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Category Archives: Art in SL

An hour in Sansar

When I read about a historic roleplaying sim moving from Second Life to Sansar, my reaction was surprise that it was still a thing. I know, I know; while I was away from SL, I didn’t frequent the virtual world blogs either. I had an hour and a decent desktop computer, so I took a Sansar trip.

The software installed while I picked up some free clothing in the store and read help articles to learn basic functionality. A little customization and voila: Sansar me. My avatar won’t win any beauty contests and I was surprisingly annoyed that I couldn’t change eye color — live 40+ years with an unusual eye color in RL and it starts to become part of your identity — but I love what can be done with Marvelous Designer clothing.

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I visited Sky Naturae Virtualis by Alex and the Lost Art of Star Wars by Hollywood Art Museum, but it was No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man by Smithsonian American Art that made me start to feel impressed. Sure, my avatar was clumping awkwardly through the rooms, but the displays were gorgeous. I’m a virtual art aficionado and the detail, lighting, moving elements, and sound integration had me gobsmacked. The camera controls or lack thereof were frustrating; I’m not sure if that was my newness or limitations in the Windows version of the app.

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There were a few people here and there, but I didn’t stop to chat. I still had a little time and decided to see what creating an experience of my own would be like. The easiest way seems to be to choose a starting layout and then play with the tools. I… well, I learned how to throw things.

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They’re planning to put Sansar on Steam by the end of the year, and I can see going back as a virtual tourist again. I think it was a little easier to get started in Sansar than SL, though I had to restart on my first try. It was very pretty. Does that sound like faint praise? I suppose it is. With all that Linden Lab should have learned in the past 15 years, I thought that at this point in Project Sansar, the effort would either be dead or far further along.

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Posted by on November 29, 2018 in Art in SL, Culture

 

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The world, three years later

Other than volunteering at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conferences for a couple years, I haven’t been in Second Life since very early 2016. Instead, I played some video games (ArcheAge, Subnautica, No Man’s Sky) and learned to make vector art in the time I had to play at my computer. My curiosity turned back toward SL recently. After all, my first avatar is over 13 years old and I maintained two premium accounts even when I wasn’t in-world. I believe in SL. So, I updated my Firestorm viewer and signed on.

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In many ways, it was as if I never left. This was a truly unusual experience in an interactive space. A couple people on my Friends list were online, my property was exactly the same as almost 3 years prior. I still had everything in my inventory and my avatars looked fairly good. It was strange and wonderful to see that the databases that hold all my “stuff” hadn’t been purged, as would usually happen in an MMORPG.

Since my home is on the mainland, the most obvious changes were in my neighborhood. I think there are a couple skyboxes, but I’m the only resident on ground level in my region. My little rectangle exists in perpetual spring, surrounded by abandoned land. I did some cleanup, played with the pet wolf that Jakob had given me, refreshed my memory about how to navigate, and then went wandering.

I visited a few stores that I used to like; they’re still there, and things I bought in 2015 remain available (often on the discount rack).  My store credit was valid and I had years of group gifts to pick up. I traveled to areas where I used to socialize and found that they exist as well, but they have new owners, new rules, and new direction. I checked out an art piece by Bryn Oh and strolled through a gallery, and I was pleased to see that Templemore is still putting on live shows.

I’d only been in-world a couple days before some random guy chatted me up at a store and then tried to get me to send him a RL pic. What is this, 2006? I’m up for a chat, but ffs, going from zero to RL pic in 5 minutes leads to whiplash. Which might have been something he was into… I didn’t really want to know.

Now, I can’t say that I’ll be on SL often. Looking at some of my friends’ profiles, I got reminders of the drama that never interested me. I missed the profusion of mesh heads and doing some bento shopping made me despair about the learning curve. I’ll soon start a new job that will put more demands on my time. Yet on the other hand, I’m feeling the pull of this creative and intriguing space. We’ll see.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2018 in Art in SL, Embodied Experience

 

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Remembering the potential of virtual creativity

There are times in Second Life when the graphics seem as crude as Minecraft, the big art installations look like my doodle-covered teenage notebook come to life, and the extent of imagination appears to be choosing a pose from a menu. But then when you’re least expecting it, you can be swept away.

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Yesterday while I was in the midst of some virtual landscaping (a lot less messy than RL), a new friend asked if I’d like to come along to a performance art show. I answered, “Sure!” before contemplating what exactly “performance art” could mean this time. I was in for a wonderful surprise.

