Fun and thoughts on Cica’s Planet in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Planet
What if I’m a princess on another planet? And no one on this planet knows it?

The above quote, from The Carrie Diaries by American author Candace Bushnell, is a musing on the part of the book’s protagonist, the young Carrie Bradshaw (the book is a prequel to Carrie’s later adventure in Sex and the City) as she endures high school in Cranberry, Connecticut and dreams of life in New York City and all she might become / escape once she has moved there to become an aspiring author, and left behind her provincial origins.

It is also a quote that Cica Ghost uses in her latest installation, which opened on Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 – and in using it, she offers perhaps the most perfect encapsulation of what Second Life can be to those of us invested in their digital world.

Cica Ghost: Planet

As such, Planet is a location that can be enjoyed on two levels. It can be taken simply as a whimsical and fun setting, filled with Cica’s usual interactive touches that always make a visit to one of her installations a pleasure; or it can be combined with the quote that accompanies it to offer the opportunity for deeper reflections on life and Second Life.

Caught under a mauve sky where the clouds have been strung into ripples that wash gently along under the light of a distant white star, this is a strange world filled with creatures of strange origins. Some are capable of walking, others of flying and some of slithering, whilst others appear to be rooted to the spot, almost as if they have been extruded out of the ground.

Not that any are particularly threatening – rather the reverse in fact, many of them standing in little groups or close enough together as if to be conversing. They are certainly at ease within their otherworldly landscape and not in the least fazed by the little flying saucers a that hover and flit around certain points over the landscape like little mechanical bugs.

Cica Ghost: Planet

Nor are the locals particularly bothered by the fact an very Earthly-looking rocket ship has landed among them, or that a human has quote literally established a homestead in their midst, one complete with cat potted plants and very Earthly looking grass and tree.

It is here that setting and quote intertwine to add that deeper layer of potential and reflection to Planet. Within her dome, the girl has arrived from another planet, a place where she might well be a princess, but here is just another sharing the land with her strange neighbours, none of them truly aware of the status or otherwise she might hold back in wherever she came from.

Cica Ghost: Planet

Thus, her presence might be said to mirror our own in Second Life. Here we can be anything we desire, unencumbered by who we are in the physical world – be it living the life of a princess or a pauper, so to speak; we can be accepted simply for how we are perceived through our looks and actions and activities within this virtual realm, free from all that might otherwise encumber us.

And, just as importantly, the reverse is true: here we can be that princess or that dragon or an elf warrior on a quest, or a starship captain seeking brave new worlds, or even a tinkerer and inventor of Things, or can simply escape cares and pressures and sit in the digital shade of a tree or sail the digital tides of a broad sea, and no-one around us in the physical world need be any the wiser as to who we become, where we travel, who we meet or the adventures on which we might embark and discoveries we make.

Cica Ghost: Planet

Whether you are looking to simply visit and have a little fun drifting around in little flying saucers or dancing among the aliens or drafting weightlessly within a space ship, or whether you are tickled into stepping through he door that Cica opens to deeper, broader thoughts about life, expression, the power of the imagination and the freedoms presented by SL, Planet makes for an ideal visit, and should remain open through to around mid-to-late February.

SLurl Details

  • Planet by Cica Ghost (Van, rated Moderate)

Cica and Bryn’s White Veil in Second Life

White Veil, December 2020 – snowballs are a rollin’,rollin’, rollin’

Cica Ghost and Bryn Oh have once again teamed up to provide a little  light-hearted winter fun for those who feel like a little bit of a challenge with some avatar exercise.

White Veil, located on a snow-covered Homestead region under the patronage of Clementine Rosca, challenges visitors to make their way over wooden boards to a snowy valley between high peaks that winds up to where a strange tower twists its way up into the sky – and then climb the curving ramp of  said tower to reach the room at the top.

White Veil, December 2020 – will the magnets help or hinder you?

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? And it is – except for the gigantic snowballs that periodically rain from the sky to roll at random down the valley to sweep-up all that lies in their path. They are invariably followed by one true monster of a snowball that rumbles down the tower’s ramp to join its smaller brethren as they tumble down the valley.

Should you get caught by any of these great balls of snow, then you’re toast – or at least, you’re teleported back to the start line to try again. Nor are the snowballs alone in trying to hinder you. There are also white blocks lie  scattered around which, if you get too close will attempt to bounce you in the air, whilst blue bullets may be pelted at you from the tower’s open walls to try to delay you.

White Veil, December 2020, – meet the penguins

But, there is also assistance to be had. Scattered along the path are blue disks. Step on one and you’ll be enclosed in your own personal force-field for a time, impervious to snowballs blocks and bullets – just keep moving with the force field in order for it to benefit you the most. Magnets hanging over the curving ramp of the tower might also assist you by dragging you to them, and so up the slope – but they also might hinder, as once caught by one, it can be difficult to get free!

