Understanding SL

Having been away from the virtual for a good chunk of time, and then now back for an equally long time, I have gained some perspective on SL. It’s basically, much like in RL, about recognition and, most importantly, about balance. The driving force behind recognition in the virtual world is productivity, which comes in many forms. Being creative provides a great challenge and a sense of purpose there, leaving us feeling fulfilled. 

But fulfillment in SL is deceptive for the simple reason that it is in part a fantasy. It can by default not be completely real since our avatar representation itself is flawed, i.e. we present ourselves to others (and to ourselves) in a distorted, often idealized manner. SL is ultimately a place where nothing is as it appears. It is a chaotic world held together by artificial virtual structures and imaginary human perceptions. It is an explorer’s dream, an artist’s paradise, a business entrepreneur’s financial haven, and the senior citizen’s fountain of youth. It is a hide-away for the emotionally sensitive and an opportunity for the emotionally corrupt. It is a fantasy that takes the form of an escape or a trap or anything else you want it to be.

In order to healthily exist in the virtual world then we need to allow it to become less consuming, less fantasy-based, i.e. it can’t interfere with the real world. We need that balance, well, at least I did, and it took plenty of introspection from my end to reach this conclusion. It took hard work to change my experience and it didn’t happen over night. I have reached a point where I spend a minimal amount of time in SL, devoted to what matters the most to me, namely meaningful relationships and creativity. My time-regulated experience in the virtual world co-exists and compliments what is going on in my real life. I am excited to have the best of both worlds.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

Avatar Posing

Avatar posing

At some point people who are taking virtual pictures of avatars realize they must start using brand poses in order to improve the quality of their images. The various standing, sitting, and walking poses in the AO will no longer do, neither will the built in furniture poses. Of course these are still used from time to time, but the main pose source becomes the separately purchased brand poses. This shift in a virtual photographer’s thinking about poses seems to happen about the same time that there is a change, and also more sophisticated approach, in integrating into the virtual image windlight, shadows/light/DOF, and editing. All of these factors contribute individually to an enhanced expression of feeling and mood in a virtual photograph.

For the longest time the go-to pose-maker was Del May (Del May Poses). The last few years, however, we have seen an influx of other talented pose-makers, here roughly in chronological order, like Olivia Lalonde (Le Poppycock), Fanny Finney (Ana Poses), Keon Xenga (RK Poses),  Lily Lovelace (KOPFKINO), E.Nantes (E.Poses), Toxx Genest (IntoXx), and Marina Münter (Blaue Reiter Poses). There is an array of pose companies out there, I am simply mentioning here a handful of makers that I tend to use a lot personally. Each of the pose-makers add their own styles and characteristics to their specific poses, making them in that sense unique.

Since all of our avatars are built differently, tweaking of pose-maker poses often needs to be done with AnyPose, a pose adjusting system that lets the user move each avatar body joint separately. Most recently, LeLutka put on the market an avatar face system, the LeLutka Axis HUD Face, that allows us to change avatar facial expressions as well. These separate tweaking systems are quite expensive and take a while to learn, but if you are looking to improve your avatar photography, both are worth purchasing and learning how to use.

Avatar brand poses are available at the pose brand stores and monthly shopping events (and later on usually as Gacha in each specific pose store as well). Most are also on the Second Life Market Place. The brand-pose business has flourished over the past years and I think it is safe to say that brand poses are now just as desirable and lucrative as hair, skin and clothing.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

Minecraft as an Artistic Medium

As Second Life residents, we repeatedly come up against the Second Life platform being old and obsolete. We complain amongst ourselves that Linden Lab does not invest enough in making it into something unique and more manageable. Nonetheless, the SL diehards amongst us plug along and make the best of it. It seems we simply become more creative and use the limited tools we already have to our disposal. There are other platforms, of course. Recently a friend made me aware of Minecraft, not the gaming aspect of it, but how people use it as an artistic medium. Not for me really, but nonetheless interesting and perhaps worth checking out. Take a look.

Revisiting the G.B.T.H.

