Silas Merlin at LEA 14

Silas Merlin LEA 14

“There are experiments and exhibits inside buildings,” Artist and sculptor Silas Merlin says of his installation at LEA 14. “It’s a collection of the things I happen to be building this semester, so there’s no specific theme; but I do have LEA in mind whatever I do, so I think everything is in theme in that respect.”

It’s certainly an intriguing environment, bringing together Silas’ gift for 3D sculpture and his pastel artwork in a place where exploration is encouraged – indeed required, if one is to see everything. It is also a place which includes certain nods to others here and there, be they intentional or otherwise; with the intentional ones offered a little tongue-in-cheek and without rancour.

Silas Merlin LEA 14

The landing point to the installation is located in a tall tower sitting just offshore to the rest of the build. This tower contains the first of Silas’ experiments: the use of a cubemap and a 360-degree image to create a reflective hemisphere on the stone floor (you’ll need to have you viewer’s Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) enabled via Preferences > Graphics in order to see the reflection, otherwise the hemisphere will simply appear to be a black object).

Getting to the rest of the installation is perhaps best done by flying from the landing point. A rugged landscape, with a ground pattern and plants which are in places mindful of Cica Ghost’s designs, this is a place littered with buildings and ruins, many of which look to have been extruded from living rock rther than constructed. Some rise like the towers of a castle, others seem to have echoes of Hindu or Aztec architecture, and others are far more free-form.

Silas Merlin LEA 14

Many of these structures have elements inside or on them. These range from experiments with projectors and projected lights  – so again, keep ALM enabled during your visit – to little vignettes of characters from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan (as seen through the 1953 lens of Walt Disney Pictures) to places to sit down and relax, and so on.

The Peter Pan elements can be found in a little scene featuring the Darling family, and  a charming little diorama featuring some of the principal characters – Pan himself, Hook, Tiger Lily, the crocodile, the alarm clock, etc. Larger versions of some of the characters can also be found dotted about the landscape, with Hook’s ship sitting in a small bay.

Silas Merlin LEA 14

Two of the larger structures within the landscape are particularly engaging, albeit for different reasons. The first takes form of a temple with a somewhat Hindu styling to it. It has been raised in recognition of a certain – controversial, shall we say – artist who has not had the best of relationships with the LEA, being s known for her … disruptive … influence.

“She seems to target LEA artists,” Silas playfully said of the artist concerned, “So I thought it would be fun to have a temple with offerings to appease the angry goddess!”

Silas Merlin LEA 14

The second building offers a selection of pastel drawings by Silas. However, these are very different to his usual studies. Predominantly black-and-white, they have something of a dark, haunting tone to them, with even the colour paintings hinting at spirits and the supernatural.

A part of the installation that may not be obvious to visitors sits at 3021 metres in the air. Here, on a platform sits a small ghost town of buildings – some of which reminded me of some of the structures in Silas’ Felsenmeer experience in Sansar.  It sits among a number of platforms containing unfinished elements, and offer another point for exploration, even if you do need to map teleport your way up to it.

Silas Merlin LEA 14

A curious but engaging mix of Silas’ work, LEA 14 will remain open to visitors through until the end of June.

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Seduction and Vettriano in Second Life

Seductions

Seductions is the title of a combined 2D and 3D installation by Alo Congrejo and Lorys Lane, with Alo providing the overall build and Lorys the photographs.

“[Seductions is] An urban pathway,” the artists state of the installation, “that guides the visitor through images representing the seduction in different fields and contexts.”

Seductions

It’s a curious piece; one suggestive of depth, but which can be can be slightly confusing in the manner, the images appearing to be at odds with the general geometry of the setting, in which cubes (including the rooms in which the images are displayed), squares, rectangles, cylinders, spheres, and so on, can draw the eye to them, and away from the photographs.

The images themselves, spread across a series of red rooms – the colour itself matching the core theme of the installation -, present multiple aspects of seduction, from couples becoming intimate through to the initiation of seduction – the use of undewear and nightgowns and slips; to the way casual or suggestive acts can lead to more intimate acts: the casual touch of hand on body, the more deliberate placement of a bare foot placed between spread thighs, the start of attraction in catching sight of someone across a room. It’s a fascinating range of images, each with a unique narrative – and some have something more – as the artists openly acknowledged.

Seductions

Jack Vettriano (born Jack Hoggan) is a self-taught Scottish painter, who images can encompass themes of seduction and acts of seduction (although his portfolio covers far more subjects). Several of the pieces within Seduction are offered as an homage to Vettriano’s work. Which they might be, I leave to you to decide; suffice it to say that they are presented in such a way to offer an homage without in any way being derivative – they are all of themselves unique in style and presentation.

