Photographers Fanny Vermont and Io Bechir have opened a gallery, Clockwork Skimmer, to showcase their works. The intimate multi-floor space is a brick warehouse or loft, well furnished and decorated, that provides an ideal and intimate home for the artwork. Currently, an untitled exhibition by Io graces the lower floor, nine self-portraits that are mostly nudes in her distinctive style (image above); Fanny's exhibition, Balance, occupies the upper space, and features nine black-and-white carefully composed images (image below) "taken in my studio, which is not much more than an ample, empty hall," Fanny notes. "I wanted to be able to use a tele-lens and also to get more possibilities where to place the light projector. For six images I used a large, white backdrop with a rather wide dimensioned cove, which creates nice results in combination with the spotlight." All the images are available for purchase, and the artists plan to rotate material and spaces for future exhibitions.
26 March 2016
Nusquam, a sim designed by Randi Lenroy (with a few contributions from her partner Krius Misfit and friend Clementine Ishtari), has rapidly become one of Second Life's most photographed destinations, and this spectacular sim is sure to please not only photographers but also explorers, couples, and those who seek a little solitude. "Welcome to nowhere," says the sim's simple yet fitting description ("nusquam," as blogger Eddi Haskell pointed out, being Latin for "nowhere").
Visitors arrive in a dimly lit bar, something of a converted barn straddling railroad tracks, with drinks to one side, billiards to the other, and a pile of junk in the overhead loft. The tracks head off toward the south through thick woods that almost create a tunnel (image above), finally ascending a hill and emerging into the light at the southeast corner, where a lighthouse overlooks the rocky coast below (next image). The tracks then turn to the right, travel on a narrow ridge (partly propped up by crumbling wooden supports), until finally tumbling off the edge of the hillside into the sea, accompanied by several leaning telephone poles (fourth image). Here, we find ourselves separated from the rest of the sim by a long body of water, with the option to fly north or to simply retrace our steps.
Leaving the bar in the other direction, to the north, explorers will quickly emerge into an open space where several train cars lie jumbled as the tracks end, one of the boxcars now home to an encampment. Our view expands to see a great field (top image), which is bisected by a long dirt road leading from the tracks to a building Randi calls a home/garage/office; a station wagon that looks past its lifespan and some farm equipment lie scattered here and there. A pier extends from the home out into the open waters, providing a calm scene of fishing boats under swirling flocks of seagulls (lowest image).
Everywhere are incredible vistas — it seems as though no matter where one turns or looks, there's something striking to see, while, on the smaller scale, exquisite details abound. Poses are plentiful for those looking for quiet time with a friend or for photography. If you enjoy your visit, please consider leaving a contribution in support of Nusquam.
25 March 2016
Now on display at Solodonna is an exhibition by Terry Gold entitled Black Box (take the teleporter at the landing point). It is, on a certain level, about the artist's process as much as her end results: we see strikingly well composed and often beautiful photographs, both color and monotone, but we also see the sets or constructed environments in which they were taken. For example, the razor blades below, into which one can walk or cam, were used to construct the resulting image above on the far left, and both are presented in Black Box as independent but interrelated artworks.
And it is quite dark: visitors should take care to enable advanced lighting model, set their draw distance to a maximum of 90 meters, and use the Ambient Dark setting. To view the installation, which winds through several spaces, one follows a narrow blue wayfinding line on the floor, and there are places where it's easy to lose one's way. (Upon reaching the teardrops, be sure to find a small three-paneled doorway behind them that leads to a larger and final gallery.)
Wandering through the darkness, our sense of depth is compromised, and it's often fascinatingly difficult to at first discern what is two-dimensional and what is three-dimensional. Although the majority of the images are nudes, exploring the human form with light and shadow, they for the most part are not sexual: Terry's body in the photographs is often shiny, white, and bald (sometimes a doll), stripping away potential eroticism. Black Box will remain on display until Saturday, April 4.
24 March 2016
Now on display at the Art Terraces of Holly Kai Garden is an exhibition of photographs by Derry McMahon and Bear Silvershade entitled Shorelines and Solitudes (Derry's part more properly called Down the Shore Everything's All Right, and Bear's part known simply as Solitudes). Derry's works are colorful, primarily depictions of the shore or water's edge (image below), while Bear's thoughtful compositions are monochrome and perhaps more contemplative (image above). The artworks, all of which are available for purchase, will remain on display until Sunday, April 3.