The Chinese dress

I am back to writing The Bergdorf Reports again after a hiatus since March. I can’t think of a better way to gradually return to blogging than with a report about the G.B.T.H. (Grab By The Horns), the inspiring virtual art project by my dear friend Marina Münter. Marina and I were introduced by a mutual friend in August 2017.  It turns out we had a lot in common, not merely our fascination with the virtual world and art. More than anything else, I think we realized we shared a devotion to what is meaningful and real in Second Life. I am in awe of Marina’s vision when it comes to the G.B.T.H., her choosing together with her co-collaborator Megan unique art and then finding ways to properly display it in the virtual space. It takes an enormous amount of effort, devotion and time to do this the right way.

Marina came up with the G.B.T.H. together with Megan Prumier, starting with one of two Mutual Respect exhibits in October 2017. We had a panel discussion inspired by those two exhibits, A Talk About Mutual Respect: Perspectives on Empathy, in December. I left Second Life from March to June 2018, and when I returned, the G.B.T.H. had continued to flourish, now housed on its own parcel, showing carefully planned, month-long exhibits continuously curated by Marina and Megan. The G.B.T.H. has shown, in chronological order since May 2018,  Contact, by Megan Prumier; HIKARI, by Amelie Marcoud; Concrete Diorama, by Mistero Hilfeng; 50mg, by Nath Baxton; and ARTEFATOS-Fragments of Things Past, by Ash.

The most recent exhibit, ARTEFATOS-Fragments of Things Past, by Ash, opened today and will be open for about a month. This installation by Ash incorporates stories of love and lust told by evocative objects trapped in hotel rooms. The visitor is encouraged to explore the various rooms, making sure to set to “advanced lightning” and turn up sound. I only got a quick peek of this installation, but was deeply moved by the first room themed The Chinese Dress. The placement of the objects in conjunction with the reading experience of the text is incredibly poetic. Below the text for The Chinese Dress, by Ash.

I arrived two hours before you. That was my plan from the start. I was coming from the most important business meeting of my life, straight into your arms. My dress smelled like airplane food, and I wasn’t wearing my best shoes. No matter how hard you protested, I had to change my panties. I took a long shower, washed and brushed my hair with the calm of a woman who had already waited too long. We are all Penelopes here, a friend once said.

My suitcase was modest, at least in matter of clothes, but filled with more lingerie than I could possibly wear in those few days. The huge, heavy hair dryer seemed indispensable when I was packing. Does that make any sense? For some strange reason, my plan was to take a long shower and make my hair look and smell good for you. I wore my Chinese dress, just like the one I was wearing when we first met. Not the same, obviously, but the closest match I could find. Short enough to let you notice the strings of the garter holding my stockings. The fabric was silky, shiny and soft. The dress had these small buttons, so many and so small, perfect to make you wait. A little revenge for having waited so long myself.

You probably didn’t notice the Chinese dress. You probably didn’t see any connection between that dress and the other. But it doesn’t really matter. I knew it, and that was enough. I would forever know and remember I was wearing a Chinese dress when I met you, not the same but just like the one I wore when we first met. We first met at a movie theater that no longer exists. Actually, I think you were at the café, but the café is gone now, too. We spoke the few silly lines we repeated so often during the years preceding that day. I wish I could remember the name of the silent black and white movie I was watching.

While I was waiting you I had an espresso. Or two. Or five. The coffee tasted like vanilla. You know how much I hate sugar in my coffee. But even without sugar the coffee was sweet, unlike any other I had tasted before. So good and so addictive. I probably consumed all the coffee in that small kitchen where, hours later, I would be on my knees. You would be trying to remove my corset. I was angry with you, so many hours spent choosing it, lacing it. I had bought it especially for you, and as soon as you started kissing me, you were already trying to get rid of it. I thought you knew nothing about sex. So raw, so natural, so straight to the point. But that also doesn’t matter. What matters is that I was on my knees, at the little kitchen. You body was leaning against the wall, against the ugliest painting I have ever seen, horrible but so eloquent “a new adventure”. And then I tasted you for the first time. And your taste was the inverse of everything else you are, the raw and natural you. Koffie verkeerd. I couldn’t even understand, the first time, if you came or not. With my mouth filled of you, I couldn’t understand. Because that taste, your taste, was so incredibly sweet, unlike any other I had tasted before.

