My Anonymous Shadow in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: My Anonymous Shadow

My Anonymous Shadow is the intriguing name of an exhibition of work by Dixmix Source, owner and curator of DiXmiX Gallery, that opened on Saturday, January 19th, 2019. On display are 12 images focusing on – as the name implies – the photographer’s shadow, or in some cases the artist’s avatar presented as a shadow; hence the intriguing nature of the exhibition.

It’s an innovative approach to presenting what might be thought of as avatar studies; within each image we see an anonymous figure; a silhouette, sometimes cast by light across a floor or wall, and others, the shadowy outline of a figure expressing emotion or framed within a setting, or abstractly caught in what otherwise be the pages of a graphic novel. But in each and every one of them, the black figure is both the centre of the image, yet (literally) a dark unknown.

DiXmiX Gallery: My Anonymous Shadow

With a considered use of colour in some of the images (more blatant in the likes of Shadow 5 and Shadow 7; softer and more refined in the likes of Shadow 9 and Shadow 11), the use of abstract presentation (again, Shadow 9 together with Shadow 3 and its mirror twin, Shadow 12), and carefully composed character studies (such as Shadow 8  and Shadow 10), this is a fascinating series. There is a narrative within each piece, waiting to be told – and that narrative very much depends on how you approach this exhibition.

For example, they might be considered individually, and as they were formed: pieces depicting an actual shadow cast on a surface, or a figure shown in deliberate silhouette. Viewed in this way, the story each image tells tends to be one of composition, balance, tone, capture and presentation; the play of light and dark, the contrast of shadow and object, in which the shadow / silhouette is divorced from association with a person, but is simply a component part of the artist’s use of contrasting elements to complete the whole, even when as expressive as Shadow 8.

DiXmiX Gallery: My Anonymous Shadow

But if they are considered as a whole, and within the context of the title, the narrative becomes more involved and branched. On the one hand, they could be taken as imaginings on what our shadows might be doing whilst we are otherwise occupied: out in their own world, exploring, experiencing, searching. On the other, these pieces might be seen as reflections of thoughts and emotions; considerations on identity, place, relationships that are personal to the photographer; yet at the same time, the very anonymity of the figure within each renders them as reflections of moods, events, feels, that we, the observers have experienced and can instantly recall in viewing them.

Thus, My Anonymous Shadow becomes a fascinatingly layered exhibition, one which can be enjoyed purely from the artistic expression each piece presents, and / or for the more narratives and ideas that lie just below the surface – or should I say, within their shadows?

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Time at 2019-XS in Second Life

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS – click any image for full size

On the advice of a number of people – starting with Annie Brightstar – we recently visited 2019-XS, defined as “a sci-fi sim in Second Life with a cyberpunk feel, inspired by films like Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, and Neuromancer.”

Designed by Hera (zee9), the region has an adult edge to the role-play, and is intended as an extension to her previous (and now departed) build Drune. I’ve not seen that design, but will say that while compact, 2019-XS has a certain ambience that is hard to define, but has seen me make three visits to it in order to fully appreciate the ambience and setting.

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS

While the region is described as being inspired by the likes of The Fifth Element and Blade Runner, the setting feels more potentially “sci-fi / dystopian generic” than these films would suggest. This is not to demean the region in any way; rather it’s an acknowledgement that it has a broader feel to it than a narrow focus on a specific film or films.

For example, while the design has a vertical feel to it, with a street level and upper walkways, all with plenty of neon on display, the overall feel is perhaps too Asian, too industrial / metallic too clean to perhaps fit it fully into the streets of the 2019 Los Angeles witnessed in Blade Runner. Then the narrowness of the streets, the cluttering of their canyon-like forms and lack of aerial traffic doesn’t entirely sit with a Fifth Element vibe.

