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!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Better Angles

Gosh it's late but just a reminder to vote at the  UWA. You have a couple more days. The art is the usual astonishing mixed bag. There is a stagecoach that looks like it's going 70 miles an hour across the prairie, and there's an amusing Witches Cauldron which I voted for, and Oona Eiren has a nice piece, so Oona-ish you can tell her stuff right away. I love that.

UWA always looks like an architectual salvage depot. Nothing has any relation to anything else. 
Wizzy's hoodron is called a Morphometric shape. It was this guy Tomkin Euler who gave her the idea. he likes to make things, but not educate people. Anyway that's what he told me but he called me Ms Ember which always makes me suspicious. 
Wizzy says equilateral triangles are special. Go into wireframe and you''ll see, she said. we're all made of triangels. No, I mean triangles, don't I? Or do I. It's very late.

Sardinia unpacked

First, let me say, Libriamo Tutti. Take that, Google Translate.
Anyway. When this blog started out, the aim of the ArtsParks group was to celebrate the brilliant builds in Second Life that celebrated great art in the real world - painters, poets, that kind of thing. Back in the day, genuine fans felt free to spend weeks of intricate, imaginative, and unpaid effort  in order to represent and honor the genius of others. Thanks to their work in SL, I discovered Japanese erotica and the poems of Edna St Vincent Millay; Storm Petersen, Jerry Garcia, Anne Desclos, Kracow, and the Rumsey Maps. 
SL is fleeting, we all know, but the honest-to-goodness Arts Park has become a rare find, and a quick trip through Linden Lab's Mesh IP Tutorial will tell you why: it's all about the cash. How depressing.
But cheer up, and go to Sardinia - for free, in Second Life!  In Sardigna, as the locals call it, they know all about disappearing culture. Thousands of years ago, around the time the Egyptians were getting themselves mummified, the Sardinians were building fancy towers, statues and zigurrats like this one, Monte d'Acoddi, restored to its original glory, complete with altar, menhir, and hidden chamber for the sacred activity of priestly nookie. 
Love those olive trees, themselves as old as time. The island of Sardinia is literally packed with hundreds of ancient structures, which have been shaken to bits by time and the unkind hands of invaders. Barisone Sirbu and his talented and friendly group, Sardinian People, have taken the lid off this long-misunderstood and belittled culture, and rebuilt it under a kinder, virtual sun.
But wait - there's more. Sardinian culture has taken a double whammy when it comes to demolition. Not only the structures themselves have been ripped up, but the very nature and history of this ancient people has been buried. The locals blame political reasons, the same reasons that led, for example, to the suppression of  the Welsh language in the British Isles. Even today, most mainstream historians gloss over the idea that Sardinians had it going on probably before the Greeks and the Etruscans. It particularly ticks off the locals when their bronze-age towers are labelled as 'castles' rather than meeting places. 
Barisone leads the way
In a bid to inform and redress the balance, the Sardinian People have put together a fantastic museum, underneath the reconstructed Monte d'Acoddi.

It's a journey through a culture that involves sombreros, compass-drawn eyes, and a classic Italian 'mystery': the Giants of Monti Prama. Smashed into over 5000 pieces, after their discovery they were neglected (or hidden??) for three decades, and only recently are coming back to life - as you can see in the photos here.
As you can tell, the sim is a Must-Visit.
If you're around SL today, you'll get a special treat, because they're hosting an event by Libriamo Tutti
TP to the Sardinia sim before 12.30 SLT, take a seat on the gorgeous La Pelosa di Stintino beach, and watch a TV-documentary-style presentation of the Island, in which the owner Barisone Sirbu shows the island's main attractions to Imparafacile Runo and medievalist (stroke cunning cameraman) Sergej Zarf.
Sergej and Impa roasting their toes

