Monday, July 12, 2021

Mobile App for Second Life Approved by Apple

By Bixyl Shuftan

At the Web User Group Meeting moderated by Keira Linden on July 7, Keira had some details on several issues. But the most notable one was about Linden Lab's mobile app for Second Life. She announced that it had been approved by Apple for it's App Store. It wasn't currently in the store as the Lab wants to add a few things before it gets posted. It will just be the iOS version as Android still needs more work.

The app is just a chat app only with no 3D view, for now. For now, one can only directly IM others with it, though group chat should be available later. One can search names on the app, but it can't access notecards (or anything else in inventory). Keira Linden thought it would be particuarly useful for Second Life merchants to keep in touch with customers away from their computers.

Keira Linden brought it up around 10:45 in the video made of the event by Pantera Polnocy, "I can give you a little info on the mobile app. We do have a version that we submitted to the App Store and did get approved, which was great because we've been having issues with approval. That has all been solved. But it's not yet in the App Store. We have a few more features that we want to put into it before we actually post it up on the App Store. And for those of you who maybe don't know about the app, the mobile app ... we are working on an iOS only mobile app right now. Android is kinda on the heels of that, but we need to get the iOS one out first. We have a little more work to do before we can do Android. And it is only a chat app. It's just a companion app for Second Life where you can keep in touch and chat with people inworld without actually being logged in. So we are working furiously, trying to get the next set of features into it before we actually put it onto the App Store. And I think that is the bulk of what we've been working on for the last 30 days.

When asked it's concurrency, Keira answered, "For the app, we don't have very many people with it now. There's maybe 40 or 50 people who have it. So we don't really have concurrency numbers on it. We haven't done widespread testing on it yet. We didn't have any trouble when we all jumped on with it. But we'll be taking a look at it before we post it obviously. Basicaly what you do is your presence is logged into one of our mobile regions. So you're kind of inworld, kind of not. It's not on a region anyone else can get to. As long as there is space on those regions, which we make sure there is, there won't be any problem.

When asked if the Lab had "any plans for a full mobile viewer with 3D view, Keira's reply was, "For the mobile viewer with 3D view, that's going to be down the road, if we do get there. We have talked about that in the past. It's going to take a lot of work. I know we have some other full 3D viewers out there, mobile viewers out there, and everybody's really anxious to get one. and I would love to have one as well. But it is going to take quite a bit of work, and it is something that we have on our road map. But it is way down the line."

When asked "Is a contained environment the norm going forward past beta, Kiera had the answer, "Yes it is, the contained environment is what we're going to be looking at, going forward."

When Keira was asked, "Why can't I use the app at my SL home," her answere was, "So we don't want you out in public because griefers like to do weird things to people. That would have introduced more complexity in trying to decide 'Are you on desktop or are you on mobile?' when you're on, whereever your home region is. So we just have a set of mobile-only regions that, as I was saying, unless you are on the mobile app, you won't be able to get to them. It was just a little easier to do it that way. Obviously, if we go 3D, that's going to change. But for now, that's what we're sticking with.

When asked about "localized chat on the app, ie inworld chat outside of IM," Keira's answer was "No, there's not. It's only IM at this point and time. We're going to be introducing group chat. But there's not going to be any local chat within those regions. Group chat I think is a couple of releases down, we're actually going through the road map and deciding which features are going to go where. Group chat is going to be a priority. Right now, it's just individual. it's just direct IM. We'll have group chat, and then we can take a look at adding, creating a chat room, grabbing two or three friends and putting them into a room."

Keira was asked if the others in the IM region could be seen, and she answered, "You do not see the list of people in the region. Nope."  

Then the question was, "How can anyone find each other on this, without already knowing a contact?" Keira responded, "So, the idea behind just having the chat app was, our main precident was for merchants to be able to keep in touch with their customers. So if you have a customer IM you, and you're not online, you have the option for it to it your app as opposed to going to email. So you can then jump in and direct chat with that customer through the mobile app instead of having to log inworld to talk to them. So you'll have your friends list, you'll have (your) group list. It's not meant to be able to find new people to chat. It's meant for you to be able to chat with people you already know. And you'll actually be able to search. So if you know somebody's name, if you know the name of someone you want to go find, you will be able to search it, search for their name, and find them that way."

