Thursday, December 22, 2011

Calendar girl

These days, Cat Boccaccio is one-handed and full of pain killers - she broke her arm! But that hasn't stopped her doing her bit this winter for SL art, and RL charity The Hunger Project. Here she is, in front of a lovely white poinsettia by Keiko Kohime, at  DNA **Art and Music Fusion**. Go upstairs at the gallery/club and you'll see the full collection of her tasteful nudes.
They are all familiar faces from SL - women artists, models and gallery owners who've come together to be part of yet another stunning calendar, 'Goddesses of SL Art'  available inworld at The Seaside Gallery at Nestor Marina. Who exactly is in it? You'll have to go and see!
 My absolute favorite is the one of Gracie, but each picture tells a thousand, words, so be sure to pick up the notecard and get the inside scoop on both the art and the photo-shoot - it makes interesting reading!
Cat Boccaccio: I had very painful opening here! because it was just after my fall, when I broke my arm, but  we had planned the event so long, I just had to go.  We have raised about  L$ 30,000 so far, I am hoping for much more. I will match it in RL money! !
Despite the arm, Cat was dancing up a storm at the Calendar event at DNA **Art and Music Fusion** when we chatted tonight. The club has a great mix of music and tunez! I took a LM and plan to go back.
Cat Boccaccio: There isn't a RL version of the calendar year, but I am planning a real-life version and a SL book with more photos, but I am such a klutz.  I will do it next year - if I don't break any bones! The hardest photo shoot? Morgana, but only because she is in Australia, so that was tricky, time wise. This is my third calendar, and the second one for the hunger Project. We laugh a lot during the shoots. Fuschia and I took about 100 photos, we were having so much fun!
Gorgeous women, great art and a good cause, what more do you want?  Show your Linden Love today!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Double Scott

Scottius Polke's been doing it for years - he even had a calendar out last year with in-the-wild 'nature' pictures. I'm a bit of a naturist my self - wait, is that the word I'm looking for? Let's clarify - I'm talking about art, scribbler art.  Doodles that have become sketches worked up with digital colour and detail into delightful paintings, until now only available in the 'real' world - so it's good news that his scribblings are now on show inworld at The Looking Glass.
It's a pleasing contrast to the Italianate architecture of the palace - and a rare chance to wander among scribbler canvasses inworld.
Inworld and out, from installation art in Second Life, to his recent RL show in Austin, TX, the 'two' Scotts are gradually becoming known as a single person of talent, in drawing, assemblage, and virtual builds.

 If you're already familiar with Scottius' RL website, don't let that stop you from tp'ing over for the opening at The Looking Glass at 6pm SLT, because it merits a close visit in itself - it is a gorgeous confection loosely based on the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and is the creation of Marcus Inkpen and Sharni Azalee,   both RL illustrators, animators and so forth, with lots of tech savvy (click on their names! look at their websites!!), as you probably know from dozens of builds and installs they've been involved with all around the grid.

Marcus Inkpen: I like Scottius' art, 'cause it smells like otter!  No, seriously, we've always been fans of Scottius's work. Not only are his building skills top notch - but his humor and warm hearted approach make his work irresistible :)
I'd like to second that.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Last month, Oberon Onmura got his LEA sim - number 20. It's his for 5 months, perhaps more, and he was thrilled from the start, promising something 'totally scriptalicious' - although I may be paraphrasing.  I wonder how many points 'scriptalicious' would be worth in 'Words with Friends'. Anyway, he's thoroughly enjoying the luxury of both space and time to play with ideas without worrying about gallery deadlines. Despite - or perhaps because - of this great freedom, the first creation is here, and it's huge.
 "WAVE FIELDS". It opens on Sunday  December 18  at 1:30 PM SLT.
Oberon Onmura:  The idea here was to see if I could create a sense of waves - liquid waves - from solid cubes.
Crank up your draw distance and be ready for a bumpy ride on a glassy sea of boxes. The four quadrants change color with the wind, recalling the much smaller but infinitely gorgeous  Slow Chaos, and the shape of the build reminds one of another fabulous Onmura build, Coriolis.
There's an elevator to the glass roof, I fell off it seven times before achieving roofdom but hey, I also have no blue crystals in Linden Realms. Fellow observer Kakukkfu Yosuke had no such problems. He wanted to be closer to the waves though. Look how small he is against the sea of cubes.
Kakukkfu Yosuke: I have to check them, and stay a bit down to feel... these blocks reminded me of the Jewish monument in Berlin.
Oberon Onmura: Ah - that's interesting. I believe someone told me that about a different piece of mine.
It's truly mesmerizing.
Many builds with blocks falling feature knocking or fallling noises, but Oberon resisted the temptation. Enjoying this build is not the work of a few minutes; you want to linger here, and any looped sound would soon become a tiresome repetition, in stark contrast to the elegant variations below. Blocks writhe and flow against each other in one quarter, while in another they seem to be seeding themselves, and another, turning to haar. The blank spaces are both endings and beginnings, as endless as the sea itself.
 Oberon Onmura: In each quadrant, the cubes have to find their place in the grid.  Each one operates differently - they are scripted to within an inch of their lives.  I think sometimes all four quadrants just go.  It's a little random but it creates endless variations, which are pretty slow,  it takes about 30 seconds for a wave event to complete itself.  I like it when wave fronts crash into each other, like magic - but the magic is that our eye/brains perceive it as motion; the word roiling comes to mind.
Coast was the word, in my mind. The high, bright Oberon Coast. Brilliant.
Visit "WAVE FIELDS"  for yourself  on  Sunday afternoon at 1:30 PM SLT.