And the setting? It exudes a certain amount of impersonality surrounding the photographs; this in itself fits the overall subject, as the act (or art) or seduction is a personal act, one that generally takes place in rooms and spaces away from the public eye, even as the world continues on around it: the ebb and flow of people in streets and places outside. Acts of seduction and intimacy can also cause embarrassment; hence, perhaps the reason for the 3D animated pieces: the offer the eye a “distraction” from the acts of – dare I say – foreplay depicted here.

Seductions

The setting also has another interpretation: acts of intimacy, of seduction, can be born out of the most unexpected encounters: a meeting on the street, at a café, in the midst of the bustle of daily life. Some of this is to be found within the photographs, and the setting itself offers a further echo of this.

Seductions is, as noted, a curious installation – but this is not meant negatively; the simple fact is, the more time spent within it, the more it engages the eye and mind, the 3D environment and the photographs working in unison to attract us and offer stories for our imaginations. From the landing point, take the teleport to the main platform.

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Eidola: reality and perception in Second Life

Eidola

Eidola (a phantom; an apparition; an ideal) is a new installation by Livio Korobase, which opened on March 16th, 2018. It’s a daring, imposing – and possibly overwhelming – build; seeking to explore the eye and the idea; how vision has helped form our perceptions and understanding of the world around us.

It’s an ambitious subject, one that dates back at least to the time of Pythagoras, as is indicated in the installation’s liner notes. He believed that we could see because the eye emits rays of light, and that these rays gave a person information about colour and shape. From this idea through Democritus to Johannes Kepler by way of Da Vinci, and with a mention of gestaltism along the way, the liner notes provide a framework for understanding the installation, including the fact it uses, as a means of both presenting ideas and navigating it, the five chapters of Ruggero Pierantoni’s  1981 book, The eye and the idea. Physiology and history of vision.

Eidola

Visitors arrive at a near central arrival point, which offers significant reading – including an excerpt from Wassily Kandinsky’s ruminations on the geometrical elements which make up every painting, and the basic plane, the material surface on which the artist draws or paints. This sits alongside extracts discussing the nature of visible light and the brain’s reaction to light entering the eye.

From here, visitors are invited to make their way through six vast houses, most of which are elevated in varying manners – on the backs of great statues, atop basalt columns, up in the branches of trees. The first five houses reflect the chapters of Pierantoni’s book, and the sixth something of a conclusion.  These are linked one to another by raised ladders on top of scaffolds laid out as horizontal walkways. The first of these can be reached via a short walk over the landscape, or a teleport board is available for those short of time, or returning for a further visit and wish to resume where they left off.

Eidola

Each of the houses is packed with information on its specific topic: Myths of Vision; Space, Inside and Outside; Light, inside and Outside; Proportions, Symmetries and Alphabets; and Illusion and Pleasure. Some of the walkways are on a single level, some are there to be climbed in order to see the contents in a house, and one includes a teleport. Outside of the houses, the walkways offer views across the surrounding landscape. This is filled with what might at first appear to be curios watched over by gigantic humans – but they are all in some way related to the overall theme of the installation.

At the end of the elevated walkways, beyond the sixth house, is the frame of a house. Approach and enter this, and the frame is revealed at an animated work of art built in reflection of the themes from the rest of the installation: perception, perspective, line, point, and more.

Eidola

Trying to quantify this installation is not easy; it is one that needs to be personally experienced. The amount of information it contains can be overwhelming if trying to take everything in during a single visit. But there is a lot of food for thought to be found in the houses for those interested in science, philosophy, psychology, history or art; therefore more than one visit might be the best order of business.

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  • Eidola (LEA 24, rated: Moderate)

Within Storm’s Country of the Mind in Second Life

Storm Septimus, Untitled – LEA 28

Untitled, the latest installation by Storm Septimus, is an extraordinary build. Deeply personal, a visit to is to take a journey into Storm’s Country of the Mind; a reflection of her thoughts and feelings around disability and illness.

Like The Void before it (see here), Untitled is something of a dark place – if not literally, then certainly in tone. As such, it may not appeal to everyone – but for those who visit, I urge patience; this is a build rich in symbolism and metaphor.

Storm Septimus, Untitled – LEA 28

A visit begins on a rocky platform high in the sky, home to a desk filled with syringes, prescription containers for pills, and – other items which might in certain situations be associated with mental illness: a knife and bottles of alcohol. A denuded (dead?) tree stands over the desk, which has a single flower, a small tractor and an old toy sitting with it; all of them metaphors for life and death.

