Pumpkins: Digital Magic in Second Life

Beckridge Gallery – Pumpkins: Digital Magic

Diamond Marchant recently extended an invitation for me to drop into the latest exhibition at her Beckridge Gallery in Bellisseria to see a fun little exhibition of 3D creations that are a common element for the “Halloween season”: pumpkins and pumpkin lanterns.

Digital Magic is described by Diamond thus:

Fall brings pumpkins. In Second Life that means an endless variety of shapes, sizes, colours, embellishments, and carvings. Some are comforting, some horrifying… yet all are a product of digital magic. The exhibit includes the works of 37 pumpkin creators spanning the last 10 years. … Creators include 22769 Anachron, Andika, Apple Fall, ARIA, Ariskea, AVEC TOI, Candle and Cauldron, CELESTE, Cubura, Dark Secrets, Di’Cor, Dreamscapes Decor, DUST, Dysfunctionality , Fancy Decor, Finishing Touches, GOOSE, JIAN, Kres, LaFrayeur, Lilith’s Den, MudHoney, Organica, Ramen, random.Matter, Sass, Sau, Sepph, Soy, tarte, The Green Door, The Owl, Trompe Loeil, Vespertine, What Next, and Your Dreams.
Beckridge Gallery – Pumpkins: Digital Magic

The result is a house filled with pumpkins large and small, most carved for the season, some painted, some looking more like they may have been imbibing a tipple or two rather than being frightening, and one or two looking like they’ve been inspired by a Tim Burton movie. All are, however, quite endearing to see, and the house has been suitably decorated for the exhibition; such is the detail found within all of them, it is easy to see why this can be classified as an exhibition of 3D art.

While primarily aimed at Halloween, Digital Magic will remain open through until the end of November, potentially reflecting the popularity of pumpkins  – albeit pumpkins that have been more happily decorated or have been used to create a certain pie :).

When visiting, you should set your viewer to midnight to enjoy Digital Magic under the intended lighting (the environment hasn’t been set within the parcel). Otherwise – enjoy!

Beckridge Gallery – Pumpkins: Digital Magic

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Owl at Hoot Suite in Second Life

Hoot Suite Gallery: Owl Dragonash, September 2021

Owl Dragonash is a genuine tour de force in Second Life: she curates art, organises events and artists across various venues; she organises music events (and arranges musicians for exhibitions and the like); she provides PR support to galleries and groups; she has her own blog with a focus on music, art and places to visit, and she brings an incredible amount of energy, shining enthusiasm and dedication to all that she does.

She is, in equal measure to all of the above, a gifted Second Life photographer-artist. It’s therefore a pleasure to be able to write about an exhibition of her own work she is self-hosting at her Hoot Suite Gallery in Bellisseria.

I always find visits to boutique galleries in SL a pleasure, as they offer compact exhibitions one can easily take in and appreciate. In this, Linden Homes of Bellisseria add to this simply because the fact that they are held within a house means they give a relaxed, informal air to exhibitions held within them (and the open “open plan” styles available in the Chalet and Fantasy themes potentially makes their use as exhibition spaces even more attractive).

Hoot Suite Gallery: Owl Dragonash, September 2021

With Owl hosting her own exhibition – simply entitled Owl’s Photos – this sense of relaxation is further enhanced as the visitor wanders from room, simply because it is Owl’s work offered within her own informal space, one of the rooms and the garden lightly furnished, encouraging the sense we’re being invited it to spend a while visiting. The front room of the house has been given a gentle décor of flower that lead the eyes naturally to the single image within it; an image Owl has cleverly framed so as to suggest it is a doorway (or portal) leading to a world awaiting discovery  – thus perhaps offering a touch of metaphor to passing through the doorway of the viewer and into the world of Second Life.

This is a portfolio that indicates Owl and I share a common love of images that feature both water in SL and Second Life wildlife. More to the point, however, it is a collection that naturally demonstrates Owl has an eye for capturing a moment in time on her travels, and has developed a deft touch in post-processing her images. In a couple of cases, they also show she is not afraid to experiment with her work (Playing, located in the back garden, and Half Knit on the upper floor), adding to the depth of her work.

As they do cover places Owl has visited in her travels, these are pictures that remind us of the richness and diversity of our world, featuring places such as Bellisseria and Elvion, and which stand as a reminder of places now passed into history (such as Serena Falls and Veneta Silurum), and and personal view of those that endure as timeless, beloved locations, such as AM Radio’s The Far Away, which is featured in a stunningly atmospheric image by Owl.

Hoot Suite Gallery: Owl Dragonash, September 2021

Mixing landscapes and topics that lie close to Owl’s heart, and offering a rich demonstration of her talent as a photographer-artist, Owl’s Photos will remain open through until October 1st, and is a recommended visit.

