Thursday, November 11, 2010


It's got to be more
Than flesh and bone

Tom Waits, Take it With Me

Art is not that which you stand before, and contemplate, so much as what you walk away with when you go.
The magic of the fable is in the knowing and the not knowing.
The self as a box: thinking about this side of you, that aspect of me; even in a photograph, so much of seeing depends upon believing, and the confusion that arises from concealment, and giving away. Better the view by effect, the secret unspoilt, the oblique glimpse, the action of the sun seen through shadows.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


[08:02 PM]  Oberon Onmura: hola!
[08:03 PM]  thirza ember: omg
[08:03 PM]  Oberon Onmura: are you totally here yet?
[08:03 PM]  thirza ember: here I am
[08:03 PM]  Oberon Onmura: yay! In my basement!
[08:03 PM]  Oberon Onmura: I'm so excited about this I can't tell you. I've only killed it twice and it's been up almost three days!
Now, I know what you're thinking, 'basement' and 'killed' in the same sentence - not good - but wait! This is actually super cool! If you've ever wondered what it would like to be your own personal Linden, Oberon has proved it's possible.
 thirza ember: I have no idea what this technology is/means. How can you make your own grid in your own computer at home?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Centaur and Sensibility

It's a movie shot in a city that you know well, and there's a scene where the hero rushes across town, and you're sitting there, watching, and you shout at the screen,' hey, he just went past the Pantheon and the Baths of Caracalla twice, I thought he was heading north to Florence?' Or, 'hold on, how did he get from Trafalgar Square to Kew without crossing the River?' And you get told to shut up, it's just a movie, and the city is not real, any more than the story is, and the real bits that  cement real life in those places together don't matter for the purposes of the plot. Except, you think, curling back up into your chair, they do.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


The natural love of life gave me some inward motion of joy, 
and I was ready to entertain a hope that this adventure might, 
some way or other, 
help to deliver me from the desolate place and condition I was in.

Beware of Draxtors bearing gifts. Oh, not the vid-spam of which he is such a generous purveyor, this is a more subtle kind of gift, the 'must see LM' variety. The first was to Laputa which has already been blogged to death, something I discovered after spending 15 minutes trying to understand how a pedestrian-looking bunch of shops could somehow be a fantasy japanese castle.
Turns out you go into the cinema, click on something, and then get tp'd up into the sky. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Romancing the Stone

In a world where the 'moving picture' reigns - art expressed through machinima, scripted sculptures, particle shows, and interactive installations, to name just a few, nessuno Myoo's avatar is perhaps his only concession to the moving art form.
Robot angel, or a winged cyborg: over the past three years in Second Life nessuno has refined his look, but never changed it; he's that kind of guy, one with well-defined tastes, and the confidence to let others discover it without making a whole lot of crass fuss. His look has its roots in scifi - the Blade Runner end of the spectrum; of comic books - everything from Popeye to Dylan Dog; and of horror stories, a genre he discovered in those impressionable years just after high school: nineteenth century anglophone writers like Bram Stoker, Lovecraft, and Poe but also twentieth century masters like Stephen King.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

To a crisp

We're deep into the burn today, but not nearly as laggy as you might think. Raven Haalan and the team, organizers and builders and bacon-purveyors alike -  have done a really great job! Raven was even nice enough to edit himself for this photo, when I couldn't get him to rezz quite right.
 I said he was a star for being so cooperative, when he must be multitasking like crazy, but he was quick to play down his role, and seemed sweetly positive when I broached the subject of - what else - doing it all again next year.
Raven Haalan: No, I'm just a helper bee! Next year? lol yah, of course! This is just a start, not the end, the team is good this year, and everyone is playin' nice, mostly, which makes for many smiles, if tired ones.
This was the scene at the Main Stage, lots of jugglers and people on stilts, I showed up in time to hear the excellent group ♫~D R U M~♫ Divine Rhythms of Universal Music, they're a seven-strong drum ensemble, including Lorin Tone, who puts the group's success down to the beneficial effects of bashing things.  If you've never heard them play, you can catch them tomorrow at noon for the opening of super spooky Halloween- themed The Unknown Country.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Looking in

Only through art can we get outside of ourselves and know another’s view of the universe which is not the same as ours, and see landscapes which would otherwise have remained unknown to us.

