Saturday, October 20, 2012

Among the Dead

People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive.  It is as though they were traveling abroad. 

Marcel Proust

I know, I know! Everyone is probably wondering what I’ve gotten myself into this time.  Well, have no fear I’m still with us among the living.  But thanks to my old friend in Second Life (SL), Perryn Peterson, I made a short visit to the dead and lived to tell about it. 

Perryn is working on his next project for the public in SL.  He has prepared a sim based on the approaching Mexican holiday Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos in Spanish).  As always, Perryn never ceases to amaze me with the variety of his projects and the quality of their presentation. 

Dia de los Muertos is a national holiday in Mexico where people come together with their friends and families to remember their dead.  Offerings are made to the dead, graves are visited, and good times with the deceased are recalled.  Sounds like a good time to me!

Perryn gave me a sneak preview before the festival’s official announcement in SL.  I arrive in Fiesta Village, a small village reminiscent of those found in the Mexican countryside.  Merchants are still setting up their shops and stalls but the look and feel of the approaching holiday is there. 

When I meet Perryn at the landing zone, he points out a skull named “Cal” (short for “calavera” in Spanish which means skull).  He will be the hunt object for the mini-hunt which will begin from the landing zone.  Merchants have been asked to display merchandise with a Dia de los Muertos or at least a Halloween one in a stretch. 

Dia de los Muertos will last for a week from October 27 to November 4, 2012.  Perryn’s purpose in having this event is to observe the holiday (long a favorite of his), have a fiesta, and to provide an event halfway between STEAM 7  and the upcoming Renaissance Hunt. 

We walk through the small town.  Traditional Dia de los Muertos artwork such as catrinas is displayed by merchants and for esthetic value.  Anyone looking to acquire a piece of native Mexican folk art for their SL home should really come by and check out what’s available. 

Our stroll takes us past an ofrenda, or altar, with traditional offerings to the dead.  At some altars candles can be lit to the dead.  Paper decorations called “papel picado” hang on the walls just as they do in Mexico at this time of the year in Real Life (RL).  As would be expected for this festival, a small cemetery is located next to a church. 

Other touches of authenticity meet us along the way.  A burro, a gaily painted cart, and street decorations add to the sense of the holiday.  Many of these objects have been molded by Perryn himself.  From his private collection, he has hung talavera tile murals on a wall by Rose’s Cantina.  Rose’s place is intended as a place for visitors to come, enjoy some food (yes, individual portions of Mexican food are available), and relax from all the festivities. 

An open market, or mercado, completes the scene.  Stalls and carts are available for merchants to display their wares.  Speaking of whom, Perryn as usual has gone out of his way to attract some very talented builders to sell their wares during Dia de los Muertos.  Tattoo Lane (also creator of the event’s poster), Dmitri Mint, Elicio Ember, Raquel Gagliano, SunQueen Ginsberg, and IzelEleuia Resident are only a few of the prominent merchants who will be displaying their wares during the week.   

Tattoo Lane is a vendor of fantasy clothing, her shop is called Goddess Fantasies, and she is also a designer of logos, posters etc..  Perryn approached her to design the logo for the event - and as she’s British and had never even heard of this festival before (Perryn does have a knack for stretching people, I must say!) - it was a real challenge for her! So she designed the logo and is also one of the shop keepers at the event.

Curiosity attracted Tattoo to the theme.  She’s also been involved in Steam the Hunt for the past few years, and knows how well organized the Hunts are. They are always fun for her and bring a lot of people to her store. She also finds Perryn so lovely to work for!

I ask Tattoo what she expects to gain from this experience and she says that for her it's a learning curve, she had never heard of this … so it will be interesting to wander round and explore the other shops and see their wares  and probably buy a few things that take her eye! It is also a great way of advertising her own store, and meeting new people.

Tattoo loves working with Perryn.  (I hear this a lot.) She find that he has such a great imagination, and such vision - he makes it so easy to design for him - he knows exactly what he wants and has a great eye for design - so she hopes to do more work with him in the future.  Making posters and logos for these events is a great way to showcase her work - of which she is very proud (As she should be!) Tattoo is not a graphics designer in RL but is totally self-taught.  She has always been an artist in RL and love colors and textures, so perhaps this will bring some more similar design work her way.  Tattoo is so looking forward to this celebration!

Raquel was attracted to this theme because she lived and grew up in Mexico. One side of her family has close links to the Mayan culture, in the Yucatan peninsula, where the Day of the Dead is a very important celebration. So, for her, the Day of the Dead was always celebrated with a feast and altar offerings, even through not Catholic herself. The Day of the Dead, like the original Celtic Samhain, was a pre-Christian celebration that later was assimilated by the Christian world.  Raquel says that thus, it was only natural for her to want to share with people all over the world what this celebration feels like to her and what it means.

When asked what she wants others to gain from this experience, Raquel says for people to know and experience a bit of the Day of the Dead, which has a very different flavor and feel than Halloween has and heh, some sales of course!

          I enjoyed myself in touring through Fiesta Village with Perryn.  I would like to thank him for his time and hospitality in showing me around and answering my questions. I would also like to thank Tattoo Lane, Racquel Gagliano, and Elicio Ember for taking the time to answer my questions.

Perryn and his team have shown how they can move beyond their traditional steampunk space and do more in a totally different culture from what they normally are accustomed to.  Their attention to detail and realism are evident.  Finally, once again, a community of people has come together in SL and have done something extraordinary. 

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

Below are a few pictures of Fiesta Village in SL where I visited for this story.  These do not do justice to the work of Perryn and his team.  I encourage everyone to visit on their own once it opens and see the marvelous and have a great time! 

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Photo No. 2 Perryn Peterson

Photo No. 3 Local art – Catrina

Photo No. 4 Offerings to the Dead

Photo No. 7 Talavera Tile Murals

Photo No. 8 Shop Front

Photo No. 9 Village Street Scene

Photo No. 11 Traditional Folk Art

Photo No. 12 Decorated Cart

Photo No. 13 Cal

Photo No. 15 Wall Mural



Tattoo Lane said...

Thank you for your lovely blog and may your travels across Second Life continue to help you to write such an interesting blog!! Loved it! xxxxxxxx Tattoo Lane

Tattoo Lane said...

webspelunker said...


Glad you liked it and thanks for your support!