Waiting for you, I opened all the windows, letting in the sunny summer day. I sat next to the window, watching the passer-bys cross the little pedestrian street. I still have no idea how I found that place, so charming and unexpected, like out of a dream, like out of a French movie. Every person who passed in front of the big window gave me shivers. Could have been you. For more than an hour, every one of them could have been you. Until one guy appeared with his big backpack and a map in his hands. He could have been Waldo, or he could have been you. No third option. He passed in front of the window, passed the door, passed the building, almost passed the little street. You couldn’t find the number, and I was observing you through the window. I smiled. My legs were shaking, but I never felt so strong and so brave. I opened the old wooden door and crossed the tiny garden, our tiny night garden of wine, bread and cigarettes. I opened the heavy metal gate. You were there, finally. I didn’t kiss you. I pinched your arm, and I bit you. Just like I did when I said goodbye.

Make sure not to miss this beautifully sensual installation before it closes on November 8, here is the landmark: The G.B.T.H. Project. Please also check out and join the G.B.T.H. Project website and the G.B.T.H. Flickr group for updates and announcements about the G.B.T.H.

Photograph above from the G.B.T.H exhibit ARTEFATOS-Fragments of Things Past (by Ash) by Kate Bergdorf

North Opens Friday

It has been a hectic two weeks re-making North. We will open again as planned Friday, March 16. We also closed Orust today; it has been a pleasure for both Axi and me to have people come to Orust and the virtual images posted in the Orust Flickr group are beautiful. Thank you to all of you who visited!

North remains very much the same, but there are a few changes. The main thing is that the snow is gone. Removing the snow changed the landscape, meaning the snow that had covered certain things no longer did and I needed to find ways to work around it. The red house on the hill is gone and replaced by a build by NOMAD, which provides that specific area with a darker ambience. We added rain and a large billboard (make sure to check the images contained in it, new ones will be added sporadically) next to a crashed, burning car on the highway; the effect is quite dramatic in an apocalyptic sort of way. We added a large, rusty-red metal bridge construction that connects the skateboard rink with the abandoned swimming pool building. The view from the bridge is extraordinary. These are the main changes and there are some others too, but I will let you look for them yourselves. Many thanks to my talented friend Toxx Genest; without him the North make-over would not have been possible.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

Bye bye, snow

North will close on Thursday, March 1, for about two weeks for a warmer-weather-make-over. The snow will make room for greenery and a few new things will be added, but mostly everything will stay the same; it is important to me that the North ambience remains as is. Photography and music will continue being integral on North as well. The small North gallery, Nordan Art, will also remain as is. While North remains closed, we will open our new space, Orust.

When I started the North winter make-over back in November 2017, I had a few ideas about what I wanted to change, but mostly it was a process that enfolded as I went a long. Once the main structure had been put in place, friends chipped in and contributed ideas and the whole thing turned into something spontaneous and incredibly rewarding. The same is true now, I have a few ideas, but let’s see what happens!

There have been some incredible virtual images produced since the North winter-make-over last November (see North Flickr group). The pics depict experiences and moods of the visitors on the sim, highlighting the spirit of the place and adding to it a feeling of recognition and a sense of familiarity. Our weekly North Friday Pics will discontinue over the break, but then start again on Friday, March 23.

The North music stream has become meaningful part of the overall North experience. Since we started it, a handful of songs have been added weekly, many of them are suggestions by friends and North visitors, others picked by me. All the songs selected fit the North environment in one way or another, inspiring people who visit to take pics or to just stand around and dream a little. I will keep adding songs to the North music stream over the two-week break and send them out via the North inworld group as usual.

Nordan Art on North will continue with its new direction, a focus on fresh, talented photographers, many of them showing their work for the first time, in the small and intimate gallery space. Oyo‘s exhibit, There is Hope In Solitude, will continue through the end of March, followed by work by Edith and Wilmur Ogleby from April through June. Join the North inworld group for gallery updates and announcements.

