Monday, October 31, 2011

A "Modest Proposal" for Art in Second Life

LEA Art Sandbox  (moderate)

There's a new bully in town.  That's right, the Linden Endowment for the Arts is wreaking havoc in the world of art sims.  Bad enough they provide a sandbox. They also have sims which highlight artists in a variety of categories (and of course let Crap and I loose on the world) but now they're giving out grants to individuals so they have an opportunity to create and share their vision with the rest of the grid.  Outrageous!

However, the real problem is much bigger than just the LEA.  I feel compelled to expose the full nature of this situation but please be comforted by the fact that I do have a solution. Falling back on the inspiration of my hero Jonathan Swift I propose to end this scourge permanently.

There are multiple components to the issue.  The first is that there are way too many artists in Second Life and their numbers are growing all the time.  People keep talking about the virtual world and its tools for creativity - this inevitably leads to people thinking they actually have the right to use them and try creating stuff.

The Great Fissure (moderate)

As a result we have a creative birthrate that cannot be sustained.  There just aren't enough outlets to handle the myriad of new and struggling "artists" which means we have a large population of artsy fartsy types living below the poverty line.  They squat in shacks and under bridges and generally make the metaverse look tawdry.

The second part of the problem involves those people who, for whatever reason, feel a need to open new art sims.  We already have enough art sims.  In fact we have too many. They're all competing with each other and to what purpose?  Why bother displaying the work of more than a few "artists"?  It's not like they're as valuable as a new mall or Zyngo parlour.

I propose that we limit the number of art sims to 3.  That seems like a reasonable number. To avoid the spectacle of unwashed painters and sculptors beating at the doors we round them all up.  You read that correctly, we incarcerate all the would be creative types.  (This will have the added benefit of bringing the whole bdsm subculture into the mainstream - we have to do something with these people once we have them.)

The London Dungeon  (moderate)

Stage Two will be to seize all the individuals who have opened art sims over and above the 3 we have designated as acceptable.  We can't have them drawing traffic away from our trio of approved destinations.  As part of this phase all of the Lindens who thought the LEA was a good idea will be included.

The best part of my proposal is Stage Three.  Each of the official art exhibitors will hold regular executions of the prisoners.  The frequency may have to be high initially, because there will be quite a backlog to get through, but it's doable.

Publically sanctioned terminations would give the 3 sims a chance to compete with each other while eradicating the excess artists and sponsors from Second Life.  They could try to outdo each other in style, efficacy and even, dare I say, artistry.

Ankh Morpork  (moderate)

Eventually the population of artists and art sim owners will be whittled away.  This process will also spread the message to any newcomers that they should not consider creativity as a worthwhile activity to pursue.

A terrific side benefit will be that we get a new source of entertainment.  It could be gamified and draw the right kind of residents inworld.

For any of you who do not believe this is a real problem you have not been paying attention. There is a limit to the amount of help and support that should be provided to a seemingly endless number of artists.  Particularly if you believe that only the same two dozen creative types should be indulged at all.  In addition, the whole idea of having both "public" and private sponsorship is an anathema. Really, what were people thinking?

My proposal is an efficacious approach to both deleting the problem and erasing the drama and we'll get a new game out of it.  My hero would be proud.  

Image from A Tale of Two Cities (1935)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Win, Fail, Pause for the Blues & A Voice You Should Hear in Second Life

Insomnia Station  (moderate)

It's been a busy couple of days - busy in the sense that housework is busy and about as annoying at times. :)  I've been fighting the sense for weeks that being in SL is like driving a car with the emergency brake on.  I just felt like I had to find the one button to push and things would magically improve.

I spent a lot of time on Friday and Saturday tweaking and tuning without much success. Then I spent some time just analyzing what happened and when and decided a lot of it must have to do with my video card - which is a perfectly good card but it seemed like something to at least try.  So I decided to do a clean install of the driver.

Nothing is simple.

Insomnia Station  (moderate)

I uninstalled my video driver and then cleaned the registry and rebooted.  Then I checked and uninstalled the previous version of the driver which was now operational.  After cleaning the registry I rebooted and then wound up rinsing and repeating for 90 minutes until I finally got rid of them all.