23 March 2016
Now open is Strawberryland by Cica Ghost, the latest in an ongoing series of sim-wide installations filled with the artist's inventive playfulness. In place of a traditional land description, she settled for a joke — "Q: Why were the little strawberries upset? A: Because their parents were in a jam!" And indeed, strawberry vines are everywhere in this build, covering just about every foot of land, the bright red fruit standing out against the green leaves and the periwinkle-orange sky.
Visitors will quickly discover that there's something different about scale at Strawberryland — ordinary avatars are about the size of mice, wandering through giant vines, encountering cats, hens and a rooster, geese, and a population of friendly-looking oversized residents engaged in activities that range from testing paint colors on a wall to hanging laundry. In the image above, Kinn and I look up toward a giant yellow tricycle. "I was thinking how this is actually some genetic modification," Cica half-jokingly commented as I watched her build the sim.
It's a windy island, to be sure, as witnessed by wildly blowing hair (two images below), balloons that threaten to pull from their strings, flowers swirling in the breeze, a windblown wood carving, and even a delightful miniature "wind house" located at the landing point. Be sure to click on objects, as many contain poses and animations: dance on a chicken, get stuck in a car window, hang on a ladder, or become one with a strawberry.
Cica is an artist who works quickly when she gains a spark of inspiration — only a week ago, she remarked to me, "I just made a strawberry field — I am thinking it could be a sim," and she subsequently purchased the region on Sunday. If you enjoy your visit to Strawberryland, please consider leaving a contribution to support Cica's continued work, or visit her store, a landmark to which can be had at the landing point.
22 March 2016
Now open at the Lollygagger Art Center is an exhibition of photography by Sparkie Cyberstar. "I bring a style I feel is my own," says the artist. "My photography is all raw and untouched for the most part just cropped, maybe a border and signed. I do play with a few simple textures as you'll see here and there." The majority of the images are landscapes and cityscapes, and all are available for purchase for L$500. Contributions in support of the gallery are welcomed.
21 March 2016
Now open at the DaphneArts Gallery, curated by SheldonBR and Angelika Corral, is an exhibition of works by Jammie Hilland Joslyn Benson entitled we are no one. As the curators state, the artists "seek to approach the eternal existential quest of the individual ... Existence precedes essence, which means that we human beings, first of all, exist, and define ourselves afterwards. We ... create our own values and meanings for our lives, but this responsibility may bring a sense of anxiety, anguish and fear. And this is what we can see through the images." Most of the artworks are Second Life photographs depicting the female form, often nude; several, especially on the uppermost floor of the gallery, appear to be drawn by hand.
"I asked [the artists] to do some exclusive works for our gallery," Sheldon explained. For this exhibition, "we have three floors, each inspired by a Greek god: Hades, Poseidon and Zeus." And that's especially appropriate given the name of the gallery was inspired by Bernini's sculpture Daphne and Apollo. The space was originally intended to showcase works by Sheldon and Angelika, but, with the opening of we are no one, the gallery will begin hosting exhibitions for other artists as well. The show will remain on display through April.
17 March 2016
A few years ago, artist and master builder Haveit Neox, while designing his striking Port of Sparquerry (about which you can read more here), invited me to install a series of images along a bridge (image above). The upper parts of the Port were intended to be emotionally hopeful and less disturbing that the lower areas, so I selected some serene landscape images, all of which happened by chance to be water sims. Haveit then gave the long rickety walkway, with some humor, the name The Bridge of Quests.
In the ensuing years, I've taken many images of Haveit's installations, and recently decided to refresh the photographs that line the bridge with some that depict his own works. So now there are eight fresh photos (most of which have been displayed inworld before) that are probably more in keeping with overall feel of the sim, and I'll likely rotate these over time as well.
16 March 2016
The Trace, Kylie Jaxxon's seasonal sim, has just reopened, emerging from winter with a stunning new immersive environment co-created with designer Elvira Kytori, and it's certainly the most impressive Trace to have appeared in the ongoing series. Everywhere are scenic views, panoramic vistas and beautiful details that will delight explorers, photographers and couples alike.
