Saturday, April 27, 2013

Another Art Exhibit in Second Life

Works of art often last forever, or nearly so. But exhibitions themselves, especially gallery exhibitions, are like flowers; they bloom and then they die, then exist only as memories, or pressed in magazines and books.

Jerry Saltz

          Morgana Nagorski, my Second Life (SL) friend and an inworld artist and gallerist, is at it again.  Fresh off her successful exhibition dedicated to the lyrics of Leonard Cohen, she has launched another exhibition entitled Aspects of Solitude where the works of two SL artists, Amona Savira and Harbor Galaxy, are on view. 
          Aspects of Solitude opened on Saturday, April 20, 2013 in the Palais Orleans Gallery Complex.  Morgana was there along with the two artists and the guests.  I arrived as the opening started.  (Hey, I don’t want to miss the food and drink, I’m a struggling, starving writer after all.)
          Other guests came and went as the night progressed.  As always, I’m as much fascinated by the guests as I am the art hanging on the walls.  Clothing styles range from formal to casual grunge (more my style).  One guest looked like she was auditioning for a role as a Borg in a Star Trek episode. 
           The mood is light and jovial.  The conversation is friendly banter.  The exchanges of friends about how they’re doing and how much they’re enjoying the show.  During the time I’m there several dozen people come and go.  A good turnout for an art exhibition opening. 
          Despite guests coming and going, Amona and Harbor make time to speak with me.  Both have extensive portfolios of SL works available.  Amona’s works can be seen on Pinterest and Flickr.  Harbor presents her work on Koinup. 
          Harbor explained to me how she viewed this exhibition as a collaboration not only between herself and Amona but the entire SL community.  Their joint statement about the show sums up their thoughts behind the show, “The images are about all the lonely nights, waiting for nobody . . . in solitude.  And those early morning hours when sleep escapes us and the mind wanders, reviewing the decisions that define our waking life.”  
          The gallery itself is a large two story building with the main entrance in the front. The artwork hangs on the walls on the walls in two rows from floor to ceiling.  A staircase goes to a walkway which permits visitors to view the art hanging in the top row.   
          Morgana has done her usual exemplary job as the curator of this exhibit.  Her use of the written word with the visual image is appealing and unusual for a SL exhibition.  A visitor to the show has a total experience which draws on the strengths of SL. 
          The pictures themselves catch my eye as I view them.  I must warn everyone that I’m not an art critic.  (Significant Other says it’s a good thing because I’d be in even more trouble than I am as a writer.)  Several pieces I noticed in particular are Amona’s Solitude and Fear of Flying and Harbor’s Loss of Balance and Reflection on Water.  (And, no, it’s not because I’ve been hanging around with a lot of naked people lately.) 
          I also had one of those fun moments in SL which happens from time to time. By pure chance, I ran into another friend at the opening.  The Cat from Naked was in attendance buying new pieces for her already extensive collection.  (I didn’t recognize her at first, probably because this was the first time we met while being fully clothed!)  If you have time I recommend dropping in to see part of her collection at Naked West.  I’d recently blogged about Naked. 
          After a few more spins around the gallery, I take my leave of Morgana, Amona, and Harbor, thanking them for their hospitality and time. 
          Aspects of Solitude is an excellent example of how SL can be used to hold an event like an art exhibition.  Virtual worlds and their tools also permit artists to create art and explore possibilities not possible in Real Life (RL).  SL also makes having permanent galleries to exhibit artwork.  My earlier stories about Seductions by Hitomi and the Doors Gallery are give examples of these. 
          I encourage everyone to drop and see Amona’s and Harbor’s work.  Morgana’s presentation and organization make for an enjoyable experience.  It is time well spent and you won’t regret it.  You may even want to acquire a piece or two for your inworld home!  The exhibition runs until June 16, 2013.
          I’d like to thank Morgana, Amona, and Harbor for taking time out from their opening to meet with me.  I wish them well and look forward to seeing more of their work in the future. 
 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.
           I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

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

Photo No. 2  Morgana Nagorski

Photo No. 6  The Cat (Dressed)

Photo No. 7  Solitude

Photo No. 8  Loss of Balance

Photo No. 9 Fear of Flying

Photo No. 10 Reflection of Water

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bullying in Second Life


If you turn and face the other way when someone is being bullied, you might as well be the bully too.




          I don’t like bullies.

          There I said it.  As you can tell, I’m going to do something I don’t do too often in this blog, get up on my soapbox.  Why?  Well, for one thing, twice in the last week or so, I received notices from sims I’ve visited recently, Ancient Alexandria and Naked,  informing group members about recent incidents that can only be described as bullying.  (And no, I wasn’t the perpetrator.) 

          Those occurrences and Significant Other suggesting I write about bullying in Second Life (SL) when I’d mentioned I needed a new story idea when an interview had to be rescheduled.  (Don’t worry, that story’s still coming and it’ll be fun!)  Significant Other had been bullied when younger and has been on a crusade on the subject ever since. 

