Aviaos Shadowcrawler posing (very gingerly) on ‘Spikeball’

Impale - Avios Shadow Crawler
Aviaos Shadowcrawler posing (very gingerly) on Spikeball

Location for image above:  The ‘Art Box’ gallery created by Frankie Rockett and Violet Sweetwater.

Aviaos Shadowcrawler v.2 (Red Female) avatar created by Flea Bussy (tail detached for photo above).

Interactive homage to Jim Sweet’s ‘Spikeball’ created by Frankie Rockett and Violet Sweetwater in Second Life.

See Cyberloom’s earlier visits to the Art Box: Halo Feels A Little Suspicious… Elephant Girl Pays Homage To Helmut’s Bunny GirlWhistler’s Mother Was a Pirate and Vitruvian Woman.

Hunting for dragons on Sunday

I have never been a prolific blogger and nowadays weeks can go by before I post an update. However, it is strangely comforting to see how many people visit my blog even when I am not here. I see the top search terms people use to reach Cyberloom and every Sunday brings in the dragon hunters. Out of consideration for these folk I decided it was high time to pay a visit to Grendel’s Children and see what new dragon creations Flea Bussy may have conjured up of late. I found the Fae Dragon and, for the astonishingly small sum of 5 Linden dollars, I acquired a box of no less than nine dragons! Today’s post (written especially for the Sunday Dragon Hunters) shows off just one of these new fiery pets, the Fae Dragon ‘Anise’. The enchanting and mysterious Al Naifah in Second Life provides the location for these dragon photos.

small stripey dragon
Note to Sunday Dragon Hunters: Fae Dragons are relatively small dragons, imagine a Komodo dragon with wings for a sense of its size.

 

Fae Dragon 'Anise'
Note to Sunday Dragon Hunters: Fae Dragons are undoubtedly successful dragons due to their smaller size and their natural camouflage.

 

Fae Dragon 'Anise' posing for photographs on location in Al Naifah
Fae Dragon 'Anise' posing for photographs on location in Al Naifah

 

Flea Bussy's Fae Dragon 'Anise' seen flying off into the sunset.
Flea Bussy's Fae Dragon 'Anise' seen flying off into the sunset.

Note to Sunday Dragon Hunters: Double click the pictures to see the Fae Dragon details more clearly.

 

Wind, water and Windlight – Glyph’s dancing strangers

Strangers Also Dance is an exhibition of the  ‘Interactive Work’ of  Glyph Graves and it finishes today (July 15, 2009). IBM provided the exhibition space on their public island IBM 2, and  Glyph took full advantage of the space generously given to him. He also took full advantage of  the Second Life elements of wind, water and Windlight.  It seemed particularly appropriate to don the gelatinous fronds of Flea Bussy’s jellyfish avatar to visit this fantastic exhibit. As I moved around the installation plants gently swayed towards my avatar or changed color, while others moved to the Second Life wind and water currents. There is strange atmosphere to the swamp with all these alien plants interacting to your avatar presence. The plant creatures summoned me to come close with hypnotic gestures and eventually I was drawn into a great moving light, or was it an organism? The creature of lights seemed to fly me through the air yet I emerged far below the sea. All wonderfully strange! For more images from the show visit the IBM Exhibition space on flickr where you can see Glyph Grave’s photos of his work.

Glyph's underwater anemones
Glyph's underwater anemones
Glyph's exhibit
A classic Glyph Graves creation
Jellyfish avatar gliding past the Glyphs
Jellyfish avatar gliding past the allographs
Small flying animal created by Griffin McAlpine and added by Glyph to his swamp
Small flying animal created by Griffin McAlpine and added by Glyph to his swamp exhibition
Jellyfish avatar swimming deep within Glyph's Dance With Strangers (background created by Miki Gymnast)
Jellyfish avatar (by Flea Bussy) swimming deep within Glyph's Dance With Strangers (background created by Miki Gymnast)

Walking the dragons

It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him. (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Thunder-breathing dragon on Templum ex Obscurum
Thunder-breathing dragon on Templum ex Obscurum

I have a number of dragons residing in my inventory that need to be exercised fairly frequently or else they vandalize my landmarks and clothing. I decided to take these dragon avatars for a flight, and a walk, around Templum ex Obscurum… a tricky enterprise! I accidentally burnt down a tree or two, and the grass was singed in a couple of places.