 Marcel Proust
It's a tough job but someone has to do it, and it turns out Phil Strang is far from cornering the 'Your Virtual Boobs Here' market. I ran into another version of the same game, this time with a classical twist. Pazzo Pestana has an atelier on Gabi Riel's sim New Toulouse where, for a fee, he will immortalize you in one of a number of poses and backgrounds borrowed from famous pictures, anything from Rubens to Botticelli. 
Pazzo Pestana: When one exposes one's creations to the public, one must expect all sorts of reactions...
Seems to me all the exposing was on the other side, but I took his point.  He has so many here, I didn't think he'd miss one.

Friday, October 15, 2010

When it sizzles

You know you were never really 'in' SL when an excitable Costa Rica resident launches into a chant of 'who told you that?' punctuated by a laundry list of alleged VIPs you've never met, with names like Harpic and Toxer, and it takes a good 15 minutes to remember that Mute has been renamed Block in 2.0.
In other more useful news, Mab MacMoragh has arranged for Oberon Onmura's meteorological instal Storm Cells to go on display again over at ::Soup:: it's really worth seeing.
Anyway, B2 opens tomorrow, as you  have already heard seen and smelt from everyone else.
It's the Pepsi to Burning Life's Coca Cola; smaller, essentially the same, but with more bacon taste.Traditions have been respected - sims have names such as Rabbit Hole and 12 Mile, big names rub shoulders with less well-crafted efforts, and there's plenty of lag to go around.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


It's not Top Ten List evil, but it's definitely a nose-wrinkler, like Farmville and shoulder-pets, possibly Plurk. Having your portrait painted in SL, I mean. Not snapping photos while doing something interesting, I'm all for that, but just sort of sitting there, like the pigs in wigs you see on the walls of stately homes, or the women in Christower Dae's cattle-log, from which I got myself removed to the bemusement of every virtual signorina in Facebook. Why did it matter? Don't know. Where, how and why and where are the lines of acceptable admiration drawn? Having one's portrait done in SL seems to belong to the same family of demeaning and vacuous activities as beauty pageants which are even more eye-rollingly awful in the virtual world for all the reasons that have just crossed your mind.  So - Bleh - and it's a justified bleh; I'm certain because Voice of Reason and respected art historian Rowan Derryth says so too. Well, she nodded anyway.
And yet, and yet.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Numbers game

Inworldz Thirza is not a thing of beauty; the answer would be to ante up, but frankly, I don't know how many different grids I want to give my credit card number to. Or how many hours I want to spend dressing yet another dolly from scratch. But it was a trip worth making, to sim Taboo, to see a preview of Wizard Gynoid's Burning Life2 build. As you know, this year will be quite a departure from the vast acreage of the 2009 extravaganza; it's tiny by comparison, and independent of LL; but still no megaprims allowed, because of lag... nice to see some hidebound traditions have been respected.
There's newness though - all the prep and testing for Wizzy's burnt offering has been done over the past few months here in Inworldz, with help and suggestions from fellow builders soror Nishi, Artistide Despres, and scripter Nur Ophuls. The scripts to burn this down are rather complex, mainly because the temple will straddle a sim boundary. And all that jazz.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Making movies in SL is super fun, but ideally, if you're a beginner like me, or not very good (ditto), common decency should prevent you from inflicting your oeuvre on all but your most kind-hearted friends. Someone who makes trailers for a living, and knows what he is talking about, told me the other day that most machinima are way too long. "To be really effective, the length should be between thirty seconds and a minute and a half," he said. "That's enough to get the story across, and keep the viewer interested." That seemed way too short. I mean, most music videos last about three minutes, the length of a song. I dismissed him as a harsh know-it-all.
Turns out, he is quite right.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


