28 August 2014

My Space

Opening tomorrow, Friday, August 29, at 1:00 p.m. (with a concert at 2:00 p.m. by Ultraviolet Alter) is an installation at LEA24 by Betty Tureaud entitled My Space. At the landing point, flying saucer-like shapes rise from pyramids, and it's possible to catch a ride on one (provided you're wearing the Rocket Hat, available from the central pyramid) up and up and up to the top, where you can in turn grab a parachute and drop down back to the bottom. Between the top and bottom levels are various cylindrical shapes and platforms, nearly all employing Betty's trademark bright cheerful colors (although I was quite encouraged to see something in gray!).

There's an old, corny joke in the classical music world that Antonio Vivaldi wrote the same concerto 500 times: generally, one can listen for a few moments and immediately recognize the composer, but not be sure which work one is hearing. To me, that's a bit like encountering one of Betty's installations. Perhaps it seems a harsh analogy, but then again Vivaldi was unquestionably an extraordinary composer, and always one whose works merit hearing. (You can't knock Vivaldi.) Betty's works are at their best as social settings — that is, there is something about them that invites us to enjoy in and with a crowd, so the opening will be an optimal time to explore. Betty tells me that she'll probably create some additional installations during her residency at LEA24, which she has through the end of December.

27 August 2014

Il folle volo

Opening tomorrow, Thursday, August 28, at 1:00 pm slt at Lost Town (La Città Perduta) is a installation by Giovanna Cerise entitled Il Folle Volo, meaning in English literally The Mad Fight. Curated by Akilae Gant and Sivi Kelberry, the Italian town has served as a recurring venue or environment in which artists can develop new works, and often artistic results have meshed with the town with remarkable elegance. In Giovanna's case, inspiration has been drawn from the character of Odysseus, who appears in ancient as well as contemporary literature as a symbol, as Giovanna puts it, "of the journey of all men who refuse to be trapped by dogma ropes, conformism and fear and prefer to go further, risking," adding, "Everyone can be Ulysses, when we are ready to take 'il folle volo'. Is always right do it?"

In this particular installation, Giovanna considers five elements of the Odyssean myth: The Trojan Horse (which gained the Greeks entrance into the city of Troy), Polyphemus (one of the cyclops and a son of Poseidon), Circe (a goddess who managed to change Odysseus's crew into swine), the Sirens (previously encountered by Orpheus), and the Mad Fight. The last is not drawn from the Odyssean myths but is rather a reference to Dante's Inferno, Canto XXVI, in which Odysseus is know by his Roman name, Ulysses. Giovanna states, "The mad flight can be considered as the symbol of a journey into the unknown. It is also the daily challenge that every man faces in his journey in trying to overcome his limitations, large or small they may be."

Three of Giovanna's creations tower over Lost Town, while the other two are more subtle. To get around, spot the teleporter pads, which can take you by sequence through the entire build, and will also drop you off at a place to obtain some free avatars by Sivi and Akilae. As you arrive at each stop, you can either read the descriptive text in Italian, posted on boards, or click on the boards to obtain English translations. While you're visiting, do enjoy the other sites around the sim (including the underground tunnels), and feel free to make a contribution near the landing point.

25 August 2014

Intro

It's always enjoyable to shop in a lovely setting, and once in a while a store — or a group of stores, in this instance — creates a new sim that's designed as much for sightseeing as for shopping. Such is the case with Intro, designed by vitamingirl (currently a.k.a ĹÜĹÜ), and home to her shop — bonne chance (b.c.c.) — as well as U.F.O. (ur.favorite.one), *(OO)*YUKI, Howl and VCO. Previous incarnations of homes for b.c.c. have been no less delightful, but Intro gives us something unusually ethereal and beautiful: a world of wispy white clouds where magic seems to be in the air. (These images were all taken using the region's default windlight setting.)

From the landing point, you can visit any of the five shops — although you can't fly, you can double-click to teleport (if you do things that way) to jump from shop to shop. But the teleport board at the landing point whisks you off to five special and delightful destinations (home, once upon a time, starlight, moon and story), all exquisitely rendered, and many of which have interactive poses: at the castle below, for example, hop in the tub to transform into a mermaid (or merman, as the case may be). But do shop, all the same, to help support Intro — its five shops reflect the creativity of the design, and vice versa.