Dawn Quest

OK, making a tag that says 'This place is lame'within 30 seconds of landing at Linden Realms was a little harsh. What's a girl to do when the 5 am Airport run has been accomplished on only 3 hours sleep: it's too late to go back to bed. So that leaves the Number 1 Editor's Pick on Showcase: Linden Realms  " - Go on Quests! Win L$$$!" 
I'm in favor of L$$. You need a mesh-enabled viewer for this place: this is the Linden Realms landing place in Imprudence and, below, in Viewer 3. 
Changing viewers borks your clothes, apparently that's a Bonus Quest.
It's basically PacMan for avatars. You arrive at a central portal...

...where  'U got a boyfriend' is still the No. 1 classy pickup line among noobs,  it seems. Multiple offers of voice chat and friendship, yadda yadda yadda.
An oldbie who shall be nameless said: "Can someone please explain to me why everyone is flocking to a Linden Mole build sim i.e. a Linden owned and designed sim they featured in their own Destination Guide - it is almost artistic onanism." 
It was a rhetorical question. It often is.
Step through any portal, and LL puts a HUD on you automatically. It detaches when you leave, and remembers your score when you come back. 
Finally I meet the Master...
When you use viewer 3 you realize that people have lost their minds with alternate names and tags. It's like another planet - Planet Tritetag. Upside of Linden Realms, there are a lot of people about, and many are funny and willing to share their grasp of the game with fellow players. I encountered a profile picture which was hands down the most beautiful I have ever seen: kudos Ms Lazy. Sorry i didn't catch her actual name.
I can't really get behind mesh - the trees make me want to shout 'Oh Toodles' and I hate Disney. Now This is a forest:
not this:

From the starting point, portals radiate out across the realm. Bottom line, you collect crystals (by running through them) and eventually convert them into money. I'm a loooong way from doing that. It's reminiscent of Noob island, aimed at honing your arrow key skills, remember that? Never did really master walking purposefully, as you know. Quick tip:  set Move to 'always run'. With good reason (it is a quest, no cheating!)  point-to-point tp-ing and flying are disabled. 
 Tyrah's workshop contains vials, maps and the machinery for converting your crystals.  She sends you to various destinations, or you can mooch off  independently, towards picturesque sounding places. 
Places that when you get there, all look the same: stones and cone trees on rolling hills. There are rivers of toxic water, they're all toxic, which may be a metaphor, remember I'm operating on 3 hours sleep.
These are the 'monsters'. wwoww. What they lack in cuteness they lack also in menacingness, which is not a word. Menacosity? Again, no.
Sprinkled on the grass are different colored crystals (see me run!) which accrue to your HUD according to colour.
Pacm... - sorry I mean 'rock monsters' ... lurk nearby ready to roll over and eat you, sending you back to a local hub. Which gets old fast.
There are also caves, more of the same, (plus mushrooms) which are even more pacmanic, perhaps, since you're in a tunnel when the rock monsters show up.
Linden Realms is quite fun really. If you're up at a weird tme of day and a bit bored, or if you want to meet some completely different people with whom you can be bemused and frustrated, or if you're a fan of cheesy builds, this could be the place for you.
LM? I think you'll find it easily enough by yourself.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Keeping it Wheel