There's no getting away from it, you can always recognize a Caerleon build. No matter who is in charge of the construction, or whether you're in SL or reactiongrid, they suggest the study of an absent-minded professor, a mess of precious manuscripts and useful equations jumbled about the place. The cardigan and pipe tobacco imagery fade, though, when you get down to the individual sections of the build, and the new show Identity is no exception. A work in progress for about a year, it will be up through the month of October, starting this Saturday.
Marshalled by the talented Freewee Ling, many fine artists have become involved with the project, I'm sure you can find a copy-n-paste to give you all eighteen names. Best of all, check out Botgirl's manly blog on the subject - OK, don't actually read the whole press release, it's like War and Peace, but there's a video presentation, Woot! It's a great introduction to the show, as well as a fine example of why voice morphing wins hands down as the creepiest idea LL ever came up with.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chasing the light: Thoth Jantzen

It's a simple idea: take images and sound and make them more than the sum of their parts. Well,
OK, it's a little more complicated than that. There is all that scripting and prim-pinching hoodoo. Thoth Jantzen has been chasing this idea of turning out a different kind of 3D entertainment, prizing open the flat rectangle of a music video on Youtube or Vimeo and expanding it in every direction so that your avatar, ears and eyes become swallowed up in the moment. 
When you think of a kaleidoscopic or psychedelic dance environment, you think Tuna, and there's none better. This is something different. Dancing is part of it, but there is a different sort of narrative to Thoth's builds. It's a restless process of refinement, tweaking, and expansion over the past few years, starting with the Cosmique series - you can see the third incarnation,  Cosmique III, on Open Habitat.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Arts Parks

Cercando or questo et or quel loco opaco,
quivi in più d'una lingua e in più d'un stile
rivi traea sin dal gorgoneo laco.
 Satire, Ariosto

It was Giuditta Broome's idea to start Arts Parks, back in early 2008. She came to the group with the notion that virtual worlds offer the opportunity to expand on a real life phenomenon, the literary park, and illustrated what she meant by showing us two places not far from her home, Parco Pirandello and Parco Salvatore Quasimodo. The parks aren't just museums to two Nobel prize winning writers; they go further than simply ... pickling their poetry, as it were.
The poetry of E Millay and Michelle Babii's photos

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


It's a turning world. It's one of the first lessons you learn in Second Life, playing that strange game of wavelength catchup with people on the other side of the planet who are breakfasting when you're ready for a night on the town. Not to mention the phases of virtual existence, from the newly hopeful to the jaded and fading. In the global community, to be able to connect with others it becomes necessary to aim your conversation with these things in mind, sort of the way you aim your body when you grab a suitcase off the baggage carousel, so that you don't end up walking away with the pink polkadot carryall, which would be bad, because that one has my stuff in it.
Or contrariwise, the Coriolis effect.  Nothing pink and polka dotty in the frame of reference of Oberon Onmura's very masculine new installation Coriolis, in the sky high above TCC Island. Six months in the making, it contains many elements familiar to those who've visited other Onmura build, but this is far from a repetitious dramatic arc. This time, the apparent twist in the trajectories of moving objects - even the weather -  due to the turning of the earth is at the heart of the concept. You will also find notions of weight and propulsion, the cycles of creation and destruction, the phantom and the physical. Soon you become aware that what had at first seemed a fairly empty space is populated with discrete sensations. The opportunities to interact with the different elements - whether it's sitting inside the Ghost Mountain, obstructing the cube spiral, or riding a spouting prim -  draw you even deeper into the artwork.
A single aluminium chair lifts to a central column on a square, edgy, quartered plane. A flock of creatures, halfway between birds and paper planes, flies restlessly about the build and chairs, more chairs, suddenly appear, pale and plain, shifting and falling over. Sit on one and see what happens.
Like four seasons, each quadrant has its own mood, sounds, and effects, its own point of focus, from the fizzing white energy of the Moire to the violence of falling cubes and the spectral music of Xenakis in the Mountains, to the exuberance of the Yellow Geyser and the stately swarming singing prims of the Cooling Tower, which contains within a hidden message. Turning, each quadrant turns on the viewer, offering for a moment the optical illusion of seeing where we are in the world.
Coriolis opens tomorrow, September 15 at 1pm SLT with a concert by Zachh Cale.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Art about town

