Friday, October 28, 2011

The Path

I missed the opening of The Path last weekend but went over there as soon as I could. As a curator of the Linden Endownment for the Arts, Bryn Oh, along with seven collaborators have put together the elaborate story of The Inventor. Some of the artists are known to me and others are new, but there so much talent in one place.

It is hard to decipher the real meaning of the story , its beginning and its end. The underlying basis for the exhibit is the surrealist “exquisite Corpse.” Each creator adds to the words, picture, or in this case, entire story of the Inventor. There are wispy hints of other stories we know. I have been through it three times now and each time my view has changed as I encountered more intricate discoveries and meaning in the scenes as I moved along. Each station is amazing in its diverse addition to the prior part of the story.

Bryn said of the exhibit,”I really think this may be something people talk about for a long time. I personally couldn't pick my favorite scene as each excelled in some area or another. And that to me is a very good sign.“

I did have a favorite. I found the scene of the windows fascinating and spent time peering into each one. Each part of the story was been assigned randomly to each collaborator and each developed their own interpretation so when you reach the end you may feel the need to begin again as I did. The dimensions of the parts really needs to be studied for their many secrets. The third time I went I took someone with me to help find the hidden points I had missed and I am so glad I did! My own mental ending is not a happy one for the Inventor.

To insure not being lost, take along the teleport list that you can find before you enter the journey. On my first visit I used it many times but was able to find the way more easily in my other visits. This is a journey not to be rushed so plan to spend time there, or plan to return often. You should listen as well as look.

Bryn Oh says, “I would like to thank all the artists involved for working so hard on this project and in such a professional manner. They created a truly brilliant experience for me and hopefully for all the guests as well.” Here are the names of all the collaborators: Bryn Oh, Colin Fizgig, Marcus Inkpen, Desdemona Enfield / Douglas Story, Maya Paris, Claudia222 Jewell. Scottius Polke, Rose Borchovski.

Begin your journey here:

Gemma Cleanslate

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Virtual Museum of Architecture - Fall Build-Off

The Virtual Museum of Architecture (VMA) held its annual Fall Build-off on Builder’s Brewery, located at Builders Resource (111, 30, 22). Djinn Dasmijn was the Build-Off Coordinator. The theme was Art Deco, a style developed in the 1920’s and 30’s. During a whirlwind 48 hours, competitors designed, built, textured, and tweaked their creations. The aim of the competition was to see who could create the most functional and appealing Art Deco commercial building. There were two categories: Novice and Pro, for residents who had previously sold builds. When the building ended on Sunday, SL residents voted for their favorites.

Djinn Dasmijn stated, “I am impressed with the quality of builds our competitors come up with at each build-off.” There are two large competitions held each year, with a different theme each time. This was the first time the Art Deco theme had been used. Dasmijn said a small contest was held to select the best Art Deco trophy. Because the Build-Offs are so popular, Dasmijn may be adding smaller events throughout the year.

There were 21 competitors this year, 10 in the Pro category and 11 in the Novice. The variety and quality were amazing. Among the builds were restaurants, department stores, a theater, and even a dolphin sanctuary. Some of the builders created notecards about their inspiration or method of creating the piece, which I found very interesting. Camden McAndrews, for example, first built a 1:32 scale model of his structure.

One competitor, Darkforest Dean, took time out to talk about his build and allowed me to photograph him. He placed a radio that he had made inside his structure, and the radio served as the inspiration for his build. Another builder, Levi Ewing, built a tall, luxurious “Flag Ship” store to symbolize the richness of the 1920s and capture the mood of the carefree lifestyle people were experiencing then.

Morgan India created “The Hindenburg Club”, a sky harbor/bus station redesigned into a “high-class speakeasy”. India’s entertaining notecard explained the problems faced by executives of Dirigible-Omnibus Harbor, Inc. that resulted in this structure. India’s real inspiration for the build was a hangar at Lambert Field and by Art Deco icons, such as the Paramount Theater in Oakland, CA [1931], the Musical Hall in Kansas City [1932], and the Gold Ballroom of the Overlook Hotel.

A very unique design was the Mariposa Dolphin Sanctuary, built by Enoch Kips. This two-story structure had a second floor observation walk where you could watch the two rescued dolphins swim. Movies were well-represented in the competition, too. A great corner theater was built by Deo, while Simi Firehawk’s stucco, glass and gold structure included Casablanca posters and pictures of movie stars inside.