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS

Nevertheless, there are motifs from both films. There are buildings that have an older, stone-built look that echoes places like the Bradbury building as imagined in Blade Runner, for example. There are also the spinner-like vehicles (both commissioned and decommissioned), while the elevated walkways between the buildings offer a suggestion of a crowded city, again a-la Blade Runner and the TV Series Total Recall 2070 that took many of its visual cues from the film.

That said, were I to point to a particular film influence on the setting, I would sway towards Neuromancer. Whilst never made (the film is still characterised as In Development by IMDB), the concept art from that production offers takes that do reflect the setting within 2019-XS. But even then, I’d suggest that the region be allowed to stand on its own, free from any frame of reference that could lead to specific preconceptions.

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS

The main streets are laid out simply enough – but in doing so, they hide the complexity of the setting. There are back alleys to be found; stairs and elevators to the upper levels, while private clubs lie behind heavy doors or at the bottom of outdoors steps leading down to a basement level. On the upper levels can be found more eateries, small apartments and hallways.

Role-play is, I believe, of a free-form nature; but again, be aware that there is a lean towards more sexual play, so the setting might not please everyone. For photographers, there are numerous opportunities to take photos – both avatar studies or cityscapes. There is also a Flickr group where images can be displayed, and which also includes pictures from the earlier Drune.

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS

For those seeking an urban, sci-fi setting to explore and photograph, and allowing for the sexual element, 2019-XS may well be well worth a visit.

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An offering to Mnemosyne in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Offering to Mnemosyne

Mnemosyne, sister of the Titans and Mother of the Muses, was the Greek Goddess of Memory. According to Greek Mythology. Those who drank from the waters of Mnemosyne secured recollection of their memories as they passed to the next life.

So reads the introduction to the first exhibition for 2019 at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas. Offering to Mnemosyne by Fenris (Fenris345) is a somewhat different exhibition to previous events at the gallery in that is offering a series of images that offer a glimpse of the artist’s own introspections on life, set within a mythological framework that has a resonance for all of us.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Offering to Mnemosyne

The daughter of Titans Uranus and Gaia, Mnemosyne occupies something of a unique place in Greek mythology. While the Titans were viewed as archaic, she nevertheless has a prominent role. With her nephew Zeus, she  conceived the nine Muses. As the introduction of the exhibition notes, she presided over a pool that ensured those passing into the afterlife preserved their memories, and which stood in opposition to the river Lethe, from which those passing into Hades might drink if they wished to forget.

More particularly, her role is important to the Greeks, as memory was seen as one of the essential foundations of the oral (and later written) tradition; thus Mnemosyne herself one of the essential building blocks of civilisation in within Greek mythology – hence her elevation to that of a Titan.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Offering to Mnemosyne

And the truth is, memory is important to all of us; hence why this exhibition might be seen as an expression of introspection by the artist –  a fact further expressed by the inclusion of some descriptive notes on each of the pieces in the exhibition by Fenris himself. However, I would recommend that visitors view the pieces before reading his comments; personal and introspective to the artist these images may be, but they can also serve as a springboard for our own memories. Simply allow the title of each and the image it presents to talk to you a moment; it’s surprising the memories  each picture calls forward.

Evocative, personal, rich in narrative, there is a depth to this exhibition that encourages time to explore each of the images carefully; in allowing them to speak quietly to you, to tease memories to the fore. It is also the reason why a return visit is well worth the while: to appreciate each through the eyes of the artist, by viewing them in concert with his personal notes (just click the greeter board to receive them with Dido’s introduction to the exhibition.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Offering to Mnemosyne

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North Providence, Second Life

Petit Lac Des Cygne; North Providence, January 2019, on Flickr
North Providence – click any image for full size

I was drawn to North Providence, a five-region role-play estate after seeing a photo by fellow SL traveller and blogger, Wurfi. Defining itself as the year’s best choice for modern role-play, the estate is both new (the regions are all less than a month old) and an ambitious environment offering something of a reproduction of New York – both the city and the State.