          In RL, bullying is one person or persons making someone else’s life unbearable either physically or psychologically.  (Yes, I know there are more clinical definitions but as a former bullied person myself, I reserve the right to call it as I see it.)  The results of this behavior range from the victim being miserable, avoiding places where he or she has every right to be, or the extreme of suicide.  (I warned you I was going to get on my soapbox with this one.) 

          Until recently, bullying’s been regarded as a rite of passage, something to be endured.  Kids were told to suck it up and grow up.  But, now, people are challenging this idea.  (As I’ve always suspected, the bullied greatly outnumber the bullies.)   People get bullied at all stages of their lives for all sorts of reasons.  Bullying isn’t just something that happened on Leave It to Beaver reruns. 

          Bullying is not limited to the playground among children.  It happens in the business world among adults, in the military, and in academia.  The reasons, I don’t like using that word because it implies logic, vary from being perceived as vulnerable; different because of race, gender, or sexual orientation; or just pure meanness on the part of the bully.  (When you write about it this way, it really sounds really ugly and senseless doesn’t it?) 

          Now, some may ask how bad can bullying be in SL?  After all, it’s only a game, right?  These are only avatars, right?

          One of the first things I learned when I arrived inworld was that there are real people with real feelings behind all the avatars.  Some of these people are vulnerable.  Very vulnerable.  They come into SL to try and have an experience that they can’t have in RL for whatever reason.  I don’t think any of them expect or want to be bullied.  (I’ll exclude from this those members of the BDSM community who enjoy that type of behavior.) 

          Let’s talk about inworld bullying behaviors for a moment.  Rudeness, insults, harassment, and griefing are all examples of bullying inworld.  (I’ve probably missed a few but it’s bad enough as it is.)  Look no one’s expecting people to be boy or girl scouts inworld but there has to be some semblance of order and civility regarding relationships among residents.  Otherwise, the whole Grid just dissolves into a virtual version of Animal House.  (OK, there’s probably a sim for that too but it’s OK as long as they stay on the reservation.) 

          So what do we do about bullying in SL?

          First, if you’ve been bullied don’t let the bullies win.  Come back to wherever you want to be and are entitled to be.  Block them and turn them off.  Report the bullies to the sim and groups owners and operators.  Reach out to others for support.  Finally, report them to Linden Lab (LL). 

          For the rest of us, when we see bullying, we should call it out.  Bullies don’t like crowds.  If we’re sim owners and group operators then let’s take the action Ancient Alexandria and Naked did and ban bullies and let the community know that this behavior won’t be tolerated.  Finally, all of us should be letting LL know when there is bullying.  I don’t want to blame LL for this.  But without proper feedback, LL can do little.  Also, hearing from the rest of us, let’s let them know where we stand on this issue. 

          Yes, I know bullies may use alt’s but if there is continual pushback they’ll tire of the game soon enough. 

          Finally, my readers (all six of you) probably aren’t bullies.  I suspect that not too many bullies will read this story and even if they did not much would come of it.   But, I just felt I had to say something.  If you read this please think about it the next time you see someone bullyied in SL and do something about it! 

 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.

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

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



Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bitcoin in Second Life

When it’s a question of money, everybody is of the same religion.


          I’m blogging about a topic in Second Life (SL) that I haven’t written about in a while and it’s money.  (Yep, figured that would get everyone’s attention.  After sex that’s always a good one!)  In particular, I’m writing about bitcoin.  The virtual currency that’s been in the press a lot lately. 
          Bitcoin is a recent Internet phenomena.  (Alright, maybe 2008 ain’t “recent” in Internet terms but you get the idea.)  Supposedly, it was engineered by a developer, Satoshi Nakamoto, which is supposedly a fictitious name.  The idea being to create a virtual currency independent of any governmental or regulatory authority.  Comes in handy if you’re a drug dealer, terrorist, or American Libertarian.  OK, that may be judgmental, there’re probably good reasons for this like you live in a dictatorship and need discrete funds for your revolution or afraid a government might confiscate your monies. 
          The recent financial crisis in Cyprus  seems to have revived interest in bitcoin as a hedge against confiscation of monies by governments or devaluation.  This is turn seems to generated a flurry of media articles about bitcoin.
          Naturally, when something happens in Real Life (RL), there’s a follow on effect in SL.  Wagner Au recently posted an interesting story on his blog in which he talked about the implications arising for virtual currencies like Linden Dollars because of increasing government scrutiny of currencies like bitcoin. 
          All this got me thinking about if I could find bitcoin in SL.  Seemed reasonable to me.  After all, SL is a virtual world.  Stands to reason that other virtual currencies could be found inworld.  Why another currency is needed in SL is another question but who knows?  (Would Linden Lab ever confiscate Linden Dollar balances?)  Seems the FBI has long considered SL to be a hotbed of money laundering. They also think it’s a great place for RL gangs to hang out.  Don’t believe me?  Check out their website. 
          So, using SL’s handy dandy search function, I go looking for bitcoin inworld.  Turns out there’s a fair bit (no pun intended) of bitcoin activity going on.  There’s a user group dedicated to the currency as well as a couple of currency exchanges.  There are a few references to bitcoin mining whatever that is.  (Don’t worry, I’ll try and find out.)  I find a link to a website where it’s possible to trade in Linden Dollars, bitcoin, Euro’s, and US Dollars in addition to a variety of other SL financial transactions.  (I need to spend more time looking over the financial services industry inworld.) 
          I drop in to visit The Rock Trading Currency Exchange.  It reminds me of any one of a number of faceless bank branches scattered across America’s suburbs.  All polished metal and marble with lots of glass.  Currency transactions are available.  A bank guard, a bot, stands stiffly in a corner.  (Must be something valuable around whenever there’s a guard.)
          Data boards flash prices for the different currencies.  I’m not sure what folks would do with bitcoin inworld.  I’ve only ever seen prices denominated in Linden Dollars.  Linden balances can be held with Linden Lab in SL.  I’m assuming that people keep their balances with the exchange.  An interesting concept.  Something else for me to check out in the future. 
          So, I find bitcoin in SL.  I’m not sure what people do with it or even what its future is.  Given the inferences on Wagner Au’s blog and those on Alex Kadochnikov‘s blog there may be some changes afoot for Linden Dollars and bitcoin.  Maybe depending on how the global financial crisis is resolved will determine their fates. 
          I’ve included a few pictures from my visits to the inworld financial institutions, The Rock Trading Company and GMG Financial Center, should anyone be curious about these locations. 
 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.
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