21 August 2014

Spirit Within

Now open at LEA6, as part of the LEA Full Sim Art Series, is Spirit Within by Lagu Indigo and Stardove Spirt. The artistic builds created as part of this series are short-lived: the artists have possession of the sim for only a month, and that includes their time to build. Consequently, we have less time to spend with each creation (and artists have to build quickly), but in exchange we see a monthly progression of works. In this case, Lagu and Stardove describe their work as an "art project about life and death experience," and, while I don't usually quote entire artist statements, theirs is included below the second image:

"This art project is called Spirit Within based on a life death experience, as you land within the garden you are surrounded by water and light, you will view the steps leading up to a temple which within holds the light, The walk up to the temple you will have spirits on each side of the steps, this represents the spirits that where the guides that showed the way to the light, they where of pure light and like ancestors from the past. As you reach the top within the temple is the light and an Angel he was the giver of light and shows the way to the light though the darkness and back to reality and earth. The butterflies represent the rebirth and the beauty that there is life and that you can be reborn, My experience of life and death it is only a small part of the journey and as the light was given so I am grateful to be alive and free like the butterfly. There where many parts to this experience and this is just the one part, maybe a dream of the mind or a reality. But I know that I got though a bad time and am thankful for the experience. It like a cleansing of the soul to a new beginning of a new life."

17 August 2014

Firestorm Release 4.6.7.42398 and Mac 64bit Viewer

This evening, the Firestorm team officially released version 4.6.7.42398 of their popular viewer (click here for release notes and download links). This release incorporates the Lab's Project Interesting, which significantly improves scene loading, so this update is really a must for any Firestorm user. A clean install is recommended.

For people like me who use Macs, what's really huge about this release is the much anticipated 64bit version of the Mac viewer. I've had the pleasure of testing the 64bit beta versions for quite a while, and can assure you that the experience is like night and day: gone are the "textures discarded" memory crashes (the bane of many a photographer's existence), and the overall improvement in performance is staggering: even in a very crowded sim with dozens of avatars, I'm able to rapidly cam around, and everything renders swiftly. (And this is on a several-year-old iMac.) Even though the Mac 64bit version is being released as a beta, I think it's the most stable version of the viewer I've ever used, so I'd strongly recommend it. (Also: if your Mac is running anything below OS X 10.9, Mavericks, and can be updated, do it — you'll see significant improvements with Firestorm or any other viewer.) Thanks to Cinder Roxley, Tonya Souther and Sovereign Engineer (of Alchemy Viewer) for all of their work on the new Mac 64bit viewer. (And, of course, thanks to the entire Firestorm team for their exceptional work and dedication!)

Almost gone is the notorious option-cam bug, introduced with the Lab's Mac Cocoa build, that could shoot your camera willy-nilly into space — now that happens only once every twenty clicks or so (fix via the Lab from Aura Linden). Significant improvements have also been made on the Mac keystroke entry lag issue (courtesy of Nicky Dasmijn).

For a complete list of changes and updates, browse the Firestorm change log here.

15 August 2014

The Sea of Cubic Dreams

Opening tomorrow, Saturday, August 16 at 2 pm slt, at LEA25, is The Sea of Cubic Dreams, an installation by Alegria Studios, a collaborative team of artists from Spain and Argentina. The presentation is only a prelude, as artist Noke Yuitza explained to me: the team is working on a much larger installation overhead, Theater Night's Dream, which intends to "open the gate between the real and fictional sides of its characters," but in the meantime they wanted to invite visitors to enjoy the more modest Sea of Cubic Dreams.

You'll find yourself in a deep blue environment (be sure to set your view distance on high, and you really have to use the region windlight setting to appreciate the place) in which black and dark teal cubes float over a sea, sometimes slowly drifting. If you get close enough (and I had to get so close I was touching — standing on one will work), you can sit on a cube, and then push it, setting it into motion so that it moves across the sim, sometimes colliding with other elements. You might need to zoom out to see yourself fly through space. Eventually the prim will slow down, and you'll have to give another nudge. It's a gesturally simplistic but well done space, and it will be interesting to see what the studio comes up with overhead.

