Lalawood: unconventional, interactive and anarchic

Lalawood, La Maison d’Aneli

Now open at La Maison d’Aneli, curated by Aneli Abeyante, is a multi-level collaborative installation entitled Lalawood which is quite the most unconventional – and potentially controversial (for some) interactive installation I’ve seen in Second Life for quite a while.

Designed by Onyxxe, Iono Allen, JadeYu Fhang and Theda Tammas, Lalawand is difficult to quantify. Intended to be humorous, it is also in part pointed, perhaps controversial, irreverent (with what appears to be a healthy dose of self-satire), anarchic and – perhaps most of all – unconventional.

You never heard of LALAWOOD? What a pity! It is the best playground in Second Life. A kind of LEGOLAND, just without the first L. Yes you understand well. Finally a place where you are allowed to show off your talents, value and persona without any restraints … You will meet kings, queens, godfathers, godmothers and many other successful gods. You even can bump at Philip Linden while wandering around.

– Onyxxe, describing Lalawood

Lalawood, La Maison d’Aneli

The installation comprises six levels, including the landing point where something of an introduction to the installation is to be found, together with instructions on how to best view the installation. From here there is a teleport to the first actual level of the installation itself.

To describe the five primary levels of the installation would be to spoil the element of discovery and perhaps unduly influence personal interpretation of Lalawood. suffice it to say each includes interactive elements, starting with the “iLala” music player that provides a music track to accompany your exploration of the installation (it is essential you have local sounds active). These interactive elements combine in-world objects and those presented to your inventory you are asked to add to your avatar.

Perhaps the easiest way to define Lalawood is that it is an exploration of self and the role of ego in our Second Life persona. In this, it raises topics we may well find familiar through our experiences in Second Life (the roles of sex and drama), and a sideways look at many of the attractions / activities people find within the platform (artistic expression, creativity, the ability to generate income), and how these might affect, challenge and change us.

Lalawood, La Maison d’Aneli

In this, the presentation of the themes might best be termed anarchic; some may seem to border on being insulting to those who engage the the various pursuits noted above (art, etc.) – hence why a sense of humour is emphasised in the instructions for the installation. However, there is a strong dose of self-irreverence on display by the four artists themselves as they satirise themselves as much as anyone else.

How one responds to Lalawood really does come down to a mix of personal sense of humour and ability to interpret the various elements found throughout its different levels. I confess that while I found myself smiling in places, in others I found things perhaps a little forced, while the inconsistency of teleports (some are interactive click-to-TP, others open the map and require a manual TP) a little distracting as the latter drew me out of any sense of being involved in the installation. So I’ll leave it to you to plumb the depths of the installation and draw your own conclusions, lest anything I might add here unfairly biases your experience.

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A Carnival of the Arts 2019 in Second Life

The Dirty Grid

The Dirty Grind Independent Artist community is celebrating its sixth anniversary over the weekend of Friday, December 6th through Sunday, December 8th, 2019 with a Carnival of the Arts. The weekend will be marked by live music sets throughout the three days, and an installation by artist Bryn Oh.

At The Dirty Grind, artists and patrons are family and when one visits, one is a welcomed guest in their home. Everything from the décor, landscape and building design is intentionally planned to enhance visitors’ experience. While visiting when live shows are not going, be sure to listen to the commercial-free independent radio station, Radio Grind, featuring the musicians of The Dirty Grind family. Spend some time strolling through The Hollow and enjoy the whimsically eclectic mix of Adirondack and Steampunk design and style.

The Dirty Grind Independent Artist Community has been awarded Best Unique Venue and Top 10 Live Music Venues by Showtime Magazine.

– From The Dirty Grind website

The music event kicks-off from 14:00 SLT on Friday, December 6th, and at the time from writing, the schedule looked as follows:

Time Friday 6th Saturday 7th Sunday 8th
13:00 Wald Schridde
14:00 Naga Flow Rosedrop Rust Zorch Boomhauer
15:00 CelticMaiden Warrior Shannon Oherlihy Ren Enberg
16:00 Lexus Melodie Suzen JueL The Matthew Show
17:00 Grace McDunnough David Csiszer Effinjay
18:00 Jed Luckless Dimivan Ludwig Twostep Spiritweaver
19:00 Jamba Losangeles Senjata Witt The Vinnie Show
20:00 Gypsy Dhrua

However, given that events can always undergo last-minute changes, be sure to check the Dirty Grind website for updates or changes to the schedule.

