Cica’s Donkeys in Second Life

Donkeys by Cica Ghost – The Sim Quarterly

Cica Ghost returns to The Sim Quarterly with a new installation. Donkeys opened on Thursday, December 12th, and it is once again a delightful and light-hearted installation. As the name suggests, it is a place with a certain focus on domesticated equus africanus asinus. However, within it, visitors can find nods to many of Cica’s past installations and work, all of which means that it is place that is guaranteed to raise a smile, whether as a result of discovering Cica’s work for the first time, or because of the Donkeys and their heart-warming looks or because of the flashes of recognition brought about when coming across those familiar touches.

The donkeys, with their oversized ears and curious, confused looks, sit within a grassy, hilly land from which palm trees rise. Around this landscape sit Cica’s familiar finger-like houses, some of which are closed, others of which offer little vignettes. Ladders climb up to some, while others sit close enough to the ground to be entered without assistance.

Donkeys by Cica Ghost – The Sim Quarterly

Within these houses are interactive elements – seats, dances, surprises – and reminders of works like 50 Cats (see 50 cats in Second Life) and Strings (see: Cica’s beautiful Strings and stories). When exploring, it is essential you mouse over almost everything in sight in order to find opportunities for sitting and dancing – and for hanging around! For those who prefer, three sailing boats sitting on the waters around the island each offer a little perch from which to watch the comings and goings of others.

But really, it is the donkeys that hold  the attention; there is something quite touching about their soulful and at times slightly confused or worried looks; it’s hard not to to be drawn to them. Watched over by seagulls and some of Cica’s snails, they stand on their own or in little groups as if conversing. Nor are they entirely static – mouse over some and you’ll find additional sit points and poses.

Donkeys by Cica Ghost – The Sim Quarterly

Following on from Rocks, Cica’s previous installation at The Sim Quarterly, Donkeys is another charming setting – one that offers just the right amount of lightness and cause for smiles given the time of year. When visiting, it is recommended you have local sounds enabled.

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Cica’s Rocks in Second Life

Rocks, by Cica Ghost – The Sim Quarterly

The Sim Quarterly, curated by Electric Monday, opened its latest exhibition on Monday, November 3rd, 2019, featuring a full region installation by Cica Ghost.

Entitled Rocks, it’s a homage to art itself, introduced by a quote by Juliette Aristides, founder and director of the Classical Atelier at the Seattle Academy of Fine Arts:

How you draw is a reflection of how you feel about the world. You’re not capturing it, you’re interpreting it.

Rocks, by Cica Ghost – The Sim Quarterly

In particular, this is a celebration of Cica’s love of art and a reflection of her own creativity in Second Life. As the names suggests, the installation features rocks, huge blocks of semi-regular shaped stone that rise for a mostly flat ground scarred with cracks as if the earth has long since dried out.

All of different sizes, the blocks share a common feature: each has a painting on at least one of its vertical faces. These paintings mirror aspects of Cica’s work in Second Life. Some, for example, present her tall, slender houses, others are home to her famous stick figures and paintings of her flowers. Mixed in with these are pictures of some of her fabulous creatures: a snail here, a fish there, sheep and chickens, while many include references to what might be called her familiars: cats and crows.

Rocks, by Cica Ghost – The Sim Quarterly

It’s a bright, happy place, the paintings bright and cheerful. If art is a reflection of how an artist feels about the world, then this is an installation that tells us Cica loves life and finds the world a bright, warm place in which she can feel at home. And visitors can share in that love and happiness: many of the stones can be touched and offer single and multiple dances, with some additionally offering sit points as well.

A genuinely engaging installation, rich in images and expression.

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Cica’s Silly in Second Life

Cica Ghost – Silly, September 2019

On Sunday, September 8th, Cica Ghost opened the latest in her monthly installations – and it is simply wonderful in its light-heartedness.

Silly is just that: a marvellous retinue of silly characters in a lush green landscape full of whimsy that would right at home in a children’s story or a scene in The Beatles Yellow Submarine. All of which is wrapped in an About Land joke by Cica:

Q: What is a cat’s favourite colour?
A: PURRRR-ple.

