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

There is Hope in Solitude: An Exhibit by Oyo at Nordan Art

 

I am happy to announce here the first exhibit by Nordan Art on the sim North, There is Hope in Solitude, by Oyo, opening on Saturday, January 20 at 12 PM SLT. This exhibit consists of ten virtual images, each addressing aspects of solitude. The show is based upon the poem below by Oyo, and also inspired by the song Gone by Jona Lee.

il y a comme un espoir dans la solitude
une urgence à ressentir la plénitude
l’inexorable absence devenue souffrance
pour enfin trouver cette présence dans le silence:
moi

there is hope in solitude
an urgency to feel the fullness
inexorably absence becomes suffering
to finally find this presence in the silence:
self

Each of Oyo’s images expresses waiting, hope, introspection, faith: the steps on the path away from loneliness and towards solitude. She told me that she only fairly recently found a way within to transition from loneliness to solitude. Oyo describes this process “as if you are afraid, terrified to get out of the box where you found yourself for ages, its like a prison and at the same time a nest.” The internal shift has had a significant impact on her images; “my experiencing solitude resulted in photographs with more depth.” Ultimately, and as so poignantly expressed in her poem, this exhibit offers a glimpse into the artist’s emerging sense of a creative self. Come join us tomorrow for the opening and if you can’t make it make sure to take a look later, the exhibit will be up through March.

Photograph of Oyo and Kate on North by Toxx Genest
Poster by Oyo

Tell Me a Story

It gives me great pleasure to write here about the new Delicatessen installation, Tell Me a Story, by Meilo Minotaur. The Delicatessen art sim, by Meilo Minotaur and CapCat Ragu, will re-open this Saturday, January 13, after having been closed for a while. Tell Me a Story is an interactive installation in the sense that visitors are encouraged to participate by telling their own stories and in doing so connecting various parts of the exhibit. Meilo explains that I ask you to tell me a story that links the various scenes of the installation. The characters of the island have their correspondence in avatars. They do not have names, you can give any name you think fit them. It will not be necessary to use all the characters or scenes, you will use those that you understand. The stories will be told as you please: only with text, text and image, video or whatever you wantTen avatars are available for free at the landing point, they can also be observed as part of the installation throughout the island. As with previous avatars created by Meilo, these are magical fantasy avatars (mythical animals, girls and boys, birds) that inspire the users who wear them to play and create.

[2018/01/10 10:50] Kate: look at the first one, the animal avatar, so stoic
[2018/01/10 10:50] Axiom: a king of an ancient saga
[2018/01/10 10:51] Axiom: I like the red one, next, the second
[2018/01/10 10:51] Axiom: so abstract
[2018/01/10 10:51] Kate: amazing
[2018/01/10 10:51] Axiom: the third is so Max Ernst
[2018/01/10 10:51] Kate: i often get choked up when i see their stuff for the first time
[2018/01/10 10:51] Kate: it’s so beautiful
[2018/01/10 10:51] Axiom: it’s all very surreal
[2018/01/10 10:51] Kate: yes

The installation is like an island, the ground surface sand-like, and parts are quite steep and hilly. There are black, bushy trees with thorns extending from small water pools and two groups of buildings; one is a cluster of small wooden houses up in the sky, the other a solemn, dark city, consisting of tall towers and spires, is nested into the hills. Placed on another part of the island is a thick, web-like, white fog, lending a misty and mysterious atmosphere. Disbursed throughout are small scenes consisting of avatars, figures and other objects. Wild geese glide low over shallow waters (click the water to ride a goose).

[2018/01/10 11:18] Kate: one really has to look at all levels, low and high, not to miss anything
[2018/01/10 11:19] Axiom: not a funny place this city
[2018/01/10 11:19] Kate: no, very dark
[2018/01/10 11:20] Axiom: perhaps she [Meilo] put a reference to the contemporary with this, or the future as she sees it, this town
[2018/01/10 11:20] Kate: could be, would make sense
[2018/01/10 11:21] Kate: these other little houses here, clustered together in a very uniform way, feel more ordinary
[2018/01/10 11:24] Axiom: one of the houses is different
[2018/01/10 11:24] Axiom: and the girl is there, she is looking into the flower
[2018/01/10 11:25] Axiom: maybe this whole thing really is inside the flower
[2018/01/10 11:25] Axiom: what she sees
[2018/01/10 11:25] Kate: that’s an incredible way of thinking about it 🙂
[2018/01/10 11:25] Axiom: this surely is complex
[2018/01/10 11:25] Kate: i think we have our story, it’s about a girl with a red flower