An ornate mirror stands close by, a touch teleport offering the way to the second island (or to the Lower Garden – although I recommend a trip to the second island ahead of any jump to the Garden. Rising from a sea of roiling cloud, this island is a place of vivid symbolism, in places mindful of Invictus (see here). Central to it is a sea of blood surrounding a smaller island, home to the mirror teleport. Scattered around the rim of the island are expressions of illness: old-style hospital screens, wheelchairs, bed frames and theatre lights.  Elsewhere are the wrecks of ships, old watchtowers, trees twisted in the shapes of strange creatures, while atop a high plateau sit images of death – tomb stones, broken limbs of mannequins, all of which is crowned by a small chapel.

Storm Septimus, Untitled – LEA 28

The Lower Garden reveals that the landing point sits upon the shoulders and upper backs of four huge statues, semi-bound by chains – a further symbol of being held prisoner to illness and disability. A bridge spans the gap between this lower garden and the base of the second island, revealing that latter is in part held aloft by two huge creatures. Troll-like in form, they are held in place by great chains, hands locked in place in great cast iron restraints, further holding them in place. Between and either side of them, blood rises in three streams, feeding the pool above.

Scattered across these landscapes are diaries waiting to be discovered and read. They offer further personal insights into dealing with illness, disability, doubt and depression. There are also places to sit and reflect on what is being presented in the open, and for those who explore carefully, other teleport points. One of these, deep within the island, suggests a place of sanctuary – an inner sanctum of the mind, a place filled with small comforts: a favourite chair, a select of treasured books, and open vault of memories – although a little darkness remains in the form of a centipede wrapped around the glass bell containing the beauty of a flower.

Storm Septimus, Untitled – LEA 28

“I wanted to highlight the emotional effects of disability,” Storm says of the installation. “I know I could have gone so many ways with that [but] the build ended up being that lonely, desolate, hopeless place of despair in my mind.” And indeed, the emotional power contained within the installation is inescapable; it permeates throughout every element, presenting a powerfully immersive environment which, dark though it may be, offers considerable food for thought.

When visiting, there are a few things to keep in mind: firstly, you’ll need to have Advanced Lighting Model enabled in order to fully appreciate the more subtle touches in the installation – such as the reflections in the teleport mirrors. Also be sure to try touching things as you explore the installation; some – like the diaries – are interactive. Also, be aware this build has a lot going on, and viewer performance can be very variable throughout it.

Storm Septimus, Untitled – LEA 28

Storm has also passed an invitation to disability  support groups to display information about their work in the Lower Garden. So, if you represent such a group and would like  to have your information displayed there, please drop Storm a line.

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MOSP returns to Second Life

MOSP 2018

Chic Aeon has re-opened her Machinima Open Studio Project (MOSP) for machinima makers and photographers. First seen in 2012, MOSP has been through a number of iterations – as my past posts on the project will hopefully show. Offering indoor and outdoor film sets, studio facilities for filming shows and the like.

In this latest iteration, which is still under development, MOSP opened its doors in mid-January, offering – as a start – a ground-level location, based on her installation A Steamy Mystery at Terradale, with some additional element, and a city setting up in the sky, someone reminiscent of the original city setting from MOSP’s original iteration.

MOSP 2018

It is at this latter location that people first arrive. This offers outdoor night setting with a parking lot, façades for tower blocks, backed by surrounding backdrops of city high-rises seen against a misty night sky; so using the local windlight or setting your viewer to a cloud night setting is recommended for a visit, although with careful filming, daylight settings should work on the space as well.

The landing point faces a resource centre, which includes teleports to other set locations (again, only the ground level being open at the time of my visit although others provide hints as to what is coming). not far from this is a series of small stage sets, one of which is outfitted as a photography studio with backgrounds and green screen as well as pose balls. There is also a classroom / meeting area. Further afield, but still within the surrounding high-rises are further lots, apparently awaiting building-out. With cars parked around the lot, the building shells and the entrance to a subway station, the setting offers a fairly simple location for filming, which I assume will be added to over time.

MOSP 2018 

“This all new build offers full sim-sized environments for ease of shooting and continuity,” Chic says of the facility. “There is flow. There are surprises and plenty of details. Builds have been optimized for LOD2 to ease the drain on computer systems and let those with mid-level machines still turn on shadows or depth of field when needed.”

For those needing an outdoor small-town style of location for filming, the ground level “Terradale” set might fit the bill. “Obvious steampunk references have disappeared,” Chic states, “and many new buildings have been added. Structures are clustered for better filming and photography and ‘clutter’ has been added to private areas for a more realistic feel.” There is also an information centre inside one of the buildings, again offering teleports between the different stage / set levels.

