Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Aruba DeCuir: Fine Art and a Flavour of Paris

By Klaus Bereznyak

I have paid several visits to the gallery of Aruba De Cuir since I first saw a small selection of her work at Gallery 23 in Virtual Chelsea. I own a couple of her art works and to me it has a different feel from what you usually see in Second Life. There's a sense of actual 'materials' being used (papers, fabrics, crayons) and it has a striking simplicity. She also makes attractively designed and reliable low-LI furniture and decor items as well as hats.

Aruba has recently finished work on her "Petit Paris", which gives a flavor of Parisian street life, just alongside her gallery. There's a florist, a wine bar, apothecary, furniture and decor stores, a fromagerie, and a pleasant seating area. She kindly agreed to chat to me on the record for The Newser.
On my visits to Petit Paris I had got the impression of a particular affection that had gone into making an authentic sense of place in a fairly small area. I was curious about the inspiration behind the build.

"I build to entertain myself. I started on my Petit Paris out of a deep love for Paris and France. I think I have visited Paris more than 40 times. My version is not a copy of any, or a special, street. Each time I come to Paris I get high and run in overdrive for the first 20 hours or so - totally exalted and almost raving mad inside. Outwardly I just blend in and enjoy to be in this exciting city. I go to very few museums and the sights I have seen long a go. But I spend hours in parks, markets, or just sitting at a cafe, and suck up all like a sponge." She smiles.
By her own admission, Aruba can discuss art for hours but, like many, she has found by experience how hard it is to get AVs interested in looking at art in Second Life. She administers a group to share information about art and art-related matters, and she is very clear "Art is free and should not dictated by gallery owners or 'curators'". Her own work suggests a continual experimentation with techniques and approaches and a variety of subjects that has issued in a wide array of very appealing art. I ask her what is most interesting to her at the moment.

"Almost impossible to answer. I do paintings, etchings, collages and some photo based art in real life. I found a way to copy the feeling of etchings in here (in SL). It does not mimic an etching perfectly but it works and many people like them."

She goes on to describe to me a little of her creative process in Second Life:

"The way I create in here is mostly by creating a lot of scraps and cuts. I then look them over and ideas are born. I make one - sometimes 3-4 versions - save them and look at them again after a few days. Sometime I just trash all of it. Others I keep and upload."
I ask Aruba what she'd like to do next now that she's settled the area. Of course it is impossible to put the brakes on creativity:

"It will be refined and tweaked, and one day I will do something else. My gallery will stay in one form or another. Even it is a struggle to keep it running - any sponsors out there? In a wider perspective, I am inspired by a lot of things: Music, poetry, literature, history are some important sources."

A visit to this location is not to be rushed. Aruba guesses 10 minutes to get a superficial look. I'd double that. There are three floors of art to be savored and, if the visitor's virtual feet get tired, there are cafe tables to sit at in Petit Paris. If anyone is rushed she hopes they will take an LM and come back another day, or perhaps take some souvenir home to decorate their home. The art on display will change over time and I will keep going back to see what's new.
Finally, I ask how people can find about the gallery and any future events.

"They can visit, they can ask me, and they can join my art group "The Art Messenger" - as I say: "Support your Local Artist". Many people say they do not understand art - they are wrong - it is all about opening the eyes and seeing."


Klaus Bereznyak

Friday, November 10, 2017

"The Well: Ultimum" By Loki Eliot

By Bixyl Shuftan

Loki Eliot, the self proclaimed "digital mischief maker," is noted for two things. One is being the leader of the "Goonies,"  a group of adventuresome Second Life child avatars. The other is for being a skilled and creative builder, such as builds for the Second Life Birthday "The Behemoth" and "Dungeons and Nightmares."  A few days before Halloween, he came up with an adventure named "The Well: Ultimum."

"Ultimum" is the fourth installment of "The Well." The first he opened in November 2012 after Loki and his fellow Goonies visited a haunted hospital, and he decided to try and make something scarier. He came up with an adventure in which the player investigates the disappearance of a team that went down an old well to find a boy that fell down it. The second adventure took place a year later, with more areas to explore. The third, which ran from Halloween to early December 2015 started with the player waking up in a mental hospital and having to make his way out. Loki promises the latest "The Well" will be his last, describing it as a prequel that takes place before the other adventures.

To play "The Well," head to Escapades (218/232/3002). One board shows the recommended settings to view the game. Another has three buttons to click on. The first is to allow the games experiences to automatically affect your avatar. The second allows you to purchase a pass to the game (200 Lindens). The third allows you to start, you automatically having the game's HUD attach to you, showing your avatar's level of sanity (your own may be another matter).

The story starts in a boy's bedroom. Looking around, you find a boy's diary with all the pages torn out except one, in which he describes himself as being scared of "the THING." Leaving the room, you find yourself outside the house at night, with a station wagon still running and shining it's headlights onto a path into the woods. Looking around, you find a flashlight, and more pages of the boy's diary. Occasionally you will see a TV with a video, which require media to be enabled to view, but are not necessary to progress into the adventure. The pages help explain what's been going on, and one needs to get all of them to descend down the well, located at the end of the forest path.

Down the well, the player has to navigate a dark maze of tunnels. Unfortunately for you, the passages have ghosts floating around that in the darkness are barely visible. If one touches you, you hear a loud scream (real fun when you're wearing a headset), and your hud loses some of it's sanity level. Once you run out of sanity, you start back at where you first appeared under the well. Depending on your tolerance for shrieking, you may find yourself more terrified than frustrated as you try to get pasts the ghosts and tunnels.

There is a video available of the game, made by Strawberry Singh as she braved the spooky woods and terrifying caverns under the well along with Draxtor Despress and a few friends. There are more than a few spoilers if you watch it, so consider yourself warned. She found the ghosts more than a little frustrating, "Loki's trying to give me a heart attack! ... I don't have much sanity left, in both worlds."

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All in all, a worthwhile adventure that fans of horror should enjoy that takes good advantage of Second Life's capabilities. Whatever Loki will offer next year, he's set the bar high for himself.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

By Gemma Cleanslate

Well,no sooner is one holiday gone than it is time for another. Thanksgiving is at the end of the month of November but Dj Frannie always gets her parades going so you can enjoy them for a full month or more. The Macy's Parade is famous in New York City for the marvelous floats that go down 5th Avenue not only on the ground but in the air. People go to the city just to see the parade on Thanksgiving Day. Experience the excitement and fun on Far Island where New York City awaits you. 

Walk outside from the entry and turn to 5th Avenue where you will find people standing to witness the spectacle. The floats will come down the street . I find it better to walk up the street to the area of the  boarding zone .  

Check out each float and pick the ones you want to ride and jump on. Some will give you accessories to wear . Look up to the sky too. Hop on some of those to try.  

All the floats are animated with charming dances that fit its theme. It is all very festive and gets you in the mood.

Halfway down the street, enter Macy’s store through the green curtain and who is there?  Santa is waiting to hear your wishes for Christmas.

After you see all the wonderful floats walk around the corner to Rockefeller Center and see the giant Christmas tree at the ice skating rink. In NYC the tree lighting is another big deal with live entertainment  and that will be on November 29

DJ Frannie has many events and you are invited to join her group FAME to keep track of all her parades and parties .  

And so the season begins again for a wonderful Christmas Holiday and winter season. So many fun activities with snow and ice and decor in Second Life, it is one of my favorite seasons here. Have a wonderful time at the parade! Look for me on a float! 

Gemma Cleanslate