The good new is that once I had installed the most recent driver again, this time without the extras I don't need, my fps had tripled.  Whew!  I tweaked a few more system things and did some maintenance and, although it's still not where I'd like it, my inworld experience is much less exasperating.

Insomnia Station  (moderate)

In between bouts of techie impersonations I dropped in on some of the multitude of halloween parties and, in one case, a 4 year anniversary that friends seemed to think I should attend.  Lots of fun in spite of the fact that I'm not a big fan of the whole thing.  :)   I tried to get in the mood and wear "costumes" which in my case means either going as a pink skinned "normal" or wearing one of my more outlandish avatars.

At one point I was a mermaid and missed the window to get to a friend's party because the sim was full.  Few things look as weird as a large fish swimming over the desert floor. It was a pity because those who love the Barbie shape would have enjoyed her and her undulating butt.  

Insomnia Station  (moderate)

Every now and then I soothed my irritated soul by ducking out to a blues concert.  Arriving a little early for one I happened to catch the end of a set by Alex Mays.  Alex is a relative newcomer (5 months old) and I was so intrigued I made sure to catch him again yesterday. He plays great blues guitar and mostly his own original music but also does covers.  

This guy is making a name for himself fast and it's well deserved.  His calendar doesn't show all the dates I know he's playing yet so join his group - Alex Mays {Live Music} - that way you won't miss an opportunity to enjoy his performances.

And, just in keeping with the music I've been using to keep myself semi coherent for the past few days, here (after a brief introduction) is something "loud and nasty".

Friday, October 28, 2011

There's Aught in Second Life

Aught  (moderate)

It'll be a short post today - I'm achieving all new depths of frustration trying to take photographs.  Something is throttling Second Life and until I find it I have little joy in my usual adjusting/sliding/button pushing/clicking adventures.

Having said that, there is a very cool sim called Aught that deserves your attention.  Ever wonder what the devestated parts of Japan look like now months after the earthquake and tidal wave?  If you believe the creators of this landscape, Mother Nature is now taking the opportunity to reclaim the areas she previously treated so harshly.  The industrial complex seems broken beyond repair but the colour green is becoming more and more evident as plant life achieves dominance.

Aught  (moderate)

This is a post-apocalyptic vision of a real life post-apocalypse.  There are stores in the rubble with some interesting items to tempt you to open your wallet and continue providing financial support to aid recovery efforts.  Although caused by a horrendous tragedy the landscape is beautiful as it overcomes recent history - seemingly much more ready to recover than are the people who once lived here.

I enjoyed visiting Aught and I wish I could bring you better images - you'll just have to visit yourself and find your own.  :)

Aught  (moderate)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On Lives and Journeys and Dark Chocolate in Second Life

Secret Spheres (moderate)

I've been musing on life and change and the unfolding of the universe.  I'm hardly a profound philosopher but there are some things I believe. I know, you're rolling your eyes and judging me, but you can just look at the pictures while I try and articulate some thoughts which have resulted.  

The photos are from Secret Spheres which is a fabulous group of tiny little universes (and yes there are some secret hidden ones) and it seemed in keeping with my mental wanderings.

People I care for deeply are dealing with life changes right now -  the unexpected remodelling of their worlds and how they envisioned their lives.  Some of these changes are small, others are dramatic and difficult, but all of them have altered what they thought of as their "lives".

Secret Spheres (moderate)

I would like to fix things for them but my magic wand is still in the shop.  Mostly I would like to ease their sense of loss and discomfort with their current situations.

I'm going to sound very trite here and I apologize but dammit even the cliched can be true. The only thing I know for sure is that nothing turns out as planned.  My own reckless adaptive approach to change is to consider it a new adventure.  Not all of them are pleasant or ones we would choose but the good news is that things will change again.  

Secret Spheres (moderate)

If I've learned anything in my seemingly hundreds of years of history is that we are not living our future.  Everything, I mean everything, is just a phase.