Cica Ghost – Silly, September 2019

Across the vivid grass, two-dimensional shoots of many different hues periodically rise in bursts of speed growing, shoots forming as they do so. Except instead of becoming flowers, the buds they sprout become “fingers”, turning the plants into hands that wave in greeting before they descend back into the ground. Fluttering over these are similarly colourful and equally two-dimensional butterflies, their faces lit by happy grins.

There are no trees here; instead huge mushrooms rise over the landscape, casting broad, umbrella-like shadows, while the hump-backed hills are littered with boxes that have their own role to play. It is, in a word, a happy place, rich in humour. but it is not the scenery – whether in two-dimensions or three – that capture and hold the attention; it is the major characters within it.

These are a marvellous mix of the seemingly ordinary – cow-like creatures atop a hill and worm-like characters – to the quite bizarre. Some additionally have more than the usual allocation of heads or expected number of legs, but all of them would be perfectly at home within an animated film – a feeling that has added depth courtesy of the music stream Cica provides for the installation, which should definitely be played during a visit!

Cica Ghost – Silly, September 2019

As with all of Cica’s installations, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in the setting – places to sit, places to dance, and more. Just mouse-over the boxes scattered around and click when you see the sit icon. Where you end up might surprise you; one box certainly offers a new meaning to the term “in the belly of the beast”, while another might leave you feeling lighter than air! There’s also a free gift you can use to take to the skies and become an airborne participant in things.

Cica’s builds always offer something attractive. Sometimes they come with fun and frivolity, like Silly, others can be more thought-provoking or carry a narrative. It is this constant mixing of ideas and approaches that always made her installations worthy of time and attention. They are also why Cica is one of Second Life’s treasured artists.

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Cica’s Dogwood in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Dogwood – July 2019

An arid land surrounded by the sea, conical hills sprouting from its back to rise above both the nude ground and denuded briar-like trees – this is the strange landscape that greets visitors to Dogwood, Cica Ghost’s latest installation in Second Life.

Within this landscape is an equally curious mix. Two slightly porcine dogs, the kind you might expect to see romping through an animated film, appear to stand guard either side of a ramshackle pair of fences that  themselves appear to be protecting a group of strange structures.

Looking like a mix of gourds, pearl drops and long-necked vases, these structures sprout valve-like arms from  necks rising up to open mouths. Combined with their sometimes bent shapes, these “arms” and open mouths give these forms a comically anthropomorphic look about them, little little odd women and men waving little arms at one another or to visitors, and exchanging conversation.

Cica Ghost: Dogwood – July 2019

Two more dogs stand among these structures, again appearing to have dropped in from an animated film. One is a toothy and slightly worried-looking bulldog, the other an almost Chihuahua-like companion. Together they have an air of a Laurel and Hardy pairing about them.

Also scattered across the island are black birds, standing some in groups some on their own. With their colouring, long legs and beaks, they resemble a cross between a stork and a crow; but like the dogs and the strange structures, they have a strong sense of individual personalities.

Both dogs and birds are nicely animated – the eyes of the dogs dart around, while the birds move their eyes, turn their heads and raise the occasional leg as if about to take a step, then lowering it again in an change of mind.  These animations, together with the multiple avatar sit points with their share of dances waiting to be found throughout the region, add a subtle dynamic to this setting.

Cica Ghost: Dogwood – July 2019

But sitting under a hazy sky, even with its oddly comical-cum-fairytale look, it’s hard to completely understand Dogwood – until that is, you reach the south-west corner of the region. It is here, with a narrow channel of water acting like a moat to separate it from the rest of the land, that a another hill rises. It is topped by a tall tower, reached by precarious-looking flights of steps stacked together without support. The tower is itself enfolded by the scaly tail of a great, wingless wyvern, who rests his bulk on the crown of the tower, eyes roving over the landscape before him.

Tower and wyvern add a further fairytale feel to Dogwood – but it is what lies within the tower, at the end of that precarious stairway that offers a key to Dogwood. A lone flower stands here, the brightness of its colours and the redness of its pot standing in strong contrast to the rest of the landscape. Put them with the quote Cica has selected to frame the installation, and the poetry of Dogwood falls into place:

Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.