"I get it," the Linden was told, "but it seems casual chat with new people would seem interesting." Keira responded, "That might be something we can impliment down the road."

When asked if people could see notecards in the app, Keria answered no, "Right now, you're not going to be able to see a notecard in the mobile app, because you don't see your inventory right now. Inventory is a whole other bucket of worms that we are going to need to tackle at some point. It would be cool, yeah, to be able to pull notecards up, yeah."

Discussion on the app concluded at about 19:00 in Panthera's video. There were other subjects covered, such as new Welcome Islands for new residents. But for most, it's the mobile app, which has long been in development, that will be of the most interest.

To view the video, (Click Here)

Hat tip: Daniel Voyager, Inara Pey

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

"The Mouse," The SL18B Gift Car

By Bixyl Shuftan

There's a number of freebies being offered at the SL18B, between the gift shop at the SLB sims and the free items at the Shop and Hop. One item I've heard in SL group chatter a few times is a little yellow car that's been described as cute, "The Mouse." In a Flicker page shown to me, there was a picture, a description, and a SURL.

777 Motors' Gift for Second Life's 18th Birthday!
🐭 MOUSE Car - Fully scripted and super cute! ❤
You can get them here for completely free:

The vehicle is available at the "Shop and Hop" area in the Poppy sim at (152/30/53). Heading there, the 777 Motors shop,  there's an example of the car, and a picture. This little two-door car would be considered a "subcompact" in real-life, and would be a poor fit for taller and larger avatars. Besides it's size, it has a couple round ears on top, and a tail on the back bumper, making it look even more mouselike.

Clicking on the picture gets you the car in your inventory, listed as "[777] Mouse-lite [SL18B Gift]". It comes already unboxed and can be rezzed on your land or places that will allow it, such as rezz zones on Bellisseria. The two doors are openable, as is the trunk. It has a detailed dashboard, with steering wheel, gas and break pedals, a speedometer, a radio (nonfuctional), etc. To ride it, right-click on it and select "ride." Clicking on the back will bring up options, such as shifting the gear up or down, honking the horn, pulling the parking break, and others.

Taking it for a drive in my home area, the main road of the Sunweaver community, I didn't find it too difficult in first gear, though I had to slow down when making 90 turns. I then decided to give it another test: the streets of Bellisseria. I found a car rezz area at Red Hook (112/178/32), and took it for a spin. It handled fairly well, though on the arch bridges that rose up in the air some, I had to put the car into third gear to make the climb. It handled the sim crossings mostly well. I probably could have gone to the northeast end of Bellisserisa if I had enough time (and my lag wasn't getting worse the longer I was online, car or no car).

I recommend getting the Mouse. It handles well, a smaller avatar won't look undersized behind the wheel, it has a certain charm, and of course one can't argue with the price: completely free. It is unknown if the car will still be available, free or otherwise, after the Shop and Hop ends on July 1.

Hat tip: Prudence (PrudenceAnton Resident)

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, June 4, 2021

Interview With Bryn Oh

By Anita Kimono

Bryn Oh is an artist who uses the virtual world of Second Life to create what she calls Immersivist art. The viewers not only see her art but participates and travels through her spaces that she creates. Visiting one of Bryn Oh’s exhibits is like walking through a virtual book, sometimes I pass a few “pages” but realized I have to turn back to see what I had missed or I had to “reread a couple of paragraphs” to get what was being said.

Bryn Oh has been in Second Life for 14 years and yet is able to retain her Second Life identity even in real life virtual exhibits internationally. Her virtual art has appeared in museums, movies, TV and Vogue Magazine twice (Italy and India). She was awarded several grants from the Ontario Arts Council in Canada to produce virtual reality exhibitions.

The following is an interview with Bryn Oh as she describes her concepts and thoughts of combining real life art with virtual world to create a new expression.