Here are some ‘happy snaps’ from this recent dragon trip (more pictures can be seen on flickr.)

Lurking dragon hiding in Templum ex Obscurum
Lurking dragon
Dragon avatar caught in a rainbow
Dragon bathing in rainbow light
Hunter with his armored riding drake
Hunter with his armored riding drake

Hunter and armored drake
Hunter and drake plus sunset over Templum ex Obscurum

Location for dragon photographs Templum ex Obscurum in Second Life™.
Dragon avatars created by Flea Bussy of Grendel’s Children.
For more images of Templum ex Obscurum visit flickr. This site is displaying a fabulous range of images all taken at this one location in Second Life.
Please read Not Possible In Real Life for more information about this photographic project to record Baron Grayson’s Templum ex Obscurum .

You need chaos in your soul

“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.”
(Friedrich Nietzsche)
I have been thinking you need chaos in your soul to create an avatar, to immerse yourself in synthetic worlds, and to play like an child in cyberspace. Children who played in the mud of London’s River Thames at low tide were called ‘mudlarks’… We are today’s mudlarks, the children of MUDs (Multi User Domains) in virtual worlds.
Draconite dance
Draconite (my dancing star avatar) posing in rainbow light on Templum ex Obscurum

Some people ‘take off’ when freed of the constraints of the conservative, physical world. They build in pixels, re-shaping the chaos of life; translating the physical world into visual metaphors through creative concentration. An avatar called Baron Grayson unleashed his imagination in Second Life to construct an island called Templum ex Obscurum. He is, according to his Second Life profile, enduring the chaos of a furniture move in the ‘real world’. While he is ‘away’ avatars with virtual cameras are running around Templum ex Obscurum snapping away like Olympic athletes at a closing ceremony.

Draconite dances in the cave
Draconite dancing in the Templum ex Obscurum cave

There are two reasons for all this digital activity, the first being that Templum ex Obscurum is an amazing immersive experience; and the second reason is Bettina Tizzy. The empress of The Not Possible In Real Life movement in Second Life is running a flickr page featuring photographs of Grayson’s work. She has challenged photographers, and machinima makers, to capture this atmospheric world.

Draconite dancer 3
Draconite's sunset dance

I decided to add my own pixels to the photo party and will be posting more photographs of Templum ex Obscurum over the next few days. My avatar will get to play crazy dress up games as I explore the chaos of my own soul and the photogenic island.

Flame Draconite Created by Flea Bussy of Grendel’s Children

Blog Jamming.

‘Information overload’ has made its way into Wikipedia, this makes sense as Wikipedia’s success is largely due to its ability to focus on specific information quickly. Of course, there continues to be a debate about the quality of Wikipedia, and whether academia can accept Wikipedic references in student papers.In the meantime Wikipedia is striving to upgrade its credibility by gathering together solid sources and citations for its communally created entries.

cyberloom blogging whilst seated on Nebulosus Severine's TV sets (wearing TV avatar skin by Nebulosus)
cyberloom blogging whilst seated on Nebulosus Severine's TV sets. Nebulosus' installation 'The Culture of Television' can be seen for just a few more days at Arthole in Second Life™.

That’s enough Wikipediapology! I will now point you to the wiki’s entry on information overload , here you will find the analogy of ‘low signal-to-noise ratio’, an apt descriptor! The term addresses how it is becoming increasingly difficult to discern the useful message from the mass of information swirling all around us. If your work regularly sends you out into the Internet you can feel as though you are trudging up sand dunes all day. (Two steps forward and one step backwards.) Or perhaps you feel as though you are trying to construct a sandcastle? Trouble is building in dry sand is tricky! It is hard to create a coherent shape out of all these random, tumbling pieces of digitized text.

Closeup showing TV avatar skin by Nebulosus Severine
Closeup showing TV avatar skin by Nebulosus Severine

Blogs are another information overload solution, and like Wikipedia, blogs have popular appeal whilst being simultaneously disapproved of by serious folks! (Who are these ‘serious’ folks anyway? Certain academics, some paper based journalists; plus assorted others who see modern technology causing huge changes that they consider to be generally destructive.)