MOSP 2018

Chic also notes, “While the infrastructure and many of the furnishings and props have been made by myself, the work of other content creators is also featured. Artist buildings are noted with name plaques; gacha collections with buildings have markers. If in doubt, right-click and inspect to note who to thank for bringing this sim to life.”

In previous designs, MOSP gradually developed a wide range of film sets and opportunities, from rural to city through outdoor settings to sci-fi, so it will be interesting to see how this iteration is developed and what additional resources are provided. In the meantime, the current facilities are open for people to use, and specific enquiries or questions should be directed to Chic Aeon.

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A journey into Sapiens in Second Life

Gem Preiz: Sapiens

Sapiens is the title of a new region-wide installation by fractal artist Gem Preiz, which has an official opening at 13:00 SLT on Wednesday, January 10th, 2018.

This is – quite literally – a huge installation. It starts at ground level, on a walkway where visitors can find information givers on the installation and how best to view it. Camming out from this will reveal a large floating cube shape, formed by a 3x3x3 matrix of smaller cubes, which is something of a motif for the installation:  can also be found at the end of the catwalk, where a smaller version acts as a teleport which will deliver visitors to the installation proper.

Gem Preiz: Sapiens

The build takes the form of a giant “labyrinth” very industrial in looks (something heightened by the stream venting at various points throughout). More raised catwalks form a grid around huge towers rising from the floor, catwalks and towers alike enclosed by massive walls. The walkways are further enclosed under high ceilings. At various points around this grid of catwalks – such as where they intersect with one another or in the corners of the grid – are platforms, some of which  have square holes at their centres. Above these rise huge shafts, further platforms visible at their tops, and from which square sections may periodically descend to fill the open spaces in a platform below, becoming elevators visitors can stand on top be carried between the levels of this vast complex.

Throughout each level – all of which have a slightly oppressive feel about them due to the repeated fractal designs of floors, walls and ceilings which imparts a feeling of unending sameness – Gem has variously put pieces of his fractal art, forty in all. These are intended to represent four themes: technology, mazes, darkness and confinement. Some many only appear once, others may be repeated; all are meticulous in their design and presentation and are visually captivating. They are not images one sees as one is drawn into them. Most reflect the environment in which they are set: enclosed and confined, limited; other suggest broader horizons and the promise of places we might yet discover.

Gem Preiz: Sapiens

There is more here to be seen than may be at first apparent. For a start, depending on which elevators you use, you may find the build seems to have 3 levels – but if you use others, you’ll find it actually has four (I’ll let you decide which lead where…). Also, triangular windows in the corners of the central towers hint at a world beyond the confines of the tunnels and catwalks. This can be seen by flycamming through the walls or by – on two of the levels of the build at least – finding the door marked EXIT, which can be opened with a touch (but do not step through without flying!).

Beyond the doors the labyrinthine effect of the installation is greatly enhanced: great shafts and tunnels seeming to run outward to infinity, standing like great tower blocks interlinked by giant enclosed bridges and walkways, all stretching off into the distance, spherical shuttles scooting along them or rising and descending through them. It’s a giddying display, particularly if you just cam out over the lip of the doorways and cam up / down and around.

Gem Preiz: Sapiens

So what is to be made of all this? Gem offers an explanation in the notes accompanying the installation, which might be summarised as an expression of growth, of overcoming limitations and the shadows of primal (and other fears) we individually and as a race have and do confront. Just as this is a maze of walkways and elevators, so to is the human mind a maze of thought processes which run this way and that, sometimes intersecting, sometimes looping back on themselves, sometimes offering glimpses of what might be. And some lift us a step at a time towards greater understanding, greater abilities, even as we are shadowed by fears (these in the form of the black hands stretching out towards / over some of the catwalks); until finally, we’re ready to break free of the shadows and fears and achieve.

This latter point is beautifully presented on the upper level of the installation’s catwalks, where a golden figure sits, cowering beneath the outstretched hand of primal and other fears – but which offers the way for us to become human, to become reasoned thinkers and creators – as indicated in the final scene of this installation (which also contains for catalogues of the fractal images used within / which inspired the build a teleport cube for returning to the landing point).

Gem Preiz: Sapiens

Complex and challenging, Sapiens offers a commentary on human growth and understanding. It is a theme, Gem informs me, which will be expanded upon in a second build Demiurge, which should open in late February / March time. I’m already curious to see if it will embrace either the Platonic of the Gnostic views of the word – or perhaps combine them both.

Note: fellow blogger Diomita Maurer offers her thoughts on Sapiens, and kindly makes mention of me.

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  • Sapiens (LEA 29, rated: Moderate)