InWorldz: The future enters

InWorldz SXSW Event: Rainer Maria Rilke tree
InWorldz SXSW Event: Rainer Maria Rilke tree by Teal Freenote. (Not the real name of this sculpture but it was a tree covered with Rilke quotes!)

InWorldz put in an appearance at SXSW the music, film and interactive conference held in Austin, Texas every year. The virtual world categorized itself as a game developer at the convention and simultaneously showcased itself within InWorldz. In effect, they connected the conventional with the virtual with their “Welcome to Our World” exhibit.

InWorldz SXSW Event: English Galleon at dusk
InWorldz SXSW Event: English galleon at dusk created by Nyx Breen

For this post I collected together some photos I took on the Arts & Literature sim. There are other sims, each devoted to displaying different topic areas. These areas include: Education, Entertainment, Technology, Physics, Fantasy & Roleplay, Transportation plus Harbor – Boating & Nature. There is much to see and explore as InWorldz very cleverly invited their most talented citizens to show off recent or favorite works. This is certainly a very good idea for it means the pieces on display have a depth and maturity that can only be the product of hours of thoughtful work and personal skill development. It is also worth pointing out that many of these artists cut their baby avatar teeth in Second Life before being drawn into InWorldz with its generously sized building spaces and atmosphere of calm. The other observation worth sharing is that in practice many artist avatars have bi-world passports. That is, they work in Second Life and in InWorldz as interstellar traveling artists and troubadours. (Some probably travel even further into the OpenSim firmament appearing in multiple worlds.)

InWorldz SXSW Event: Dreaming (detail) by Sy Celina
InWorldz SXSW Event: Dreaming Side Table (detail from larger exhibit) by Sy Celina

Above you can see a detail from Sy Celina’s ‘Dreaming’ exhibit which was originally built as a Christmas display. The exhibit, a comfortable living room and child’s bedroom is housed inside a giant blue Christmas ornament. The room conjures up an atmosphere of childish excitement with idealized Christmas memories and presents stacked high by the perfect roaring log fire, yet the furniture in the room is strangely transparent. I opted to avoid taking a ‘Christmassy’ picture as I found myself drawn to the pipe holder and photographs perhaps the two most solid and ‘real’ memory items in the strange room?

InWorldz SXSW Event: Steampunk Tree by soror Nishi
InWorldz SXSW Event: Steampunk Tree by soror Nishi

soror Nishi is one of my favorite artists. Her work is always full of color and humor. Her exhibit ‘The Steampunk Tree – a mechanical marvel’ (above) was in 3 sections, with the tree itself linked by a series of pipes to two other peculiar machines. She had placed 5 goats on a high platform at a feeding trough where they seemed to be eating colorful gourdes at one end whilst regularly emitting spherical droppings at the other. These droppings were then carried along a watery chanel to a filtering chamber filled with giant amoeba/octopus type creatures before being sent into the steampunk tree and thereby feeding its ability to deliver flourescent spores into the air. Smelly virtual worlds have yet to be invented but I am positive that soror Nishi’s tree smells like new roses growing in a farmyard.

Alizain Goldflake - 'The Niagara River'
inWorldz SXSW Event: Alizain Goldflake’s tribute to Kay Ryan’s poem ‘The Niagara River’

Finally, I have featured Alizarin Goldflake’s display, an unusual black and white exhibit based upon Kay Ryan’s poem ‘The Niagara River’. This exhibit makes full use of the three dimensions available with virtual spaces and also employs sound effects. As you wander around the exhibit the black and white photographs of trees are constantly scrolling slowly around the walls, at your feet water is steadily running over your toes and in the background you can hear the sounds of a river and distant human voices. Alizarin wrote about this installation in her blog post ‘The Niagara River’

Because the poem uses a dining room melded with a river as a metaphor for the passage of time, life, or maybe the constant stream of consciouness, my installation has a sound environment that mixes the sound of rushing water with steady stream of people talking.  The people have long departed from the room, from life, but their voices linger like ghosts and their names float in hover text.

The ‘Welcome to Our World’ exhibit is still open in InWorldz. The best way to visit is to go to InWorldz.com and register before simply downloading their viewer. A display board at the landing area will provide a teleport straight over to the exhibition sims. They always have helpers at the landing area who can direct you as you take your first steps in Inworldz. For more photographs of the InWorldz SXSW exhibits  visit Rig’s Photos and scroll down through his posts (he has 5 InWorldz photo posts).

Second life: What would Fellini do?

