Monday, 22 October 2012

Machinima Expo 2012: Official Trailer

November sees the opening of this year’s MachinimaExpo. What is particularly significant about the MachinimaExpo is that film entries come from many different games and MMOGs, not just Second Life.
Of the hundreds of entries, a 5-person jury panel selects just ten to go forward into competition against each other. The names of the ten selected machinima will be released later this week.
Last year I attended the Expo and blogged the experience here. It was a really very enjoyable evening. As I said at the time, the real eye-opener was realising just how much great machinima is being created outside of SL. The ten nominated films last year included, for example, entries created in Grand Theft Auto and Pro Evolution Soccer. The eventual winner, Phil Browne’s adaptation of the HP Lovecraft's classic ‘The Haunter of the Dark’ was created using iClone.
It would, of course, be remiss of me not to drop in here that Tutsy’s ‘A Journey Into the Metaverse’ was awarded second place.
If last year is anything to go by, the ten nominated films will be of exceptional quality. Personally I would have been proud to have created any one of the ten! We’ll know the ten soon, and I can’t wait to watch them…
In the meantime, here is the official trailer for this year’s MachinimaExpo:

The Official 2012 Machinima Expo Trailer from Ricky Grove on Vimeo.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Modelling The Erotic in Second Life

There is a connection between art and sex, with arousal in one realm speaking to arousal in another.” – Laura Jacobs
Bethi Catteneo and Arelus Maximus have created these marvelous erotic sculptures.
Both sculptures depict group sex scenes and are made from mesh. Needless to say, a mesh-compatible viewer is required to see them.
This is a great combination of art and sex and I’d love to see more work of this type in Second Life.
Congrats to both artists on these brilliant creations.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Burn2 2012: No Bystanders!

There are no bystanders!
                                                  - Burning Man and Burn2
Saturday 20th October sees the opening of this year’s Burn2 festival in Second Life. Burn2 is the virtual world equivalent of the RL Burning Man festival held in the Nevada desert and where Philip Linden received inspiration to create Second Life itself.
Burn2 is a week long celebration of community, art and fire culminating in the burning of ‘The Man’ and ‘The Temple’ on 27 and 28 October, respectively. The theme this year is ‘Fertility’.
Late Thursday night (GMT) a number of other bloggers and I were given the opportunity to have an advanced look around before today’s official opening. Now, it has to be said that the hour we were given was not nearly enough to take in the hundreds of different builds on the six regions devoted to the festival. But it is enough to get the taste and feel of this year’s playa and take a few snaps.
As is my way, I wandered around aimlessly and studiously ignored the site map we were supplied with. I had a vague notion that I wanted to visit ‘The Man’ and ‘The Temple’ and look out for a WOW-factor build. The pictures on this blog-post come from Thursday’s exploring.
I‘ll be returning often during the week to drink-in the 40-odd live performers, 50-odd DJ’s and especially visiting the art installations of this year’s five invited artists: Silene Christen, Pallina60 Loon, Nexuno Thespian, Ub Yif and Fuchsia Nightfire.
Last year I had the pleasure of observing Debbie Trilling and Aleeta Zelin over a number of weeks as they built, scripted and tested their ‘Man’ installation for 2011. I was asked to take the official photographs for promotional purposes. The final 15 min performance was one of the most dramatic and exciting scripted installations I have ever seen in SL (watch the video below; ‘Change Quality’ to HD for best results).

This year ‘The Man’ is closely modeled on the RL equivalent at Burning Man. It is a collaborative build which included input from the RL Man team. The inner structure – called ‘the pistil’ – is constructed from mesh and therefore requires a mesh-compatible viewer to see it.
I am very much looking forward to this year’s Man burn on the 27 Oct, one of the highlights of the festival.
(click pics to see full size)
The Man 2012
The Temple’ is the spiritual center of the playa – the heart and the soul of the festival. In contradistinction to ‘The Man’ installation, no attempt has been made to replicate the RL equivalent – it is a unique Second Life installation especially created for Burn2. Another of the Burn2 highlights is the burning of ‘The Temple’ which takes place on 28 Oct.

The Temple 2012
The individual installation which grabbed my attention during Thursday’s tour was created by Ultraviolet Alter. This has a real “wow-factor” and although I have embedded a few pics of it here, it really is worth seeking out to see for yourself.