If you can't be in SL, you can see the whole thing on LibriamoTutti's live stream. It'll be archived, too. They follow the guided tour with a discussion of books that will be either 1. about Sardinia, 2. written by Sardinians, - or 3. maybe just loved and read by them.
Imparafacile Runo: The important thing is to involve the public, to spend time together. Our events attract about 40 people at present. The plan is to extend this format into the real world libraries, creating evening events where folks can come in to their local RL Library branch and 'commune' with Second Life, via a big screen and voice, while in the SL venue, the RL audience will also be visible.
How neat!
Talking towers with Mysotis Flores

Libriamo or not, Sardinia has a regular program of quality events, their big night is generally Wednesday at around 1pm SLT On November 21, for example, Sardinian pianist Luca Sirigu will be playing... *I predict some slow dancing!!*.
Regardless of your time zone, I don't think you could ever be bored or lonely here. My only complaint, they don't let you tp from point to point: just like real life, then. But everyone is bubbly, friendly, kind and informed - so if this is Sardinia - sign me up!

Saturday, October 22, 2011


If you're not otherwise occupied, this evening there's an Occupy Second Life event. They are targetting Capex which I didn't even know existed where you can play with stocks and shares, and their Inworld HQ looks very Gecko-smug and occupiable. And yet....

Miso Susanowa was busy putting together a few 'occupy' banners, props and poses at the SLLU Headquarters. If you don't know who the LSSU are, read this. They do all that 4 Bridges stuff, you know, anti- war and pro-cancer research, et cetera.
Miso Susanowa: They've been working hard. They just asked me in 3 days ago because they found out about my OWS work. And about my blogs. This is a legitimate protest,  not a stunt, with no griefing. We are raising awareness of what Occupy means. It's planned (as much as anything can be in SL) for 6pm SLT. Look around this sim, there's a lot of info links here, shirts, stuff - free masks :D so come here before you go to CapEx!
Miso was making some props for another 'Occupy' event. She means business.
Miso Susanowa: I am making items for OccupyLEA  :)
I looked askance.
Miso Susanowa: oh hunny i am putting my own reputation on the line for this :)

Quick recap, then: their plan is to head first over to SLLU  to stock up on info and props, then off to CapEx to occupy for change'. Should be fun. I mean, important. Sorry.
...and yet, it really wasn't. Poor Skip Oceanlane the CEO of ComEx took it all really badly. He felt the event was harassing him personally: he repeatedly stressed to the crowd that he's no millionaire, and hadn't done anything to hurt anyone. Judging by his profile, he's seen his fair share of ups and downs in SL, and this seemed to really hurt his feelings, and he said having his sim crashed added insult to injury.
Hmmm... makes you kind of take stock of the whole thing, huh.

Monday, October 17, 2011

High heart: Robin Moore

I have seen men in real life who so long deceived others
that at last their true nature could not reveal itself
In every man there is something which to a certain degree
prevents him from becoming perfectly transparent to himself;
and this may be the case in so high a degree,
he may be so inexplicably woven into relationships of life
which extend far beyond himself that he almost cannot reveal himself.
But he who cannot reveal himself cannot love,
and he who cannot love is the most unhappy man of all.
Worthwhile things are always difficult, aren't they? Or - not difficult. Hard work. Fun, rewarding, absorbing, but distinctly work, not play. A serious, if joyful, business.
Relationships fall into those two categories, and as ever, SL heightens the gulf between. 
To play In SL - with reality, identity, other people's feelings - is so easy most of us have done it one way or another. To make something really work in SL takes quite the opposite.  Uneasiness?
Robin Moore's new sculpture, due to be unveiled at the Nordan Gallery next month, is a symphony to The Relationship. He developed it in a LEA sandbox; after many happy months working on the IBM sims, I wondered how his relations with his new neighbours are working out. Buddies, or budding rivals?
Robin Moore: I think it´s almost the same as before but it´s like here, or now, we are being taken more serious. I have learned from many great people or builders. I haven't done anything together with any of them yet, but I have learned form some and been inspired of some too. There will always be some rivalry but I make my ideas, and I try to stay out of competitions.
Relation Tower is, well, a towering stack of Lincoln Logs, if only you could only get those pesky Lincoln Logs to stand vertical without resorting to superglue. *shakes fist at gravity and small boys*
The tower is deceptively simple from a distance. Just like other people's partnerships.
Get a bit closer.
There is no superglue holding this thing together. Far from it. many of the joints are 'tension points' - classic argument-starters, like too many shoes, and an empty cash register.
At ground level, one of the tower's feet rests on a carrot, tantalizingly placed in a rabbit cage. ; on the opposite site, a cannon sits primed and ready to blow it all away,