Wow one mimosa too many at brunch today, better walk off the calories with a bit of art about town. Oberon Onmura reccommended Solkide Auer's new two part immersive install at Aeonia, Oberon liked the lower, pyramid part best, I was intrigued by Sol's take on Escher, up above. Solkide's work is alway exquisitely precise, and the central mouselook on both builds really draws you into the geometrical magic.
At the garden of Arte Libera on sim Nonsense I peeped over the 'work in progress' barrier at the new install by Pol Jarvinen and Noke Yuiza. It's just one chapter in a fascinating build that takes its inspiration from The Sandman, Hoffmann's short story of fear, fiends and physics made famous by Sigmund Freud.
Arte Libera is a very special place, always welcoming thoughtful and imaginative artists and this build is no exception, can't wait to see it in all its glory.
Speaking of glory, shellina Winkler has just opened The Knot, her personal gallery where she will be rotating works from over the past three years. It's something of a unique opportunity to be able to see how her style and technique has developed over time, her favourite is a bug in a script that creates the ethereal visual effect in her sculpture Second Star to the Right.
shellina Winkler: I like to think of my art as a portal, something like StarGate - it should take you from Second Life and project you even further.
If it's space you want, what better than birthday girl Betty Tureaud's new build 9 Steps to Heaven Betty's an Arthur C Clark fan, and this amazing set of environments features glorious pictures of nebulas and the music of UltraViolet Alter Why nine? No special reason, but each level offers a different experience and you go up by sitting down. Love those chairs.
A delicate allegory of change, love, and identity, Love and Creation offers a path up through what might be fingerprints or DNA strands. The build comes together in stark lines that question both inner and outer space in what I hope is the first of many collaborative builds between Daco Monday and Aloisio Congrejo now on show at Tanalois. 
Finally at noon, the big event of the day! The opening of soror Nishi's Tree of Trees in its full glory. Another mimosa just to celebrate? oh go on then....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Arbor virtualis: the trees of soror Nishi

A certuni gli alberi
non dicono nulla
Ma pochi possono sentire 
il canto della corteccia
Sentiero, Thomas di Blasi
From nut to ember, trees warm, shelter, and  feed body and imagination alike. Like us, they stand with their heads in the clouds, their feet trapped in this earth, shaped by storms but forever reaching out to the wider world; like us they know times of plenty and of loss.  In their ancient, productive silence can be read all the knowledge of the world, into their form, a bridge between worlds. 
If we could go to a Gloucestershire valley right now, I'd show you a coppice of Linden trees that is two thousand years old, where there is the scent of the sap, and the light dances through rich broad greenery.
But we can't.
Which leads one to think: what about trees in Second Life? At places like Straylight, the technique of tree making has become so advanced that the standard SL Pine looks pathetic, except perhaps in old forests like Kahruvel. Yet not even in the new, picture perfect Cap Estel can you smell the sawdust, or hear the busy rush of wind against leaves, or suddenly spot a squirrel on a tree trunk, suspended thirty feet in the air, grey against grey. But this is not that world. What is needed is another route to the vertical highway. Shouldn't the metaverse have its own true woodlands?
soror Nishi says yes. The daughter of a flower seller, she has during her life turned her hand to both farming and architecture, and loves to paint, but rather than using SL as commercial outlet for her RL pictures, she prefers to bring together all these interests in 3D compositions.
 Using large, high-quality scans of textures in crayon, watercolour and oil, and Gimp and Blender, her flora virtua exotica originates from a taoist approach to the subject.
soror Nishi: If you don't understand the patterns then you can't really build a tree. I've seen plenty of unconvincing trees here in SL. If you don't look, you dont see, and if you don't see, you can't learn the patterns.
Soror's trees are like her - bright, bold, whimsical, fun, and beautiful.
She has created two-prim beech trees, and woods that run to the many thousands. She made the Norse tree Yggdrasil at The Companion, Frigg Ragu's folklore sim, currently under reconstruction. In her version, the monumental tree of doom that connects the underworld to our realm and to the heavens above floats in serene glory, the roots caressing the weight of the world below.