Fellini Mural SLmuralIn the 1960s Federico Fellini decided to start a dream diary and ended up keeping this diary for 22 years. Fellini’s ‘Book of Dreams’ (packed with notes and sketches) was published in 2008, about 15 years after his death. Today, a brand new hard back copy can be purchased from  Amazon for $775 (there were 4 new copies left when I visited) and apparently Amazon used book sellers have copies available ranging in price from $176.28 to $1,221,71. Oh, and the book weighs 8.2lbs and measures  2.4 x 10.2 x 13.5 inches, really rather a tricky book to read on the morning commute. Now, the reason for telling you all this is because Fellini’s dreams will soon become highly portable as the tome is to be published as an ebook. To celebrate this new digital publication an exhibit devoted to the ‘Book of Dreams’ has been built in Second Life and you can take your avatar for a spin through Fellini’s dream world.

closer up close up_001

Second Life is the perfect place to promote the ebook edition of Fellini’s dream journal. This world of shared imagination inevitably conjures up strange random juxtapositions. For virtual tourists like myself this chance aspect is a major attraction. At times a teleport to a new location can have the quality of a game of dice with Salvador Dali the evangelist of surrealism. On other occasions we might encounter the gentler dreamy surrealism of a Federico Fellini film. What is more, this surrealistic dream state can often be encountered in the most most mundane areas of the virtual world. For instance, a friend has a house in Second Life suburbia and her neighbor has completely enclosed his virtual home with a giant wooden box. It is just there, no explanation just an object awaiting interpretation. I wonder what Fellini would have done with a virtual world at his finger tips?

fellini-notebook-pages

Please visit Imparafacile Island to see the extensive exhibition of note books and old movie posters.

Sunset over Hypatia

I flew over to visit Hypatia in Second Life this evening and am dismayed to find this beautiful, atmospheric location seems to have vanished. I am rather vainly hoping the creators have decided to build elsewhere or start a new project perhaps?

Glimpsing the Hypatia Harbor through trees
Glimpses of Hypatia Harbor through trees
Rooftop view from Tusken, Hypatia
Roof top view Tusken, Hypatia
Ships and tall tower, Hypatia Harbor
Ships and tall tower, Hypatia Harbor

Honor McMillan posted a lovely article about the area in the summer of 2012  titled “Distracted by Hypatia”. Sad to say, it also appears that the neighboring fabulous “Joy of Steampunk Museum” has gone off to another realm as well. Here’s hoping I am completely wrong and my Second Life viewer was just malfunctioning this evening…

UPDATE
Shortly after sending out this post I received the following somewhat reassuring tweet from Corcosman:
“re: Joy of Steampunk. Went there on PhotoHunt event recently. Was told the sim owner was going to build something new.”
So, the sun may indeed have set over Hypatia and the Joy of Steampunk Museum but the good news is that something new is brewing (and my viewer was not on the blink).

And a note about the update
Corcosman mentions the Photo Hunt Group in Second Life. This group travels off together to visit a selected location where they all take a number of photographs for one hour.  Upon their return the photographers select their favorite image for display. A voting process follows to select the best images from the Photo Hunt. Gridjumper’s Blog explains the procedure in more detail in her post: Take a Photo, Capture an Idea in the Virtual World.

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were…

The-Return-Tower-View-Final

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we would go nowhere.” – Carl Sagan

I recently acquired Photoshop CS6 and I have been having a wonderful time experimenting with layers. Layers are a really clever tool that allow you to stack images on top of each other. You can alter the degree of transparency of each image and at the same time erase areas of one picture to allow another to show through. There is a random aspect to this layering and blending that creates a game of visual serendipity. I have taken the opportunity to play with layers of ‘reality’ by combining the imaginary spaces of virtual worlds like Second Life with my tangible world or ‘first life’.

VP-The-Returning-2

The two photographs in this post show the beautiful temple built by Marcus Inkpen. Sadly, this temple has long since vanished into the ether (see earlier post “The Returning has Departed” for more information). It is intriguing to capture an image of something that existed virtually and now exists no more; it is like dropping into a dream with a camera, the layering of pictures allows memory and imagination to blend and create yet another world that never was…

The Returning has Departed

Temple Towers
Marcus Inkpen, an outstanding artist working in Second Life created “The Returning” a project made possible through support provided by the Linden Endowment for the Arts. The “Returning” was closed recently to make room for a new LEA project. These photographs give a sense of the beautiful and mysterious site that is now just a memory.
Blue phone booth in woods
A lonely telephone booth standing in the middle of a vast wood.
"The Returning" emerging from the woods
A strange temple appearing at the edge of the wood
View of temple pond
View of the temple’s quiet reflecting pool, if you could walk around the pool and into the trees lying straight ahead you would find the telephone booth featured above.
Interior view
Interior view of the Arcanum Library within the temple. A giant pendulum is gently rotating within the low circular wall, this is positioned at the center of the temple and counts the minutes in graceful swinging arcs.
Arcanum book display
In each alcove of the Arcanum Library mysterious books are displayed (tantalizingly behind glass).
Tower View
View from one of the temple towers. “The Returning”, as Inkpen explains “explores the spiritual connection we once experienced, as an integral part of life, now lost – but lying in wait for our return.” I hope to return to “The returning” one day…

3 Fabulous Blimps

As a fan of steampunk I really enjoy how virtual world artists and builders explore the genre’s wistful vision of romanticized technology. Currently on show in Second Life you can see a superb display of steampunk inventions at the Joy of Steampunk Museum. As you can see I was particularly enthralled by Lexx Bondar-Foehammer’s Blimps.