 ...while another corner of the foundation sits in a bath where pirhanas jump after dollar bills. The sand dune doesn't inspire a lot of confidence, either.
Risk and trust and adventure. Sound familiar?
Perhaps from the top, you can see what's coming. Perhaps it affords a sense of security that those milling around the base, contemplating the plunge, will never experience. A chance to see the bigger picture. There's a ladder that animates the visitor to the top, but one look at that soapy bath, and the hungry rabbit, makes me think twice before setting out - what if I should fall?
Robin Moore: I will catch you :-)

Who wouldn't take a chance on that.
The top of the tower, like a shipwreck's raft, balances perilously on balloons. If you think you can cope with this fragile but level playing field, think again. A rusty nail swings around the deck, ready to crash the party.

At ground level, in the crazy outbuilding (a man's shed is his castle) you can see a line drawing of the build, which has been more than a year in the making. Hugging the heart at the pinnacle of the build, Robin described the concept.

Robin Moore: The question is will love last? will it fly away or collapse? can you balance forever? There are stones on the road - traps, like the baby trap, the hats and shoes, the cash register is empty, there is a piranha. But if we hold together to the all enveloping love, we will hold stand.
Back on the relative terra firma of the LEA sandbox, Robin mused on the number of 'relationship builds' he's made, like Playground of Love.
Robin Moore: Yeah, lately the last two years it has been a theme, I don´t know why. I have a wonderful RL relation, but that´s maybe because we have worked on it. I just love to think that even though many things can make your relation tough, from the inside and also from the outside, if you stick to the real love you can make it stand :-).
The Relation Tower opens at Nordan at the end of November.

The Sound of Mankind

...but I'm not the only one
Imagine John Lennon

I was on noob duty last night, which turned out to be way more fun than I expected for three reasons. Firstly, after a couple of hours on Viewer 3, the noob decided to try Imprudence: seconds later there was unprompted yelling: 'Why didn't I get this viewer from the start! It's so much better!'. I love to have my prejudices spontaneously confirmed. Secondly lots of lovely online shopping, mostly through Fab Free - witty, useful and cute, and no whiff of self promotion anywhere, it's still the Best Ever SL blog.
The third great thing was to go to hear Mankind Tracer. 'MK' was headlining at his and Kalli Birman's club The Village. The always gorgeous Kalli, sporting a fabulous Halloween gown, was accompanied by close personal friend Bob, who took a break from occupying Wall Street to be at the concert. Bob's on the thin side, but his grip looks pretty strong.
It's hard to believe anyone in Second Life hasn't heard of MK, aka Seth Regan. A pioneer of the multi-region concert (his current record is 50 sims, simultaneously), he's won a bunch of awards and been involved in big festivals like Burning Life and the SLBirthday bashes for years, and a stalwart at charity concerts all over the grid. He co-owns the Village with Kalli and they have created a really great, welcoming atmosphere. Love it.
Yesterday night, there were 40 avies on the sim to hear him sing both his excellent original stuff (he has 3 albums, the latest one is 'Beyond the Shade') and great covers of Space OddityOver the RainbowImagine... you get the picture.
The noob quickly got the hang of hitting on random single guys in the crowd, leaving me time to chat with New Toulouse's favourite shotgun house builder Pazzo Pestana, sporting a fab new look of his own. I tipped MK, but if he thanked me, I didn't hear it.  Nuuuu just kidding, I'm sure I just missed his 'hello in the mix. And I did hear him give Pazzo a shout-out. But tell me, what's your feeling about that whole 'suggested amount' on a tipping jar? While it's patently insulting if someone tips you a single Linden, is it fair to assume that L250 is the least a person should be willing and able to give? Never mind all that, he has a great voice and a brilliant songbook, and we're really lucky to be able to 'go out' to a concert of this caliber without leaving home.
Here's the thing. If it hadn't been for the noob-watching, I wouldn't have gone to the concert; the notice would have been batted down without a flicker. The reason's simple: Kalli - you may know her as Brandy Maltas in the liminal world of Facebook - is such a thorough publicist that there's probably not an avatar in the metaverse who's not been hit by one of her notices, or friended by her on FB. While so many people are crassly publicizing themselves,  she's promoting another person's considerable talent, and you have to admire all her hard work. Yet - how can you measure the tipping point between news and spam?
Choice paralysis, spam blindness, earnest people in tents stating the obvious like 'banker are crooks' ... sigh, it's a tough world we live in. Lemme put on some Mankind Tracer and get some Peace and Harmony back in my life.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Typo on Sundays

