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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Cica and Bryn’s Social Distancing in Second Life

Social Distancing

Currently open at Bryn Oh’s Immersiva is Social Distancing, a join installation by Bryn and Cica Ghost. The title should immediately give away the theme of the installation.

I confess that in its current application around the world, I find the term “social distancing” an odd choice. In an era when social media has all but taken over our lives and allow many to say in contact half-way across the globe whilst often remaining distanced from those immediately around them, the idea of “social distancing” is perhaps something of a non-sequitur; as the SARS-CoV-2 virus relies on close physical proximity one to another, it’s seemed to me a more apt term for the phenomena we’ve seen sine February (in the west – earlier in places like the far east) should perhaps be “physical distancing”.

Social Distancing

Anyway, semantics aside, this cosy – in terms of size – installation offers a broad take on social / physical distancing and its impact it has had on us. Within a watery, overgrown garden environment surrounded on three sides by great concrete walls (the state of the garden and the high walls themselves possible metaphors).

A rough path winds through the overgrown landscape, offering a path to various vignettes signifying the state and anxieties of people and society. A man sits at the window of his house, the room behind him stacked with toilet rolls and he has a pair of binoculars in hand as he looks towards his mailbox. The flag is up and letters lie within, but he appears too worried to make the trip out to collect them. Further along the zig-zagging path, a couple sit on a boat – but at opposite ends, unable to express themselves more intimately to one another by holding hands or simply sitting side-by side.

Social Distancing

Further still long the path is a little village scene where the occupants of the houses all express various reactions to having to remain isolated. Some, more able to adapt, perhaps, use carrier pigeons (an analogy for more modern means of connecting to others?) to pass letters back and forth. Others sit at their windows and worry. One simply hides behind his curtain, peeking in terror at the world from around the edge of it. Should you wish to be a part of this vignette, there are a couple of houses with single poses included.

There’s a certain poignancy to all of these little houses and their occupants that may perhaps touch us in different ways. For many of us, making the transition to the kind of lifestyle social / physical distancing has brought about hasn’t been dramatically hard in the scheme of things. We have our Facebook, our You Tube our WhatsApp – and yes, our Second Life – to maintain contact and engage with family and friends.  But what about those who find being on their own hard – such as the elderly or those psychological issues? Seeing the face crammed into a corner of a house window and peering around the edge of the curtain, I was immediately reminded of an interview with a doctor who has been trying to help those whose psychosis requires physical proximity to others in order to help them avoid giving into their inner demons and voices.

Social Distancing

Another subtle element in the installation alludes to the risk countries and people face in pushing to get back to “business as usual” too soon. There is a real risk – as has been seen with past epidemics and pandemics – that trying to relax rules around social / physical distancing, etc., too soon could lead to a second or even third wave of the SARS-CoV-2 / Covid-19 situation striking the world. Within Social Distancing, this risk is seen by the presence of “Corona Monsters” among the bushing and floating in the water. they appear to lying in wait, ready to strike should those in the little houses all decide to come out and start mingling.

A timely and engaging installation, reached via the teleport board at the Immersiva landing point, and complete with gacha machines for those wishing to obtain some of the models used in the exhibit or to support Cica and Bryn.

Social Distancing

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Cica’s new Fairy Tale in Second Life

Cica Ghost – Another Fairy Tale

Cica Ghost opened her latest installation on Saturday, March 7th 2020 for a month-long run. Entitled Another Fairy Tale, it offers a continuation of ideas first presented in Fairy Tale in 2017 (see: Cica’s Fairy Tale in Second Life), introducing a new family of fantastical creatures scattered across a twilight landscape.

Like Fairy Tale, this installation is introduced with a quote by a writer of tales, with Cica using words from Hans Christian Andersen: Everything you look at can become a fairy tale and you can get a story from everything you touch, and such is the evocative nature of the scene that for anyone who visited Fairy Tale, the intervening years between it and this installation simply vanish, and it is as if we’ve turned a page in Cica’s magical story and arrived at the start of a new chapter.

Cica Ghost: Another Fairy Tale

But while the original featured a somewhat bleak and barren landscape with columns of rock and branches bereft of leaves vied to reach the sky, here we are in a garden setting, where tall flowers point their colourful petals towards the darkening sky, and leafy vines droop their way around rocks even as flowerless shoots also rise towards the clouds scudding overheas, the ground beneath them mottled and covered by verdant, moss-like grass,

Within this setting reside creatures fantastical, some seemingly born of the land, some of the sea and some of the air; some with legs and / or wings, others limbless or with forelegs ans sinuous tails. Many are quadrupeds, some with cloven, hoof-like feet, with or without claws, others with foreleg appendages that appear to be capable of manipulating other objects.