Why is it that the young see their world and their place in it as fixed?  We talk a lot about potential and possibility but for some reason they put their feet on a path expecting it to just head off into the future without detours or bridge closures or earthquakes.  There are lots of other paths.

Secret Spheres (moderate)

When I was younger, and yes electricity had been finally been introduced, we enjoyed the music of a great Canadian poet.  His voice was similar to other poets like Dylan but, of course, he had the romance and angst we could point to and call our own.

Many years and cartons of cigarettes later his voice is now a deep dark chocolate that drowns you in sensual pleasure. (excuse me while I collect myself)  The song is the same but the experience has changed.  It's not a great analogy but it does let me segue into a favourite video.  :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Tough Day at the Avatar Games Office in Second Life

Recovering from The Avatar Games (moderate)

I had great hopes when Avatar Games was about to launch and I described with some dismay the reality of what should have been a fabulous historically significant athletic endeavour.  I have to report that things have just gotten weirder.

There was the day that Zed Linden competed and carried his own gun to shoot not only back at the audience but at the other competitors.  In fact Crap joined him at the conclusion of the group run and we witnessed the bizarre sight of these two and others chasing each other around the course in complete violation of all the rules.

Then there is the Linden Angel who decided to take a position above the course and on occasion plucks one of the contestants up into the air and vanishes.  They are usually returned but none are willing to speak about the experience.

We talk about the way each of the athletes demonstrate perseverance but we have one who start out 3 months ago and still hasn't crossed the finish line.  We cling to the hope that Filthy Fluno will find his way to the end zone.

Yesterday things descended about as far as they could go.  Two couples staked out territory in the stands and decided to demonstrate their new sex pose balls.  We sent people over to the pair under the bleachers to point out we were all talking about them and some videos were being made.  They didn't care.  Then some audience members joined them. They didn't seem to mind that either. Things went downhill from there. I expect this to be the first time in history a Linden sim gets shut down for violating the maturity ratings.

The good news is that the inaugural series of Avatar Games ends in about 3 weeks.  Things can't get much more ridiculous.  Can they?  Find out for yourself next Monday at 4:00 pm slt, one of the last three events to be held this season. I'm going to try and recover from today's mayhem.

Monday, October 24, 2011

You Think I'm What? in Second Life

Winterfell (moderate)

I had this kind of epiphany the other day.  Well at least that's what it could be.  We talk a lot about immersion vs augmentation and I've always said/thought that I'm just "me" inworld, no more and no less.  However I've recently been made aware that there's a perception of me as "soft spoken" and "sweet". ?!?  Understand that my physical alt has most often been compared to Murphy Brown and neither of those terms have ever been used to describe her.

If you never saw the show (probably cause you're much younger than I) she wasn't mean just often caustic and wry and definitely had a temper.  So why am I perceived differently by some on the grid?  I don't think I'm "role playing" - in fact I know I'm not.  Maybe the pace or the nature of my interactions in a virtual world allow me the freedom and the time to show more facets of my character.  However, I have never and would never aspire to being "sweet".  I don't think I want to know that about me.

Winterfell (moderate)

I don't have any issue with being "nice" and in fact I try to be kind, considerate and not careless of other people's time and feelings.  But "sweet"?  That's an outrage!

"Sweet" makes me think of very young, coy, naive and not terribly bright.  I'm sure this is my problem and not an attempt by others to insult me but, trust me, diabetics do not need to fear spending too much time in my presence.  Saccharine is cloying and lacks backbone. I'd like to think I've survived this long because of strength not the ability to sit in a corner sucking on a lollipop and fluttering my eyelashes.

Winterfell (moderate)

There's been a lot of conversation in my virtual life lately about my appearance and that it should be altered.  I think if I really wanted to change something about myself it would be whatever it is that I'm doing to make people perceive me in such a mistaken way.  And I don't think it requires changing the size of my boobs. grin

Speaking of which.  I came across a cool blog the other day (and I can't find the link right now of course but I will and I'll add her to my blog roll) by an educator recording her experiences as a newbie in Second Life.  One of her early observations is that there's an obsession with breasts inworld.  Ha!  You thought it was just me!