I have made an art school, but I am a
drawer on sundays.
Typote Beck
There's a chill in the air, and from my window, leaves burn with exquisite individuality, according to their place of birth and circumstances. Little unobtrusive miracles, a myriad subtle tales of light and movement. Small is beautiful. And while Rose Borchovski's giant eyeballs - and all the rest of the familiar-looking works up at The Path- are great, I'm hankering for something more independent, more intimate. Like this.

Typote Beck's Studio Egg is part hang-out, part gallery, and the best part of both. 2D art stands happily next to posed  pieces, like this one, setting the mind on fire. There's a fluidity not only in the individual works, but in the way he has curated himself that makes the studio experience a delight.
typote Beck (aka Vincent Nesler) is a desktop publishing trainer with humorous steampunk sci-fi tendencies, and RL hottie - check out the profile pic *now that's eye candy*. His job keeps him from being a SL art diva, but it also feeds his weekend hobby with a sense of fun.

Artist and otterpedic surgeon, Dr. Polke  prescribed the visit. 

Scottius Polke: I think typote is a great artist, and he deserves a lot more attention than he gets. I love his work.
Highly recommended, the tin-can moonshine, available at the bar. Don't worry, it only makes you a little silly.

Second Life offers a way for typote to create a more complete universe - to release his creations out of the confines of the page and ink, and into the virtual world, like his  little bird...
... found all over this modular build. There's a danger, a self-confessed one, that typote might take over from Vincent; he's the first to admit how addictive the experience can be,  and perhaps that's partly why he sports four different avie looks, from the kinda scary child-man, to the virtually realistic, depending on his mood. It's also got a lot to do with his kind of creativity and his love of altered states.
Auto reverse
It doesn't take you long to realize this is not all going to be sweetness and light. The robot is cute as all getout, but take a wary look around his rather vicious church.
An imagination fired by the need for social change, disgusted by everyday atrocities accepted by an apathetic public, he creates a narrative that is both varied and interesting, like this interactive box full of sarcastic protest - check out those springs!

His slightly-off English is charming: "In your graphical preferences, choose light of proximity to see the effects of the lamps." OMG cuteness! ....and a nice change from the po-faced abominations committed by the likes of Maccheronico "I-had-dat-idea-6-month-in-front-you, read-my-blog-of-it" Mayo.
I could go on. 

Not that he's a stranger to accolades: typote's flag-waving 'Fill the Mountains' is currently on show over at Nordan, and his French language comic strip, "les Zoisos" is on show at Tournicoton, and of course he's participated in many other things, but honestly, the best way to get a feel for his phenomenal style is to be here at Studio Egg, by yourself or with a thoughtful friend.
It's rare that an artist manages to get away from him or herself and yet remain true to the fundamental look. Perhaps it's all the years in graphic design that have made Typote such a consummate expert at surprising his audience. Perhaps it's that he never betrays the paper-based origins of his art.

 Perhaps it's also the sense that, like some sort of other-worldly barman, he's just slightly indifferent to you and me, and these are all simply doodles for his own amusement, his private outlet - one that just happens to be really good and interesting. Why not sneak over to Studio Egg and see for yourself. Hurray for Sundays.