Lastly, Axiomatic Clarity and myself have constructed a new space, Orust, that is inspired by the Swedish west coast. Axi is responsible for most of the outside, a place that has become remarkable and poetic with its fine details, while I ended up doing most of the inside design. This is our home in SL, but we are happy to open it up for a week or so to those of you who are interested in seeing it.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

The Sasaya Kayo Interview

Part of what made this winter on North really special to me were the poetic cliffs by Sasaya Kayo, HPMD. I was honestly in a bit of a frenzy towards the end of the North winter make-over in November last year because the winter cliffs were not yet available in the HPMD store and I needed to open the sim! Not only did Sasaya provide me with the winter textures in advance, she also assisted me with the scripting once I had implemented them on the sim. We started an interview back then, but never finished, we both got caught up in our own SL whirlwinds I think. But here is the interview now, just in time before we close winter North for a summer make-over. Enjoy!

Interviewer

First, thank you very much Sasaya for so kindly helping me out with the cliff texture add-on for North. I was in a bind and you did not hesitate to help, you even walked me through how to reconfigure the script. Thanks also for agreeing to this interview. I know I am not the only one who is curious about the person who is behind the magical HPMD products and I can’t wait to learn a little bit about you and your work.

Kayo

It is my pleasure to help you, and I am really glad you are interested in HPMD, I don’t know how much I can tell you my thoughts accurately, but I will do my best!

Interviewer

You have been in Second Life since 2007 and I think you started designing the HPMD stuff shortly thereafter. Your business continues thriving and I can honestly not think of one SL destination sim that I know of that does not use your objects. As a virtual world entrepreneur, what do you think are some of the components that have made your business such a great success?

Kayo

The reason that our shop is getting visibility may be because we have not been aiming for business success. At the time I started Second Life in 2007, I didn’t have any skills except for drawing 2D pictures. But the virtual world made me so excited and I thought of what I can do here, and then decided to express ‘Happy Mood’. I always wished to make people smile with my work because I know their happy feelings becomes the soul source of myself. And I wish to realize happiness relay through HPMD. I have great members in my team and they also have same thought as mine. We have not been aiming for success, but always have searched what is the best way to make people happy. The sim and the shop title also named in such hopes. Our imaginary world has not been fully completed yet, but we want to keep continuing HappyMood from now on too.

Interviewer

As we know, the picky virtual world consumer looks not only for high quality and unique design, but also for practicality of usage, i.e an item needs to be straight forward and provide multiple options. Your cliffs are a good example of this. The HPMD cliffs come with a HUD that provides options to change textures for both the grass and stone parts. The grass textures can also be bought separately and the ground of the sim can then be matched with the cliffs. This is an incredibly versatile system that works! Did you invent this specific HPMD HUD system yourself or were you inspired by and learned from other SL creators?

Kayo

About the dialog/HUD options of the cliff, half is based on my idea. I myself felt the importance of those functions when I was building my sims. The other half… or what gave me a boost, were the requests from my customers. I sometimes received inquiries from the purchasers who hoped for easy customization of the products. One of the customers lived in a light sand land, another lived in a dark forest, and another owned several sims and they all felt it was too hard to change the settings of all the objects or replace them one by one. Their various messages made me think that creating a HUD was the best way to resolve their problems. Customers requests are very important to increase product quality. We can’t make all customer wishes come true, but I would like them to request anything without hesitation. 🙂

Interviewer

When you first started creating objects in the virtual world, the sculpt objects in SL were much less sophisticated than the mesh objects are today, but you nonetheless found a way to create trees, plants and other objects that were so incredibly well put together that they are still used by everyone today. There is a poetry in your work and many of your items look like they have in fact been drawn by hand. Tell us please about what inspires you to create in SL and how you put it all together.

Kayo

First of all, I have a vision for my own sim. It is a fantasy world … however, I have to make many more items than I already have to complete it… but anyway, that theme may make my items poetical. For each of my creations, I usually don’t decide the particular model in advance because I first want experience it on my own on my sim. Of course, there are so many inspirational things that I have seen and heard. It is sometimes an old chair, a tree in the street, wallpapers on website, illustrations, body paints, music, etc… and if possible I take their photos, sketches, bookmarks or write notes. And if I don’t have any good ideas when I start my new work, I look at them again to boost my motivation.

About trees, I usually make them without a clear completed image in my mind because it is not very useful. Even if I have a plan, its atmosphere changes entirely according to the leaf texture. I draw a leaf texture as I would like it to appear at first and apply it on a default plain prim in SL. If I like it, I put the some copies together like the mesh leaves part and roughly decide the whole shape. I start modeling after that step, because the objects in SL often give different impressions from on the modeling software.