1.  What kind of artist are you? And what medium do you work in? How would you describe your art?

I began as an oil painter and moved into virtual art such as I create in Second Life and other virtual spaces.  My virtual art is what I call Immersivist art, meaning that its focus is on creating an experience whereby the viewer forgets the real world around them for a period as they become immersed in my artwork.  The techniques and tools used in a virtual space, especially one with VR, allow for a very powerful experience where the viewer is an active participant to the artwork rather than a passive observer.  The use of ambient sound, identity, colour theory, composition, interaction, narrative and other elements all combine to create an Immersivist artwork.

2.  What is your process? Do you work from photos? Do you work from life? How do you approach your art?

All my art in Second Life is a continuous story which began in 2008 with a build called Condo's in Heaven.   That work got me thinking of the idea of immersion as a type of movement or school of thought.  There were the Impressionists, Cubists, Surrealists, Modernists and so on... and I daydreamed of being an Immersivist.  Each new work is a chapter in the ongoing story and they are based on my life almost like a diary.  I take things I see in society or technology and combine it with parts of my life and then shape it into a story. 

Each virtual artwork takes about six months to create beginning with the writing of the story, then sketches in pen and ink or oil paintings, combined with building models in Zbrush (a digital tool to create high resolution models for animation.)Slowly I will plan out the composition of the virtual space so that the visitor will have freedom to explore but also naturally will follow the narrative.  I will add elements that help shape the mood subconsciously such as colour and ambient sound, shapes and so forth.   For example,a rounded shape is comforting to the eye whereby a shape with edges and angles like a triangle can subconsciously create anxiety or discomfort. Colour and sound naturally work the same.  

3.  Did you have any formal training in art? If so, what university? If not did you take workshops or learned from books?

Yes, I attended the Ontario College of Art and Design also known as OCAD university and focused on fine art drawing and painting.  After that I went to Seneca College for Softimage XSIComputer Animation then the Toronto School of Art for Zbrush.

4.  What is your earliest experience with art that you remembered that mark your path into becoming an artist? Who influenced you to be an artist? A family member, a teacher?  

Coming from Canada my first medium was building in snow. Watching my mom paint as a child got me interested in art as I loved the smell of oils and turpentine in her studio and seeing her canvas slowly emerge into places. My first experience with art was when I was just a child in school.  I did a drawing in class one day not knowing it was part of a large art competition across many schools in Canada.  Somehow my drawing was picked as the winner for my school which was shocking to me as I didn't know I had entered in a competition.  I was then informed that I would be taking a long bus trip to a location where all the winners of each school would attend a day of art training. It was my first experience of realizing I had some artistic talent.  

The event that encouraged me to become an artist was when I was at Carleton University studying Psychology and a friend asked me one day, “Why do you come home from classes every day and go in your room and paint?  You love painting more than your classes! Why didn't you go to art school?” I thought about it and decided they were right. My passion was art and not psychology. So,I decided to apply to Canada’s top art school and if I was accepted then I would drop out of university and go there. I was accepted.

5.  What artists in real-life and Second Life have affected you?

Early on I was very interested in the pen and ink drawings of John Tenniel and George Cruikshank as well as the shadowy paintings of Georges de La Tour.  Later it was Gustav Klimtfor his beauty, Van Gogh for the brush strokes and colour, Edvard Munch for his ability to paint mood and feeling, and Swoon and Banksy for expanding the way I saw art and concepts/messages. 

In Second Life, Light Waves/Starax showed me a new way to see the second life space with his work,“Greenies”(which was a comical giant room where avatars ended up being the size of a mouse). I liked the traditional artistic look of AM Radio’s works as well as the experimental minimal artwork of Selavy Oh. Also,the work, “Petrovsky Flux” by BlottoEpsilon and Cutea Benelli, used the unique traits of the virtual space.  I look at Second Life as a medium for art and I try to determine what makes it unique over other art mediums like painting, sculpture or cinema.  I enjoy artwork that sees the virtual space as a unique medium and does not attempt to make things that mimic "real life" art from galleries and museums.  I like to see things that can exist here but could not in real life where we are hampered by weather, gravity etc.