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

Photo No. 1  The Rock Trading Currency Exchange

Photo No. 4  The Rock Trading – ATM

Photo No. 5  The Rock Trading Lobby

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dancing in Second Life

Cause I’m a dancer!

John Belushi

           My latest foray into new experiences involves dancing.  Yep, me out there on the floor cutting a rug.  (The Internet is a wonderful way to bring terms from earlier generations back into use although I was somewhat surprised to see how the expression has morphed in modern times.  Must be a good story in there somewhere.)  When I want to go out and socialize in Second Life (SL), dancing has become a pastime for me. 
          Why do I do it?
          Well, for one, I dance a helluva lot better in SL than I do in Real Life (RL)!  (Significant Other believes it would be difficult for me to dance any worse than I do in RL.)  Then meeting someone inworld and just standing around talking just doesn’t seem to be all that interesting after a bit.  Which again is where SL is an awful lot like RL.  Where do people go to hang out and enjoy themselves in RL?  Bars and clubs, right? 
          So, recently, I asked Turnip Canningham, an old friend of mine, to accompany me while I went dancing.  (Yes, I could have gone by myself but that would have looked a little strange and the pictures wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting.) 
          Turnip and I go back a long way in SL.  We first met at a vampire wedding.  Admittedly, we’re both eclectic in our choice of friends.  We’ve hung out a bit and Turnip’s kept me up to date on her inworld photography business. (BTW, she’s a great photographer and touch up artist if anyone’s look to have pictures taken inworld.) 
          I TP Turnip to join me at #TTOO Bar which is a favorite haunt of mine inworld.  As I explained to her as she arrives, it reminds of that small, run down, old dive that once was familiar along the American coast and is now being replaced by Red Lobster’s and Appleby’s.
          I’m dressed (Yes, I’m wearing clothes.  Not every story is about nudity!)  in a scruffy, casual outfit.  Turnip comes in her version of this, a little, black dress, heels, and beautifully coiffed hair.  (Don’t ask me why she hangs around me.  Sometimes, I think it’s curiosity about what dumb thing I’ll do next.) 
          #TTOO Bar is a small bar which opens out onto decks and parking lots which look out over the water.  As Turnip and I begin to dance, we have the place to ourselves except for what looks like a regular sitting at the bar and the bot bar maid who serves him.  One of the nice things about #TTOO Bar is the variety of dance music in its pose balls.  (How else do you think I could dance better than in RL?)
          When spending time talking with an old friend inworld, dancing is an easy and fun way to pass the time.  Turnip and I catch up on our respective SL careers as we dance the night away.  I do have to admit that I could never do while dancing in RL what SL permits me to do.  (Turnip’s probably glad too.  I didn’t step on her toes once.)  The laws of physics would never allow it to say nothing of how our clothes withstand the strain. 
          We have the place to ourselves as we dance. I prefer this for the solitude and privacy.  I think Turnip prefers it because fewer people see her out with me. As in RL, some quiet time with a good friend is time well spent.  This is something we sometimes take for granted with SL and what RL people who don’t come inworld can’t appreciate. 
          All good things must come to an end, so Turnip and I make our good-by’s and head our separate ways. 
           I’d like to thank Turnip for going out with me and dancing.  Hopefully, she had as enjoyable an evening as I did.
          I’ve included several photos of #TTOO Bar with Turnip and me dancing.  Turnip’s the one in the aforementioned little, black dress.  I encourage you to drop in and tell ‘em web sent you!       
 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.

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

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

Photo No. 1 Turnip Canningham