About software, I currently mainly use Photoshop and Blender with Avastar for my work, and I often draw by hand when I make the textures in Photoshop, as you said. Also, I have photos of all the material I have ever used and I often use them. In Blender, I think I do only basic methods. I redo the work again and again until  I like it, so it often it takes a lot of time.

Interviewer

I imagine you might be involved with creativity in some way or another outside of SL as well. If you are, please tell us about some of the creative things you do in RL and how these perhaps overlap with your SL creative work.

Kayo

Currently I don’t have creative jobs in RL, but I have been seeking my own expression method for many years. As one possibility, I have been studying a copperplate print from several years ago, and also recently started wood engraving. I have not yet found my best expression style but want to keep studying by getting involved in various creative methods. The theme of my work in SL is Happy Mood, but the studies in RL are just the expression of myself so I go with my various feelings even if it is a dark emotion. However, in most cases they each have a story and trees, grass and other things in nature are used as a motif. These points overlap with my SL work.

Interviewer

Finally, you have been in our virtual world for ten years now and I suspect you are familiar with much of what goes on here. What are some of your favorite things about SL and what do you do here when you are not involved creating for HPMD?

Kayo

Well, I’m sorry but I don’t have a good answer about the question what I do at other time because I love toooo much to create something and creating and building time occupies almost all of my SL life. But even though, I can say clearly I like Second Life very much! Just there is something I look forward to every year… you may be surprised but I like haunted horror attractions very much! Some games and haunted experiences in RL are too scary and I don’t get involved with them. In the case of SL, these events and places are mostly a completely appropriate fear level for me, they have a handmade feeling, and have not only fear but also unique humor expressions sometimes. In addition, I can enjoy these challenges with my friends and especially at limited time events there are many people around me, so I can relax and genuinely enjoy them. Even if I feel very scared, I can drag the viewer title bar and hide half of the screen to out of the monitor lol! In Japan, it is thought that summer is the best horror season and also Japanese creators in SL seem to often select that period when they hold a horror event. So I really look forward to summer.

There are other favorite things than the horror attractions, but most of them are the things I found and came to like after a while since I started SL. But when I first came here, I already liked SL even though I had not encountered and of those favorite things yet. Because Second Life is one of the few places where we can easily do wonderful team-works whenever we want, like events, celebrations, exhibitions, live performances and more, and we can involve people from various countries. That was one of the elements I was the most attracted to… and I think it is still so. Several years before I logged into SL I became acquainted on the internet with many people. During the time I always had thought that I want to try to do something memorable with them, but I couldn’t finalize most of my ideas because of lack of skills/knowledges, difference of interest, costs and some other reasons. In this world, there are many people who have hopes to realize something interesting, and I think SL is one of those places where they can do it.

Interviewer

Thanks a lot for this, Sasaya!

Kayo

You’re very welcome Kate, I’m glad I could tell my thoughts a lot today. Thank you!

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

Je n’aime pas

The two-day opening of Je n’aime pas, a concept and performance exhibit by Nur Moo and Hern Worsley, curated by Sheldon Bergman and Angelika Corall at DaphneArts, took place on February 9 and 10, 2018. The exhibit will remain open for at least another month. This is a large installation, spanning over three levels, containing virtual imagery, video screenings, floating pac mans, interactive poses, as well as larger constructs like metal scaffolding and a small house. We had gone to a very vibrant opening on February 9 and headed over again to take a look today.