6.  What is your reason to exhibit in Second Life? and what is your experience had been? Any positive or negative. And has exhibiting in SL affected your real-life art?

When I was in art school,we would learn the history of art.  We would read about art movements like Cubism or Surrealism, Impressionism etc.   Often with a movement they are named years later and the very first artists working in the concepts are remembered and shape it.  For me, while painting, I thought to myself that my paintings were not doing anything new in art, but I possibly had the chance to be a part of something new and very rare in second life or virtual spaces.  I daydreamed of what I daydreamed of what we do here as being a new movement and I took the chance to try to be one of the first to focus on it as a medium.  Time will tell if I made the right decision but chances are rare in life and I wanted to make sure I didn't let it pass.

There is always positive and negative, sometimes there is drama with Second Life artists, but I do my best to ignore it and focus on what I want to achieve in a positive way.  And yes,exhibiting in Second Lifehas affected my real-life art.Originally when I came to Second Life,I would bring my painting ideas to the virtual space, and now I bring my virtual space ideas to painting and drawing sometimes.

7.  Do you have your own galleries? Do you exhibit in other galleries? What art related projects do you usually do in SL?

I don't tend to exhibit in traditional Second Life gallery spaces very often anymore unless it’s for a cause like Relay for Life, Missing Children, Toys for Hospital Children, etc.  On very rare occasions a curator will convince me to exhibit but generally that is due to their enthusiasm which rubs off on me :). My work is not about standalone single sculptures. They are just components to larger conceptual artworks.   What my focus is on in art is not really shown by placing individual sculptures around a room that resembles a real-life gallery space.  My machinima do a better job showing what I do but again they are a rigid artwork which doesn't allow the viewer to walk around a virtual space with freedom of choice.  My machinima force the viewer to follow the path of my camera and each time they watch it it is the same, the viewer is a passive observer to what I show them but my artwork is about being an active participant to the artwork, where the viewer is not separate to the art but in it and part of it.  Where they decide which way to walk or if they want to peek under a desk to find ahidden message.

8.  What advice would you give to artists who is interested in exhibiting in Second Life?

I would say to think about what you are most passionate about and focus on that.  Create a body of work on that topic and be patient.  

9. Do you have links that you would like to provide for people to view your works?

Bryn Oh’s Second Life exhibits and store:

Hand by Bryn Oh -

Singularity of Kumiko -

Immersiva by Bryn Oh and Store -

Photos from Bryn Oh

Anita Kimono

Friday, May 28, 2021

Red Rocket Cola

By Bixyl Shuftan

On Sunday May 23, Montecito Bay held a release party not for an avatar, but a brand of Second Life vending machine: "Red Rocket Cola."

We're having a unique party on Sunday! An awesome beach party with a special guest, Red Rocket Cola, bringing you some ground-shattering Vending Machines for sale at the event! These neat little objects allow you to choose your cola of choice, drink it, and throw it away! It's a fun addition to literally every walk of life in SL, and we're happy to raffle off a few of the vending machines through out the beach party! Come join us for awesome summer tunes and a chance at one of these awesome soda vendors!

The party itself was a hit with about fifty people attending at the skybox above the Bay. It was a beach area with a walkway of planks leading to the party area. To the left were displays of information about Red Rocket Cola, and a couple of the machines up for people to use, as well as a pile of "twelve pack" boxes people could also get drinks from. The boxes and one of the machines gave out cans. The other machine gave out larger cups of drinks, and slushies - slightly frozen soda. Besides Red Rocket Cola, there were five other brands of soda: Kiwi, Popping Cherry, Limmy, and two with rather odd names: "People Like Grapes" and a blue raspberry soda named "Blue Balls." For those outside English-speaking countries, the name of the last one can also be a slang term for the feelings of a frustrated guy after he's told to expect a very enjoyable time with a lady and then gets told it's not happening.