In four years of observing the artier parts of SL, despite the vast differences in ability, style, politics and approach of the artists here, it seems fair to say that the 99% put themselves first. There's spectacular variety - everything from screaming egotism, to strategic caution, to friendly reciprocity both inworld and in me-fest blogs- but self is the underlying theme. It's the way of the world, and fair enough, but every now and again it's nice to meet somebody in the 1%, a capable and talented artist who is keeping it real; who, quietly and without fanfare for herself, works to promote art in Second Life. 
That's FreeWee Ling
What's in a name: Freewee is not chinese, and people often conflate it to Freewing, which she rather likes, but you have to look at the whole name, the big picture, to understand. it says a lot about her. There's a lot to like. Here's her story
FreeWee Ling: When I first came to SL, I was just bouncing around, experiencing everything. It was a bit of sensory overload, and way too much angst, at first. I decided I needed new friends, creatives doing positive things.  I did a search for artists communities, and the first thing that came up alphabetically was Artemisia. I came here and met  Zephyre Zabelin. She was a wonderfully creative and generous person, who people who interested her and invited them to live here. She gave me a really nice parcel with about 2K prims. I was blown away; I know how much it costs. We became good friends, and, when she had to leave SL for personal reasons, she gave me the sim. Of course then I had to figure out how to pay for it. I had a gallery here with changing exhibitions, and a core group of residents who helped pay the tier. I just charged them my cost.  Eventually that all just couldn't be sustained anymore. I'm not good at recruiting, and people were having to leave for various reasons. So now it's just me and fiona Blaylock. Fiona rents half the sim and I'm spread out over the other half.

Her extensive lab is laid out on multiple levels. Little here is what she considers 'finished' - art is always a work in progress. In that spirit of moving with the times, she recently got hold of one of the LEA sims; it's a 5 month 'lease' with the possibility of renewal. Characteristically, she's not taken it on for herself, but rather, with a project in mind to support art in general. Freewee has documented all 850+ entries from the last year, taking a phenomenal 443 pictures of the October round alone.
FreeWee Ling: I thought it was important to record what was done. Art is so ephemeral here. We need something to look back on and laugh at how seriously we took it all.  My art? lol.. I don't really call it art. It's more experimentation. That's why I call this my laboratory.  I've always had an affinity for all the arts. I grew up visiting art museums and going to concerts and plays and dance performances.  I work professionally in support of arts and cultural organizations. Mostly using technology. I don't have that great physical dexterity. I can't be a musician, so I became a musicologist in RL. With art, it's the same thing. I have a good eye, but not such a good hand. So I use technology to help me.

 FreeWee Ling: The avocado It was a gestalt of several things I was working on learning back then. I usually do my own scripting. I'm not an expert, but I can usually figure out how to do what I want.Particles, animated textures. Sound triggers. There are sensors in the floor. When you walk around they trigger the lightning and thunder.  It;s fairly simple looking, but it used a lot of different skills. It was a good learning experience.  I like the glowing portal. So that's a good example of an early piece.

FreeWee Ling: The hardest things I've made don't exist anymore. I led a team of about 20 artists in the Caerleon group in a collaborative project, and I built a rather large museum building for that, which I demolished at the end of the show. There's a cool video of the demolition on my website. It was spectacular, and led to my UWA full sim installation all about creative demolition, called Angry Gods.
The ambitious and complex Angry Gods build was an intense, and intensely satisfying experience. The sim was only available for a month, and it took her two weeks to put together the installation, the result of weeks of prep work.  To work so very hard, only to have the install on show for two weeks really drove home the ephemeral nature of SL.

FreeWee Ling: Taking things down is the hard part. I do a lot of documentation. At UWA, I've taken nearly 3K photographs of the entries there over the last year.

This is her contribution to the Caerleon show ARCANA. Each artist got one of the cards from the pack, or 'Major Arcana', and FreeWee chose to turn her assignment, The Magician, into a diorama, with poses and a camera controller to frame the image, meaning that visitors can become part of the artwork. It was a great success and she has had lots of people send her photos of self inside the build. Avatar as art is, of course, central to her work and there's a whole wall of reminders at the Lab. As for dioramas...

FreeWee Ling: This one is probably one of my faves. From my series of pulp fiction book covers and vintage ads.  I made the outfit and the pose and everything,. I also have a wearable version of the spaceman,, heehee.I have a whole series.  Oh they're all based on real illustrations. Part of what makes all this experimental is that I'm often playing with ideas from other artists. Much of my stuff is derivative. I can often tell you specifically who influenced what. You should see my Barbarella!