About a Girl With a Red Flower:
A story inspired by the Tell Me a Story installation, written by Axi and Kate

The girl with the red flower is not an ordinary girl and her flower is no ordinary flower either. Iris, her name, the girl is on stilt-like legs like everybody dwelling at her island-kingdom, to remain safe and protect herself from the zombie-like creatures that like the proverbial quixotic windmills keep attacking the waters that surround her. She wears a red and black dress, has the bluest of eyes and a curious little round, pale face. Iris owns a bright red poppy flower which she has planted on the ground at one of the far-most tree houses her family owns. She nurtures it secretly, with jealousy. Unlike any other flower in the island-kingdom, her flower does not die. The poppy flower contains little black seeds and every time she blows at them they turn into fluffy little seed balls and are carried away in all directions by the wind. Legend has it, that it is only the sweet breath of Iris that can turn a poppy-seed into a fluffy seed ball. Iris stands next to her wooden house in the sky all day long, arms extended in a perfect angle, dreamy, blowing her breath on the poppy flower seeds and watch them sail away. As the seeds touch land at various locations around the island-kingdom, they carry her imagination, her fears and her dreams. It is said that wherever the seeds catch good land, for days a translucent picture grows with characters from Iris’s lonely and imaginative life and it is made real for all to see.

Just like with any other Meilo installation before it, Tell Me a Story, will surely stimulate the visitor in many ways. This is one in particular captivated us to such an extent that we got completely caught up in creativity. Thank you Meilo for sharing your incredible magic with us, for inspiring us to dream a little and play.

Photograph 1 by Kate Bergdorf
Photograph 2, 3, 4, 5 by Axiomatic Clarity

Toxian City

Toxian City is a dark urban role play place consisting of two full sims. It is an incredible place to visit and take photographs. When we went there, it was packed and I was told it usually is (strangely, however, not much lag to speak of). Owned and created by the talented Miss Wright, I’m pretty sure this destination dates back as far as 2008. According to the Toxian City website, it has its own mythos and does not follow the path of any other game. It is, however, loosely based on both new and old American Hollywood Horror. The dark and gloomy setting is what’s left of a blue collar port town after a major toxic spill creating a domino effect catastrophe. This elaborate description pretty much nails the Toxian City setting.

[2018/01/04 17:58] Kate: key monk would love it here 🙂
[2018/01/04 17:58] Axiom: he must know this place
[2018/01/04 17:58] Kate: i don’t think ive seen any pics by him from here
[2018/01/04 17:59] Axiom: the secret word is cheeseburger
[2018/01/04 18:00] Kate: lool
[2018/01/04 18:00] Kate hands you a milkshake

The city consists of a grid of streets and disbursed throughout there is a general store, a shelter, apartments, a garage, a library, a liquor store, a porn shop, a church, a chemical factory and much more. Toxian City is huge, complex and multi-layered.

[18:08] Axiom: the building you are facing has some beautifully rendered light on the inside
[18:08] Kate: let me see
[18:08] Kate: i see you
[18:08] Kate: and yes, lovely space
[18:09] Axiom: aww, water tunnels
[18:10] Kate: tp moi svp 🙂
[18:10] Teleport offer sent to Kate (katebergdorf)
[18:11] Kate: wow
[18:11] Axiom: they are probably very extensive
[18:11] Kate: incredibleeee
[18:11] Axiom: yup very well planned stuff

The exteriors and interiors of the builds here are beautifully constructed. Most of them are made by Miss Wright and many others created by Pandemonium. We must have spent hours at this place, but it still seems we only saw a fraction. Head over and visit, bring your camera and make sure you have plenty of time to spend. You will not want to miss this.

Photographs by Axiomatic Clarity

The Gallery

As readers of this blog are aware, my gallery Berg by Nordan Art will close tomorrow. It has been an amazing seven years (on and off, mostly on) with exposure to all kinds of art and, no doubt, it has been an experience that has enriched my life. One of the reasons I am discontinuing the gallery is that I want to shift gears and the other is that it has taken up too much of my time. But while my sim North is now my focus of attention, a part of me clearly also doesn’t want to let go of the gallery. I realized recently, I actually don’t have to and decided to open a much smaller version of it on North. The ground level of the Apple Fall corner store will be used for the new gallery, named Nordan Art (the original name of my gallery before I reopened it as Berg by Nordan Art). There will be four Nordan Art exhibits per year, each photographer will show for three months. Stay put for updates!