10 August 2014

Great Island

If you're type who enjoys a solitary, quiet walk on the beach, the shore rolling out of view a long ways aways, and a few birds calling and circling overhead, then you probably want to visit Great Island, located within the New England Islands estate. The Great Island comprises two sims, and as SL New England is popular for those who sail (and and intended as such), the island, like the others in the estate, is open to visitors (although that doesn't mean you should necessarily wander into the home of Sudane Erato, Great Island's owner, located on the island's far eastern edge). The western sim of the two, Point of Pines, is more scenic, and the middle of the island wraps around a great marshland, home to waterfowl. If you like what you see, head off to explore more of New England toward the west and north.

09 August 2014

The Colder Water

The Colder Water, a new sim by Jordan Giant, presents a beautiful panoramic waterscape, its low-lying land barely emerging from the water, and its horizon dominated by three tall lighthouses. Most of the land forms a crescent shaped island, but another outcrop anchors the lone lighthouse that stands at the southeasternmost corner. The sand and earth are dark, almost black, perhaps volcanic, and only a few patches of grasses have gained a foothold here and there amongst the boulders that inhabit the land.

The remains of old abandoned railroad tracks cross the island, disappearing out into the waters (image above), and the remains of fences and piers dot the island. Curious and unearthly jellyfish hover in air above the sim, their tentacles catching in the wind. You'll notice that one of the lighthouses seems to have lost its top, but to good effect: if you climb to the top, you'll discover a cozy little seating area with a splendid view of The Colder Water.

A wooden structure, its walls and roof only partially intact, provides some respite from the outdoors, offering a warm fire and places to congregate (image above). "To get the perfect mood," suggests Jordan, "you can listen to the music stream, a playlist I made for this place and also a fitting windlight setting. Feel free to enjoy this place as you wish, but please be nice & kind." The region's windlight setting is dynamic and compelling, but I haven't used it in these images — be sure to allow the default setting to be employed when you visit. Also, as the lighthouses are quite far apart — two on opposite sides of the sim — you'll want to turn your draw distance up to fully enjoy the view.

08 August 2014

Mari's Fireworks

A few weeks ago on a balmy Saturday evening, my friend Kinn invited me over to the sim Livingtree, where, on the premises of Robin Sojourner's shop, Kick the Can (which is housed in the K. T. Cann School building), Marianne McCann set off a quite remarkable, and remarkably choreographed, display of fireworks that ran for a full thirty minutes. As Kinn and I sat back on one of many blankets set out for the spectators (who were numerous), I learned from Mari that she runs these fireworks shows every Saturday, at 8 pm slt, during the summer, until the end of August.

Setting off fireworks in Second Life is fairly simple to do, but keeping them going at the pace at which Marianne was going was impressive. She works in partnership with GoSpeed Racer of KONA, a popular music station, who provides a music stream. "I build the show based on the tunes," she explained. "There are a couple [choreographed moments] that are set up in advance, but I like going 'live' with the music. Makes the show a bit more dynamic, I think. It helps that I tend to know the sort of songs she'll play, which means I can usually know which launcher(s) to hit for a good downbeat in the music." So enjoy the show, and arrive a little early (or stay late) to browse around Robin's shop.

07 August 2014

Group Exhibition at Aakriti Arts

Opening today, Thursday, August 7, at 1 pm slt, is a group exhibition at Aakriti Arts featuring works by Bloo Ansar, Bump Squeegee, Mash Rhode and Cullum Writer in a variety of genres. I don't often mention "real life" art shown in Second Life, and most of these works were largely developed outside the virtual domain. But some of Bloo Ansar's offerings, by contrast (top image), are kinetic, changing gradually over time, and couldn't exist outside SL. While you're at Aakriti, you can also visit Quan Lavendar's LTD Magazine Store, and even take a peek inside a gallery I'm now setting up at Aakriti, too, although it's not quite ready for visitors — more on that soon.