The role-play is somewhat adult-oriented (the About Land description includes urban, violence, drugs, crime, gangs, sex, with all but one of the regions Adult rated), but the environment is very well thought-out and presented, openly public, but with spaces for small businesses and those wishing to experience role-play in a modern setting.

Petit Lac Des Cygne; North Providence, January 2019, on Flickr
North Providence – click any image for full size

North Providence prides itself on a one of a kind experience you cannot find at just any role-play region, from its plethora of preset locations for you to build your story in or the available rentals to explore your savvy business side, North Providence has it all, and it’s the perfect place to call home.

– From the North Providence website

The estate includes a fairly detailed website – although there appear to be issues with SLurl links in the business directory (I couldn’t get them to work in Firefox or Chrome). This includes the expected rules (including an interesting set of vehicle and vehicle registration rules!), and the expected applications to be a part of the community.

The layout is well-considered, offering as the text above suggests, a series of preset locations, all of which are carefully formed into a cohesive whole. It includes elements of Manhattan, notably in the presence of both the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building (both with apartments inside), together with Columbus Circle. There are also suggestions of outlying area of New York City, complete with elevated sections of the subway, housing and projects, and even hints of up-state New York with open spaces, woodlands and hills.

Petit Lac Des Cygne; North Providence, January 2019, on Flickr
North Providence – click any image for full size

A map of the city is provided, but this by no means reveals the full extent of the estate, particularly the up-state areas of Brooks County and the board walk seafront that could be South Beach or Atlantic Beach. So, there is a lot to explore – including underground, where a network of service tunnels can be found. These might offer the potential for the more criminal aspects of the role-play to be enhanced, although again, I didn’t fully explore them, so I’ve no idea how often they connect with the rest of the estate.

I also cannot speak to the role-play within the estate on the basis of a single visit. However, there were a fair number of people within the regions during my time there, only some of whom appeared to be casual visitors. Those wishing to keep up with news of activities and events within the estate can do so via The Hutson Street Journal, the community newspaper. There is also a calendar, but whether this is for recording local events is unclear. When examining the estate, do keep in mind this is a new community, and one that is still in the process of finding / growing its audience  – something that might also be reflected in the status of the website.

Petit Lac Des Cygne; North Providence, January 2019, on Flickr
North Providence – click any image for full size

North Providence is an interesting new role-play estate; I did encounter some issues with texture loading at times (so reducing draw distance in places might be needed). It will be interesting to see how the estate and the role-play within it develops.

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Gem Preiz: master of fractals in Second Life

Gem Preiz Fractal Art Gallery

I recently received an invitation from Gem Preiz to visit his new Fractal Art Gallery. As regulars to these pages will know, I am a huge admirer of Gem’s work; not only is his fractal art fabulously complex, covers everything from the natural (entire worlds!) down to the architecture of future (and past) imagined civilisations, but also because he also tends to develop his art along thematic lines. Many of his installations offer a narrative (The Anthropic Principle, No Frontiers, Heritage: Wrecks and Heritage Vestiges all being examples of this) he also uses his art to ponder a raise of questions, be they scientific, philosophical, environmental or some combination thereof (Rhapsody in Blue Fractals, Metropolis, and Sapiens all being three such examples).

In this latter regard – narrative and thought – witnessing Gem’s art in a more traditional gallery setting can mean that the subtext of said narrative and thought might be lost. However, what is always present is the sheer grace and beauty of his art, every piece of which whether previously encountered as a part of a themed installation or being seen for the first time, is a masterpiece of execution, depth, style, and composition.

Gem Preiz Fractal Art Gallery

The new gallery space Gem has created for his work is in keeping with the broader themes of much of his work, presenting a futuristic space around which stand tall silver-grey towers with black elements within resembling windows. Spread across multiple levels within the gallery are somewhere around 120 individual pieces, making this a tour de force of his work, and it is quite easy to spend a far amount of time simply admiring the pieces and getting caught within the intricacies of their design.