Created by Ultraviolet
As I wandered around the playa it soon became apparent that not all of the builds have a “wow-factor”. Indeed, some are very simple, some are utilitarian, others’ are psychedelic and/or rather garish. There were even a number which I couldn't make head nor tail of.
But that is hardly the point. The point is that hundreds of SL residents have joined together to create a six-region community festival, despite recent adversities that threatened to end it entirely. Anyone who wished to had the opportunity to get themselves a parcel and simply build and create.
One of foremost joys of Burn2 for me is seeing people simply participate in whatever way they wish to participate. Burn2 is a healthy antidote to the “I Just Stand Here” crowd who infest many of Second Life’s otherwise enjoyable venues.
And that is why one of the key slogans of Burning Man and Burn2 is:

There are no bystanders!

Pixie xx

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

'The Monster Mash': A Halloween Special

Only a few short few weeks ago while discussing the historical, philosophical and spiritual significance of Halloween I asked Tutsy, “Have you ever heard the song, ‘Monster Mash’?”
“Nein, ma chérie une gousse de vanille mûre” he replied, reverting to his native Language of Love, “Tell me more...”
“Oh, you simply must!” I squeal as I paste him the link to the 1960's hit by Bobby ‘Boris’ and the CryptKickers.
Tutsy watches the video while I feed the Indian Internet mice small pieces of Wensleydale and cranberry cheese.
“Mein gott!” he exclaims at the end, “A Masterpiece!  I will make a movie of this for Halloween!”
“Merci, ma muse prune fraises dodues. I will start immediately!”
He teleports off, spending the next week exploring for locations, filming and editing…
And here it is...Please be upstanding for Tutsy Navarathna’s latest machinima, ‘The Monster Mash (best in HD quality, click ‘Change Quality’ button):

Monster Mash’ was filmed on a number of SL ‘Halloween’ regions but two in particular – ‘Enchantment Island’ owned by BambiTwice Nitely and ‘The HAUNTED MANSION at Nevermore Estate’ owned by Tosha Bergan and Brendan Macarthur deserve special mention for providing us with such fun, laughter and great photographic and filming opportunities.
I would heartily recommend both as part of your Second Life Halloween celebrations.

Pixie xx

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Susa Bubble: The Rise of 'Falling'

Congratulations to Iono Allen whose machinima ‘Falling’ (embedded below) has been chosen for screening at this year’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma de Montréal.
This is a significant achievement by any standard. Over 160,000 people attend this prestigious festival each year and it is also one of the qualifying festivals for the Academy Award for Short Films.
Falling’ depicts a chapter in the life of Susa Bubble, the central sadly beautiful character in many of Rose Borchoski’s Second Life installations. We have blogged Rose’s work before of course; once almost exactly a year ago as part of the ‘The Path’ and again more recently with her ‘The Inevitability of Fate’ installation.
Falling’ records how Susa is now broken in so many ways that her personality has spilt into 33 different complexes. Susa no longer knows who she really is and consequently is falling…
When Iono originally released this machinima in March 2012, I commented on the YT page “beautiful and moving”. It remains so for me today.
Congrats and good luck to Iono, Rose and of course Susa!