Bryn Oh: Eliose’s Dream

For the event, Bryn Oh is presenting Eloise’s Dream, featuring a scene from her 2018 installation Jane and Eloise, a story of two sisters who go fishing on Lake Superior.

Sadly, theirs is not a happy tale, as they are caught by the changing weather, their boat capsizing and Jane drowning. Afterwards, Eloise is left tortured by guilt that she survived and nightmares. You can read more about that installation in Bryn Oh: Jane and Eloise in Second Life. The inclusion of the piece is somewhat fitting, given that Jane and Eloise made its début a year ago, on Saturday, December 8th, 2019.

So, do make a point of hopping along to the Dirty Grind over the weekend to appreciate the region, the installation, the music and to wish the folks there a happy anniversary.

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2Lei 2019: Black Label Exhibition Corner in Second Life

BLEC: Cherry Manga – 2Lei 10th Edition

2019 marks the 10th Edition of 2Lei’s annual campaign to raise awareness of the plight of women the world over who face violence – physical, sexual and psychological – on a daily basis. The event, mixing art, music and talks, runs through November and December each year. I’ve already provided an introduction to this year’s Edition (see: No Violence! the 2Lei 10th edition in Second Life), and wanted to take a little time to focus down on the largest collection of art within the event, which can be found at the Black Label Exhibition Corner and urban city.

Some fifty artists are involved in No Violence! this year, with 20 of them presenting a rich mix of 2D and 3D art at BLEC and the neighbouring urban city. They are: Alpha Auer, Bamboo Barnes, Rebeca Bashly, Mavi Beck, Monique Beebe, Mona Byte, Cica Ghost, Storie’s Helendale, Livio Korobase, Kimeu Korg, Cherry Manga, Paola Mills, Meilo Minataur, Frenchy25, Pixelbeing, Natalia Seranade, Theda Tammas, Sunset Theas, Nino Vichan and Ciottolina Xue. Which, however you look at it, is an impressive list!

BLEC: Natalia Seranade – 2Lei 10th Edition

The art is equally impressive – and more importantly, evocative of the subject at hand.  With the exhibition spaces, the 2D art can be found within gallery-style buildings and mounted on street fences within the urban city area, where the artists are able to present multiple image, with 3D artists similarly presenting installations throughout the city and amidst its more open areas.

As getting around everything can be confusing given the volume of art on offer, teleport boards are available allowing visitors  to hop to specific installations – but I really do recommend exploring the gallery spaces and streets of the city on foot in order to gain full exposure of the sheer richness of art and narrative present here; particularly given the way the decaying condition of the urban city setting perhaps stands as a metaphor for the physical and mental decay suffered when subjected to repeated bouts of abuse.

BLEC: Mavi Beck – 2Lei 10th Edition

Such is the power of the art offered here, that offering a blow-by-blow review of the installations with BLEC is really meaningless: this is art that really should be seen first hand.

However, I couldn’t help but feel that were a single image to be used to encapsulate the purpose of No Violence! and the 2Lei collective within the art gathered at BLEC, Mavi Beck’s All’improvviso c’e’ tanto freddo (“Suddenly there’s so much cold”) would perhaps be it.

There is a haunting simplicity of message within this piece, seen on the right, from the faint indentations on an upper lips suggestive of nervous biting, to the single open wound on the raise palm that shields half of a face, to the depth of feeling that is conveyed through the one visible eye staring outward from behind that protective hand.

The 2Lei 10th Edition runs through until the end of December 2019, and I thoroughly recommend taking the time to visit BLEC to appreciate the installations there. I also recommend visiting the other locations across the grid that are supporting the event. You can pick up a teleport HUD containing all the No Violence! exhibitions from the information kiosks alongside the landing point listed in this article.

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Raging Graphix Gallery in Second Life

Raging Graphix Gallery, December 2019

Raging Graphix Gallery is a newly-opened gallery curated by artist Raging Belles and Jimbo Neximus with a mission “to promote these amazing artists and inspire those who appreciate their talent with monthly events … featuring well-known and new artists on the scene.”

For the opening exhibition, which runs through until the end of 2019, the gallery is featuring the work of two well-known artists, CybeleMoon and Big Zee, neither of whom need any real introduction. Both are quite modest exhibitions, between them occupying around one third of the total gallery space, and for those perhaps not familiar with either Cybele’s work or that of Zee, they offer warm introductions to their art.

Raging Graphix Gallery: CybeleMoon, December 2019

Cybele is a visual storyteller; her art steeped in narrative and beautifully layered. Here she presents something of a winter’s theme from her Song and Stories collection, with Winter Homecoming in particular standing as tale perfect for the season of the year.