The show was at the Lady Garden Cabaret and it was stunning. It was assembled like classic cabaret, where each performer has a self-contained act, but all of those acts aligned with a theme. This month, the theme was “enchantment” and specifically Peter Pan, thus the show had a flying Pan, dancing pirates, fairies galore, a sexy crocodile (yes indeed), and a mermaid. The performers exploited many advantages of the virtual world, plopping an entire ship into the theater, taking us underwater or into the sky. I snapped a few photos. As usual, these are not PhotoShopped or altered except for cropping, and I didn’t change Windlight settings or sun position. The photos are far inferior to the live experience, where everything was in dazzling motion and accompanied by a cleverly chosen soundtrack. What you see is only a fragment of what you experience in person. (Clicking an image will take you to a larger version on my Flickr stream.)

Pirate ship in the theatre

Sexy croc

Mermaid leaps into the sky

Mermaid

Time fairy

Fire fairy

Pirates (and a monkey!)

Second star on the right

Some of the acts were very good and others were jaw dropping. I wish I was quick enough to make notes and name the members of the Minxettes troupe that appeared, but I was too busy enjoying the show. I’m glad my friend mentioned that Misse uses a lot of particle effects so that I knew to adjust my graphics for her mermaid segment, which was breathtaking. And yes, it should be said that there were some Second Life irritations like lag and slow rezzing. The overall show was so good that those didn’t distract much.

As I was camming around between numbers, I saw a poster advertising that the show was looking for performers. The skill required is far more than the “spin around a pole choosing from a menu” style, as the artists provide their own sets and choreography. Wow. How I wish I had the talent for that, but clumsy me can barely jump onto a poseball without breaking a virtual nail.

The Lady Garden Cabaret is located at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Pegasoi/122/111/222 and I believe their next regular show is December 18th. Stop by and smack the subscriber to get updates on future performances or visit the Lady Garden Cabaret blog. I’ll make a point of going back with plenty of $L to stuff into the tip jars for the talented artists. They reawakened my sense of wonder and potential in Second Life.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2015 in Art in SL

 

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Second Life road trip: Heterocera Atoll part 1

The SL mainland doesn’t have the best reputation. With no zoning laws and limited control over the terrain and atmosphere, the mainland continents can be chaotic. That chaos can hide gems, though, which is one of the reasons I enjoy living there. Today I dismantled my skybox, leaving a platform and a large box to contain objects owned by Jakob: windchimes, a lotus pond, and lots of bouquets of red roses. I’ll arrange them neatly and give myself a space to sit and reflect until his account is deactivated. I still have my office on ground level as well as a large, landscaped parcel next to the road on the Heterocera Atoll continent. The notion of cutting off part of my parcel to bring down my tier payment is distressing, so I’m making little changes and maybe I’ll be ready by the end of the year.

In the meantime, I started flying around to see what bits of fun I could find on Heterocera. (I adjusted Windlight settings and sometimes applied a Darken filter for detail, but no additional editing has been done to the images below. WYSIWYG.) First I stopped for a coffee at the Damocles Diner in the Spini region. There’s seating for standard and tiny avatars, a nice assortment of refreshments and news boxes, but the swaying train above kept me from lingering.

Damocles Diner

The diner is below an abandoned and incomplete railway line. If you’re a transportation fan, Heterocera has railways, navigable water, a pod tour system, and many public roads. I won’t claim the lag is good — it’s shitty — but you can pull out a vehicle of your choice and get around. If you fly, the sky isn’t overwhelmed with ban lines but you’ll have to dodge skyboxes and towering structures.

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One of the unusual structures on Heterocera is the Great Northern Wall. This is a Linden build; you can walk/ride along the top or through a tunnel inside. Resident builds line the Wall and you can visit the (unofficial?) Great Wall center in the Ziczac region.

Great Wall center

While you won’t see many avatars in my photos, Heterocera is far from empty. There is a lot of abandoned land and in many areas the population density is low, but some places draw crowds. This is a shot of the map with green dots representing people, taken on Saturday afternoon SL time.

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On the SL mainland, each landowner can terraform her parcel only within a limited range of values (which is why I have a steep hill between my office and the back of my property that I can’t flatten). Between odd shapes cut by the various roads, waterways, and railroad tracks and the challenging elevations, residents have had to devise interesting solutions to build at ground level. I snapped a shot of one of the mountains on Heterocera; the peak is the highest point on the SL mainland:

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If you travel along the roadways like I often do, you’ll see a lot of open land. Some of it is truly vacant, but often the resident has a skybox hovering above for more privacy and less concern about the uneven ground. I admire those who have risen to the challenge, though!

Each SL premium account comes with an allocation of 512 square meters worth of free tier, the amount you would pay Linden Lab as a monthly rental fee for mainland space. I know a few people who don’t take advantage of that because they rent or own private islands. Other times, a resident might own mainland space but rarely use it. I had to laugh when I came across this building with the self-aware marquee.

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Sometimes a tiny parcel of land may be all you need, as in the case of this touching little roadside memorial.