Playwright and lover of all things Irish Maeve Eirin filled her Celtic storytelling mountain, Skellig Medb, with soror's trees, including a stand of the Tree Sisters, with their distinctive red canopies. 
Mythical woods grow best among poems as lovely as trees, when the quality is right. Before importing a texture, one should consider whether it is good enough to hang on the wall in RL. If not, then it will disappoint on the screen.
 In the garden she has created beneath the UWA gallery, we talked about the panoply of bricoleurs and engineers to be found in the creative community of Second Life.
Taoist practice is working with the ordinary acts of life without any fabrication, how does that work here? We spoke of Levi Strauss, and I asked: If you understand the bricoleur as a hobbyist, a tinkerer with existing material, and an engineer as a pioneer who strives to understand how things work and get beyond the limits, in whatever field that might be, do both groups have their place in the metaverse?  Have SL quality standards gone up over the past few years, have limits been significantly overcome? (You know, just general chit chat.)
soror Nishi: Well, when it comes to textures, lazy is easy. Quality it isn't always top of people's list. I would like 2048x2048 for large prims, but we have had no new tools for years. Technique is important, in fact technique may be responsible for style. But without emotion there's no reaching the audience or pleasing oneself, and the funny thing is that it has nothing to do with textures. Is it a question of heart or head? I think both have to be present, I think probably it's more about synthesis - good art, anyway. I feel strongly it should stand on its own, without pages of explanations and theory it used to be called 'post-creative intellectualisation" but, having said that, people do like to be told what to think...
Soror's latest build is, of course, the IBM-sponsored Tree of Trees. It rises from a serene pool of of swirling greenery, illuminated by emerald particles. 
(Gosh did I say Emerald? Sorry.)
A forest of stumpy, almost fossilized topiary forms the rootstock and trunk of a massive community of trees, its nebulous crown lost in the region's clouds.
 Up here, the delicate white and blue canopies of goddess trees fan out over little islands of greenery, where orchids grow, protected by Doris the Dragon and her companion. The triumph of the tree as a village, a home for the diverse; resting, growing, flowing upwards together. 
A family tree.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I see a red moon rising

Full moon last night, and at Atelier Alizarin, the home of RL/SL artist Alizarin Goldflake, it was party time.
To celebrate the opening of her sky sculpture garden, Ali put on a garden party, giving a host of her fellow artists and stray friends like me a chance to see her art, and be enchanted by the delicate beauty of a Japanese dance by Miso Susanowa, whose Garden of Sound you may already know.
Ali is a Boston-based artist, and it's no surprise that she is drawn to the fabulous MFA and in particular to the Tenshin-En garden in the courtyard there. This is her version of the garden, it's kare sensui, which is Japanese for 'without water'- now there's a useful phrase if you're ever on a day trip to Osaka. The Boston garden is a serene blend of cultures, New England and Japan, mostly, and the soiree was equally blended, our international harmony only briefly broken by the tiresome virtual roach who quickly scuttled away (one hopes, to the proverbial motel).
But the always harmonious Thoth Jantzen was there, his build {]Simplexity[} just scored Editor's Choice, it is a place I love, and everyone was pleased to celebrate his success, script king Velasquez Bonetto called him 'the master', and he really is.
Other attendees included... oh too many names to list, but Rowan Derryth was there, for once was not manhandling an underage avatar; the 'best summer costume' competition was won by Betty Tureaud, with stiff competition from Fuschia Nightfire, Juanita Deharo, and Isabella Alphaville; Scarp Godenot was there, his comments and demeanor confirming the old saw that abstinence is rarely the answer; soror Nishi looked her usual fun and fetching self, can't wait to see her 'Tree of trees', coming soon at the IBM compund.  The conversation ran around building, and on to Inworldz and a new place, Veesome which is just getting up and running, and looks very nice.
The centerpiece of the garden is 'At the end of the day' which must be seen in person. The view through the enchanted glass changes as you walk or cam in and around it. A subtle and serene blue dream.
There are six other floors to visit here, from musical kinetics to RL digital drawings, so if, like me, you can't be in Boston for Labor day after all, come visit the Atelier, and be somewhere.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Home and garden: Soleil's Giverny