The end of the competition was celebrated by a dance DJ’d by Etoile in the exhibitor’s area. The Winners were announced at an Awards Gala on Monday, October 24th, from 7:00–9:00 PM SLT, on the competition sim.

The winners of VMA's Fall Build-off 2011 are:

Novice Category:

1st place: Jolie Serendipity, 2nd place: Arteer Oliva, 3rd place: 2Rottin Dean

Pro Category:

Tied for 1st place: Terra Tepper and Marcan Aridian , 2nd place: Hideo Inaka, 3rd place: Granelda Oh

People's Choice Awards:

Novice: Camden McAndrews, Professional: Granelda Oh

Grey Lupindo

Friday, October 21, 2011

Meeroo Madness

I normally hate breedables in SL. They're clumsily-animated given the restraints in SL, they're expensive, they eat up a lot of prims, they have more hovertext over them than are words in the English language, they are usually actual physical objects (making them lag even more when there are dozens standing around), and so on. But, curious, when I noticed a Meeroo shop behind my cave a few days ago, I went to investigate.

With lots of different "nests" to choose from, I first looked at the ones in the pen in the middle. The Meeroos look like what I considered to be a cross between a squirrel and a rodent, and were just moving around, as they were programmed to do. Every so often they'd take a nibble at their food bowl (which I learned has a finite supply of food, so you have to keep buying more), sometimes they'd dig up treasures (worth points to their owner), and every now and again they would ask to be cuddled (which you do by a HUD). I decided to wander a couple of the Meeroo-related sims looking for more information, and on visiting to the Roo and Muffin sims (where the main store and some shops are), I asked a few people "What's the appeal of these things?"

I didn't get many answers, until I ran into "The Spookster" and we had a brief discussion:

Xymbers Slade: What's the appeal of these meeroo things?
The Spookster: What's the appeal of being dressed up as a poorly done imitation of bowser?
The Spookster: There are people in this world that can't have pets. Can't have children... can't leave their homes.
The Spookster: Things like this comfort them
Xymbers Slade: Ok, that quote I'm saving. You have a good point.
The Spookster: It's a beautifully built interactive virtual pet that offers companionship, atmosphere and joy to those that can't have it in other parts of their lives.
Xymbers Slade: After looking at things I admit I caved. I bought eight. And apparently one of them is going to be "giant".
The Spookster: I have rage issues IRL. I've been sent to see a therapist. I actually showed her Meeroos and told her how calming they were for me, she said they were a positive idea.
Xymbers Slade: No kidding? Wow.
The Spookster: yes, there are some that are expensive.
The Spookster: But I can sit around with all of my meeroos, working on what I do... and the noises, the friends I've made with them.
The Spookster: It's just a really positive world for me.
Xymbers Slade: I just started. Bought eight, dumped them in my skybox where I do fortune tellings and stuff
The Spookster: -chuckles-
Xymbers Slade: Now I just need to wait for them to grow up and get into 100% comfort or something
The Spookster: I've been at it for about 15 weeks now.
The Spookster: Petting them will raise comfort
The Spookster: If they go without food, it'll drop.
Xymbers Slade: Do you think they could be a real-life business? Like selling rares enough to actually afford real-life bills?
The Spookster: There's no special requirements for breeding other than compatibility.
The Spookster: I've sold two meeroos for 20k each.
Xymbers Slade: o.O
The Spookster: but keeping up on top of the rares is hard.
The Spookster: I had a tiger ear and long mane.. back when it was one of 12 on the grid
The Spookster: Someone wanted it so badly.. and honestly, I couldn't pass up the money. (I run an SL business and needed it for rent)
Xymbers Slade: I just have common ones... gael and the wine-something skin
[The Spookster: Winecoats.
The Spookster: I have about 50 roos, but only because I can't bring myself to release them! (big grin)
Xymbers Slade: Heh. Any real rare ones?
The Spookster: Emperor, Koi, Nile, All traits.
Xymbers Slade: I'm assuming they won't come out of ones I currently have...
The Spookster: Feline, Canine, Curled, V.short, Notched, Tiger, Button, Fluff and Chest, Long Mane.
The Spookster: Did you get starter nests from the Meeroo's mainstore?
The Spookster: Or did you buy them from random people?
Xymbers Slade: No, from my friend's store. I just grabbed eight at random.
The Spookster: Well
Xymbers Slade: But they were common ones
The Spookster: Here's the thing. No meeroo is common. They may LOOK it, but Meeroos are built around the concept of Mendelian Genetics. There could be KOI in any of those bloodlines, but you won't get a Koi until you find another with the gene. Make sense?
Xymbers Slade: A little, yeah. I know the concept but I've never wrapped my head around it.
The Spookster: taking you back to the sanctuary
The Spookster: so I can show you my lunatic roos?

