A visit to Another Planet in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Another Planet

Cica Ghost opened her latest region-sized installation on Wednesday, July 4th, 2018, offering visitor the chance to visit Another Planet, a place where aliens roam free under the arches of strange landforms (are they mineral? Are they vegetable?), and where rocks – perhaps asteroids that were once falling from space – float serenely above various points in the scene, held aloft by invisible forces.

It is a strange landscape, in places pockmarked by tiny impact craters in the sand; in others the rock is covered in a an irregular pattern of indentations that from a distance almost look like they are indented scales on a skin. The strange “growths” rising from this gently rolling land also in places show signs of weathering by meteor strikes, suggesting they were once a part of the ground from which they rise. Here and there, odd circular protrusions rise and fall, as if breathing in a steady rhythm.

Cica Ghost: Another Planet

The aliens here come – if you discount human avatars (and who are perhaps more correctly the aliens within this environment) – two forms. There are strange, slug-like creatures with large, black eyes set either side of a small hooked proboscis, their bodies expanding an contracting along their length, even though they don’t move. Then there are the smaller creatures, who stand upright on ribbed conical bodies. They also have large eyes set into their round heads – perhaps indicative of the low lighting common to this world.

Despite seemingly without arms, these smaller aliens appear to have a degree of technological mastery; there are hover bikes and flying barges moving around the landscape, perfectly suited to transporting one or two them around (or indeed, one or two human avatars should you opt to sit on them – and if they don’t take your fancy, there is also a floating platform drifting around the sky). And as flying around may not appeal to all of them, some have apparently developed a form of television, and have gathered around it eagerly, some giving vent to very human frowns directed at others, possibly because their view was temporarily blocked.

Or… perhaps the television and the flying machines are the remnants of another time and civilisation? Who can say?

Cica Ghost: Another Planet

Visitors to the region are presented with a choice: to explore in their default form / look, or grab a free alien disguise from the vendor at the landing point. For those seriously interested in exobiology studies, the alien disguise is a must, helping you to blend in. And by “exobiology studies”, I mean having a little fun.

Another Planet is  a further marvellous, whimsical installation by Cica; one which comes – as do most of her designs – with a quote. It’s from English author, humorist and musician, Benny Bellamacina:

Find out if you’re still human, observe yourself from another planet

Cica Ghost: Another Planet

It’s an interesting quote, intended to give us pause and remember who we are. At a time when so much discomfort and hurt is being caused to so many around the world – the displaced, those seeking refuge, the lost – both in their own countries and those where they had hoped to find rest, help, and support, it’s perhaps a fitting little poke at our individual and collective consciousness; a reminder of what we should be to our fellow human beings.

Whether you opt to think on deeper things or to simply sit back and enjoy, Another Planet once again illustrates the magic of Cica’s imagination – which should be enough in itself to encourage a visit.

SLurl Details

Advertisements

Cica’s Sunny Day in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Sunny Day

“It is the artist’s business to create sunshine when the sun fails.” So wrote Romain Rolland in La Foire sur la place (1908), the fifth book in his 10-volume novel Jean-Christophe (written between 1904 and 1912). It is the story of the life of a great German musician forced by circumstance to live in exile and it’s also the quote Cica Ghost has selected to place with her installation Sunny Day, which opened on June 9th, 2018.

“I liked the quote,” Cica says of Rolland’s words – and indeed they suit the installation admirably. This is a place that is bound to bring the sunshine of a smile to visitor’s lips and have them warmed by its whimsy and delight. But the quote also – by chance it would seem – might also reflect the broader of the theme of Jean-Christophe.

Cica Ghost: Sunny Day

From the landing point, visitors are invited along a series of offshore blocks and over a wooden walkway – beware of the great fish that seem ready to gobble the unwary should they stand on the walkway too long. On the landward side, a gateway bordered either side by flowers bids visitors to enter a little town of a most unusual kind.