Blogging helps bloggers to organize the information they are interested in. A blog can act as an information filter, a file for references and web links. Blogs can work as a focal point for personal ideas and reflections. At the same time blogs have become part of the problem by adding yet more ‘blah, blah’ matter to the information overload. Wikipedia credits Jakob Nielsen for coming up with the expression ‘information pollution’, a term that conjures up visions of felled blogs floating down clogged virtual rivers.

cyberloom adding to the blog jam from inside 'the Culture of Television Installation'
cyberloom adding to the blog jam from inside 'The Culture of Television' installation

Oh well… not to worry! Just think, where will all our blogs go if there is a massive, lasting power failure? Without electricity everything will just vanish away. Dinosaurs probably thought they had a pretty solid grip on existence but look what a falling meteorite did to them! What’s another blog going to matter? Just as dinosaurs altered the landscape with their big feet, bloggers en masse are influencing the ‘infosphere’ with our collective blog jamming!

I see my blog as a glorified note pad that helps me organize information and ideas. Weeks later I can retrieve my own thoughts. (Useful!) My thoughts get lost in the ‘low signal to noise ratio’ mentioned earlier. I keep a number of notebooks for catching ideas and information, I write in a horrible spidery scrawl and sometimes I can’t read my own writing. I lose my notebooks, I doodle in them, tear off corners, spill coffee on them, and my children get hold of them to draw monsters on their wrinkled pages. But, thanks to WordPress, I can find things resting here on my blog. I will just keep an eye out for falling meteors…

Nebulosus Severine’s installation ‘The Culture of Television’ can be seen at Arthole in Second Life™. Head over there quickly as the exhibit ends soon. Don’t forget to collect your free TV avatar while you are there!

cyberloom’s notebook was created by Flea Bussy and can be purchased at Grendel’s Children.

‘Sit’ scripts and ‘whatnot’.

New chairs
New chairs (created by cyberloom) & hanging baskets ( by Honour MacMillan) lending social presence to a virtual meeting space.

I have been experimenting with building in Second Life! Just a tiny little bit! Nothing ambitious! I am slightly embarrassed about my modest attempts when I know so many fabulous builders. On the other hand there are others who think that it will take years to master so they avoid it altogether. That is, some people think you need to know about programming and ‘whatnot’ to build, or you must be a bit clever with computers and technology generally. Well, its easier than you think! Another thought is to beware ‘experts’, those who mystify what they do to make it seem more difficult!

I will be teaching a class introducing people to Second Life in September and this has motivated me to start building classroom spaces. At first I wistfully wished to be very stylish, and monochromatically beautiful, along the lines of Alpha Auer’s Syncretia Sim. But the truth is I can’t pull off such sophistication in Second life or Real Life (sigh…) I quickly gave up such notions in favor of creating a friendly virtual place for my students.

Well (small fanfare of plastic toy trumpets) I created some simple chairs for one small meeting space. (I plan to build a number of meeting places on the island.) My thought, as I built these chairs, was to opt for the ‘Not Possible in Real Life’ approach. Why put legs on my chairs? I could not think of a good reason (and legs would spoil the line) which means that I now have floating chairs. I added cushions (for comfort) and for the practical reason that the seat must be rotated every which way, to achieve the right seating position for my ‘sit script’. (It is much easier to spin a cushion than a chair!)

New meeting place on the Tiki House Dock by Madison Gardner
New meeting place on the Tiki House Dock by Madison Gardner

This dabble at very modest building was intriguing as it had me wondering about the social presence of virtual furniture. Just think how a spiky chair would look compared to one with a cushion. The effect would be different, a distraction. No spiky chairs then! The social presence of furniture is intriguing, it got me thinking how there are layers to the social presence of virtual environments. Second Life bloggers (including myself) have spent endless hours attempting to comprehend the social presence of our own avatars (virtual navel gazing?). Taking a look at the effect of virtual environments, and what goes into creating their atmosphere, is like peeling away another layer of the social presence ‘onion’.

For some reason, I found that it helped me to wear a Star Trek uniform, and take advice from a little alien called ‘Greypet’ as I twirled hollowed-out prims. Maybe it’s time for more virtual navel gazing? No time just now. I have more building to do! I am quite proud of my Second Life Landmarks gallery with pictures hanging on walls of water, maybe I will blog about that sometime? Though it sounds more exciting than it is, but you have to start somewhere after all… eh, Greypet?

Star Trek clad chair builder with alien pet
Star Trek clad chair builder with alien pet.

‘Greypet’ created by Flea Bussy at Grendel’s Children.

Flower baskets created by Honour and available at Aintree Common.