the exhibition are well known in these pages, and seeing them all together offers a delightfully complementary and also contrasting selection of images. Each artist has provided 5 images for the exhibition with some presenting their work on both sides of each canvas, simply because the layout of the island means their work can be seen / approached from either side.

All4Art Project, September 2020: Carisa Franizzi

With the exception of Black Rose, who provides a set of stunning original paintings, all of the images presented have been captured in Second Life. With a similar exception of Carisa Franizzi, who offers five black and white images that can quite capture the eye, all are presented in colour, from the soft tones of images post-processed to give a watercolour look and feel, to the vibrant hues and tones of Autumn and and bright hues of summer cast through an oil painting like finish.

Together, all of the images presented through this exhibition help remind us that beyond the walls of self-isolation and the constraints of social distancing and limited travel opportunities, there is still a rich and vibrant world around us. A world, one might be tempted to say, that is doing rather well because of our enforced absence – but will nevertheless be waiting to greet our return when times are such that we can once again roam freely and appreciate all of nature’s delights.  Further, many of the places presented in these images remind us, however subliminally, that humans and nature can get along side-by-side.

All4Art Project: September 2020: Black Rose

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The penguins of Boulder, in Second Life

Boulder, September 2020 – click any image for full size

Note: membership of the [valium] group is required to access this region – see below for why.

We first visited Boulder, the latest region to be opened by Vally Lavender (Valium Lavender) back at the time of its opening at the end of July  2020.  At the time, I admit I held off on writing about it, as both Caitlyn and I found the region somewhat heavy-going – which can often be the case with terry Fotherington’s regions designs (as Boulder is) when heavily populated by avatars. As such, I had intended to drop back in August, once the initial rush of a new region opening had passed and Boulder would be quieter. But things bring what they have been, I’ve only just managed to make good on that plan, so my apologies to Vally for only now getting around to re-visiting and writing about Boulder.

Boulder, September 2020

Since that first visit, summer has come to the region – which might seem odd to those of us in northern latitudes, where we’re now entering the autumn period. However, Boulder is inspired by Boulders Beach, Simon’s Town, South Africa, sitting in the southern hemisphere, and which is enjoying its spring season; so presenting the region in a summer setting makes perfect sense.

Boulders Beach is most famous for being the location of a penguin colony, the land-based and endangered species Spheniscus demersus, the African Penguin (also called the Cape Penguin or South African Penguin). A part of the Table Mountain National Park, the Boulders Beach is also a focal point of operations for  SANCCOB, Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds. It is in support of SANCCOB’s work that Vally established Boulder: the money raised through people joining the [valium] group go directly towards adopting penguins in SANCCOB’s care, helping to provide the money needed for their welfare.

The two penguins from SABCCOB so far adopted with the assistance of donations at Boulder

The Penguin colony is a relatively “recent” addition to the Western Cape of South Africa: there is no record of any penguin colony in the region prior to 1983.  A series of sandy inlets sheltered by granite boulders from which it takes its name, the beach provides a perfectly sheltered environment for the penguin colony, which is also under the protection of the Cape Nature Conservation programme, due to their extremely endangered status.

Hunted on both land and sea by natural predators, it is thought that the Boulders Beach colony was made possible by the reduction in land-based predator threats thanks to the local human presence at Simon’s Town. In these respect, the arrival of colony has been mutually beneficial for both the penguins and townsfolk: the humans have kept land-based predators at bay, whilst the penguins have allowed the town to enjoy controlled interest as a tourist destination; and during the SARS-CoV-2 lockdown, the penguins even took to providing “street patrols” as shown in the SACCOB tweet, below!

Within Boulder, Second Life, both the beach and its penguins and a portion of Simon’s Town are nicely represented adjacent to one another. The landing point offers a map of the region, together with copies of the Certificates of Adoption for Molly and Dandy, the two South African Penguins thus far (at the time of writing) that have been adopted.

The beach offers open aspects looking north and west, the land to the south of it rising steeply in a series of rocky, palm-crowned cliffs and plateaus within which are nestled additional attractions – a shanty-style event space reached via stone steps that climb the cliffs, and beyond it a secluded plateau of trees and waterfalls. For the daring, there are places to quite literally hang out waiting to be found, both in terms of swing seats in the trees and a zip line; however, do be aware that the house on the highest plateau is a private residence. A high, tunnel-like arch of rock bores through these uplands to reach the south side of the region, and a ribbon of beach backed by sheer cliffs that runs westwards to join the main beach as it curls around what might be regarded as a low-lying headland.