This new iteration of The Trace comprises two large islands separated by a deep watercourse: the first, toward the northwest and L-shaped, features beaches at its extremities, and it wraps slightly around the second island, situated toward the southeast, which offers a beach along its western edge and a weathered lighthouse (top image) toward the southeast. Elsewhere, the shorelines are rocky and craggy, often with steep drops into sea. Here and there are various homes and structures, many of which offer opportunities for poses.
The islands are connected by an impressive arched stone bridge (best visible in the lowest image — click on any photo to zoom in) that stands tall over the churning waters below. The land itself, on both islands, is heavily covered with herbaceous growth — to the southeast, expansive fields of violet and lilac wildflowers carpet the ground, while toward the northwest the earth is swept with tall grasses and yellow and white blossoms (second image).
Everywhere, one hears the evocative cries of gulls, the chattering songs of garden birds, the quiet distant ringing of a buoy bell, wind chimes, and waves crashing against the rocks, creating a soundscape that is integral to the experience and is very much an equal partner to the landscape. Shown in these images is the sim's default environmental setting that suggests a calm early morning. Contributions in support of The Trace may be left at garbage barrels on both islands.
15 March 2016
There is something serenely majestic about the sim Suomi, and it's apparent from the moment one arrives that it's a special place. Designed by Shen Molinaro, the region includes mythological and cultural information from Sighvatr Sturluson (Worthaboutapig resident, also the sim owner) — the two having collaborated on the sim's concept — with additional contributions from Sati (Satyamalaak), Skaði Sturluson (Edenjane765), and Èirã Sturlson (Dahlia Endsleigh).
Suomi is simply the Finnish name for what English-speaking people commonly call Finland, and it's in that nation's northernmost stretch that one can often observe the northern lights, or aurora borealis. On the sim of Suomi, the ghostly lights gently move and swirl through the night sky, providing a dazzling show that just barely illuminates the snow and ice in the deeply forested land below. Frozen rivers (careful — you can actually fall through the ice in spots!) wind their way through the land.
The sim is more than just for looks, though — as visitors crunch their way through the snow, they will discover extensive information about Finnish culture and mythology, ranging from the Sámi people to cosmology, cults, gods, spells, Kalevala (Finnish epic writing), and Sampo, a mysterious artifact. Various objects and figures through the sim, such as the half-woman half-reindeer character shown immediately above, dispense information through their shaman drums. They're often well hidden in the forest, even when nearby, so explorers are encouraged to make use of a map provided at the landing point.
Travelers will find plenty of places to warm themselves from the cold, including a sauna, and there's an opportunity for some fun sledding on the frozen waterways. The sim's default environmental setting is Annan Adored Light Explosion (shown in the first four images), but Shen actually prefers (SS) Atmospheric 06:00 6b, which is shown below, providing a soft morning glow — but one generally loses the effect of the aurora borealis and the dark mystery of the woods with this brighter light. This is a place not to be missed, and one that may require multiple visits to fully appreciate.
14 March 2016
Explorers who might wish to revisit their summer childhoods will enjoy a visit to Follow Your Bliss, designed by Elizabeth (Elizabeth Nantes). Or at least revisiting one's childhood seems like a strong possibility: as I spoke with Elizabeth, she said, "When I verbalize it, I think it sounds a little too nostalgic, but the best way to describe it is that endless summer in the country in childhood — bright sun, swimming, nothing on your mind other than finding another cool place to sit and watch the sky. I think that's why I ended up with so many swings!" And, at the same moment, in another IM, my partner Kinn independently exclaimed, "It is very like my childhood!"
Although she considers the sim a continual work in progress, Elizabeth put the final touches on the current iteration several days ago. A series of about nine islands, some connected by bridges or walkways, and each distinctive and unique, fill the otherwise ocean-filled region. The largest piece of land, positioned toward the eastern edge of the sim, rises most prominently from the shoreline, its rocky sides covered with lush vegetation, while the low-lying islands variously feature beaches or vibrant fields of flowers. Furnished houses and structures dot the islands, all open to visitors.