She took me back to her skybox where quite a few Meeroos were wandering about. I must be jaded; the first thing I thought was "the prim count must be astronomical." We talked for a bit more and I went back to one of the mainstores, where I brought up the fact I was just starting. Someone out of the blue gave me four nests, saying "Good luck with them! x3" I guess nests are common enough that they can just be handed out if you run into the right people.

I finally decided they were cute enough, and bought three houses (250L each), 3 food bowls (1600L apiece but it lasts for a while), and a total of nineteen Meeroos (between 200L and 500L apiece; individual Meeroo sellers may vary). There are other "add ons" one can buy for their Meeroos, such as a "Meeroo translator" and an "auto-petter"... THEN I had to get individual *batteries* for the petter! The people who made these things must be making a tidy profit! The translator makes them say funny phrases on occasion (which you can add to; one of mine is "Occupy Wall Street? How about I occupy your hands instead... CUDDLE ME!") and the Auto-Petter "pets" your Meeroos at set intervals to raise "regard" (which is like improving odds that when breeding you get a rare coat or trait). Now I have quite the menagerie running around my home land in a skybox, but it was at a cost --- I had to get rid of my 125-prim stargates to make room. At 13 prims each, they DO add up!

What surprises me is the sheer cost of some of these "rare" Meeroos. One of them down in the store I got my original set was $16,000L (about $64 in real dollars), about the price of one month's rent on my land. I asked several people how much some of the rarest went and they said about 150K $L to 350K $L --- in real dollars, that could go half way to paying my bills! I could see how this could become a big business or profitable side venture if done -right-... although my landlady suggested to me that the market was bloated right now because more rare coats are showing up.

The Meeroos take 5 days of real time to mature and then they enter breeding cycles that rise and fall based on their "personality". So in order to get them to breed, they not only have to be in season, they have to have compatable personalities. Their breeding longevity is limited; after sixty real-time days, they become "elderly" and unable to breed.

350,000 $L though... damn, I must be in the wrong business.

Finally, on return to the Meeroo sims I learned that "Generation 2" or something similiar is about to be released... the "dark meeroos", though I think I'll just stick with the ones I have now, both due to prim limits on my land and especially since upon telling some people I am new to the whole thing, they kept giving me "good offspring" for breeding. They gave me a "Koi" coat and an "Emperor" coat (both male, so no intermixing there); I had to buy a FOURTH house and many weeks worth of "berries" for them to eat. Did I say menagerie? I meant infestation. I meant to have 8, I ended up with 27.

You can find all things Meeroo at the Roo sim (Roo, 68,44,21), at Muffins of Doom (Muffins, 76,130,22), at Mo's Meeroo Home of the Free (Purity, 49, 221,24), and there is a small shop at Sunweaver Air (143, 140, 25),and as a self-plug my own set of pens is at Sunweaver Air : Sunweaver Air (182, 100, 1252). There must be far more places than the ones I've listed; those are just the ones I've been to.

I'm going to give this whole thing 4 Dragon Hoards out of Five. It's unusual enough to keep someone's interest, the variety of combinations is a strong selling point (nevermind the six figure value!) although in most of these stores, the nests you can buy have hovertext over them --- to the point where if you go to the stores, you can't see one individual Meeroo's traits due to the ocean of hovertext from the others.

Xymbers Slade

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Nine Circles of Hell

Seeing what I thought to be an interesting location in the Destinations list on login, I headed over to the Lea Full Sim Art Series at Lea6 (124,164,625) to find Rebeca Bashly's take on the Nine Circles of Hell. All nine are represented, from the frigid land of the 9th circle (for those who commit treason) to the wearing of lead-lined cloaks and people walking backwards with their heads turned around (the Hell reserved for fraudsters and the like). On seeing the sign overhead before the entrance, I went in with high hopes figuring it was going to be something very much worth talking about.

