Saturday, December 13, 2014

Linden Endowment for the Arts in Second Life


My love of fine art increased - the more of it I saw, the more of it I wanted to see.

J. Paul Getty
 

 

          Recently, an old friend of mine in Second Life, Hitomi Tamatzui, contacted me with a recommendation for a story.

          Hitomi’s an artist and photographer inworld with an impressive portfolio of work to her name.  She’s introduced me to other artists and their work in SL.  I’ve learned to listen to her recommendations.

          This time she suggested that I take a look at the Linden Endowment for the Arts
(LEA) inworld.  She said that I’d find some impressive artwork to report back my readers.

          So, not needing to be told twice about a good thing, I made plans to visit LEA and see what’s going on.  (Significant Other does shudder whenever I talk about the fine arts.  For some reason, the word “Philistine” keeps coming up. Whatever!)

          Before heading off, I do some research on LEA and its efforts inworld.

          LEA is supported by Linden Lab and provides a parcel or a full sim to an artist for up to three months for free to display their work.  The exhibits are not limited to the visual arts but can also include the performing arts, music, and film. 

          The only requirements are that the exhibits meet the SL Terms of Service (TOS) and be open to the public.

          There is an LEA committee composed of SL artists who make the selections.  An appeals process is also available for those who feel that they’ve been unfairly excluded.

          Details about the application process can be found here. 

         
I arrive at the LEA landing zone and am reminded of earlier Real Life (RL) visits to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in NYC.  (Who’s a Philistine?) 

          Except there is one major difference.

          Instead of the physical constraints imposed by one RL building, no matter how large, where the laws of physics hold sway, here in SL, imagination and creativity can run wild.

          Standing in an open area, I’m greeted by artworks of every description.  Some rest on the ground.  Others are suspended in midair. 

          In the distance, I see examples of architecture which appear to have come from the mind of a frenzied Frank Lloyd Wright.  

          All this is superimposed on fields, streams, and mountains.  Nature and manmade objects have been brought together in one large exhibit.

          A short distance from where I stand is a portal which is comprised of about two dozen gates arranged in a circle which go to the various exhibits currently open at LEA. 

          Time constraints (Significant Other has always been generous in allowing to go exploring inworld but does have worries about my getting lost there.) don’t permit me to visit all this time.  However, I do note the diversity of the exhibits.

          But, I do visit one specifically mentioned by Hitomi

          This one is the MASH sim. 


          Yes, that MASH, the long running American television sitcom has been recreated in great detail at LEA.  Even the helicopter is there although I’m still trying to figure out how to fly it.

          (Yes, I know why is this in an art exhibit?  All I can is, “Why not?”  It’s a very impressive piece of craftsmanship and for that reason along deserves a place here in my opinion.) 

          If pop culture can be made famous, or is it infamous, by Andy Warhol then why not by LEA?

          RL required that I leave LEA after a short visit but I’ll return in the future for new stories.  There is much to see and exhibits change regularly.

          The LEA blog maintains a calendar of all events. 

          There is also a sandbox for artists to create inworld.

         
For all who are interested in the arts or who are only curious from a technical build perspective, I recommend a visit to LEA especially the MASH exhibit!

          Like me, I think that you’ll return. 

          I’m also impressed by Linden Lab’s support of the arts at LEA.

          I’ve been critical of Linden many times in the past but here they’re making an invaluable contribution to the SL community. 

          I’d like to thank Hitomi for making the recommendation that I go visit LEA and blog about it.  She’s a good friend whose judgment I can always count on!         

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.         

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Another Regrettable Loss in Second Life


 

The quiet sense of something lost.

Alfred Tennyson

 

 

          Recently, Second Life (SL) has been losing many beautiful sims, some, IMHO, which border on being works of art.

          My last blog entry was about the loss of many of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in SL which have closed. Earlier, I’d blogged about loss inworld. 

          As in Real Life (RL), we cannot go for long without experiencing loss.  A short while ago in RL, I’ve had to deal with personal loss. 

          It’s not nice, it hurts.

          So, when I read a couple of days ago about the pending closure of another phenomenal build inworld, it saddened me.  Although, I can no longer say that these announcements surprise me.  I do worry about my blog turning into an obituary for the worlds within SL.

          The sim whose coming closure was announced is Phaze Demesnes, one of the most

beautiful and creative sims inworld and which also demonstrated the true spirit of building and collaboration that characterized SL in its early, halcyon days.