Additional creative contributions to Follow Your Bliss were made by Kazu Koray. "He's been a great help," commented Elizabeth. "I shared my vision, and he shared his vast inventory." Photographers will find many opportunities for both for landscape shots and posed images. (Places to sit or cuddle abound, and rez rights are available through joining the land group.) Contributions in support of the sim may be left at the landing point.
08 March 2016
Now open as the inaugural exhibition at The Good Days Gallery, curated by GoodCross, is Immersed by Hills (Hillany Scofield), "an exhibition about the duality of being an insular," as the artist states. Around the walls, monochromatic images depict clusters of nude female mannequin-like figures, grouped in each photo in similar poses or actions with the exception of one nonconforming individual. The mannequins themselves (created by Carrie Snowpaws) are present in the gallery, and guide us into the space in a beautiful gesture (image above). Several additional photographs, in full color, rotate overhead.
"We find safety, community and acceptance, but we also stumble, fall, feel trapped and isolated. So what do we do?" asks Hills in her artistic statement. "We break out, we question ourselves, we go back with the flow. Or we try to dance away the pain." All of the images are available for purchase, and contributions in support of The Good Days Gallery itself are welcomed. Immersed will continue on display for approximately three weeks; GoodCross plans to rotate exhibitions at the new gallery on a monthly basis.
07 March 2016
Now open at LEA22, designed by Carmsie Melodie, is Funky Junk, a wild mish-mash of colorful debris with a strong dose of playfulness. As the creator describes it, Funky Junk "is a whimsical, post-apocalyptic, mini-world where trash and junk are truly valued — rust is the new black here! Everything at Funky Junk — including the inhabitants — are made of, or contain, cast-offs of all shapes, sizes and types. Along with unique appearances, Funky Junkians have a haphazard building style and take recycling very, very seriously. It's a community. You'll see Funky Junkians at work, at home, in school and even seeking medial assistance."
Upon arrival, one receives a map, and this can be a handy thing to have, as it's easy to lose track of where one may or may not have ventured. (Teleporters are located throughout the build, but exploration by foot is preferable and can lead to many other nooks and crannies.) Through exploration and an informative museum exhibit, it becomes clear that the time period of Funky Junk is far into the future: humans have long since disappeared, were replaced by pixel avatars (although that's somewhat uncertain, based on archaeological digs), and were then followed by the current inhabitants, which one can spot here and there: the Funky Junkians.
Be sure to venture underwater, too — a good way of getting there is to wander into the maelstrom on the surface of the water, with dramatic results — and also to watch out for free items (plus, just click on everything). To keep abreast of Funky Junk's progress (as the sim is likely to change over time), stay tuned to its blog. "The blog is integral to the art," Carmsie told me. "They go hand in hand." The installation will remain on display through June.
06 March 2016
Opening tomorrow, Monday, March 7, at LEA26, is Wrecks (or Épaves) by Gem Preiz, the second and final part of his installation Heritage that opened with Vestiges in January (read more here). Each of the artist's signature massive fractal images — thousands of pixels wide — are stitched together using a grid of prims to create an experience of tremendous depth and detail (images excerpted in the second and third images in this post). In the case of Wrecks, the fractals demonstrate considerable variety, suggesting futuristic scenes in space, cities, a cave, and other environments.
A narrative theme runs through Wrecks that focuses on the ecology of the planet, and is presented in a series of science fiction-like diary or logs entries (displayed as French and English wall text as seen in the top and bottom images in this post). In his artistic statement about the exhibition, Gem asks, "What shall we bequeath to our successors? What future do we prepare for them? The question becomes more and more a concern, after the conference of Paris on the climate, and in the first years of a 21st century which as the formers, begins with deadly confrontations."
"I have a very general sense of the kind of result (spiky, curvy, fragmented, compact, obviously repetitive or not, full of holes, square, etc.) and also the level of details I introduce — extremely detailed, almost not," said Gem as we discussed his work process to create the fractals. "Then I react on the result, and go in further on details, zooming in on this or that, changing angles and framing. And at last, when I catch a picture that is evocative for me, I work on the color palette and all the visual effects (melting of colors, fog and so on) — just as if you were climbing a hill without almost knowing what you'll see on the other side." Gem strongly recommends use of the music stream that accompanies the installation, which will remain on display through June.