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

 

The Virtual Dance

 

Untitled.png

Most of us in Second Life love to dance and there is all kinds of dancing going on here. We rezz and hop on Bits and Bobs slow-dance poses in our homes, use dances attached to our AO HUDs at clubs, or head out to various dance places on the grid. We recently visited four classic dance venues and I am sharing with you some impressions here. First, an incredible dance place for those of us who like to tango, the Ocho Tango Place. After a brief walk from the landing, surrounded by delicate wrought-iron cafe tables and chairs, one stands at the entrance of an old red brick build, a beautiful house built by the multi-talented Megan Prumier. The inside of the tango place consists of a black and white tile floor, tall windows, a small bar, groups of armchairs, plants, framed pictures, and a stack of suitcases (at the back of the building is a locomotive, part of a small train station). Exquisite latin and tango music and tango poses compliment the surrounding environment. This gorgeous dance space has it all, but more than anything else the owners have managed to create a delightful ambience much like one we would find in any tango bar in real life.

A favorite for sure is the The Sable Club, part of The Chambers. This place is elegant and sophisticated, playing mostly Frank Sinatra and has fantastic dance poses. This is one of these wonderful dance clubs where you can dance for hours and lose track of time.

[16:17] Kate: this is our favorite dance place, no doubt
[16:17] Axiom: it wins hands down
[16:17] Axiom: and it’s pretty neglected
[16:17] Axiom: they deserve some credit here
[16:18] Kate: yes, unfortunately, but good for us lol
[16:18] Kate: the music is amazing as is the ambiance, a classic place
[16:18] Kate: the lag is not bad
[16:18] Axiom: don’t say it too loud
[16:19] Kate: lol

To me The Sable Club is very much a hidden treasure, mainly because for some mysterious reason people don’t seem to find their way here. And in all honesty, I was in fact unsure about adding it to my list of dance places, simply because I selfishly want it to remain as is.

Next, Frank’s Place Jazz Club, has remained pretty much the same since it opened in 2008 and is described as [a] classy and fancy Italian-themed jazz and dance club. This is a huge dance space and feels like “old” SL. Visitors are encouraged to wear formal wear and are greeted by a hostess upon arrival. There is very much a SL-ballroom-ambience-kinda-thing going on here, playing smooth jazz mixed in with oldish pop music. It is usually packed and when we visited there were 73 people on the sim. It was unfortunately impossible to move due to the lag. Finally, believe it or not, the old Cloud Nine is still alive and kicking. I remember way back in 2009, very much a noob still, I was quite taken with this place. While I was well aware of that it was kitschy beyond belief, I don’t hesitate the slightest to admit here that I still found all the fluff, the tear-jerker pop-music, the romantic dance poses and the dressing up in a formal gown incredibly magical. When we visited recently, the music and the poses were the same, but the place itself seemed smaller and several of the old partitions were gone. Nonetheless, its well worth a visit, even if simply for a walk down memory lane.

Photograph 1 (Ocho Tango Place) by Kate Bergdorf
Photograph 2 (The Sable Club) by Axiomatic Clarity

A Male Eye. John Berger; a video by Marina Trigueros

Special art film correspondent for this blog, moon Edenbaum, made me aware of the video A Male Eye. John Berger, created by Mariana Trigueros. This film speaks to the male gaze and female objectification, a topic obviously just as relevant in our virtual world as in the real world. Ms. Trigueros, a Spanish researcher, audiovisual producer and archivist, notes about her work that [m]ost pictures are meant to be seen by a male. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. John Berger wrote his book ‘Ways of Seeing’ (1972) on this premise, which has been used as the script for this video essay aimed to be a tribute to his work. Take a look at this video, its beautifully put together, visuals, editing and music are a perfect fit. A feast both for the mind and for the senses.

A Talk About Mutual Respect: Perspectives on Empathy

There is a talk coming up, A Talk About Mutual Respect: Perspectives on Empathy, addressing the themes of the two Mutual Respect exhibits, both part of The G.B.T.H. Project, both curated by Marina Münter. The event will take place tomorrow, Saturday, December 23, at 3 PM SLT with discussants Huck Hax, Marina Münter, moon Edenbaum and myself as moderator, and will be held in voice. We will start with an introduction about the collective exhibits Mutual Respect, and also address the meaning of the talk itself, followed by discussions by the guest speakers and then open up for Q&A. The purpose of this talk is to make people in Second Life think, challenge themselves and for a moment ignore stereotypical societal rules when it comes to the opposite sex, with a focus on embracing flaws and empathy. Come join us, we look forward to your questions and comments!