          Phaze Demesnes had been originally created five years ago by Ferd Frederix.  Ferd is possibly the most creative and prolific scripter inworld. He also made many of his scripts available for free to all who visited his sim.

          The sim itself is what SL was originally meant to be, a wildly beautiful and chaotic
place overlooked by an impressive castle.  Flowers, birds, and other wildlife coexisted in a seemingly natural state of harmony.  The flocking of birds is especially impressive.

          Visitors were friendly and helpful just like Ferd and wavinggirlsav Voom, Ferd’s sidekick and fellow scripter.  All were made to feel welcome.

          The airborne crane tours were, and are, still awe inspiring.

          Phaze Demesnes was one of the first sims I visited after rezzing into SL.  It was definitely the most creative and, still after all my travels inworld, the most impressive.  For a while, until I moved into Nowaki, I used Phaze as my home destination when I’d log into SL.  During my infamous 24 hour stay inworld, I spent time in Phaze Demesnes.

          Sadly, like so many other beautiful places inworld, I took it for granted, assuming it would always be there to return to.  (Significant Other gives me that I told you so look.)

          I wonder and worry about the implications of Phaze Demesnes for SL. 

          Older, extremely creative sims like Phaze which has taken five years to build are closing.  They cannot be replaced by anything nearly as creative any time soon.  There appears to be a hollowing out of SL. 

What will be left?

          What does this mean for the revenue base of Linden Lab?  It can’t help and without places like Phaze Demesnes to visit for how long will residents keep coming back? 

          The creative side of SL will also take a major hit without Ferd’s scripts and no one to add new ones.

          This is truly a sad moment in the history of SL.  A vaccum has formed inworld and it’s an ominous sign for the future. 

          Thoughts must turn to the future after an event like this.

          Is SL approaching a tipping point (Significant Other winces at my overuse of this overused phrase.) where the closures will accelerate to a point where it returns to its beginnings when it was nothing but empty space?

          Is SL becoming like many of America’s cities in its Rust Belt?  Ghost towns populated by the indigent struggling to survive while prosperity passes them by on the freeway?  (Significant Other arches an eyebrow.)

          I don’t know why Phaze Demesnes is closing.

          Maybe tier became too much of a drain.  Dealing with mesh might have become too aggravating.  Or, possibly the uncertainty of SL 2.0 just pushed Ferd into throwing in the towel.

          I don’t know but I’ll try to get some answers.

          I do encourage all who have not yet visited Phaze Demesnes to do so before it finally closes and to also pick up some of Ferd’s wonderful, free scripts before they’re gone forever.

          Phaze Demesnes will close at the end of December 2014 which I’m interpreting to mean that New Year’s Eve will be their last night open.

          Check it out, you’ll be glad you did! 

          Ferd will be reopening part of Phaze Demesnes in Opensim on the hypergrid at Outworldz.  The sim will be called Virunga Mountains.  As I learn more, I’ll report back.

          I wish Ferd and wavinggirlsav all the best in their new world and ventures! They will be missed!

          Adieu!
          More pictures from Phaze Demesnes can be found here.

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.         

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in Second Life – An Unfinished Journey


 I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
 

The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

 
          Earlier in my blogging, I’d begun a series on the Real Life (RL) Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in Second Life (SL). 

          I’d done my research before I started.

          All sites were inworld, maybe not as originally intended by their RL creators, but inworld nonetheless.  In fact, I’d actually visited one with a friend before embarking on writing this series. 

          I commenced my visits and blogged about five Wonders before going off on several other writing projects.  I freely admit I like to wander and take my stories as I find them.  (Significant Other nods in violent agreement right about now.)

          What was there to worry about?

          They’d still be there right?

          Well, I was wrong!  (Significant Other asks what else is new?)

          Recently, I’d decided to complete my two remaining stories about the Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria this year and bring this long unfinished series to a close.

          I’d learned a while ago that Ancient Alexandria had closed and the light from its famed lighthouse extinguished.  But, I’d been there before and had enough information and pictures for a story.

          Then I went looking for the Colossus of Rhodes and found the whole sim where it stood, Museum Island, gone with no one knowing why or when.  Sadly, a couple of other Ancient Wonders had been there along with many other RL recreations of ancient monuments.

          (You can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I rezzed in only to find all this gone and a SL real estate developer promoting homesteads!)

          But, I guess as I’ve blogged before, this is just part of the circle of life in SL, creation and destruction.