Also to the left, there was a table of free goodies from hats, pins, earphones, MP3 players, toothbrushes (appropriate for a sugary soda company), mousepads, and more. On the other side were three game booths with games one might find at a carnival from popping balloons with darts to squirting thirsty slimes with the right kind of soda to ring toss to knocking down cups with balls. Up ahead was DJ "Magic" Moff whom was playing to the large crows, who cheered, "EPIC SET MOFF!!!" The white Crux DJ smiled, "Magic Moff aims to please." In the middle of the crowd was a huskygirl wearing a Red Rocket Cola-themed swinsuit, baseball cap, and headphones and had a plate full of sodas ready for anyone to take. This was Eliwood407 Resident, the person behind the soda dispenser.

I would message Eliwood, whom was pleased to talk about the soda machines, "I would love to! You flatter me." Of where the idea came from, "The idea started when we needed a vending machine, but most of the vending machines on SecondLife had knockoff brands on it, or simply sent a item to your inventory you then attach, we thought we could make it more intractable!"

Of it's development, "Oh the development was rough. Fun but rough! Once we had the original machine working, we added more and more flavors. So I had to redesign parts of the touch screen multiple times. Testing the machine was not a  breeze either. Since you can drop the cups, and other players can pick it up, we had to make sure at no point the script would fail or shout an error. But eventually we ended up with a solid machine that could do soda and slushies! Then we used that code to make a simpler can vending machine, and then we used that code to make an even simpler 12-pack box! But I think the worst part was the SecondLife server to cloud update. Suddenly the machine would not work reliably anymore because of bugs that thankfully have now been fixed, after we found a way around them. ... Yeah it was devastating. All it took was a simple bug; scripts would 'wake up' two seconds after being rezzed, made it very complicated."

I went ahead and asked about the "Blue Balls" soda, asking how could it be advertised? Eliwood responded, "That's a thinker! 'You won't get blue balled with the flavor of Blueballs Blue Raspberry!' I need to hire more consultants and marketers for that flavor name!"

So what new flavors were coming in the future? Eliwood answered, "Oh for sure, I keep getting great suggestions, so there is no lack of ideas. I also think a energy drink variant of the current flavors may be neat! A friend of mine is also pushing me to make a sister brand of sparkling milk in a can. I've never had it and it sounds weird, but apparently it's big in Japan! ... Yeah it sounds weird right?"

Of future plans for Red Rocket, "Aside from the new flavors, I definitely want to make more dispensers. Perhaps ice cream may be something I want to focus on, and definitely food related items. That still feels like a big missing piece to the puzzle. But in the meantime, between working on bigger projects, I like to make silly small stuff that usually end up in the goodiebags! If I feel like making headphones, or a oldschool mp3 player, I make neat Red Rocket Cola texture for it and add it to the goodiebag. I think building up a brand people like is just as important as the products themselves!

"I just hope that word spreads and the brand becomes something great! I really enjoy seeing people wearing the brand and enjoying it! I want it to become something bigger than just me and my ideas. I think something fun people share on SL is most important, because in the end we made these machines for fun, and it should stay that way."

The party went on for a while, Moff playing tunes for a while after the scheduled end. And once he finally stepped down, people continued to talk about goings on such as the Fantasy Faire's Jail and Bail, "That's a lot of people on one simulator." There was also talk about old Second Life games. And there was some joking around about a possible new flavor of soda, "Red Rocket Rainbow Blast." "Red Rocket Rainbow Blast will send you to space and beyond." "Taste the rainbow, but it's better than skittles." People also played the games some, including me. A few were joking around with the soda squirter game, turning the gun around to the crowd. "You are gonna get us all sticky," Eliwood chuckled. As it turned out, the scores were also worth points that meant a prize depending on how high you got. The top prizes were solid gold soda cups, with the second highest being pet slimes. "Weird afterparty." "Best afterparty!"

The beach area (with the games removed) should be up for a little while at Montecito Bay (43/157/902), for those wanting to see, or for those wanting to learn more and buy one of the drink machines. They're also available on Marketplace  (cans) (cups) (boxes). They should soon be available in other places as well.