Gardening and painting apart, 
I'm no good at anything
Claude Monet
Summer is grey-white and gloomy here, indoors and out, so to try to beat the blues, I followed Geo Meek's link from Facebook to two SLCC speeches, the first by Philip Rosedale, the second by Doug ThompsonI thought for a long time 'Dusan' was a girl's name, Dusan/Susan, I suppose. Anyway Hobo stalwart Geo Meeks rocks, you should bookmark his site 
Before today, I had never seen or heard P. in the flesh; he wore a weird shirt and improbable hair; but to be fair he was jet lagged, which explains why on a couple of occasions he lapsed into trying to sell us an iphone. 
He is going to fix lag, Search, and the communication gap; let 16 year-olds come play with the grownups (yippee), and make it so an avie can have multiple names, because... apparently we need more deception in SL.
He is going to let you design him a brand new avatar - as long as it looks like the old one, but with better (ie free) clothes. 
So, 'Everything is/will be fine'. I felt sorry for the lady teacher, whose hard work selling the soon-to-be defunct teen grid is now all for nothing; she got an amazingly insincere response from P and after lunch, Doug Thompson rambled on for an hour on this and that. He has the same tailor as P.
But who cares. 
When there is no way to walk away, what do you do? Keep going. In otherwise excellent health, over the last two decades of his life, Monet lost his sight to cataracts. Colours became desaturated, and objects faded into blurred shapes; a deteriorating, frustrating, unbearable state of unrezzedness. Four years before his death he wrote to a friend, "I am more absorbed than I've ever been, expecting to achieve something, but I was forced to change my tune and give up a lot of promising beginnings and abandon the rest."
That threat of abandonment did not materialize, the paintings kept coming; abstract, with rather muddy colours, but paintings nonetheless. 'My poor eyesight makes me see everything through a fog. I't very beautiful just the same, and this is what I wish to convey."  
That beauty is conveyed into Second Life thanks to Soleil Snook  and her Monet house on Giverny. The house, built by Jorge Serapis with sculpties by Vicky Jayaram, is a fascinating case study in how a real life treasure can become accessible to everyone on the grid. It is still a work in progress, although the kitchen, living, and dining rooms are well on their way to being complete. One unexpected aspect of the house is Monet's choice of art - you find none of his own pictures on the walls, he preferred Japanese landscapes, and was instrumental in making them popular. 
Soleil Snook: I don't mind that the process is taking a long time, and I love Vicky's sculpties because they lay flat and don't pucker. I'm particularly pleased with the sculptie oven. Monet entertained a lot at home, that's why the oven is so large, he took great pride in serving fresh produce from his own kitchen garden. Sculpting is not my thing. Mirror imaging just makes me crazy, so I build things and send them off to be converted into sculpties.
There's a poster in each room that shows how close Soleil's version of the house is to the real one.  The original house was a farm house and when Monet bought it he added on a bedroom for himself and a studio with a separate entrance, seen here. This was because he was a morning person, and Alice and the children were not, this way he could entertain buyers without disturbing the whole family. He had six grown-up children living with him at one time, the three boys sleeping in the attic, and the three girls in a small room above the kitchen.
Outside, Soleil has given an impression of the 'floral fanfare' that continues to delight RL visitors to Giverny, complete with kitchen garden. SL Giverny has had its upheavals, but Monet had his own trials; in 1913 he wrote: "We were in the midst of a great flood and I, in my selfishness, could think only of my garden, my poor flowers that have been soiled with mud. With this weather I haven't managed to do anything and to add to my miseries an appalling storm has created havoc in my garden. The weeping willows I was so proud of have been torn apart and stripped; the finest entirely broken up." 
Soleil's sim boasts a fine glass house by her friend Podruly Peccable  and you'll also find a gallery for sculpty artist Kyra Roxan. back in the house, the creation of each room has involved many days of research, planning and gathering, a magpie process with minute attention to detail, somewhere between making a painting, a jigsaw, and putting together a doll's house. Using drawings and paintings rather than photos gives her the control and freedom to get the look just right. She is rightly proud of the lovely blue walls of the drawing room, and plans to furnish it exactly as the photo, right down to the playing cards on the folding table. 
In RL Soleil cares for a terminally ill relative. Building the interior of the Monet house little by little when she has the time and energy required, alternating activities from textures to furniture making to installing poses in chairs is all part of a slow upward curve of creativity. 
'Art is hard work,' Monet once told a reporter. Yosemite Sam-ming apart, what else is there?