Raging Graphix presents my second encounter with Big Zee’s art, coming on the heels of his exhibit at THE EDGE gallery (see Artistry at THE EDGE in Second Life), and once again the selection of pieces here – two of which can also be found at THE EDGE – demonstrate his feel for landscape images and his rich use of colour.

Raging Graphix Gallery: Big Zee, December 2019

The majority of the gallery features Raging Belle’s art, a number of pieces of which can also be seen at her selection on display at the December exhibition at THE EDGE. As I noted with that exhibition, her work presents insight into the richness of opportunity for expression in Second Life through a series of studies constructed around her avatar, together with vivid landscapes.

Compact without feeling small, with room to appreciate the art on offer, Raging Graphix Gallery is an interesting addition to Second Life’s artistic community. When visiting, please ensure you also visit the garden display of avatar studies by Strand, located to one side of the gallery building.

Raging Graphix Gallery: Raging Bells, December 2019

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Hannington Endowment for the Arts (HEA) in Second Life

HEA, December 2019: Thoth Jantzen

The Hannington Endowment for the Arts (HEA) is a new, community-fostered arts centre and group that has been founded to “to unify The Arts and artists in SL by providing a central info location to find all participating art related events and locations .”

Established following the closure of the Linden Endowment for the Arts  – with which it has no official connection, being entirely resident supported and run, HEA has been made possible by long-time Second Life resident Hannington Xeltentat, for whom the centre and group have been named, and who directly sponsors HEA activities and art installations available at the HEA’s in-world gallery spaces, which are managed by Tansee and available on a grant basis for 1, 3 or 6 months at a time.

HEA, December 1029: Cica Ghost

For the inaugural HEA grant series, which opened on November 30th, 2019, the gallery spaces present installations by Cica Ghost, Thoth Jantzen, Lorin Tone (building structure by Elicio Ember) and Betty Tureaud. Set to join them soon are two further installations by Patrick Moya and Bryn Oh respectively, although at the time of our visit, the space for Bryn’s exhibit was “temporarily” home to The Garage Gallery of Happy Stuff, presented by Impossibleisnotfrench (aka Harry Cover).

It’s important to note that the gallery setting – and the exhibits – are best appreciated by having your viewer’s Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) function enabled via Preferences → Graphics (you do not need to necessarily enable shadows, however), and having local sounds enabled. For Thoth Jantzen’s installation you should also be willing to accept the local parcel media.

All four of the “main” artists present at the time of our visit offer 3D installations that perfectly reflect their art. Cica offers Drawn Town Small, a charming miniature of her February 2019 installation Drawn Town (which you can read about here). Like the larger version, this one comes with sit points and animations for people to discover, while Betty presents a nicely layered piece with Art of the Game that reflects her traditional use of colour as expression.

HEA, December 2019: Betty Tureaud

For TJ’s Mess, Thoth Jantzen presents a selection of pieces, some of which might be familiar to those who have enjoyed Thoth’s work at events such as past SL Birthday celebrations. Combining light, colour and sound, Thoth’s work can be living pieces, interactive pieces, and this is certainly the case here with the three larger elements. Be sure to note the instructions on entering the exhibition space.

I’ve always enjoyed Lorin Tone’s use of sound and his demonstrations of what can be achieved with sound and LSL scripting in Second Life. Within Borealis Revisited, he presents another master class – one with a deeper narrative to it than might be apparent, so excuse me if I delve a little more deeply into it.

Within a structure built by Elicio Ember, lie four small moons / planets, all orbiting a central sphere. Together, these five orbs form a set of musical emitters, the sound from the lower four constantly shifting aurally as you sit on the benches below them. Between the benches and the upper spheres are four larger, interactive orbs (three of which have a passing resemblance to the Jovian moons Io, Ganymede and Callisto respectively, and the fourth to Mercury), also circling a central point while rotating slowly about their own axes. As Lorin then explains:

The build is based on and inspired by a musical piece titled Aurora, composed by Hans Zimmer (used with permission from his management). [It] has been cut into almost 60 pieces and rebuilt into five sound emitters. Each set gradually fades in and out, and each sound emitter has a different number of silences built in; the result is five musical sections that constantly evolve, never repeating the same combination twice. [The lower spheres] contain 36 solo female voice sounds. When clicked, each will randomly play one sound one time.

– Lorin Tone, on Borealis Revisited.