So for the latest in carbonated beverage machines in Second Life, there's Red Rocket Cola.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

A Personal Change: Updating My Avatar

By Bixyl Shuftan

Probably the most personal of things here in Second Life is one's avatar. Some never change. Some are always changing and never seem to have a favorite appearance. Me? While I occasionally change for a contest or event like a holiday, I keep going back to my main appearance, that of my fox avatar. But until recently, it was the first avatar I ever bought here in the virtual world.

When I first came here to Second Life, I arrived in my starter ringtail. When I started coming on regularly in summer 2007, I thought about for weeks what to change to. Eventually, I decided on the Red Luskwood Fox. The only change was replacing the stiff tail for a flexible one. I would eventually get other avatars, as changing to something else for a little while was fun. But as stated before, I would always switch back to the Lusk Fox. 

Time went on and the years went by. Occasionally I would be told the old Lusk was dated and asked me to change. The ears were stiff. The mouth didn't move when I chatted. But I didn't see any other avatar that was particularly appealing enough to change to. I had also heard Luskwood had plans to eventually update their fox avie much the same as their feline ones. Another reason to wait. But due to problems behind the scenes, that was delayed. Eventually I would add a camera and a couple friends made press tags for my hat. But over a decade later, I was still wearing the same avatar from 2007 as my main one. "Maybe someday," I told others whom asked me to change. I just didn't see another fox avatar that I thought was a good replacement to the one I already had.

Eventually, another avatar started looking more and more like a possibility.

Dark Spot Designs caught my attention a few years ago when they discounted the prices for their Fennec avatars to a third of what they were, which came in handy for some "Best in (color)" events, and when I was a certain color for a week after my Relay team reached a milestone. Eventually, I began thinking more and more about their Fox. Finally, I decided to go ahead and get one, the DSD Orange Fox, figuring if it didn't work I could always continue to stick with the Lusk as my main appearance.

It did take a little getting used to, but I came to the conclusion this was the one. 

So why this one particular avatar design and no others? I can't put my finger on it other than to say it just seemed more right. None of the other people among my closer group of friends has a red or orange DSD, though one lady among my closer ones does have a silver one. So maybe this reflects a desire to be unique while having something in common with someone I identify closely with.

There are a number of differences between the two avatars. The older one was simpler, in both appearance and complexity.  The Luskwood avatar is 66K in avatar complexity. The newer DSD is 167K. This is an increase of close to 150%. The newer one has sharper details in places. While the Lusk had red head hair and a smile, the DSD has orange hair with whiter ends, and a more neutral expression, with less white in the eyes and larger pupils. So it looks a little like it reflects a little about me getting older and grayer in real life. It might also give some the impression I've gotten a little less happy and more weary over time. I've had a few friends whom over the years have gone from happy most of the time to periods of sadness and tiredness. While I consider myself in good spirits most of the time, not sure what others would say.

Both avatars are customizable, and I can get both to my preferred height (with the fox avatar) of 5'1". I could go a bit shorter by shortening the legs, but I don't wish too. With the DSD, the ears are flexible, and if I need to wear a helmet can fold them.  The hands are slightly larger. The newer avatar also lacks the chest fluff the Lusk has, so I no longer have to keep undone a couple buttons near the top of my shirt. Among the bigger differences are the legs. The DSD's lower legs and feet are digigrade, walking about on the lower feet, while the Luskwood is plantigrade, walking on heels. This is closer to the foxfolk of the Cyantian comics that helped inspire my choice of avatar in 2007. 

And then there's the clothing. It looks like the DSD can handle my outfits. There is one detail. Because it's digigrade, pants get cut off at the knees.  That may cause a complication at some high end parties, though maybe a longer overcoat would help.

The reactions among others have been mostly positive, mostly. One lady I hadn't met in a while that I've known for years exclaimed along the lines of, "I can't believe it! You actually upgraded to a new fox avatar!" More often were calmer compliments saying it looked good. A couple friends commented they missed the old Lusk some. The majority didn't say much of anything.