Monday, 8 October 2012

SaveMe Oh - A Retrospective

Give me hot or give me cold – just never give me tepid.
-Trad. prob. derived from Revelations 3:16
SaveMe Oh Retrospective by SaveMe Oh
SaveMe Oh is one of the most interesting and unique artists currently working in Second Life. She herself is not however easily categorised, and neither is her work – if indeed the two can in fact be split.
She has been ejected and banned from more SL regions, art galleries and installations than anyone else I can think of.
SaveMe has, among her other talents, an unerring ability to piss people off.
Although SaveMe is a prolific filmmaker, a creator of in-world installations and a performance-artist of some repute it is probably fair to say that, actually, it is “SaveMe Oh” herself that is the “artwork”. And I don’t say that lightly; I am quite aware how trite and clichéd it may sound.
SaveMe’s mere presence always causes an effect – sometimes hot, sometimes cold – but never tepid. I have been at a number of exhibitions where worried curators have in hushed whispers asked, “Is SaveMe Oh coming?” More often than not their ban hammer is primed and ready.
And make no mistake - there is no doubt that SaveMe’s presence can be disruptive; there is no doubt she is capable of being wicked, even cruel; and there is also no doubt she is openly critical of other artists.
But despite this – perhaps even *because* of this – her work always carries with it a sense of humour and fun…so long as you yourself are not the target!
I first met SaveMe – and I wouldn’t expect her to remember this – but I first met her at an AM Radio installation, no less, when I’d only been in SL a few months. At this particular installation it was possible to “spray paint” graffiti onto the side of a railway locomotive. I was there to film a sequence for No Self Control; SaveMe was there for her own nefarious reasons. We both wanted to use the spray-paint tool at the same time. SaveMe graciously let me go first. I studied her profile, as I do most anyone who comes into my range, and found my way to her films and blog. I have to say, it took me a while to “get it” and actually enjoy what she is doing. Over the last 2+ years I have had long discussions about her work with Iono Allen and Tutsy Navarathna, both of whom respect what she is doing; I have also watched many of her films and also attending her installations and performance art.
As recognition of her work, AviewTV are currently running a retrospective of SaveMe’s machinima. The venue, like SaveMe herself, is larger-than-life, fun and utterly uncompromising.
I spent two hours there on Sunday evening and will return again during the week. Her movies are streamed to various “screens” of all shapes and sizes. It was very enjoyable and I recommend it.
I had seen many of SaveMe’s films before. Some of the films contain nudity, many are provocative or controversial but the one common thread running through all of them is their *great* soundtracks!
Whether it be a self-hypnosis track, a Leonard Cohen song, El Tigre, Elvis Presley, Bessie Banks, Minnie Riperton, Billy Brown or any of a host of many others the choice is always engaging, and often fun.
Using her work to convey her ideas, concepts, feelings, disdain and scorn seem important to SaveMe. If SaveMe has an opinion she'll find one way or another to express it regardless of what we might think of that opinion or of her for expressing it. And if SaveMe’s intention is that her work provokes a response, any response, then she has succeeded beyond most any other artist I know of in Second Life. I certainly doubt that SaveMe is attempting to make us gasp with her technical prowess or regale us with special effects; I suspect this is of little or no interest to her.
Selecting one of SaveMe’s films to embed here was quite difficult. There are many I could have chosen. In the end I opted for ‘Go To Hell’ released three years ago. The reason is that is seems to be a personal story and conveys personal emotion, something I enjoy in any film but which is particularly difficult to do in machinima.
Check out SaveMe’s blog, the ninety-odd films on her Vimeo channel and visit the Retrospective for a better appreciation of SaveMe’s work and her influence – both hot and cold – within the Second Life art community.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Rejects of Gor

In denying our nature we betray no one but ourselves.
-         John Norman, ‘The Explorers of Gor
It is always a crime when someone is judged simply by the colour of their skin or the clothes they choose to wear. It is a crime also to differentiate on the grounds of age, physical looks or disabilities.
But we all know this happens, often. Sometimes the discrimination is subtle, quiet and underhand. Other times, like the subject to today’s blog post, the discrimination is blatant and obvious!
Consider what occurred when three innocent and friendly grid-travellers happened upon a Gor roleplay region.
Do you think these intrepid travellers would be welcomed with open arms, comforted and fed? Or despised, spat upon and banned?

Watch the short film below and see if your “guess”…or dare we say, “your bias based upon your stereotyped ideas about Gor”…are correct!
The answer, dear reader, might surprise you!
However, regardless the outcome of this episode, as John Norman correctly says, we can only be true to our own nature regardless of how others’ might treat us.
I bring you now, this special presentation called ‘The Rejects of Gor’:

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Raven, the Horse and the Slug

Better beans and bacon in peace, than cakes and ale in fear
-         Aesop, 620 – 564 BC
In a unique, one-off concert earlier today, three actors performed one of Aesop’s lesser known fables on the *C I C A* region (LEA13) – ‘The Raven, the Horse and the Slug’.
Although not generally known to the public, it was reportedly one of Aesop’s personal favourites.
The Raven, the Horse and the Slug’ is a tale of how a feathered and winged endothermic egg-laying vertebrate, a odd-toed ungulate mammal and a terrestrial gastropod mollusk challenge each other to a race to prove who is the fastest among them.
They decide the starting point for the race will be a nearby glasshouse where, as Aesop told it, “no stones have known to have been thrown”. The finish line was declared to be the peak of yonder grassy knoll “beyond the loving rain drops”.
The raven, horse and slug take the start line, guardedly checking that the others do not cheat. The sound of the next child laughing would be their starting signal…
And they're off!
The horse rides off towards the hill, quickly building up to a full gallop; the raven soars fast and high intending a parabolic rainbow arc to the mound; the slug sluggishly slugs her way past the starting line…
The raven and horse speed ahead, looking back at the poor slug as she sluggishly slugs herself an 1/8th of an inch forward.
Neck-and-neck the raven and horse race towards their goal. At the foot of the hill, the horse’s hooves become bogged down by the wet mud from the rain; the raven descends like a stone, closing her eyes to the rain…
The raven wins, followed seconds later by the horse. The slug came in three and a half weeks later.
And the moral of the story is:
Some times the end result is exactly as you would have expected”.

‘The Raven’ performed by Cica Ghost
‘The Horse’ performed by Tutsy Navarathna
‘The Slug’ performed by Pixie Rain
Copyright expired circa 500BC.