[2018/02/19 11:41] Axiom: I was thinking about this place, we have seen much of it plus the music event the other night, which was interesting, techno and whatnot. And Oyo’s yellow dress, I remember that. And a dead man on the floor who was in some way trying to grab the dancer’s feet.
[2018/02/19 11:41] Axiom: This is very eclectic, in a very Italian way
[2018/02/19 11:42] Kate: it is
[2018/02/19 11:42] Kate: there are three levels?
[2018/02/19 11:42] Axiom: yes
[2018/02/19 11:42] Axiom: but as you can see the structure is built on a rock, an asteroid
[2018/02/19 11:43] Kate: i see
[2018/02/19 11:43] Axiom: with metal structures either keeping it together or hanging on it
[2018/02/19 11:44] Kate: a multilevel, multi dimensional work consisting of various structures, interactive objects as well as virtual images
[2018/02/19 11:44] Axiom: The huge robotic crow on top seems to confirm that whatever is left of nature has been duplicated in mechanical form
[2018/02/19 11:44] Kate: ahahah
[2018/02/19 11:44] Axiom: yes
[2018/02/19 11:44] Axiom: but the pictures are presented in all sort of way
[2018/02/19 11:45] Axiom: one can’t say they are presented in a futuristic context unless for Nur the context of the future is a mix of everything
[2018/02/19 11:45] Kate: yeah i like the way its done, feels random
[2018/02/19 11:45] Kate: agreed
[2018/02/19 11:46] Axiom: on one column the pictures, a portrait of her, are replicated along the height, on another the pics are dripping down, to your right, where the two soft chairs are
[2018/02/19 11:46] Kate: and then there are a few places where they are mounted in a more traditional way
[2018/02/19 11:46] Kate: some are very beautiful
[2018/02/19 11:46] Axiom: yes, I think she feels a need to balance it

[2018/02/19 11:47] Kate: there is a balance here that feels unorthodox and alive
[2018/02/19 11:48] Axiom: Nur has always been… she has been around a long time in SL… very humanistic just like Paola Tauber but at the same time infused with a futuristic if somewhat ironic enthusiasm
[2018/02/19 11:48] Axiom: this sounds post-modern, doesn’t it
[2018/02/19 11:48] Kate: yes dear lol
[2018/02/19 11:48] Kate: but i think it captures what we see here
[2018/02/19 11:49] Kate: a quiet, contained, futuristic chaos
[2018/02/19 11:49] Axiom: I think the event being enveloped inside dance act the opening night [and a subsequent night] says everything about the mood: strobo flashing of past and future, a flexible soul, a human mixer
[2018/02/19 11:50] Kate: nods
[2018/02/19 11:50] Axiom: to the right of this picture here she puts the generator
[2018/02/19 11:50] Kate: what do you make of it?
[2018/02/19 11:50] Axiom: I don’t know if you can see it
[2018/02/19 11:50] Kate: i can
[2018/02/19 11:51] Axiom: what I make of it is that there is no more order, no more values… all that is left are games of juxtaposition, everything is a game
[2018/02/19 11:51] Axiom: new values come out of old games
[2018/02/19 11:52] Kate: but doesn’t seem that the new values are yet defined, but still in the making
[2018/02/19 11:52] Kate: hence the sense of chaos
[2018/02/19 11:52] Axiom: yes


Photograph 1 by Kate Bergdorf
Photograph 2, 3, 4 by Axiomatic Clarity

three places

We visited three places last night; Ravage, D o X – Motel and Kekeland. All three destinations have in common that they are newer versions of older similar looking destinations by the same creators. The first one, Ravage, by the immensely talented CrankyGit (aka Rwah), is much as her previous places, utterly and beautifully gritty and decrepit. I most recently blogged about her place The GoodLife in June last year and returning now to see her new place I am just as impressed. There is just something about the way Rwah haphazardly seems to throw together grungy objects that makes the outcome seem effortless and real. It all makes sense to the visitor. The passion and, yes, the love, invested in creating this place is evident. Rwah notes that [b]uilding is the thing I love most about SL. Using the wonderful designs creators make and throw them together. I build organic. I don’t have a masterplan or any plan at all. At best I have a faint idea of the look and feel I wish to achieve. As soon as I find that one item that for me is the embodiment of that look and feel, the process to try and build a sim starts. And it never stops. So many ideas rattle around in my head that already I am tempted to blow this build up and start over with a complete new concept.

Our second stop is the D o X – Motel by new and intriguing sim creator Paradox Ivory. We had seen great images on Flickr of this place and wanted to visit a while ago. Arriving at the landing point, one stands in a small tunnel of sorts, looking straight at the small motel, two cars in front, and its raining. The neon motel sign hovers over this place, lending it a sense of old Americana, a great addition. The hotel is beautifully put together and its property extends to the back with docks and still water. I last blogged about D o X in December last year and it has obviously received a total makeover; this new place is different and just as great. Paradox notes about her new place that [n]estled somewhere in the Pacific North west DoX Motel is here to help abduct you from your regular everyday. Come and enjoy a nights stay while you explore the mystries that lay within this sleepy litte Hideaway.