          SL continually evolves.  Creativity and beauty are lost only to be replaced by something else somewhere else.  Or, at least I hope so.

          I’ve managed to salvage something from this.

          I have a picture from an earlier visit to Museum Island showing the Colossus. 
I also have a picture of Alexandria’s lighthouse. I include these so you can see
what once was inworld.  (I’ll continue to try and find out what happened and if we can ever expect to see these builds again.)

          During my efforts to learn what happened at Museum Island, I came across a recent Slideshare presentation about the site which I include the link to here so my readers can see what a truly fabulous sim this was. 

          Unfortunately, more than Museum Island and Ancient Alexandria have been lost to us. 

          The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, another Ancient Wonders story, are lost to us as
well. 

          All are now among the #lostsims which I use on Twitter to identify such.

          Like ancient marvels in RL, these are now lost to us in SL.  However, unlike RL where physical ruins sometimes remain, they leave no trace behind in SL except our memoires and pictures.

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.         

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I Get Results with Social Media and Second Life!


 Human relationships used to be easy: you had friends, boy- or girlfriends, parents, children, and landlords. Now, thanks to social media, it's all gone sideways.

Susan Orlean

  

          My regular, faithful readers (Both of you know whom you are and I’m grateful even if you do insist on secrecy comparable to the U.S. Witness Protection Program.) may recall my earlier request for Second Life (SL) residents to use social media to keep the community alive beyond the Grid in case the Grid should ever happen to go away. 

          I went out into the world of social media.

          I started tweeting. 

          Got bumped out of Facebook.     

          Took up Google+ and went into the Avatar Social Network. 

          I got results!  (Significant Other looks shocked too.)

          Hits on my blog increased.  (I now average over 30K monthly.  Has to me more than just my two faithful readers despite what Significant Other says.)

          I’ve met people via these social media apps and with several I’ve become friends inworld.

          This story is about one of these people, Takio Minakuro. Who said shortly after we’d met inworld, “Why not a story about me?”

          Yes, Takio, why not? 

          And this is your story.

          As I said, I met Takio via Twitter.  She favored and retweeted my tweets which led to our following one another (I forget who followed whom first.).  This is in turn led to us conversing via tweets and one thing led to another and we became friends in SL.  (Takio goes by Dr. Takio inworld.) Pretty much how folks in Real Life (RL) meet via Twitter.

          Takio has been inworld since 2009 after learning about SL from friends.  She was active until 2011 when she took a break.  Takio’s self-employed in RL and works long hours.

          Then in December 2013, Takio had a skiing accident in RL which prevented her from working but did allow her more time inworld and she’s been enjoying herself there ever since.

          Her store, Tokyo Girl Avatar, which deals in shapes and skins opened this past January.  (It’s interesting how many creative types in SL got started because of enforced down time due to illness or accident.) 

In addition, Takio is actively involved with roleplaying in Japan Hospital where she roleplays as a GYN OB doctor.  She believes she is the first woman medical doctor inworld.  I don’t know about that but Takio does want to serve as a role model for young women who aspire to being medical doctors in RL. 

As if that’s not enough, Takio also has a partner and children inworld as well.  (I get tired just writing this.)  

Takio believes that both emotions and friends are important.  For her, SL is everything that she cannot have in RL as she puts it.  I think many of us have similar views.

Our interview took place in her home inworld which doubles as her medical office.  A standalone, German style house which is located in a small town.  (How do I know it’s German style?  I read and I’ve been to Germany!)

The home’s interior is spacious with a large living room, a bedroom, and two rooms for her medical practice.  The d├ęcor is Japanese and Western.  Pictures of her SL family are around the living area. 

The medical offices, which include an examination room and a patient’s room, include the latest and greatest medical devices inworld.  All of which are very expensive.  (After the last several years of listening to US politicians and media talk about healthcare costs, why am I not surprised?)

Takio is a gracious hostess and answers all my questions frankly.

My takeaway is this.

Social media, Twitter in particular, is a highly effective way to expand your circle of friends in SL.  Takio is a highly experienced and accomplished resident and, yet, she stepped out into Twitter “to find people in SL” as she puts it.

Takio is a longtime resident inworld with an active social life divided between her family and friends not to mention her profession, and she’s been using social media apps to broaden her community inworld.  Overall, she has 380+ friends in SL.  I’d say she’s been successful!

Hopefully, social media in conjunction with SL will permit the community to expand beyond the Grid and possibly outlast SL itself. 