In the first circle (Limbo), it's decked out as a large castle with ghostly forms sitting around, as if waiting to be redeemed. Ascending to the middle of the castle, the teleport up there dropped me down to the second level, the eternal hurricane of Lust (where those who let lust guide them are supposedly eternally blown about on an ill wind). After watching the ghostly faces within the hurricane spin for a minute or two, the next teleport led to the circle of Gluttony awaited. There, an "icy rain" fell on the souls of the damned, fored to live in disgusting slush of some kind for all eternity. From there it is a descent into Greed, showing souls pushing giant boulders back and forth with their chests.

After a visit to the land of the greedy, it was off to the fifth circle (Anger) where sculptures of large groups of people eternally fighting on the surface of the River Styx were displayed in a massed jumble of bodies trying to tear each other apart (an article in Wikipedia I looked up remarked that the souls are "locked in" to their level, forever stuck in the mindset of the "theme" the circle is supposed to revolve around). After that it was off on a trip to the City of Dis, the sixth circle (the circle of Heresy). Guarded by what appeared to be three gorgons or medusae at the front, the entire "city" was a bunch of flaming holes with bodies in them.

The teleport at the back led to the 7th circle of Hell, where those who subscribed to violence in life were punished. Met at the entrance by the Minotaur (guardian of the level), this one to me was the most defined, with three very visible "circles" within. The first showed the outer ring where centaurs shot at sinners immersed in a river of blood and fire; the inner circle showed the "wood of the suicides" being beset upon by the harpies, and the center showing the blasphemers being stuck up to their heads with fiery flakes raining down on them. Once I went to the teleport at the other end of the rings, it was off to the 8th circle of Hell, the Malebolgia.

The Malebolgia was full of many little "mini islands", each showing souls suffering in one way or another (one group in lead-lined cloaks, another group wandering eternally with their heads turned all the way around so they could not see where they were going). This is the home of those who were frauds in life, unable now to see the truth and how to redeem themselves. Finally it was off to the bottom level, an icy wasteland with the devil himself at the center, with wings flapping. Lots of faces frozen into the ice here, with no escape (literally, I had to teleport home to get out of the sim).

It's all in all a very nice piece of artwork and the effort really shows, but what seemed to be lacking here was interactability. There was nothing to click, other than the teleports from one circle to another... no signs revealing information about the various levels or punishments (or various "lyrics" from the Divine comedy), no ability to *be* one of the souls and float around in the river on the 7th circle and experience it... nothing at all. That kind of dumbed down the whole experience. That is why I'm giving the whole place a guarded three Dragon Hoards out of five. It's a nice place to visit, see, and interpret for yourself, but there's no replay value, at least not to me.

Lea6 (124,164,625)

Xymbers Slade

From the LEA Full Sim Art Series, "Nightmares," directed by Urban Steampunk, "Not every dream is a good dream and sometimes nightmares can be significantly far more than just bad dreams...."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Burn2 - The Temple

The first time I saw it I gasped. I had zoomed in on a build to look at a section. I backed off to look at the whole and was awestruck! It was so beautiful, amazing and enticing. Only then did I realize it was part of The Temple! Surrounded by the evening stars, the curves, arches, crystal windows and spires reaching up took me out into the universe. Parts seemed familiar. When I learned the creator's name I realized why. Damanious Theta is a well known builder and artist in SL. I have some of his jewelry in which I can see some of the same curves and flourishes It is quite remarkable.

I asked Damanios about his intended effect. His response was “The theme of Burning Man is Rites of Passage, so I wanted to make something which changes from dark to light, which is why the bottom is dark (unenlighted) and the top is light/white (enlighted) and the shapes are trying to reflect this dichotomy between 'uninitiated/unenlighted' (the bottom shapes with the tentacle like things etc. more or less representing the 'natural/prehistoric/unenlighted part'" He also told me in his humble way, "I'm mostly more down to earth, just some shapes I liked, combined." I smiled.

In the deserts of Nevada at the real Burning Man there is a temple too. The day after the Burning of the man, they burn the temple. People come there to the temple to leave notes, or remembrances of loved ones. At the SL Playa one can leave notes in the fire at the center. In real life as the temple burns the notes are read aloud and here too they will be read as this temple burns. It is difficult to think of this spectacular structure being built to burn at the end of this festival. But, that is the point of it all. It is transitory except in memory. I hope you will be able to make it over to the temple before it is ashes. It is one of those SL structures that you will miss when it is not there.

The burn will take place on Sunday. Luckily you will have three chances to see it burn, as with The Man on Saturday. This is so planned to accommodate the world time zones You can see both schedules here .

Click here and it will take you right to the entrance of The Temple:

Gemma Cleanslate