So what does this mean for the older Lusk avie? While it won't be used as much, it's not going to be truly mothballed. As the Luskwood is lower complexity, I may use it sometimes in a crowded sim or one with obviously plenty of lag, or if logging in and the textures have trouble loading. More importantly, Luskwood is still in business. While they haven't updated their avatars lately, they're still around to fix things. DSD as far as I know has gone out of business. The avatar is still up for sale on Marketplace and a few places on the Grid, but is no longer being updated. So if the scripts start to break due to viewer and grid updates, the company isn't around to fix them. If too many break, that means having to give up the avatar. But this is unlikely anytime soon.

So after having the same avatar for thirteen years, finally I made the change.
Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, April 19, 2021

Xirana Oximoxi Exhibit at La Maison d’Aneli

By Kayly Iali

I had a chance to visit the opening of Xirana Oximoxi Exhibit at La Maison d’Aneli. It is curated by Aneli Abeyante. Xirana Oximoxi,known as Nuria Vives in real life, is a mixed media artist and also a children book illustrator. Her exhibit is a new book she had just written and will be available online.

The book is “The Secret of the Crystal Mountain”. Its main character,a hippo named Isantim and his family go looking for water when it has not rained for a while. So, they set off on a journey to find out why. The journey takes them to different places and they encountered different characters that they have to deal with. It is a modern-day fable.

The exhibit is wonderfully set up.Xirana had taken advantage of Second Life environment.It is a three-dimensional setup of a two-dimensional book. The viewers would feel they are part of the book. Xirana’s mixed media skills are readily seen with the collaged walls. Floating texts and quote bubbles allowed the viewers to read as well as to travel with the 3-D cutouts of the hippos along with their journey.

This is a one of kind exhibit of a children’s book that is not readily seen in real life. “The Secret of the Crystal Mountain" will be available at as well as her other children’s books.

Kayly Iali


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Easter Art Exhibition at Harmony Castle

By Dancerina Starlight

Last week several sims, organizations, and churches in Second Life set aside time to acknowledge Holy Week.  From Easter egg hunts to classical replications and symbolisms of the significance of the death, burial, and Resurrection of Christ.  Most of these events began on Palm Sunday and ended on Easter Sunday.  In an effort to grasp the energy and synergy across events, I traveled through Second Life (SL) observing several of these events which caught my attention. However, there was a particular event which personally and professionally sparked an immense interest; Harmony Castle at Blue Lagoon, Gorlen Bay. It was unique, tucked away, and unpretentious.  A first glance at the castle reminded me of the famous Burresheim Castle in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany; except, its exterior, worn and pale, was very unassuming.

As I entered the immaculately designed interior, the ambiance of class and warmth greeted me.  The artistic storytelling of Easter story was very intriguing and provoked my curiosity.  As I stood wondering about the quaint interior, I suddenly heard footsteps, I  looked to my left and realized I had been joined by Mr. Colin Scientist, the brainchild behind the classical motif of the castle. We made acquaintance, and I announced the purpose for my visit. A few minutes later, I joined him in his library for an interview.

Colin Scientist has been in Second Life for eleven years.  He enjoyably spends his time organizing classical music events and has done so for the the past nine years at different venues and on his primary sim.  He curates art exhibitions in the castle to capture historical and religious events; such as Christmas and Easter. However, he particularly marks these two because of his Christianity.

This Easter was no different from prior years. Commencing Saturday 27 March through Easter, the sim streamed programs of Easter Music in Harmony Castle changing most  days. Mr. Colin Scientist coordinated a well-planned event, capturing the story of Easter replicating real art.  These paintings are on display in the Chapel in Harmony Castle and are available for purchase as well.  The art story begins with the famous piece by Michelangelo and extends to other known artists who capture other aspects of the Easter story.  

THE TAKING OF CHRIST 1602 by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio  - This painting (oil on canvas) is on  indefinite loan to the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland from the Jesuit Community, Leeson St., Dublin.   Caravaggio painted this extraordinary work for the Roman Marquis Ciriaco Mattei in 1602. Offering a new visual approach to the biblical story, Caravaggio placed the figures close to the picture plane and used a strong light-and-dark contrast, giving the scene an extraordinary sense of drama.  In this depiction, Judas has identified Christ with a kiss, as the temple guards move in to seize Him. The fleeing disciple in disarray on the left is St John the Evangelist. Only the moon lights the scene.