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Diamond’s views of the Moles and Lindens in Second Life

Beckridge Gallery – Diamond Marchant: Work Look

Second Life’s 18th anniversary is, at the time of writing, almost over. The celebrations have come to an end and the regions themselves will be closing to public access on July 6th, 2021.

I mention this because the SL18B regions are part of the broad-ranging work that comes under the remit of the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW), and the contractors – the Moles – who are employed by the Lab through it.

As well as the SLB regions (this year put together with the assistance of residents like Walton F. Wainwright (Faust Steamer)), the Moles are also responsible for – as we all doubtless know – the likes of the Mainland infrastructure, Bellissera, the Linden Portal Park and associated experiences / games, and more. All of this is in part celebrated with the annual Meet the Moles session at each year’s SLB celebrations, when we get the opportunity to see many of the Moles all gathered together as the answer questions and talk about their work.

Beckridge Gallery – Diamond Marchant: Work Look

However, for her summer exhibition at her Beckridge Gallery in Bellisseria,  Diamond Marchant presents another opportunity for us to see the Moles. Work Look, her new exhibition, presents a series of portraits of many of the Moles (and some of the Lindens) as they go about their work in-world preparing the SL18B regions for the 2021 celebrations.

Mounted on the walls of the gallery and the attached greenhouse are around 27 portraits of the Moles (Dion gets to appear twice, to make the total number of images 28), together with portraits of Grumpity, Strawberry, Brett and Patch Linden with a surprise appearance by Philip Linden, who looks to have dropped in on the celebrations as well.

Beckridge Gallery – Diamond Marchant: Work Look

So, if you fancy taking another look at the Moles and celebrating / recalling SL18B, the Beckridge Gallery might be the place to visit!

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The Slender Man gets arty (and more) in Bellisseria

Bellisseria Slenderman Gallery

An entry in the Destination Guide highlights for July 2nd, 2021 pique my curiosity: the Bellisseria Slenderman Gallery.

He has visited your home. Have you visited his? Come and experience the Very NICE & Very EVIL home and art gallery of the Bellisseria Slenderman. If you can find it, take a ride on “Slender: The Eight Pages” THRILL RIDE!

– From the Destination Guide

For those who may not be aware (are there any?) the Slender Man is a fictional supernatural character created by Eric Knudsen (aka “Victor Surge”) in 2009 on the Something Awful forum.  It has gone on to become an Internet “folk legend” spanning multiple narratives – as well as becoming a focus of controversy when fiction connected to the character was connected to a number of physical world acts of violence in 2014,  including the Slender Man Stabbing.

The Slender Man in the skies of Bellisseria

The character also became the inspiration for an independent  first-person survival horror video game now called Slender: The Eight Pages.

It is this game that in turn forms the inspiration for this new Second Life experience, located within the Log Homes regions of Bellisseria, and which forms a further chapter in the Slender Man’s involvement with Bellisseria, something that commenced in February 2020.

Centred on a gallery images that record the character’s visitations / appearances within Bellisseria that is spread across the three floors of the house, the Bellisseria Slenderman Gallery includes a number of interactive elements, as indicated in the information note card available at the landing point:

  • A roller coater ride, reached via a “hidden” teleport.
  • A “hidden” basement awaiting visitors.
  • A hunt based on the eight pages that are at the heart of the the game – except there’s no trying to avoid the Slender Man (unless he happens to pop-up!), but instead offers various prizes.
  • For those with a Bellisseria passport, the opportunity to have it stamped (or maybe “unstamped!”) by the Slender Man.

In addition, the experience makes uses of the parcel as a whole, with various elements indoors and out to make it more a atmospheric setting. These include a dedicated EEP setting that is well worth seeing if you don’t have your viewer set to use shared environments by default (World → Environment →  Use Shared Environment).

To be honest, locating the teleports for the roller coaster and basement isn’t that hard, but be aware that not all teleports are referenced in the introductory notes, so careful mousing is recommended.

However, locating the eight pages in the hunt will take a certain amount of patience and careful camming / exploring (unless you’re using a viewer with Area Search and opt to cheat!). The prizes they offer are varied and clearly designed to appeal to a wide range of recipients. I admit to liking the Segway (and its instructions: “Say yes to any animation requests and turn your AO off so you don’t look like a big goof”!), even if it looks as if it has been designed for someone around 10 or 11 foot tall, rather than scaled more towards the “average” avatar heights commonly used nowadays.

Bellisseria Slenderman Gallery

My attempts to summon the Slender Man via the HUD failed miserably whilst initially exploring and working through the hunt.  However, when returning to the setting to take photos, he surprised me by popping up unexpectedly, and we ended up playing “let’s photograph one another”, as can be seen here and here on the Slender Man forum thread.