Winterfell (moderate)

I went to visit Winterfell to get the images for this post.  It's aimed at the fans of Game of Thrones and is described as a Freeform Para-RP in the universe of a Song of Ice and Fire based within the City of WInterfell, in the North.

And this forced me to confront another one of those peculiarities of our world.  In order to visit you must dress appropriately - medieval.  Bare chests, kilts and Xena Warrior Princess are specifically not allowed.  sigh So much for my Xena fantasy.  This meant looking for a basic medieval outfit that didn't involve Gor.  Not an easy thing to do it turns out.  

However, the sim is worth the effort if you like to explore and if you're interested in that kind of role play then I suggest you go visit.  It was like entering a painting in some ways - nice effects.

Now if you'll excuse me I'll go be horribly sarcastic to somebody so I can feel more like myself.  I must be out of practice.

Winterfell (moderate)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Some People Have Shoulder Pets in Second Life

Felix & I

I've not only acquired a new friend but also a way to deal with those annoyances which crop up in our daily lives from time to time.  Thanks to Claudia222 Jewel I won't have to raise a finger in anger or frustration (which always seems to result in a chipped nail).  My buddy Felix is very protective.  He's also a great,  if wry, conversationalist and observer. We've bonded.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Unsleep Walking the Grid in Second Life

XIV Evanesce  (moderate)

Sometimes sleep is erratic if not elusive and sometimes that can prove to be an opportunity for something special.  I consider it preferable to "do" anything rather than just lie there when I awake and last night I was looking at photos and saw this one by Totem Flow.

The grid is almost always available so I went to explore and found myself in shallow waves looking at a magical view.   I turned my camera around and saw even more magic and didn't miss sleep at all.

XIV Evanesce  (moderate)

When I arrived I had my environment set to midnight and decided to keep it there but play with some of Torley's settings for that hour.

I'm not comfortable with many of the mushy romantic destinations inworld.  Maybe I have a different notion of romance or maybe I'm just cranky but I find too many of them cliched and overly cute.  However Vix Yoshikawa has created something beautiful and romance could be happy here.

XIV Evanesce  (moderate)

I encountered one of those perfect images that sometimes appear in front of you while I was snapping photos. In a special place with soft colour and light there were two gorgeous pastel nekos sharing a swing and a quiet moment. They suited the mood and the landscape so completely that they could have been part of the design.

I didn't invade their privacy and I did not take their picture but seeing them made me smile.  

XIV Evanesce  (moderate)

Go visit XIV Evanesce and check it out at different times of day.  Share it with somebody special - even if that means yourself.

I headed back to sleep with the untaken photo of that couple in my head.  Maybe I'm not as cranky as I think. :)

XIV Evanesce  (moderate)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dante, Virgil & Hell in Second Life

Rebeca Bashly's Inferno on LEA 6  (moderate)

It's the time of year when "dark" becomes attractive to most of the population - not just those who indulge all of the time.  This is not my favourite time of year to be honest but it's growing on me.  I realized that people assume around now that my weird look is just a halloween costume and don't think anything of it. :)

If you really want to get in the mood for horror then visit a realization of Dante's vision of hell in Rebeca Bashly's Inferno on LEA 6.

Rebeca Bashly's Inferno on LEA 6  (moderate)

The Roman poet Virgil is your guide through the nine levels of suffering.  He's the one who glows - I guess since he's been granted visiting privileges they want to ensure he doesn't get caught up in some of the gruesome drama.

When you've had enough of the pain and torture on any level just touch him to get his attention and he'll move you along to the next.

Rebeca Bashly's Inferno on LEA 6  (moderate)

I don't subscribe to the notion of "hell" and certainly not the medieval view that Dante examined.  I guess if I had to pick a description I could accept it would be Jean Paul Sartre's "Hell is other people" from Huis Clos.  There's less brimstone that way.

(As a side note, when I was much younger at University, a group of us drove across the border to see a pron movie - very daring at the time.  I realized part way into it that the script was based on Sartre's book and decided to consider it just a field trip for my french literature class.  I can rationalize a lot of things.)