3 airships created by Lexx Bondar_Foehammer
Lexx Bondar-Foehammer’s blimps. Currently on view at the Joy of Steampunk Museum. Second Life
3 AerViator V5 Blimps created by Lexx Bondar_Foehammer in Second Life
AerViator V5 Blimps receive the ‘sepia’ treatment

I have more photos of these airships in my flickr stream.  (I experimented with a range of different photoshop effects on the images and then had a really hard time deciding what to post here on my blog!)

Lotus blossoms and the hint of seafront piers

Lotus Stage built by  Donpatchy Dagostino for the SL9B event in Second Life
Lotus Stage built by Donpatchy Dagostino for the SL9B event in Second Life

I returned from my vacation to find that the SL9B event had been running for quite a while, I quickly fired up my Second Life viewer so that I could pop in and explore. I even managed a rare blog post and (giddy from the whole experience) find myself writing another post within days (as opposed to months!) Whatever next?

Donpatchy Dagostino's Lotus flowers
Donpatchy Dagostino’s lotus flowers

You see, for my vacation (or as we would say in the UK, my ‘holidays’) I went to stay at a camp by a lake in Maine. English people might think of a camp as a tent, and damp sleeping bags, stretched over bumpy ground above a subterranean sea of seething worms. In America, a camp is frequently a house with electricity and running water, a bathroom, kitchen with fridge (though we roughed it a bit without a dishwasher); we also had beds with mattresses, a washing machine, TV and DVD player plus a phone but (gasp) no internet!

Lotus stage with its vague hints of Victorian seafront piers...
Lotus stage with its vague hints of Victorian seafront piers…

My favorite activity when staying ‘at the lake’ is to take out a lovely little silver rowing boat and row round to a sheltered corner of the lake that is filled with water lillies. The lilly pads and fallen trees in this area keep the speed boats and jet skies well away, freeing me to float peacefully amongst the lillies and dragonflies. When my wanderings around SL9B brought me to the Lotus Stage with all the lotus leaves and flowers scattered at its feet I was delighted. Despite the difference that exists between lillies and lotus plants I was reminded of my rowing boat rides on the lake. At the same time I was intrigued by the scale of everything at the Lotus Stage. My avatar’s eye view of giant floating petals and lotus blossoms reminded me of the movie ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids‘.

Lotus Stage ramp leading up to the performance area
Lotus Stage ramp leading up to the performance area

The stage itself reminded me of an old theater that you might find on a Victorian seafront pier; this impression was helped by the railway bridge to nowhere that runs alongside the stage, home for a stationary steam engine and its carriages. To climb up to the Lotus Stage the creator, Donpatchy Dagostino, built a long elegant ramp that spirals gently up into the petals of the giant lotus flower and opens out into the stage area. When I was wandering around on my first visit I actually arrived at the stage during a performance by the astonishing ChangHigh Trinity Dancers. Fire, lights and lasers were shooting out from the stage. The show was a striking contrast to the cool reflective waters lying below and perhaps the organizers planned it that way as a safety measure? I returned the following day to get a picture of the stage standing empty and silent in the early evening shadows.

Lotus Stage standing empty but for shadows
Lotus Stage standing empty but for shadows

I delved into Google to see if I could dig up more information about The ChangHigh Trinity Dancers and found the following description on their Facebook page:

CHANGHIGH TRINITY SISTERS FIRESHOW of LIGHT, LIFE and LOVE

We are four spiritual sisters, from different parts of the world, who have come together and created a very unique and extremely beautiful and powerful circus/fire-dancing show in the virtual 3D world of Second Life. We perform using rotating trapezes, on high wire, podiums and on rolling balls.We fire dance on walking elephants and perform many very unique acrobatic animations, all colored by vivid radiant effects of many different kinds, scripted and available inside Second Life; such as fire balls, light particles and poofers, lasers, sparks, smokes and ofter kinds of realistic light.

One of the ChangHigh Trinity Sisters
Yman Juran the founder and lead fire dancer of the ChangHigh Trinity Sisters

Finally, thanks to my ‘go to’ sources of information: Honor McMillan, Crap Mariner and Daniel Voyager Thanks for all your work in helping SL9B happen and thanks for your blogs and tweets that helped me find my way around and understand what in the virtual world was happening at SL9B!