Our last visit is Kekeland by the talented design duo Dandy Warhol (aka terry fotherington) and Belle des Champs (aka bridget genna). This beautiful place had been around for many years in SL, then closed and, to everyones relief it seemed, opened again a few months ago. Upon arrival one lands in front of an old, shabby garage. The garage sits on the side of a winding road that stretches through a small town. There is a town center with small homes and stores shaping around the street, part of which is also the popular hangout Bar Deco. There is a warm and at the same time very cool ambience here that is not easily achieved in SL. And wherever one turns, a great attention to detail. A photographers haven, no doubt.

Photograph 1 by Kate Bergdorf
Photograph 2, 3 by Axiomatic Clarity

2ᴇʟᴡƎ

Visiting 2ᴇʟᴡƎ one is immediately struck by its cinematographic beauty. A brand new creation by the talented design couple Squonk Levenque and Miuccia Klaar, this intriguing sim is dark and surreal. One arrives on a checkered platform, teleports to the ground and proceeds through a long corridor in order to step through a smudgy window into the sim itself. The note card at the landing suggests using the region WL or W Light 8-13, Alchemy Immortalis-Foggy Morning, Silent Hill, Bright2, Bristol, Bryn Oh’ Immersiva Grey Dust, or Raymond’s Bright and Hazy Day, but basically offers no other information. Visitors are left to figure out the meaning of this place on their own.

The monochrome 2ᴇʟᴡƎ  landscape consists of a cracked dry surface on which flows low water. The sim is made up of several parts; a strip of telephone pole lined asphalt highway on which are twelve larger-than-avatar-size rotating dolls and large billboards displaying black and white parts of movies, a dwelling consisting of cement, graffiti-clad ruins and a decrepit industrial part. Integrated into these areas are shrubs and trees, animals of all kind (most noteworthy a large group of monkeys), and scruffy vehicles. There is a lot going on here.

[2018/01/26 18:18] Kate Bergdorf: im fascinated by these dancing doll ladies in the spotlight of that car
[2018/01/26 18:18] Axiom: that’s the most visual part
[2018/01/26 18:18] Kate Bergdorf: there is something very movie-like about it
[2018/01/26 18:18] Kate Bergdorf: a fellini movie perhaps
[2018/01/26 18:19] Axiom: Pasolini once said about Fellini ‘he dances’
[2018/01/26 18:19] Kate Bergdorf: who was pasolini?
[2018/01/26 18:19] Axiom: a poet and director
[2018/01/26 18:19] Kate Bergdorf: a friend of fellini’s?
[2018/01/26 18:19] Axiom: they were contemporary, but he died quite younger than Fellini
[2018/01/26 18:20] Axiom: he is a legendary director

As we wandered around and our experience gradually enfolded, it became clear that this place is all about film. I addition to the movie excerpts on the highway billboards, reference to films are found throughout, specifically on posters plastered on walls in the industrial area and also most obviously symbolized in the group of monkeys.

[2018/01/26 18:22] Kate Bergdorf: i like those monkeys
[2018/01/26 18:23] Axiom: she is mentioning another movie
[2018/01/26 18:23] Kate Bergdorf: the monkey is?
[2018/01/26 18:23] Axiom: the 12 Monkeys
[2018/01/26 18:24] Axiom: yes
[2018/01/26 18:24] Kate Bergdorf: ahahaha
[2018/01/26 18:24] Kate Bergdorf: heres another monkey
[2018/01/26 18:24] Axiom: 2 more here
[2018/01/26 18:25] Kate Bergdorf: i see now it says 12 monkeys  on the wall
[2018/01/26 18:26] Axiom: in the 12 Monkeys a future world is devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet
[2018/01/26 18:26] Kate Bergdorf: this place is also called twelve, seems like we cracked the code!

2ᴇʟᴡƎ is a virtual photographer’s haven no doubt, there is plenty of dramatic imagery to be captured here. A beautifully put together sim once again, congrats Miu and Squonk!

Photograph 1 by Kate Bergdorf
Photograph 2, 3 by Axiomatic Clarity