To help with the context mentioned above, pieces have been grouped together – there is a hall for Gem’s fractal planets, for example, a bay for images created for / used within Metropolis, a selection of pieces used within / created for Sapiens on the outer walls of another hall space – which itself contains pieces from his Myths collection, and so on. Meanwhile, each of the four  main walls of the structure is dominated by a large format version of one of Gem’s pieces, presented as they might be seen within one of his installations and which demonstrate the sheer majesty of his art.

Gem Preiz Fractal Art Gallery

All of the pieces are offered for sale, either by clicking them directly or using the vendor displays found on the lower level of the gallery. Movement between levels is easily achieved via escalator and / or teleport station – the latter being located throughout the gallery.

Gem’s art remains an outstanding presentation of the beauty of fractal art, and his new gallery is well worth a visit.

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A visit to the Grumpy Troll in Second Life

The Grumpy Troll; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
The Grumpy Troll – click any image for full size

Update: since writing this article, Ty and Truck have taken up my suggestion for horseback riders visiting the Grumpy Troll! There is now a hitching rail close to the café, as is a horse rezzer, so those using the Calas WaterHorses can now take a break at the Grumpy Troll, then resume their ride along the Calas coastal trail. Thank you, Ty and Truck! 

We’re fans of the Calas Galadhon Park in Second Life. Run by Ty Tenk and Truck Meredith with their team of dedicated associates, the park offers a magnificent ten regions of open space, maintained through a combination of donations from visitors and out-of-pocket money.

Within the regions, each of which takes its name from Tolkien’s mythology, there is much to see and do. There are regular events both at the ground level Dolphin Bar, and in the air overhead at the estate’s club, Oz. Within the park are trails to be followed either on foot or via horseback, boats to be taken out on the water, places to dance (and in the winter, skate), picnics to be enjoyed, together with fabulous views, and plenty of time to get away from it all, balloons to ride – and more.

The Grumpy Troll; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
The Grumpy Troll

It’s also a park that is constantly evolving, and a recent new addition comes in the form of the delightfully named Grumpy Troll, located, appropriately enough, in Dimrill Dale.

Now, to be honest, when we received word about the Grumpy Troll, we both though it might be a local pub – the name ranks right up there alongside Tolkien’s Prancing Pony. However, the name in fact belongs to a little waterside café, just off the Calas coastal trail for hikers / horse riders. But the fact that it isn’t a pub doesn’t make it any the less visit worthy when travelling through the park.

The Grumpy Troll; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
The Grumpy Troll

With a delightfully “home-made” rustic look, and sitting on a wooden deck, the Grumpy Troll looks westwards over the waters and open spaces of the Gulf of Lune, Belagaer and the Grey Havens, perfect for spending time with a friend or friends, enjoying the view and appreciating the sunsets as the day draws to a close, or watching the land come to life as the sun rising behind you gradually bring light and warmth to the hills and waters.

Refreshments can be enjoyed both indoors and out on the deck, with the titular Troll looking suitably grumpy – if smaller than expected! – standing by the door. His mood is possibly due to his size and the fact a kitten and mouse appear to be using his sack to play with one another. On the grassy banks just outside the café can be found a blanket spread under the shade of an aged tree, and a dance system for those in the mood for a little romance / exercise.

The Grumpy Troll; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
The Grumpy Troll

For those following the Calas trails, the Grumpy Troll makes for a tempting and almost ideal stop. I say “almost”, because for those on horseback using the park’s horses, stopping means dismounting and losing their horse; it would be nice if a further rezzer was placed close to the café – say by the sign pointing to it (perhaps with a hitching post, to give a further invitation to riders?). That way those on horseback can enjoy a break at the Grumpy Troll and then be able to resume their ride without having to return to either Mirrormere or Glanduin to collect their horses.

For those interested in reading about horse riding in Calas Galadhon, please read A little (Bento) horse riding at Calas Galadhon in Second Life.

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