Boulder, September 2020

The latter is home to the Boulder Art Gallery which, at the time of both of my visits, was featuring the art of two more renowned region designers: Fred Hamilton (frecoi) and Lotus Mastroianni.  The gallery is watched over by a penguin carved from stone, and overlooks a further stretch of sand occupied by penguins.

The waterfront town at Boulder is a take on the historic centre of the town – Simon’s Town ((Afrikaans: Simonstad) has been in existence for over 200 years, being located in a large bay of strategic importance (the South African Navy still has a major facility there). The historical centre offers a range of colonial-style buildings that could look as at home in Australia or America as they do in South Africa. Within Boulder, this colonial style of building is retained, if presented in a more colourful manner than might be the case with the actual Simon’s Town – not that this detracts from the region’s design.

Boulder, September 2020

I’m not sure if the waterfront itself is taken from a part of the actual Simon’s Town, which appears in photos to have a lot more of a modern look, with a large yacht marina and the aforementioned naval base. However, if it is more a flight f fancy than pulled from Simon’s Town, that doesn’t change the fact that it works perfectly within the region, ideally rounding it out.

During our first visit, I noted the region had at least two Firestorm parcel-level Windlight settings in place (day and night) which I found jarring when moving between them simply by stepping on / off the beach. I’ve no idea if this is still the case, as I’ve transitioned entire to EEP-based viewers. However, the performance hit is still there, and can make itself apparent for those on mid-range systems who like to go around SL with things like shadows enabled; so if you do, you might like to consider turning them off when exploring the region. But that said, neither the potential impact on viewer performance nor any Windlight changes that may occur should deter anyone from visiting. And if you haven’ already visited, I do recommend you consider joining the [valium] group to help support the work of SANCCOB and pay a visit.

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The art of Hermes Kondor in Second Life

Hermes Kondor: Reflections

In July I wrote about an exhibition of physical world photographs by Hermes Kondor, available at his own Kondor Photo Gallery (see: The beauty of steam machines in Second Life). However, that gallery is only a part of a complex that Hermes has put together, so I decided to hop back for a further look. The complex comprises several individual areas linked by a teleport disc system. These facilities comprise: a boulevard of rental studios for artists, an attractively Deco night club, and three galleries – including the photo gallery noted above – and a studio/gallery used to display Hermes’ SL avatar studies.

Hermes’ primary gallery is the Kondor Art Centre, which at the time of my visit was home to an exhibition entitled Reflections.

I invite you to join on a journey deep inside a magical lake, where we will find strange and beautiful creatures, lightbeings and gates to an alternative reality, deep inside a garden of fantasy and wonder.

– Hermes Kondor, describing his exhibit Reflections

Hermes Kondor: Reflections

This is a collection of 24 digital images that are truly remarkable in their content and depth. At their heart, each image features a mix of light, water (that of the magical lake) and and the reflections of the exhibit’s title. The majority of the pictures feature macro views of plant elements presented in such a way as to suggest they indeed from some alien – as in unknown – environment; alien, and yet somehow familiar.

Beautifully composited and and framed, these are images that are entirely captivating in their use of colour and light to create a rich sensation of living creatures of the imagination.

Hermes Kondor: Flowers

Plants and macro photography are also the subject of the images displayed within the Kondor Art Garden. Here, sixteen close-up images of garden flowers, each again perfectly framed through the aforementioned macro lens, again offering a considered balance of light and depth of field that makes for another quite entrancing collection of photographs, each one deeply attractive.

For those who enjoy images produced in Second Life can visit the Kondor Photo Studio. This is both a gallery and a studio, presenting a series of avatar studio by Hermes. Those interested in engaging him for a photo session should contact Hermes directly.

Hermes Kondor: Flowers

As noted above, I first came across Hermes work in his exhibition of photographs taken at the Electricity Museum, Lisbon, Portugal. I was immediately taken by those images, which can still be enjoyed at the Kondor Photo Gallery,  and admit to be utterly taken by her work in touring the rest of the gallery facilities he operates.

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Waka is rated Moderate

Bungenäs at Binemust in Second Life

Bungenäs, Binemust, September 2020

For her latest region design at Binemust, Biné Rodenberger offers visitors a most unusual taste of Sweden’s Gotland.