Meanwhile, the roller coaster makes for a smooth ride, and is best enjoyed in Mouselook. Taking it will provide hints on what to look for with the hunt’s eight pages for those who haven’t started / completed it; while those not so enamoured of hunts, etc., can wander around the back of the house and either climb to the seating platform on the roof or avail themselves of the bumper boats rezzer and mess around on the lake behind the house.

Bellisseria Slenderman Gallery

I admit, I’m not a great one for horror, and the idea of embracing a character that has in the past been controversial in inspiring acts of violence does cause a frisson of discomfort. However, what I do find fascinating about Bellisseria Slenderman Gallery is actually not so much the experience itself, but the fact it has allegedly been built by “Mouse Mysterious”.

This is a character who uses a Profile image / logo that has a certain similarity to that of a nonagenarian mouse logo used by a certain studio. I’m not aware of any link between said studio and the makers of the game from which the experience takes its inspiration, so no idea if this is purely coincidental or a possible hint of something in and of itself. Perhaps time will tell on this – or not!

Anyway, the experience is there to be discovered, and I’ll leave you to do so as the mood takes you.

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Shameless self-promotion in Second Life

Hoot Suite Gallery: One if by Land, Two if by Water

The reality of this post is that it is a piece of shameless self-promotion,  something I actually try not to engage in, lest my ego gets out of the biscuit tin I try to keep it in and starts running around yapping for attention…

Towards the end of 2020 Owl Dragonash very kindly invited me to exhibit some of my blog images at her Hoot Suite Gallery in Bellisseria. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked to exhibit my work – but each time I am, I feel a mix of emotions – notably nervousness and a feeling that it’s not really something for me; as I’ve often – and genuinely  – note I don’t consider myself anywhere close to being any kind of artist. However, Owl is a good friend and someone I admire tremendously, so I felt doubly honoured in her extending the invitation.

Hoot Suite Gallery: One if by Land, Two if by Water

I decided to call this exhibition One if by Land Two if by Water, an  admitted play on Longfellow’s poem, Paul Revere’s Ride. People might want to read something into this, and that is their prerogative (although I admit that in the wake of the disturbing events leading up to and including January 6th, 2021, my thoughts have oft turns to how fragile the American Experiment really is).

However, my decision to paraphrase Longfellow’s words was drawn more from the facts that a) as a photographer of regions in Second Life, my work inevitably involves views of land and water; b) Owl uses a two-storey house as her gallery, giving me the opportunity to split this exhibition loosely into two halve. On the ground floor (or 1st to use the American way of counting floors in buildings) the pictures are land-centric, whilst those on the 2nd have a focus on water.

Hoot Suite Gallery: One if by Land, Two if by Water

It’s not a large exhibition – but that’s the attraction of Hoot Suite – and at 12:00 noon SLT on Wednesday, April 28th, we’ll be having a little party at the gallery to mark the mid-point of the exhibition, which will run through until May 15th.

I hope you’ll join us.

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Bellisseria’s Limoncello Art Gallery in Second Life

Limoncello Art Gallery

As I’ve noted a few times in these pages, Bellisseria, the Linden Home continent, provides space not only for people to live and form communities, but also to express themselves and the creativity present in-world and through people’s talents. One of the key ways this is done is though residents in the continent given their homes over for the display of art – their own, the pieces they’ve purchased and / or the works of others they invite to exhibit.

One of the Bellisseria galleries I’ve only recently become aware of  – and my thanks to curator Fenella Allen for IMing me – is that of Limoncello Art Gallery.

While perhaps new to Bellisseria (given the continent itself is just over a year old!), this is a gallery with a long history. Originally founded by LastDitch Writer, the gallery existed in a 120-metre long airship hovering over the Mainland region of Nanga, and was home to his personal collection of art, both 2D and 3D.

Limoncello Art Gallery

The space available at Bellisseria is obviously a lot smaller that a 120 metre airship, but Lord Junibalya, who now looks after the collection, has provided a skybox for the art that forms a 2-storey gallery with a fair amount of room for pieces to be displayed – and there is a lot to see!

There is a lean towards art from the physical world – paintings, drawings, portraits, abstracts – but Second Life avatar studies are also well represented, while the upper level floor space lends itself to 3D pieces by Toysoldier Thor and Mistero Hifeng. Other artists represented in the collection whose names are likely to be recognised include Gitu Aura, Dido Haas, Carelyna, JMB Balogh, In Inaka, Audie Whimsy, Wyald Wooley and Asmita Duranjaya, to name a handful.

Limoncello Art Gallery

Given thes pieces are from a private collection, none are directly offered for sale. However it might be possible to purchase a copy of some pieces by contacting the artist directly (but please keep in mind that not all of the artists represented in the gallery may still be active in-world).

An impressive collection offering a lot to appreciate, the compact size of the parcel notwithstanding, Limoncello Art Gallery is well worth the visit for any patron of the arts in Second Life. My thanks again to Fenella for contacting me about it.

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