I did!
Collaboration is key, for FreeWee, and she's grateful for the opportunities that have come her way.
FreeWee Ling: Thanks to Sabrinaa Nightfire,  I was brought in on the Interactive collaboration led by Artistide Despres, and the Caerleon group . Then I was working on the Identity Museum project with Sabrinaa, who was the team leader for that. When she became ill, it fell to me to complete it. It was a huge project and Sabrinaa would have done it much better. It was really a tribute to her.
One thing led to another.
FreeWee Ling: I had submitted work several times last year to the UWA competition.  I would always hang around the gallery and look at the stuff seriously, and I'd engage JayJay in conversations about it. I have pretty strong opinions, but I can usually back them up. Although JayJay doesn't have an art background, and had not, at that time, spent so much time looking at things in SL, I really respected that he was willing to engage and learn, and he does have a good sense about things. He came to see the Caerleon museum. We had over 2K unique visitors to that show. Some time later, when Quadrapop decided she didn't want to be curator at UWA anymore, JayJay asked me if I'd be willing to do it. The timing was perfect. Working for UWA was not only a really cool job, but it allowed me to keep my sim. I was on the verge of losing Artemisia, and was looking for someone to take it over. I've been really blessed and honored to work with so many amazing artists there.

If you've voted at UWA recently, you'll have noticed the more streamlined voting system, which has been a great leap forward both for the general public, and behind the scenes.
 FreeWee Ling: The old system was a horror story. It was insanely difficult to keep up. By some miracle GeeJAnn Blackadder showed up and offered us a system she was developing as a commercial product. At no cost to us. We were her beta testers. And it was amazing. She made several changes that we wanted early on and it has worked flawlessly for us. I'm a strong supporter of the People's Choice process to get people to come engage in the art.  I sponsored the awards during the first year out of my own pocket on behalf of the Artemisia community. It's been a great opportunity. I had a paper about it published in a Russian conference proceeding. And JayJay is looking into finding a publisher for the complete exhibition catalog of all 858 entries.
FreeWee with winning art: Daco Monday's fata danzante in the foreground.
In a way, she's UWA's 'fairy godmother', helping make it all happen behind the scenes, together with her boss Jayjay Zifanwe. Living on almost exactly on opposite sides of the world, 12 hours apart, works better than you'd think, as they both manage to be online around 9-12 morning and evening. That's handy because there's a lot to discuss, as you can imagine, with so many different things going on at any given time.
FreeWee Ling: What happens every month is JayJay takes the pieces from the deposit box and puts things out, and I make adjustments. The November round had 99 entries, many of them were large, and the gallery was packed to the gills. After the awards each month, the winners get transferred over here to the Winthrop sim Winners Platforms. So most of this stuff has accumulated over the last year. But since the Grand Finale round has a separate category for nonscripted, I made this floor for that.
Iono Allen and UWA's JayJay Zifanwe 
Having been on the jury for this year's UWA Machinima competition, I got a little taste of how much work FreeWee must have to do. Just watching all the videos and keeping track of the best ones took time. The winning machinima didn't make my top 10, there was such variety and originality. As the crowd faded away at the grand Prizegiving ceremony, I asked these two handsome devils what FreeWee's work means for the art community.
 Iono Allen: It is very simple: without people like her, or Jayjay and others, who take from their time to organize things, SL wouldn't be what it is. I know I would not come anymore, a big lot of my machinimas have their source directly or indirectly at the UWA so - without these people? no machinimas! or at least, or not so much.
Jayjay Zifanwe: FreeWee has been absolutely amazing. The time and thought she gives to each of the artworks is unmatched. The UWA 3D Open Art Challenge wouldnt be what it is without her. She is the 'silent sentinel'... who made it all happen !

FreeWee Ling:  The future for FreeWee? Well, the UWA monthly challenges are over, but I still have the gallery. I'm planning to have some theme shows, I'll be announcing something for December.  But I think the future is going to be mobile. Gridhopping.  I like physics. The other grids are not good for the kind of work I do.They're supposed to be getting a hot physics engine in Inworldz. When they do it could be a game changer. I'm expecting virtual and real worlds to start merging. Augmented reality - I'll see you on the street with an overlay of your avatar. We won't be tied to our desktops or to any single grid. I like to think big :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Face Book