THE BETRAYAL OF CHRIST (possibly 1325 -8) by Ugolino di Nerio - Ugolino is documented in Siena in 1325 and 1327. The style of his work suggests that he was possibly trained, or at least heavily influenced, by Duccio, the most important Sienese artist of the 14th century. Ugolino's major work was the altarpiece for the church of Santa Croce in Florence.  This painting ( Egg tempera on poplar) is a panel from that altarpiece and is in the National Gallery, London.   It shows the moment, described in the Gospels, when Jesus Christ was arrested by Roman soldiers.

CHRIST BEFORE ANNAS" circa 1630 - 1635 by Matthias Storm - This painting (oil on canvas) is in University of Oxford - Campion Hall, Oxford, United Kingdom.  During the early 17th century, a number of Northern European artists were influenced by the innovative realism of the Italian proto-Baroque painter Caravaggio. Among these Caravaggesque painters was the Dutch artist Matthias Storm, who worked briefly in Rome and then in Naples. This picture shows Christ being questioned by Annas the father of the High Priest to whom he was taken first after his arrest.

CHRIST BEFORE CAIAPHAS circa 1630 - 1635 by Matthias Stom - This painting (oil on canvas) is in the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.  The beautifully staged confrontation contrasts the theatrically gesturing priest with a serene Christ bathed in light and seeming to be an altogether different order of being from the coarse false witnesses behind him.

THE PROCESSION TO CALVARY (probably about 1505) by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio - This painting (Oil on canvas, transferred from wood) is in The National Gallery, London.  Ridolfo Ghirlandaio (1483 - 1561) was  a member of a family of artists, of whom his father, Domenico, was the most famous. Ridolfo accepted commissions for decorative work as well as for religious paintings and portraits.  It is thought that this was painted for the church of San Gallo, Florence.

THE CRUCIFIXION by Pietro Lorenzetti (Italian, Sienese, active 1320–44) - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.  This exquisite picture, dating from the 1320s and of unusual dramatic intensity and characterization, belonged to a portable altarpiece of which one other panel is known: Christ before Pilate (Pinacoteca Vaticana, Vatican City). Originally there may have been four panels showing the Passion of Christ.

APPEARANCE OF JESUS TO MARY MAGDALENE AFTER RESURRECTION by Alexander Ivanov 1835 - This painting (oil on canvas is in The State Russian Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.  It depicts one of the Resurrection appearances of Christ in John's Gospel chapter 20: 14-17.

CARAVAGGIO's THE INCREDULITY OF SAINT THOMAS c 1601-2 - The Incredulity of Saint Thomas is a painting (oil on canvas) of the subject of the same name by the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, c. 1601–1602. It is housed in the Sanssouci Picture Gallery, now a museum, in Potsdam, Germany.  Remaining paintings depicted subsequent events of Christ which including his suffering, death, burial, and resurrection.

Mr. Scientist expressed that his sim draws people from all walks of life, from around the world; Britain, where he lives, the continent to include Germany, France, and Spain to name a few. Other known places are also the United States, Canada, Brazil Australia, and Poland. He believes Harmony Castle makes a global impact through the essence of art, music, and discourse.  He mentioned that there is a group of regulars  at sim events who independently organizes poetry event elsewhere.  Mr. Scientist discussed that while events are held during the week and throughout the year, he has had many more events during Holy Week with the exception of Saturday evening, which was a blend of classical and worship songs.  

As the musical events come to a close over the weekend, the artwork will remain for visitors to walk through and view.  As I viewed the pieces, I imagined they were a re-creation of real artwork which transcended to Mr. Scientist's interest into SL.  They are vibrant and depict episodes of Jesus' journey to the cross and beyond.  Overall, he believes this is a place where people can feel welcome and relaxed.  Demands for events have heightened due to COVID-19 and members returning to SL, and he continues to respond to that need through doing what he loves to do - bringing art and music to art and music lovers!

Dancerina Starlight