Nor is this all; while the goal is to reach the room at the top of the tower and witness the strangely garbed individual awaiting you there, so to are there opportunities to leave the valley and explore the lands beyond, occupied as they are by groups of Cica’s penguins, whilst pieces of Bryn’s art might also distract you.  Also to be found at the tower’s top is a narrow, snow-covered walkway leading to a flying chair; use the arrow and page Up / Down keys to manoeuvre it once seated.  A second narrow snowy walk can take you to a lonely television, whilst keeping an eye out for snow white pose balls might get you literally climbing the walls.

White Veil, December 2020 – having reached the top of the tower, I opted to take the flying chair back down, avoiding the snowballs

To experience the fun of White Veil, simply teleport over and then accept the experience associated with it (if you are a regular visitor at Bryn’s Immersiva, and have accepted the experience there, then you are actually all set). When you’ve done so, note the instruction about using Always Run (CTRL-R – although in places you might want to toggle it on / off. And for an added bit of fun, you could also try your hand at decoding the message in the region’s About Land description. It’s not hard, but all I’ll  say here is that it gives warning about the state of mind of certain flightless waterfowl …

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Cica’s Bridge in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Bridge

Cica Ghost dropped me an invite to visit her latest build, which opened to the public on Thursday, November 5th. Given I’m a long-standing fan of her work, I had to hop over and see it right away.

Bridge is another whimsical build – but also one that has a potential message for the world at large; a message encompassed in the quote Cica has selected to go with the installation:

It takes both sides to build a bridge.

Fredrik Nael

Cica Ghost: Bridge

For those who may not be familiar with him, Fredrik Nael, is an Indonesian writer of science fiction / fantasy short stories as well as a reviewer of books. In the west, he is perhaps noted for a series of inspirational quotes, of which the one Cica has selected might be his most famous.

With this build, Cica offers a pair of rocky tables sitting above the rest of the landscape, and on which sit two little towns – or perhaps the two halves of the same town, depending on your perspective. They are linked by a single bridge which – given both are walled on their own summits – appears the only way of moving from one to the other (although steps do descend from one to the valley below).

Cica Ghost: Bridge

Watching over all of this is a gigantic dragon. He doesn’t appear to be any threat to either part of the town (or the towns, depending on how you prefer to see them), but whether he is just visiting or a guardian is up to you to decide. He does, however, offer a nice link to Nael’s fantasy writing.

Walking around the tall, slender houses and the neatly set lawns and flower beds will reveal places to sit, places to dance and – across the bridge – pram-like cars (which can be purchased with a rezzing system) for those who want to try motoring around. Exploring will also reveal many of Cica’s cats, who very much have the run of the place – although they are likely not responsible for the little drawings from Cica that are on a number of the walls, and which bring further life to the setting.

Cica Ghost: Bridge

And the message? While Cica keeps her art largely apolitical, it’s hard to miss: at a time when we we tend to be defined by what divides us more than what can unite us, building bridges can do much to bring us back together.

Bridge will remain open through November 2020.

Cica Ghost: Bridge

SLurl Details

  • Bridge (Elle Island, rated Moderate)

Cica’s Halloween in Second Life

Halloween by Cica Ghost

Cica is back with her October 2020 build, and given the time of year, she’s presenting Halloween. However, rather than going all dark and gloomy with things that go bump in the night and nasty things hiding in the shadows, she offers something very different: a homage to the the genius of a film-maker known for his unique style of fantasy / horror storytelling that’s mixed with Cica’s trademark lightness and whimsy.

That focus  of the homage is given away by the quote Cica offer with the installation:

Every day is Halloween isn’t it? For some of us.

– Tim Burton

And indeed, set out across the region is a series of little vignettes, many of which feature characters that may have popped out of the consciousness of Mr. Burton. They are all going about their business in this landscape of graveyards, pumpkin patches and strange little houses that appear to have grown, rather than having been built.

Halloween by Cica Ghost

Round-eyed and slender, these are characters who carry on their skull-like faces grins that appear genuinely happy as they go about their business, be it stroking a cat, pulling a pumpkin-filled cart, riding a swing, playing a piano or some other endeavour. Like many of Burton’s characters, while their appearance may be drawn from the ideas of horror, they carry a natural attractiveness that encourages us to wander among them.

However, they are not the only attraction here. There are lots of little touches that add depth to the setting: flowers that will cause you to consider the term “spider plant” in a new way, crows that watch over everything with mischievous look in their eyes, and footprints that magically creep across the ground whilst eyes stare out of some windows, suggesting menace whilst none appears.  And do keep watch for the rooftops that occasionally hinge upwards – they have a little surprise of their own.

There’s also interactive elements throughout the region waiting to be found as well, one of which carries a little touch of the macabre as it brings a whole new meaning to the words “dancing on a grave”, while for those who are taken by the folk occupying the region, a little shop offers the chance to purchase them, together with several of the other characters to be found at various points. And if the pumpkins in the patch take your fancy, they can be purchased directly from there.