Poster by Marina Münter

reflections

Christmas really snuck up this year. I am till juggling writing last-minute Christmas cards and finishing up other things. Finding a little bit of time in between now to sit down and reflect on the year that past and ponder on what lays ahead. It has been a rich year in Second Life. We showed some incredible art at Berg by Nordan Art again. In some ways it seems only fitting to end now when the gallery is at its peak. Nonetheless, it is of course with mixed feelings that I close it the last day of December. My focus on gallery curating has shifted to focusing on North now, which opened earlier this year. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that it would take off like it has. Next year, I will continue maintaining North. I anticipate the Spring/Summer make-over will take place some time March, at which time the sim will be closed again for a few weeks. We will also publish the Berg by Nordan Art 2017 retrospective book early some time in the beginning of the year (waves at Huck Hax). The Paper Crown Pass events will continue as they have been. I will increase my grid exploring and blogging some. I will continue spending time on my virtual image making.

You may have noticed there are hardly any Christmas decorations on North. A large fir-tree, created by AM Radio, was added by Mich Michabo at the center courtyard when we first completed winterizing the sim a few months ago. From the tree extends little strings of light, that have been fastened to the houses surrounding it. It’s a quiet, special space, surrounded by an iron fence. A good spot to stand and ponder. There is another tree, by DECO, on the hill, facing the water. Also a unique tree, this one is smaller, but not less beautiful than the large one. A little winter mailbox, overflowing with letters and christmas gifts, as well as twinkling light strings, are attached to the wall outside the house that contains the study. But that is all the Christmas decoration there is on North. I like to keep it simple. Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa everyone and I hope 2018 will be just as great as 2017. 

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

Two Winter Sims

Having been cooped up on North for most of the time for the past months, I rarely get out to explore anymore. But I miss it, and I miss blogging about places too. So today we headed out to check out two winter sims, La vivrevolte and D o X. La vivrevolte is created by the talented Iska Poppies, who also created L’intangible Reve. Her sim designs are well-crafted, playful and dreamy, with a serious attention to terraforming, ground texture and color schemes. She uses a wide variety of trees and different kinds of grass, both contributing to a sense of place. What struck me as most significant about the winter place La vivrevolte was the fact that there were patches of grass and brown ground noticeable in between on the snowy ground. This provides a realism and cohesion, not that easily achieved.

Our second stop D o X was created by Paradox Ivory. This is another beautiful winter sim, a bit denser seeming than La vivrevolte, but equally appealing. Wandering around, one is surrounded by a great variety of trees and bushes, a few partial fences strategically placed out. There is an island and, of course, there is snowfall. It’s a quite hilly area, providing ample opportunity for scenic corners. There is also a gallery, The D 0 X Urben Gallery (teleport to gallery from sim landing point). What really resonated most, however, is the outside dining area.

The outside dining space, complete with a fully set table and eight chairs, on this sim is fantastic. There is a feeling of the inside having brought outside and being completely integrated. This is an incredible spot that should not be missed.

[2017/12/17 11:13] Kate: this outside eating space is magical
[2017/12/17 11:13] Axiom: its great
[2017/12/17 11:14] Axiom: and the surroundings are really well-built
[2017/12/17 11:14] Axiom: the variety of colors on the ground
[2017/12/17 11:14] Axiom: those areas closer to water with fires and places to sit
[2017/12/17 11:14] Kate: and the tall trees
[2017/12/17 11:15] Kate: so so special, very festive
[2017/12/17 11:16] Axiom: do you see the tree to my right waving with the wind?
[2017/12/17 11:16] Kate: yes 🙂
[2017/12/17 11:16] Kate: this place feels alive
[2017/12/17 11:16] Axiom: the green one
[2017/12/17 11:16] Axiom: surreal isn’t it
[2017/12/17 11:16] Kate: yeah

Head over and check out these two sims, you will not be disappointed.

Photograph 1 (La vivrevolte), 3 (D o X) and 4 (D o X) by Axiomatic Clarity
Photograph 2 ((D o X) by Kate Bergdorf