This is a place where finger-like houses rise alongside lollypop trees, and the locals add their own splashes of colour as they stand outside homes or carry out duties such as tending goats, picking flowers or simply having fun. A pancake car, its shape reminiscent of a Volkswagen Beetle rolls around the single road surrounding the town while fish atop unicycle like poles rolls back and forth on large tyres. It is, in a word, a fanciful place.

Cica Ghost: Sunny Day

The whimsy continues up in the sky, where two suns pulsate with happy smiles on their faces, while towards the back of the town a giraffe awaits those who would ride upon its back, and a sea monster keeps an eye on all who come and go from the waters to the south-east.

While Cica might not always be present in person, what might be her double – albeit without her usual black dress – can be found outside the Cat Shop to the north-east. With a basset hound on a leash beside her, she invites people into the open-sided store, where Cica’s delightful cats (introduced with 50 Cats – see here for more) can be found and purchased.

Cica Ghost: Sunny Day

As noted, this is a setting that reflects the literal meaning of the Rolland quote: it is nigh-on impossible to pass through Sunny Day without feeling warmed by its light and sense of fun. As with all of Cica’s builds, be sure to mouse around, as there are several ways in which you can become a part of the setting. But how might it also reflect themes from Jean-Christophe, however accidentally?

Well, simply this: look closely at the characters scattered around the setting. There is a character with pointed ears, another is a neko. others are quite “ordinary” looking, while a white angel is easy to spot. All of them might be thought of as reflecting we, the denizens of Second Life.  And Second Life is a country  – of sorts – in which circumstance encourages us to spend time, just as circumstance (albeit it of a different flavour) forced Rolland’s protagonist, Jean-Christophe Krafft, to live his life in countries other than his own.

Cica Ghost: Sunny Day

A tenuous reflection? Perhaps – and I leave it to you to determine whether you find it valid (I’m of course overlooking Rolland’s re-examination of Beethoven’s life through Jean-Christophe) – but if you do nothing else, do make sure you visit Sunny Day and enjoy the its warmth and light.

SLurl Details

The Bees and the Bears in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Bees and Bears

Cica Ghost opened her new installation on March 21st, offering visitors the opportunity to spend a little time with the Bees and the Bears. Like 50 Cats (see here for more), it is a whimsical piece, one which might put some visitors in mind of a certain Bear of Very Little Brain and his love of honey – although the furry characters here are far removed from any A.A. Milne.

The humour in the piece is evident from the About Land description, in which Cica poses a question and gives the answer:

Q: What do you call a bears without ears?
A: B’s.

Cica Ghost: Bees and Bears

Sitting under a blue-orange sky is a garden like island, rich in tall daisies (be sure to collect your own daisy from the sign at the landing point). Up on the hills to the north-east sits a little village of  bee hives – the kind you might usually find hanging from the bough of a tree.

But these are not ordinary bee hives: each one is unique – some appear to have been knitted (and resemble boiled egg cosies), other appear to be made of wood, some are woven. All are home to a happy colony of bees – some of whom can be found asleep in their beds, others are setting out for work, little bags for collecting pollen carried in their legs.

Cica Ghost: Bees and Bears

The bears of the title appear to be a father and son. They live in a little cottage across the garden from the bee village, and their relationship with their buzz-ee neighbours looks to be a happy one. Among the daisies, papa bear is hauling a little trailer with a jar of honey in it, a little group of smiling bees watching him. More jars can be found neatly stacked in the cottage, outside of which another happy bee seems to be enjoying a conversation with Junior bear.

As is usual for Cica’s builds. there’s more to be found here: places to sit (mouse-over likely spots … tree stumps, red flowers….), some of which over single, static poses and others have a combination of static and animated poses. There’s also “beemobiles” to be found at various points. These are auto-rezzers; jump into one and it will sit you in version you can drive – just use the arrow / WASD keys when seated. And keep an eye out for giant Cica, as she keeps an eye on all that’s going on.

Cica Ghost: Bees and Bears

Bees and Bears is another delight from Cica. Light-hearted, whimsical and fun to explore. Like 50 Cats before it, it will put a smile on your lips – and perhaps give a little reminder of the important role bees play in our ecosystem.