The largest of Sweden’s islands, and also a province, county, and municipality in its own right, Gotland is a fascination place, rich in culture and opportunities for exploration and discovery, offering many unique experiences (ever had a fish cooked using molten glass? If not, Gotland’s Restaurant Rot is the place to go).

Bungenäs, the inspiration for Biné’s design, lies at the opposite end of Gotland to Restaurant Rot, and is perhaps one of the island’s most unusual attractions. During the 20th century, the peninsula was home to a limestone quarry marked by a pair of unique kilns, and a large Swedish Army training zone, complete with bunkers, barracks, and open and wooded training areas. The quarry enjoyed a 50-year run from 1910 to 1960, while the rest of the 160-hectare site was used by the army through until 1963, when it was also abandoned.

The Bungenäs peninsula showing the former army training grounds in the foreground and and the limestone quarry, centre left. Credit: Gunnar Britse

For the 40 years that followed, the peninsula was closed to the public, until moves were made to re-open it as a park / tourist destination in the early 2000s. However, entrepreneur Joachim Kuylenstierna – whose father had served in the army and trained at Bungenäs – was concerned about  such a move would do to the unique aspects of the location: the ageing bunkers, the run-down buildings and deserted quarry facilities, and so on, if the peninsula was turned into some sort of tourist resort with all the modern trappings – an up-to-date hotel, a golf course and so on.

To ensure this did not happen, Kuylenstierna purchased the land himself and turned it into a most unusual development: a new community location without roads or houses. Instead much of the existing infrastructure of bunkers and buildings would be be converted into unique homes, with the bicycle the primary mode of transport. He employed a specialist architecture firm to convert the bunkers and other buildings into homes and community facilities, and to zone the remaining landscape into plots and parcels that clients could purchase and have homes built to their  own specification and fully in keeping with the existing structures and integrated into the natural environments found across the peninsula, and also carefully redeveloped by the architects in keeping with Kuylenstierna’s broad vision.

We don’t design and build buildings – we work with the landscape and the existing constructions to create structures that are formed after their surroundings. We’re not the least interested in creating “boxes” on the ground. Each plot of land is specifically laid-out and, in turn, has its very own zoning plan. The peninsula was also divided into different regions with their own defined type of nature, which required different types of structures.

– Lisa Ekström, Skälsö Arkitekter, developers of the Bungenäs site

Bungenäs, Binemust, September 2020

Within Binemust, Biné offers her own take on this unique setting, centred on the the old limestone quarry, its kilns and outbuildings. These sit within a low-lying part of the region, the quarry itself flooded, the kilns and outbuildings rising above its rocky ring. Cold sands border the east and south sides of these lowlands, merging with grasslands cut by a fast flowing stream. As the sands curve around to the south, so the land rises to form a bluff between sea and inland quarry, a number of aged bunker-like shells among the sand a grass, hinting at the old military preserve that once existed at Bungenäs.

To the west, a ribbon of sand continues along the coast, marked on one side by old piers that may have once served the lime factory, and a line of old beds that offer a most unusual sun loungers, Biné suggesting they might have been pulled from the old barracks, as is the case at the physical Bungenäs in Gotland.

Bungenäs, Binemust, September 2020

The north side of the region is marked by a highland plateau, rich in fir trees and crossed by tracks and paths, representing the more natural aspects of the Bungenäs peninsula and, perhaps, the 3 km tour trail that winds through the region – as noted, road vehicles are generally banned from the region to help preserve its natural state. These highlands are also split by the stream, which drops by way of a single waterfall to continue its way the the sea across the lowlands.

There are differences between Biné’s vision of Bungenäs as the real thing: houses at Binemust are represented more by modern structures than converted bunkers; there is a camp site at Binemust, although as Bine notes, there doesn’t appear to be anything like it within Bungenäs. She’s also added horses to roam alongside the sheep (which are a feature of Bungenäs).

Bungenäs, Binemust, September 2020

However, she’s also replicated some of the original’s cosier features: the mess hall at Bungenäs, for example has been converted into a café with a small suite of hotel rooms above it that visitors can book for short stays.  Bine offers the same through a small bed-and-breakfast house tucked away in the region. She also includes bicycles, which for the common mode of transport within the community. Finally, and in a touch of her own, she’s included a small selection from her personal art collection from SL, located in the limestone warehouse, which doubles as the region’s café.

All of which makes for an engaging and educational visit – be sure to look up Bungenäs on the interwebz for yourself when visiting.

Bungenäs, Binemust, September 2020

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