HEA, December 2019: Lorin Tone

Aurora was written by Zimmer to commemorate those killed or wounded in the 2012 Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting (at the time the 3rd largest mass shooting in the United States but which is now ranked 18th – which says a lot in and of itself). It’s a hauntingly beautiful piece, and Lorin’s installation presents it as such and entirely uniquely given the way the composition constantly shifts and changes between each silence, complete with the opportunity for visitors to add their “voice” to the choral by touching the interactive spheres.

Harry’s The Garage Gallery of Happy Stuff – which as noted is a temporary installation pending Bryn Oh’s arrival at HEA, although I very much hope Harry considers an installation of his own work – is a charming mix of pieces, 2D and 3D, many of which cannot fail to raise a smile. When visiting, don’t miss the eggshibition of his charming mesh eggs, which present scenes drawn from Harry’s life experiences and memories. Most are interactive (touch the lids to close / open them and hear an accompanying sound), and the “?” plaque on the plinths supporting six of the smaller eggs can be touched for a note from the artist on the meaning behind the egg.

HEA, December 2019: The Garage Gallery of Happy Stuff – Impossibleisnotfrench

All of the HEA gallery spaces are gathered around a central landing point and information centre / arts hub, the lower part of which presents room for events, and the upper platform the information centre. The latter includes a seating area, a teleport connecting HEA to other major art galleries, installation and facilities in Second Life, and a computer terminal where artists can obtain a grant application.

As noted above, grants are available for one, three, or six month periods, with awardees presented with a total land capacity of 1,000 LI each. Grants are awarded at the discretion of the HEA staff on the basis of concept, originality, ability and space availability, and applications are open to all who are “dedicated to The Arts to learn, teach, and display their own unique original style of creativity in Second Life for all to enjoy.”

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Homage to Surrealism on Second Life

Itakos Project: Homage to Surealism – PatrickofIreland

Officially opening on Saturday November 30th, 2019 at the Itakos Project, is A Homage to Surrealism, a dual exhibition by the gallery’s owner and curator, Akim Alonzo and PatrickofIreland.

Hosted in the gallery’s Blue Pavilion, the exhibition is split across two levels, with Patrick’s work on the lower level, and Akim’s on the upper, linked by reproductions of classic surrealist works by the great Salvador Dalí and Renè Magritte.

As a cultural movement, Surrealism encompassed multiple aspects of the arts: literature, music, film, theatre, sculpture, and – perhaps most famously – art itself – whilst also touching on politics. It has its roots in the early 20th century, rising to become a major form of expression in the 1930s – the period when the likes of Dalí and Magritte joined it.

Itakos Project: Homage to Surealism – Akim Alonzo

The movement carried within it its own manifesto, and was created with the aim of resolving “the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality”. Surrealist work is most often marked by the use of juxtaposition and non-sequitur elements and ideas. Within the visual medium, this can result in the most startling, attractive and thought-provoking pieces of art, and this is very much the case with the pieces presented by PatrickofIreland and Akim.

The eleven pieces PatrickofIreland offers embrace originality, with some almost touching on hints of post-modernism. Each is richly expressive, strong in narrative and engaging to the eye. So much so, that picking out individual pieces would be unfair; all need to be seen and savoured for their depth and appearance.

Itakos Project: Homage to Surealism – PatrickofIreland

With his exhibition, Akim builds on his Matrix series, a selection of his art I’ve covered previously in these pages (see: Water and a Matrix: reflections on life by Akim Alonzo, April 2019). It is a series rich in story and interpretation within it lie questions of reality and identity, and the riddle of worlds within worlds, that allows them to stand as a collection in their own right.

Here, Akim’s work offers a unique perspective of both surrealism mixed with a strong sense of post-modernism and futurism – take the title of the series, for example, drawn as it is from the film series of the same name. This might appear to be a step away from the ideal of surrealism – until you consider that the Matrix franchise both presents a surreal world view and carries a manifesto (and warning) of its own concerning automaton and the superior reality offered by technology – just as surrealism carries its own manifesto drawing on the same themes – albeit one aimed at broadening horizons and opportunities. Thus, Akim’s works present both a visual representation of surrealism and an underlying thesis.

Itakos Project: Homage to Surealism – Akim Alonzo – note the Dalí reference

This is an engaging and provocative exhibition. It is already open to visitors, but those wishing to celebrate it with the artists might like to attend the official opening at 13:30 SLT on Saturday, November 30th, 2019, when the music will be provided by D.J. Ramel Markova.

Akim as also produced a video to introduce the exhibition, which I’ve taken the liberty of embedding below.

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