SLurl Details

50 cats in Second Life

Cica Ghost: 50 Cats

Cica Ghost opened her new installation 50 Cats early in February 2018. Following on from Bird People, which presented something of a conundrum (see here for more), this is an altogether more light-hearted piece, offering a little tongue-in-cheek fun.

As a strap-line, the installation uses a quote by novelist and short story writer Bobbie Ann Mason, One day I was counting the cats and I absent-mindedly counted myself. It’s from her first published novel from 1982, Shiloh and Other Stories, although beyond the reference to counting cats, this doesn’t appear to have a deeper meaning for the installation – or at least, not one I could fathom.

Cica Ghost: 50 Cats

A visit begins in the south-west corner of a sandy island. Almost entirely devoid of trees, this little island has a ring of houses, tall and thin with pitched roofs, surrounding its lone hill. It is atop the hill, with its wooden fence crown, that the cats can be found. And there really are fifty of them.

They are standing, sitting, lying down, rolling on the ground, chasing butterflies, watching one another, washing – doing all the things cats do. Some look happy, many look a little nervous, some have a look of pathos in their eyes, as if asking to be taken home and shown a little love. None of them show the slightest interest ion the two trees in their garden nor the dustbins occupying a corner, despite the latter oft being associated with stray cats. For human visitors however, a click on the lid of one of the bins might generate interest and raise a chuckle.

Cica Ghost: 50 Cats

In a similar nature to the dustbins, there are a number of “bunny cars” – some of which can be touched for animations as well. These are also fun to play with, and grab the attention. Also to be found on the fence and on some of the buildings are Cica’s little cartoon stick people. And do keep an eye out for the mice; they are as captivating as the cats.

50 Cats is a wonderfully light-hearted build offers fun and smiles. For those who love cats, and wish to respond to the heartfelt looks of wanting to be taken home an loved, each one is available for sale. Just right-click to buy a copy; all can be resized to suit personal needs.

 

SLurl Details

  • 50 Cats (Pillow Rock, rated: Moderate)

Cica’s Bird People

Cica Ghost: Bird People

Bird People is Cica Ghost’s latest region-wide installation, and it presents something of a conundrum. In a largely denuded landscape, the ground of which has been partially and neatly divided into a black-on-white grid, sit giant, ornate metalworks. Some stand alone, others support great cages – or form cage-like structures, equally huge, while block-like towers, apparently made of stacked cubes also rise from the ground here and there. It’s a strange environment – and one, frankly, difficult to see when using the default landscape and following the viewing instructions (ALM enabled and Shadows set to Sun/Moon + Projectors).

Throughout the landscape, stairways rise, curl and undulate, some supported by metal structures, some starting from the blocky forms.  All of them twist and turn, and run by rise and fall to connect the ground – or at least their foundation blocks – offering people climbs up to dizzying heights and the giant cages waiting there. Some of these cages, but many are occupied by strange creatures with the bodies of bird and the heads of men. Most of these creatures sit within their cages individually or in pairs, facing open doors or sides to their enclosures almost apprehensively, as if fearing stepping out into the world beyond.

Cica Ghost: Bird People

What are we to make of this? The clue, perhaps, lies in the quote Cica has offered with the piece: We are all living in cages with the door wide open. It’s a quote from Star Wars creator George Lucas about creativity and imagination. It references the idea that we can all be creative, we can all soar far and wide on the wings of imagination, if we are only willing to just let go; So does the installation perhaps stand as a metaphor for this idea?

Certainly, there is a strong contrast between the expressions worn by the creatures who have stepped out of their cages and are variously gathered or dotted across the open spaces beneath their former prisons, and those who have yet to venture forth. The former – for the most part – appear happy, chatty, curious and even playfully (although there are one or two looking slightly wary). Those still within their cages look through open doorways with a mix of confusion, apprehension and uncertainty – or even close their eyes on their potential route to freedom. This contrast plays strongly into the idea that stepping beyond the confines of our personal cages – our comfort zones – if you will, and embracing the imagination can be a liberating, positive influence on us.