Rebeca Bashly's Inferno on LEA 6  (moderate)

If you survive the sight of all the trials, tribulations and tortures you will find yourself in the ninth circle.  As gruesome as I found everything else this section affected me the most and it was because of the big guy.

Yes Satan is here, with all three of his heads, but what really really bothered me were his wings.  They are the creepiest things I've encountered in SL.  The texture, the movement and the sheer menace in them both surprised and intimidated me.  Go visit Inferno for yourself and see what I mean.

Rebeca Bashly's Inferno on LEA 6  (moderate)

A Moment of Serendipity in Second Life

DH Lab2  (moderate)

This might happen to other people a lot but, for the very first time in my Second Life, I teleported onto a sim and landed on the back of a giant butterfly.

This flock of birds is heading somewhere.  I might follow. :)

DH Lab2  (moderate)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Following The Path in Second Life

The Path - Bryn Oh  (moderate)

It took me a few days of trying to write this post because it's all about the images and the art and I couldn't take a half decent photograph no matter how hard I tried.  I finally decided that I was so caught up in the experience that I couldn't step back far enough just to observe.  This morning I put on my coolly dispassionate hat and tried again.  They aren't great but at least they shouldn't insult the artists.  Too much.

If you've been under a rock and missed it, The Path is a collaborative art project at the Linden Endowment for the Arts curated by Bryn Oh.

The Path - Colin Fizgig  (moderate)

I could try and explain what this is about but I think Bryn's own words would be more appropriate.

The Path is an immersive project based around the exquisite corpse concept sometimes used by the Surrealists.  Essentially, each chosen artist adds to a composition in sequence. Eight artists were invited to stand upon one of eight different coloured boxes I had set up. Once all had chosen a box to stand on, a chart was rezzed which listed the order of colours which would hten dictate the sequence of artists to compose the scenes for a narrative.

The Path - Marcus Inkpen  (moderate)

So if red was the first colour on the chart, then the artist standing on the red cube would begin the narrative.  If blue were next then the artist on the blue cube would continue the story after red had passed their part on to them.

The artist who goes first composes a short start to a story.  They then pass on this segment to the artist who is next on the list.  That artist would then write up a continuation of the narrative and pass it on to the third artist.  This would continue until reaching the eighth and final artist.

The Path - Desdemona Enfield/Douglas Story (moderate)

What those words don't convey is the magic and the wonder of an interactive experience created by eight immensely talented artists. Dali's head in a jar is just the starting point. You follow The Path created by them for a group of characters and for yourself.

There are mind games and puzzles and superb visuals.  Video is used and objects appear and disappear and the world changes suddenly and without explanation.

Much like our physical life paths.

The Path - Maya Paris  (moderate)

I've been thinking about life paths lately.  The choices we make or that others make and how they alter our intended course.

I'm neither egotistical enough nor insecure enough to think everything is always all about me. :)  Even if our lives are impacted by others - and, after all, it would be very sad if they weren't - it doesn't mean we were the focus.

Things would be a whole lot simpler though if we could have total command of our lives and what happens to us.  Yeah I know, I also wish for an unlimited supply of dark chocolate to suddenly appear with the same amount of success.

The Path - Claudia222 Jewell (moderate)

I should say something profound and inspirational about "paths" and the journeys we are on.  All I can think of though is "Don't Litter".  Make of that what you will.

A better idea would be for me to quote that great philosopher Douglas Adams' character Dirk Gently:  "I rarely end up where I was intending to go, but often I end up somewhere that I needed to be."

The Path - Scottius Polke (moderate)

Go see The Path.  Think your own thoughts as you explore and at some point give thanks to the Pixel Gods that the LEA exists and that Bryn Oh and Colin Fizgig and Marcus Inkpen and Desdemona Enfield and Douglas Story and Maya Paris and Claudia222 Jewell and Scottius Polke and Rosa Rochovski got together and created this fabulous surreal story for us.

PS.  One of my favourite machinamists (jjccc) has made a video of this great installation - go watch it!

The Path - Rose Borchovski (moderate)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wherein the Intrepid Explorer Creates a Halloween Costume for Second Life

Well I like it .....