Halloween by Cica Ghost

Finished in a semi-monochrome environment, Halloween is another Cica delight. So, if you fancy something a little more whimsical for your Halloween, be sure to pop over – it’ll be there for the rest of the month!

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Cica’s Monsters in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Monsters
Monsters are real, ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes they win.

– Stephen King

This is the quote Cica Ghost uses to introduce her August 2020 build, Monsters. Occupying a Homestead region, this is another build that encompasses whimsy whilst also – perhaps – carrying a more pointed message.

Scattered across a strangely undulating landscape stand four large structures, each with two walls apiece. Were they all to be brought together, they might form a house of sorts. But as it is, they each offer a scene in a room of a dwelling: a lounge, two bedrooms and spare room devoid of furnishings on the same scale as found in the others.

Cica Ghost: Monsters

The two bedrooms are occupied by dwellers of the would-be house; one appears to be fast asleep, and other perched on the edge of her bed, feet tucked carefully up as she reads one of a number of books piled in her room. However, these people are not the focus of the build; that is reserved for the plethora of creatures to be found within and without the different rooms, and who lend their name to the installation’s title.

Bipeds, quadrupeds, tall, short, with arms (some times more than the accepted pair!) without arms, some with tails, others sans ears and one with an interesting collection of mouths, Cica’s monsters are waiting to greet and amuse those who visit.

Cica Ghost: Monsters

And yes, I do mean amuse. Such are their looks and expressions, these monsters are hardly the stuff of nightmare – a fact some of them appear to be only too aware, given their glum faces. Rather, they all like like the type of monster unlikely to bring home the screams for a certain famous corporation of Disney lore, but that would all too quickly become a play friend to any youngster they happen upon.

Those in the “living room” of the “house” seem particularly cognizant of their lack of scare factor as they form a group and drink coffee, one idly fishing off the side of the platform, all of them ignoring the entreaties of a four-footed fiend on the grass below to come play. It’s in these glum looks that it is possible to perceive that deeper element embodied in the use of the Stephen King quote: given that often the worse monsters are the ones inside of the humans they are meant to scare, is there any need for the ones we might fear as being under out beds to ever come out?

Cica Ghost: Monsters

Some, however are trying to make the best of things, playing outside and waiting to offer a smile and wave to visitors. For this reason, as much as any other, whether you choose to follow the interpretation given above or not, you should hop along to Monsters and see it for yourself. And if you take a liking to one of Cica’s little chaps, be sure to find your way to the Monster Shop in the region’s south-east corner, where you can pick one up at take it home! And when exploring, be sure to mouse-over things: as always, Cica has included assorted perches and animations for people to enjoy!

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Enjoying Cica’s Summertime in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Summertime, July 2020

For July, Cica Ghost has offered her latest installation for people to enjoy. Summertime is a reminder that summer days can be, for all of us, “the best of what might be”, as her quote from Charles Bowden, the late American journalist, essayist and author, reminds us. It’s also a reminder that despite all the shadows cast by the current SARS-CoV-2 situation, happier, brighter, days will come along.

This is another quirky, light and fun installation with more to see than might initially meet the eye. At its core, it offers what might be a giant’s overgrown yard garden. Much of the ground forms a tiled surface that undulates slight, giving the impression of an aged, uneven terrace. Set upon this, and the grass beyond it, lay a series of planters of assorted shapes and sizes, from which sprout a variety of plants.

Cica Ghost: Summertime, July 2020

Tall willow-like trees watch over this landscape, whilst scattered flowers and grass grow free of the pots and planters – perhaps grazing for the cows that are also present here.

Standing or sitting alone or in pairs or small groups, the cattle are curious souls, their large eyes constantly roving over the land around them, seeing all that goes on. The set to the brows of some suggest they might not entirely welcome avatars traipsing over their grass and flowers, while others look more interested in one another than in any visitors passing by. All of them offer opportunities for photos to be taken in their company, that can be hard to ignore.  Nor are the only occupants of this land; representative of Cica’s cats and crows are also waiting to be found, while a unique coop provides a stacked home for snow-white chickens.

Cica Ghost: Summertime, July 2020

There’s more to see throughout the setting, as well. Some of the planters have the distinct look of houses or buildings about them – with one even the home of a little cinema – while others have the feel of being little hideaways. As with all of Cica’s installations, there are multiple places to sit, although one or two might require a little careful seeking – so be sure to carefully mouse-over planters and plants as well as simply looking for the chairs and garden benches. And if you’re not in the mood to walk, hop on to one of the seed carriers that are fluttering around the landscape and be scooted around.

A heart-lifting setting caught in the light of a late afternoon Sun, Summertime is another delightful visit, while those so taken by them, can obtain Cica’s cows from  the little store in the north-west corner of the region.

Cica Ghost: Summertime, July 2020

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