Ethereal Shapes in Second Life

Ethereal Shapes

Currently open through (I believe) until the end of October 2018, is Ethereal Shapes, an installation of form and light by Noke Yuitza. It comes with an intriguing introduction (touch “Info” on the board on arrival):

Within the forms of faces, animals, flowers… in groups of stars, ink, glitter… There are 4 scenes: Dreamer, Galaxy, Ballet, and Eyes. The concept that brings them together is the dreamer that looks at how stars dances in a galaxy ballet.

The landing point – a gazebo that appears to have been in part delicate spun from light – sits at the centre of a series of scenes brought to life by the shimmering play and movement of light. They stand in a circle against the darkness of night sky (note the windlight for the installation appears to have been set at parcel level, so if you are not using Firestorm, you may have to manually swap to Midnight in order to appreciate the setting properly).

Ethereal Shapes

The ring of scenes, linked by more shimmering tendrils of light that form intricate, ghostly flowers, are pointed t to by short walkways radiating out from the gazebo. Two of these routes may appear to have greater prominence than the others as they are marked by avenues of the gossamer, gently pulsating flowers. However, I’d venture to suggest it does not matter which of the five routes you opt to take in stepping off the gazebo; all of the scenes will captivate both eye and imagination.

These are elements designed to appeal to our imaginations, the dreamers within us, calling to us to look beyond the obvious and see what lies within each of them – the hidden faces, the hints of animal or creature outlines by curve and twist of leaf; the majesty of the cosmos around us, and the life it gives to us – and so much more. As such, words alone are insufficient to convey this installation; it needs to be experienced first-hand.

Ethereal Shapes

In this, having to manipulate the camera freely is of a huge advantage – and those who have a means to flycam via a joystick, game controller or Space Navigator style of mouse controller will be at a distinct advantage, as with some of the elements within the installation, a distant look isn’t always enough to fully grasp, rationally or via the imagination, the subtle beauty of things.

Take for example, the plants and the play of light across them.  It is as if they are in motion: dancers caught in an intricate ballet, or intangible creatures leaping into the air or caught on the wing. Then there are the very human figures also give to dance, their outlines broken into tiny constellations of softly pulsing light and flaring blooms of flowers. Zoom on these, and it is like zooming into the microcosm of the the heavens, a delicate reflection that we are in fact star-stuff.

Ethereal Shapes

Ethereal Shapes is an environment where the longer one spends within it, the more captivating it becomes. It is also a setting that is hosting a number of music events while open; so be sure to check the events board as well when visiting.

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Ethereal Shapes (LEA 2, rated Moderate)

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Italian artistry in Second Life

Astral Dreams Project

Astral Dreams Project is an exhibition celebrating Italian arts and creativity in Second Life, and to which I was recently invited to seen by the exhibition’s creator, Oema Resident.

“I was asked by Jack Davies and Mina Arcana, (the holders of the famous Astral Dreams region) to work with them to create an artistic project that helps to promote work of Italian artists in Second Life,” Oema informed me ahead of my visit, and framing the exhibition for me.

Astral Dreams Project: Ciottolina Xue

Given Italy’s role in the development of art and artistic expression in all its forms down through the centuries – architecture, painting, sculpture, design, and so on – an exhibition celebrating the work of some of the many Italian artists in Second Life really is appropriate; and Oema, Mina and Jack have clearly endeavoured to fold as many aspects of artistic expression into this installation.

Take, for example, the setting itself. This is a reproduction of the Piazza di Spagna, Rome, one of the most famous squares in that city, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church located at the top of the Spanish Steps, which descend to the Fontana della Barcaccia. Within the exhibition setting, these elements come from the collections of Italian SL designers Acqua Aria and Dogma9, who are also responsible for the buildings used to represent the rest of the piazza – although a little licence has been taken in places. The Palazzo Barbieri, for example, site to one side of the square. In the physical world it more correctly belongs within  Piazza Bra in Central Verona; but its presence here is very much in keeping with the theme of the project.

Astral Dreams Project: Paola Mills

The square itself presents two rows of boutique gallery spaces for 2D art displays, facing one another across the cobblestones, while the buildings either side of the Spanish Steps (one of which occupies to location of the Keats-Shelley Memorial House) are presented as galleries spaces for the sculptures of Ciottolina Xue and Mistero Hifeng.

During my visit, the 2D display spaces featured the work of Paola Mills, Lorys Lane, Renior Adder, Desy Falcone, Magda Schmidtzau, Clarisa Congrejo, CandieSheel, Degoya Galthie, Jarla Capalini and Oema herself. I’m not 100% certain if these artists will be rotated with others, or if they will remain on display throughout the life of the project. Oema did indicate to me there are events in the planning to introduce further artists; but this doesn’t necessary mean those currently on display might vanish; there is still room for more.

Astral Dreams Project: Mistero Hifeng

I say this because both the Palazzo Barbieri and the Trinità dei Monti were, at the time of my visit, home to reproductions of classical Italian paintings, so they might yet develop into further gallery spaces for SL artists. If nothing else, the “Coming Soon” sign that was displayed outside the Palazzo Barbieri indicates that this at least would be a further gallery space in the near future.

There is perhaps a slight preponderance of avatar studies among the 2D art currently presented. This is not surprising, given the popularity of this genre of SL photography. However, it does run the risk of overwhelming the eye, and is perhaps why, that among the 2D artists, I found myself repeatedly gravitating towards Renior Adder and Degoya Galthie, both of whom offer quite different displays to the rest (which also should be taken to mean I did not appreciate the art of the other artists around the piazza!).

Astral Dreams Project: Degoya Galthie

I don’t have dates for further openings in the project, but I will be keeping my eye on it to see who else might have their work exhibited – and I certainly recommend it as a worthwhile visit for those who enjoy SL art.

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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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