You probably already know this but it always comes as a shock to me - there's an obsession with sliders and skins and the choices people make when creating their avatars.

I love grey and painted skins.  I figure some people are pale and some are tanned and some might be mahogany and I just happen to be grey.  There are those, however, who insist I look like the undead.  sigh

This is not my only crime.  For a variety of reasons which I won't blather on about I choose to keep my sliders to the left.  Honestly anybody who hits on me would probably hit on a park bench - they just want something to jump on the sex balls with.

I can remember an encounter with a grid famous artist who could only talk about my lack of butt.  Seriously? Of course the bust is the big obsession and I was counselled to fix that.  Fine.

Fine I'm pink .....

The shape isn't a big change and it's one I can live with.  The skin is an old one I had - at least it doesn't make me look 17.  I'm not about to go skin shopping just because people have a fear of zombies so great that innocent aliens are targeted for disdain.

However, since Halloween is approaching the discussion gave me an idea for a costume.  I don't really have the wardrobe to pull it off but I decided that just moving that one slider would take me far into the realm of "make believe" that all good costumes require.  Nothing however can make me go shoe shopping!

There but I'm not oiling them .....

I don't understand the obsession with my body parts and I won't change my look just cause other people have deep seated issues (/me grins at the outspoken critic of my choices) but I'll try change and if I can live with it then I'll adapt.

To be honest though I really think the best thing might be if I choose an avatar without slider or skin options that offend delicate sensibilities.

This seems safe

Friday, October 14, 2011

Seanchai Library brings War of the Worlds to Second Life

The family gathered around the radio ....

It's October 30, 1938 and you and your family have gathered around the radio to listen to the Mercury Theatre on the Air because that's what families did.  There was no television or internet.  You'd listened to your old lp's over and over but the radio was better.  It was exciting and most everyone was doing the same thing.

Suddenly a news bulletin interrupted the broadcast and you listened in shock as the newsman described explosions on Mars.  Then, a little later, you heard that something had landed in Grover's Mill, New Jersey.  What followed was horrific.  Reporters risked their very lives to cover the story of the century - aliens had landed in the United States and the military was fighting back.

Zain Ruins (moderate)

It wasn't true of course.  It was a radio play adapted from H.G Wells' novel The War of the Worlds.  Orson Welles made his name with this broadcast and angered a lot of folks.  You see there were no commercials in the show - the "news bulletins" seemed very real to a lot of people reading newspaper stories talking about war preparations in Europe and already anxious and afraid.

Many woke up the next morning expecting to find the common and familiar gone or at least badly damaged.  Little grey men were expected at the door any minute.

It's hard to imagine today, with our myriad of information sources and instant access, but many were fooled into believing the play was reality.

Zain Ruins (moderate)

Fast forward to the present and the Seanchai Library has received permission to use the original radio play as the script for a special story telling this October 22, 23 and 26.  "All Seanchai presentations are read live in voice.  All the performers are volunteers and donations are accepted to support established charities around the world.  In 2011 these have included Habitat for Humanities, The American Heart Association, Project Children, The American Red Cross (Tsunami & Pacific Earthquake Relief), Water for People, Heifer International, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Seanchai's War of the Worlds features the voices of Shandon Loring, Bear Silvershade and Kayden O’Connell. Add in the voices of Elder Priestman, Caledonia Skytower, BigRed Coyote and others and this production promises to be a treat for the ears."

It's no more possible or plausible today than it was back then of course.  Although I did stumble on something  strange as we cleaned up the playa this afternoon.

I'm sure it's nothing .....

I'm telling you all this now so you'll plan your time wisely and make it to one of the readings.  Make a note in your calendar - that's correct, I want you to write it down.

Saturday October 22 a 5 p.m. performance at Blood Evolution Kingdom
Sunday October 23 at noon on Haunted Fruit Islands
Wednesday October 26 at 7 Seanchai Library

I plan to attend at least one of the performances and I'll be imagining people all over the grid huddled around their radios.  Just like families used to do. :)

He wasn't there when I took this photo .....