She's seen more avatars than probably anyone you know. This coming Tuesday, Gracie Kendal celebrates her 1000+ Avatar project with a big party at her studio on sim Coyote. It'll be an opportunity to both play and pay - if you purchase her book this week, there's a good chance you'll have it in time for Xmas. That's a lot of avies under the tree! Gracie's already in festive mode, with her baubled antlers. I had to ask - how does she feel about being a published author?
Gracie Kendal: Haha stressed! No, it's been cool. As an artist, it is hard work getting your work out there. and this book is really a work of art rather than a written manuscript. It is mostly pictures, and there is a limited audience, so that is tough.
 Marketing one's work is an art form too, and the new media have made it even harder to get the right  balance between overkill and not saying enough. Does she feel like she's getting it right?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Great Divide

Well, I'm among the 99% who come into SL and then remember they don't have a mesh-enabled viewer and, at the end of an already long day, don't really have the time or inclination to go faffing about downloading Firestorm or (Lord help us) Viewer 3 - actually, wait, I do have Viewer 3, but no amount of wild horses or wicked art is going to make me open SL in that finger-fumbling, screen-blocking, fake-namery piece of shite.

Which is a bit ironic, as Eupalinos Ugajin's build at Split Screen is a meditation on the whole Occupy and 99% thingy. You miss out on the video, but you can get away with a normal viewer for most of the install, and it's a lot of fun. Keep the notecard open, you'll want to refer to it later. Here's the artist with Bryn Oh, and Split Screen owner and part time grouch, Dividni Shostakovich.

Eupa has a brilliantly weird avie, and isn't having any of it, with the whole 'I'm a fancy-ass artist' bs - this is all just an extension of long hours playing with Lego. Love it. I got this lucky action shot of Bryn trying out the rideable blocks being fired noisily into the atmosphere. Her avatar blended so well into the build I thought she was a bot to start with!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Leit motif

Fiona's art is like  puzzle 
where you find the picture 
in each brick you put on the table
Betty Tureaud
Ask Fiona Leitner what her pictures 'are', and she'll probably say something cryptic, like 'it's a square'. She's not being funny; unlike those dullards who paste a five-paragraph 'explanatory' notecard to their oeuvres, she realizes that the  true experience of art is a lot like the experience of a good meal. You need to be left to sample and digest it on your own, without the cook hanging over you, describing what he was thinking about while he diced the chives.  It's your meal now, and a yummy one at that. 
She's a graphic artist in RL, and also an excellent cook. Fiona saw other people making art and selling it in shows, and thought it would be a fun way to make a little cash by making something people can enjoy.  This one makes me think of Michelangelo through a blender: a sort of Sistine Chapel Smoothie.
A week ago today

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Art of the Undead: UTSA

UTSA has met its Alamo. The gallery-sim will be wiped from Second Life by the end of this weekend. I took this photo at 4 this morning, and it felt like a ghost of itself already.
Farewell to yet another independent art organization in Second Life. At one time the University of Texas had an insane two dozen humanities and science sims on the grid. They've all been priced out of existence, but none will be regretted as much as constructivIST Solo's art sim.
At the Halloween-themed Farewell Party earlier this week, DJ Eifachfilm Vacirca kept us amused with the tunes, and the always charming and self-deprecating co was quick with her praise of the artists who have worked so hard to bring to life large, often dark and gritty installs and themed shows. None of it would have happened without her dedication.
You can't mention UTSA without mentioning their collection of Igor Ballyhoo items, including his forest of scissors, and Snowcrash at ground level. With Igor's exit from SL, all those prims go to dust. Among those stopping by to say their farewells were JayJay Zifanwe, Miso Susanowa (feel better Miso!) and FreeWee Ling. FreeWee, who helps out over at UWA, told us she is working on a photo collection of all the amazing art that's been entered in their competitions - the number 900 was bandied about. That is going to be quite a catalog!
Also present to commiserate was Ahmad Hosho, who protested in a strong Eastern European accent that he is not one of Igor's alts.
This final UTSA build is by Rebeca Bashly, who modestly described herself as 'a baby' in comparison with the other artists that have been hosted here. I dislike Halloween, but admired very much the work that went into her scary platform, built especially for the event. She looked the part! fantastic! If you hurry over, you'll find some spooky surprises inside the Haunted House.

Constructivist Solo: I guess I am going to be an SL tourist for a while!
She deserves the break. But it won't be long before she gets to grips with the search for funding for another sim. Options, like moving to a cheaper, more Art-friendly grid (did I hear InWorldz mentioned?) are also on the table, and of course she has many friends and contacts, like the Nordan clan. 
...or, who knows? maybe she'll wake up to find she's been subsumed into the LEA. Stranger things have happened.
Am I scaring you? Boo!