Cica Ghost: Bird People

For me, and in keeping with the broader theme offered by Lucas’ quote, the installation stands as the embodiment of a piece written be Debbie Hampton , the blogger and writer behind The Best Brain Possible. In 2015 She used the quote as the title for an essay about overcoming personal fear and the apparent “comforts” we can have in allowing ourselves to become caged by a “normal” life; we become, in effect, our own jailers.

I’ve lived most of my life like a bird in a cage with the door wide open. At any time, I could have hopped on over to the opening, taken flight and soared to new heights. All along, I’ve known how to fly. No one clipped my wings.

So, what kept me in the cage? My own fear and self-imposed limitations held me there. I was my own prison guard. I think we are all born knowing how to fly, but life happens and beats us down little-by-little until we forget that we ever had this valuable skill.

– Debbie Hampton, In A Cage With the Door Wide Open

Cica Ghost: Bird People

I must also, and in passing, admit that Cica’s human-headed birds put me in mind of something else – something entirely unintended by Cica (I know this because I asked her!), so I’m not going to draw any parallels between the two. I’ll simply state that in looking at these creatures, I couldn’t help but be put in mind of the Brontitallians from Douglas Adams’ Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – and while it may have been unintentional, it was also quite delightful.

A conundrum it may first be upon first arriving within it, Bird People is worth exploring and thinking about – although I do perhaps suggest you try a Midnight windlight setting rather than the default; it doesn’t detract that much from the experience (just ensure you do have LM enabled and Shadows set to Sun/Moon + Projectors), and it can certainly make navigation a lot easier when climbing the various stairways and reduces the risk of falling off them somewhat.

SLurl Details

Cica’s Fairy Tale in Second Life

Cica Ghost – Fairy Tale

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again,” so reads the quote from C.S. Lewis which Cica has selected for her latest installation, Fairy Tale, which opened on August 29th, 2017. It’s part of a dedication he gave to his God-daughter after writing The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. While Cica assures me she wasn’t aware of the full dedication when picking the quote, it is nevertheless the most salient part of Lewis’ comment – and fits this installation perfectly.

Across an undulating landscape, columns of rocks stack their way into the sky, vying with denuded trees and the surrounding hills for height. Only one of the hills is topped in grass – the rest of the land appears hard and dry. Reached by a set of steps formed by more rocks, it is home to a little red house sitting in a tiny garden. A plethora of cats occupy the house, most taken by the bed sitting towards one end of the single room, although one is attentive to the young woman who also stands inside the house.

Cica Ghost – Fairy Tale

The hill looks across the region, over the stacks of rocks, the trees and a group of standing stones to where three dragons proudly sit, surveying the world around them. One, perched high on a shelf of rock, is winged. “He’s the male,” Cica told me as we chatted about the build. “The other two without wings are female.”

One of the latter seems to have wandered a little from her nest, where patterned eggs awaiting hatching. another nest lies in a hollow of the ground a little further away. The second female offers a clue to the shell-like objects also scattered across the landscape. She is sitting on top of one, as if claiming it. “The dragons use the shells as caves,” Cica said. “They live in them!”

Cica Ghost – Fairy Tale

Scattered throughout the setting are sitting points, some with the addition of dances and other animations. Check the tops of some of the rock stacks and the little – but tall – island lying just off-shore as well in order to find them. All offer views out over this region and the opportunity to cam around or take photos.

Fairy Tale is another whimsical  installation from Cica. It is also a curio: just what do we make of it as we travel through it? What should we make of the dragons’ use of giant shells, and what of the original occupants of the shells? Where does the woman and her cats in the house fit within all this?

Cica Ghost – Fairy Tale

The clue to these and other questions lies best in the quote from C.S. Lewis: we are all enthralled with tales that give flight for the imagination, but somewhere along life’s path, we often lose the will to use our imaginations as fully as we might. Fairy Tale is perhaps presents a chance to recapture that willingness, to let out imaginations roams across this landscape as freely as our feet, and let imagination fill-in the blanks of the story.

SLurl Details