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I can’t explore Heterocera without talking a little bit about the Second Life Railroad and the Virtual Railway Consortium, but I’m no expert. I marvel at some of their builds with all the wonder of visiting my childhood neighbor’s basement, where a detailed model train setup filled an entire room. If you’re a train aficionado, the tracks are here for your use! You can even find freebie train givers along the route. I took a little break at one of the stations.

Virtual railway station

Below is a map that was posted there. Further along in my journey, I found a sign by the VRC showing “Second Life Rail Road Traffic” on the continent, with lights indicating where pods and trains — automated ones, I’m assuming — could be found. There were nine pods and three trains active on the sign at the time.

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Because of all these public works builds (literally in most cases, the Linden Department of Public Works), there is a lot of public space on Heterocera. You’ll find piers, picnic areas beside the road, and even little rez zones. I pulled out some furniture to test the access. As a landless avatar, you could do worse than to find a pretty seaside spot to unpack your boxes.

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I’ll continue this trip when the mood strikes. After all, you haven’t seen the hobo lands yet, or Pyri, or the crater, or the temple, or the….

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2015 in Art in SL, Side Topics

 

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Friday night in virtual worlds

It’s been a rough week: I haven’t felt well, the news has been lousy, and I’ve been frustrated and lonely in my online worlds. I’m bored in ArcheAge, though I’m finding some amusement in traveling the oceans, killing sea monsters for drops to upgrade my clipper. Other than that? Blah.

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Second Life hasn’t been much better. SL is a huge space and new users have always complained that it’s hard to find and meet people in it. Well, let me assure newcomers that it’s not much easier for someone shy who has been there a decade! I jumped around the Destination Guide, often finding myself alone in a sim. The biggest crowds were at sexually oriented sims; I don’t shy away from those and I’ve met some great friends at venues with names that would instantly stop my mother’s heart, but I’m not ready for that sort of interaction. I visited a couple of the formal dance venues but I’m a lag snob and a room full of flexi gowns is a disaster. Standing at the side of the dance floor in my light(render)weight mesh gown, I felt like a prissy wallflower. Hmmph. I’m open to meeting people but also wary, as my heartache about Jakob comes to the surface easily when I’m in SL. Someone who meets me now might get a tough facade or thin ice over raging sadness instead of my normal personality.

So, I was delighted tonight when I got a group notice from Hesperia Templemore announcing an imminent performance by Red Heaven featuring Joel Eilde. I hadn’t heard Joel perform in the past but Templemore has never disappointed me and I headed right over. The crowd averaged 50 avatars, which is a considerable number for one space, but his stream was clear and the music was enjoyable. I tipped liberally — the artist, GM/host Bee, and the house — and I hope to go to another show there soon. (Related real world anecdote: I met my husband for lunch at a sandwich shop on Thursday and as we left, I wanted to tip the young woman who had been playing the guitar and singing in the corner, “if she has someplace I can put it,” I said. My husband said that she did, described the white can to me, and added, “After being in SL this long, I can find a tip jar!”)

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I grooved to the music and had a couple of conversations, and all in all, that’s a pretty good night in SL.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2015 in Art in SL, Gaming

 

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Monday movie: The Dragons Quest (machinima)

This is a lovely short movie that I couldn’t wait until my usual Wednesday film day to share. Unlike a lot of machinima shot in Second Life, this has a plot and characters as well as great settings and a fitting soundtrack. The creator, Gib Niekerk, takes inspiration from the books of Robin Hobb.

Tip of the hat to Wurfi, who also shared this link if the version below is blocked in your country: http://tinyurl.com/TheDragonsQuest.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2015 in Art in SL, Video

 

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Virtual sightseeing: Ferrari Scuderia

It’s still three weeks before the start of the Formula 1 racing season. Jakob and I watch races together and since we’re both tired of being indoors, I proposed a trip to the Galleria Scuderia Italia in Second Life.

Galleria Scuderia Italia in SL

Not an official Ferrari area, this is the largest private collection of Ferraris in SL, beautifully presented. Car modelers in SL do some marvelous work. I wander virtual auto dealerships for fun sometimes, but I’ve never seen a display as remarkable as this. The cars are arranged in a light-filled museum-like building.

GSI - browsing

What I love about this place is that the cars aren’t just lined up. Posed statues and realistic details are used to give the area life and context.

GSI - realistic details

But of course, the cars are amazing, too, inside and out. Cars aren’t sold here, but some of the information cards have links to dealerships.

GSI - closeup

Stop by the bar for a glass of champagne, and if you join the group, you can pick up a couple of nice Ferrari models at the “store” (not really a store). I’ve got one sitting on my virtual mantle.

GSI reception area

The Galleria is a place I discovered one day when I teleported to an SL mainland continent and started walking along the street. There’s more privacy and control on private islands, but you don’t get the wonder of stumbling on something unexpected.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in Art in SL

 

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