– Hans Christian Andersen

Cica Ghost: Dogwood – July 2019

Perhaps initially hard to grasp but equally quirky and cheekily humorous, Dogwood is genuinely poetic in its presentation, carrying a rich vein of fairytale under the banner of the Andersen quote.

SLurl Details

  • Dogwood (Dueville, rated Moderate)

Cica’s Cubism in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Cubes

As the old, old saying goes, “I have some bad news and some good news.”

The bad news is that if you were hoping to visit Cica Ghost’s Luna Park (see Cica’s Luna Park in Second Life), that build has now gone from Second Life, the result of low visitor figures, possibly as a result of clashing with SL16B.

The good news is that Cica has replaced it with something that is quite dynamically wacky (literally, if you wander across the landscape!), a piece she calls Cubes.

Cica Ghost: Cubes

Occupying the same region as Luna Park, Cubes is a curious piece, comprising a barren landscape under a bright sky, occupied by a few bare trees, but which is periodically deluged by downpours of … huge steel reinforced concrete blocks.

These appear a handful of metres above the dry land, hover for a few seconds as if waiting for gravity to notice them and question just what the heck do they think they are playing at, before yanking them down to the ground, where they tumble and roll against one another and build random mounds and towers before silently poofing and starting over.

With the lines of steel bars embedded within them creating checkerboard patterns on their face, these great cubes look like a certain cubic puzzle game, albeit one usually made up of smaller cubes with coloured faces. Hence why, perhaps, Cica gives Cubes a quote from that game’s creator:

The Cube is an imitation of life itself – or even an improvement on life.

Ernő Rubik

Cica Ghost: Cubes

And, given these cubes are physical, they can have quite an – impact, shall we say – on life should you happen to wander out and stand when they are falling!

There is something very faintly Petrovsky Flux-ish (for those who remember that installation) about Cubes. The way the Cubes fall is mindful of the destruction of each Flux build – be here, all the pieces are regular, and the fantastical forms they create are entire as a result of their  dropping from the sky, rather than the starting point for their collapse. Watching them, like the parts Petrovsky Flux, can be oddly hypnotic.

I’m not sure how long Cubes will be open, but like Luna Park, it’s meant in fun.

SLurl Details

  • Cubes (Meropis, rated Moderate)

Cica’s Luna Park in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Luna Park

Update, June 24th: due to low visitor numbers, Cica ha opted to replace Luna Park with a new dynamic installation called Cubes, which you can read about in Cica’s Cubism in Second Life.

Cica Ghost opened her latest installation on Saturday, June 15th. Called Luna Park, it is once again a whimsical trip into the fantastic.

As usual with her pieces, Cica offers a quote to go with the installation, this one from Walt Disney:

Adults are only kids grown up, anyway. 

Cica Ghost: Luna Park

It’s a part of a wider quote from the famous animator and film producer that reflected his entire philosophy towards films and entertainment – and why so many of us find his animated films so endearing: “You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.”

This approach is why Disney films can be touchstone to our childhood, a reminder of a time when we were able to forget the world around us and let our imaginations run wild, even if only for an hour or so.

Cica Ghost: Luna Park

And so it is with Luna Park. It’s an opportunity for us to let go of the adult sensibilities and embrace our inner child; to put aside worries and concerns and simply immerse ourselves in fun, frivolity and lightness. It offers a marvellous landscape filled with curios and strangeness intended to raise a smile.

From a strange horn-like machine  that will dump odd metal shapes on you if you stand at the landing point, to tall funnels and box-like stages and boot / funnel-like structures, this is an interactive theme park where visitors are invited to wander, dance, sit, observe and have fun. There’s a lot to see and do throughout – make sure you take the time to hover the mouse over as much as you can, there are dances and poses throughout; make sure as well, that you climb all the ladders to climb into the boxes and funnels where steps are offered – you might find a few surprises!

Cica Ghost: Luna Park

It’s a place with many reminders of Cica’s past builds – such as her Frogs, a new take on her cats, her delightful flowers and stick figures and crow – even some of the structures present echoes of previous works, making Luna Park somewhat evocative as well.

But, when all is said and done, this is an installation that should be experienced, rather than written about, so I urge you to pay a visit and let your inner child out to play. Luna Park will be only be around for a month – and do please consider making a donation towards the cost of the region and Cica’s future art in SL.

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