I’d like to thank Takio for taking the time to meet with me for her very candid interview and for becoming friends with me inworld.  Her flickr page can be found here.

We both hope to meet others in SL through social media and to continue to grow our circle of friends?

Care to join us?

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.         

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The River Thames Freezes in Second Life


 Twenty bridges from Tower to Kew -

Wanted to know what the River knew,

Twenty Bridges or twenty-two,

For they were young, and the Thames was old

And this is the tale that River told:

 
Rudyard Kipling

                                                                
 

          The year is drawing to a close.

          Thoughts (at least mine) turn to the Holidays and their traditions.

          Second Life (SL) as does Real Life (RL) has its traditions for this time of the year.

          One of these traditions is a Christmas extravaganza put on by the inimitable Perryn Peterson, the Mayor of Mieville. 

          Folks still talk about his Christkindlmarkt that he put on last year and his A Christmas Carol before that. 

          True to form, this year Perryn has gone looking for something different yet original which will entertain his guests.

          Care to guess?

          Drum roll please.  (Significant Other rolls eyes and mumbles something about laying it on a bit thick.)

          This year’s Christmas celebration is derived from the 1814 Frost Fair in London which was the last time the River Thames froze solid enough for people to not only walk across but to throw a four day party because apparently with the river frozen there wasn’t a lot else for the folks whose living depended on its waters flowing to do otherwise. 

          Appropriately, Perryn has entitled this year’s event, “The Thames River Frost Fair.”

          (I don’t know how Perry digs up these little nuggets of history, but he sure can find ‘em!)

          The freezing of the Thames came towards the end of a period known as the Little Ice Age. The 1814 occurrence is also the last time that the Thames has frozen over so completely and solidly. (Please let’s not get into any arguments over global warming, I get enough of that in RL.) 

          The Frost Fair was an occasion for celebration with food, drink, and dance.  An ox was roasted on the ice.  Pubs and other shops were set up on the ice forming what was like a small town for several days.  Even an elephant was walked across the ice to show how frozen solid it was.  (Yes, I did ask Perryn if he’d have an elephant at his.  He replied he would if he could but not to hold my breath.  I tried!)

          Apparently, Perryn shared with me there’s even a piece of gingerbread left over from the original Frost Fair somewhere in a museum in London.  (I’ll bet it’s the Victoria & Albert.  That place has everything they don’t know where else to put in England.) 

         
Perryn’s Frost Fair is very much in the spirit of the original.

          Frost Fair is Perryn’s largest festival to date both in terms of size and participants. 

          Size wise, it’s almost an entire sim.  Regarding participants, over 150 merchants will be participating which is another record for him.

          Rezzing into Frost Fair, one is immediately hit by the stark, white reality of winter.  It even feels cold.  The landing zone overlooks the Fair and it’s big!

           A large frozen area represents the frozen waters of the River Thames and is bisected by London Bridge.  (What?  Did you expect the George Washington Bridge perhaps?) At one end is small group of buildings representing London itself.

          Frost Fair is divided into three areas, two of them on ice.  The third is contained in London proper.

          One area contains shops with spots for refreshments and relaxation.  This has been sponsored by Mountain Rose.

          The second area contains additional shopping as well as the amusement area with all the rides.  (Yes, Perryn may have taken a few liberties with the anachronisms but this is SL after all!)  BTW, watch out for the polar bear wandering around here.

          The third area located on terra firma (Or as terra firma as anything can be inworld) on a low bluff overlooking the river has shops for the merchants and their offerings.  The gacha building will be located here and there is a rumor that Santa’s Workshop may be here as well.

          Wandering through the fair, I see booths, shops, and barges (frozen in place) arranged for all the merchants.  When it opens, the Fair is going to be a very busy place!  As usual, Perryn has attracted the best merchants and the finest merchandise to be seen in one place inworld.  Definitely the place to go for Holiday gifts for your loved ones and friends.  (Or, just treat yourself if no one else does!)

         
Besides shopping there will be a full range of activities during Frost Fair.  Storytellers will be scheduled, and dances and parties will be held.  Check in regularly to see what’s going to be happening.  An Advent calendar will also be available in the town area dispensing a different gift for each day. 

Frost Fair will run from November 28th to December 28th and can be found here.

          This promises to be a fun event in the spirit of holiday festivals in SL.

          I’ll be around and hope to meet you there!

          Additional Frost Fair pictures may be found here.

          Happy Holidays!

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.         

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!