All of them are united in the facial features, which range from the almost bovine (at first glance) of some through to the very anthropomorphic looks, the latter most noticeable in the winged creatures, graced with very a human-esque placement of forward looking eyes above a nose-like snout that in turn sits above a lipped mouth. All are faces suggestive of intelligence and awareness, eyes occasionally focusing on visitors, expressions set in frowns at being disturbed or what might be smiles of greeting.

Cica Ghost: Another Fairy Tale

How and where these creatures evolved is perhaps part of the region’s story. There is a suggestion that while some are now quadrupeds, they mostly share a heritage born of the surrounding waters, and that even now  evolution is being witnessed as those with sinuous tails or bodies are adopting to life ashore, growing forelimbs – or they are at least given to being equally at home on land or in the sea. This idea is aided by another creature that rises slowly from the waters just offshore,  as if gradually worming its way ashore, while nearby, a second, massive creature (a wonderful combining of mesh elements and the region’s terrain on Cica’s part to give it form and life) raises its bulk and head above the waves to look down on the landscape like a mother watching over her brood at play.

Whether this is a land of our own planet but hidden far, far, away from everyday human affairs (as can be the way of fairy tales) or is perhaps part of another world entirely is something also left to the imaginations of visitors. For those who like the interactive elements of Cica’s builds, be sure to mouse around; sit and dance points are waiting to be found within flowers and close to some of the land creatures, while grabbing a leg of one of the flying chaps will take you on a journey across the region, revealing many of its delights and curiosities – such as the Jaws-like rocks pushing up from the grass their open “mouths” partially lined with “teeth” revealing they are nests and home to as yet flightless version of the airborne creatures.

Cica Ghost: Another Fairy Tale

Imaginative, whimsical, and delightful, Another Fairy Tale is a delightful continuation of a trips through Cica’s worlds of the imagination. Do be sure to at least enable ALM when visiting to appreciate her always considered use of lighting projectors and materials.

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Cica’s way with Burlap in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Burlap

Cica Ghost opened her latest region-wide installation on Sunday, February 9th, and it is another absolute delight from an artist who can chase away the darkest clouds and turn the deepest frown into a smile.

Burlap is a marvellous setting where just about everything is fashioned from that fabric (also known as hessian in some parts of the world). The ground is a stitched-together pattern of plain and coloured burlap swatches, the houses, vases, pots and boxes that lay scattered across it similarly so, while a ribbons the fabric forms a road that winds around and over the land. Even the posts and fences are made from the stuff, as are the flowers that sprout from vase and pot.

Cica Ghost, Burlap

The only real exception to the use of burlap and thread comes in the form of buttons. These not only secure the clothes of the local population – of which more in a moment, they also act as wheels on vehicles large and small, some mobile, some static, some apparently being pulled along. Wheels even sit at the four corners or on either side of some to the finger-like houses, suggesting that with a firm heave-ho, they could be set rolling across the quilted landscape.

Within the setting, the local inhabitants watch the comings and goings of visitors with interest, forming a little community of burlap-dressed bears, rabbits, ducks, felines and mice (and even a giant fish apparently quite at home draped over a hill!). The bears, rabbits and ducks all have their own little neighbourhood areas, complete with their own burlap-fronted shop, while the felines – a lion jealously guarding his bag of potato chip (or crisps as we’re prone to call them in the UK), and a cat apparently out shopping with a little mouse literally in tow with her – stand apart from one another.

Touch the fronts of the shops, and the burlap “doors”  will rise curtain-like, to reveal smaller versions of the locals available for purchase and display.

Cica Ghost – Burlap

As with all of Cica’s builds, Burlap includes a lot of places for avatar animation / interaction, with sits and dances to be found on multiple sufaces – just carefully mouse over things and watch for the Sit icon to appear. Some of the obvious places are the giant gramophone player, the swings and the chairs – but there are more that I’ll leave yo to discover 🙂 .

Also, keep an eye out for the gift giver – it’ll present you with your very own burlap sack you can use to hop around the installation and have sack races with friends. There is also a fish car rezzer sitting to one side of the region awaiting drivers (turn off your AO to sit within in properly). Do be warned, however, that it does tend to launch you and your car once you’re seated!

Cica Ghost – Burlap

Whimsical, fun and bright, Burlap will remain open for about a month. When visiting, do please consider making a donation towards Cica’s work, so we can all continue to enjoy her art in Second Life.

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  • Burlap (Wisdim Isle, rated Moderate)

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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