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

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

north opens today

North, covered in a soft blanket of snow, opens later today. Heavy snow falls on the mountains, but the valley remains clear. While much is still the same as it was, there are also some new additions that I think contribute to an overall sense of cohesion on the sim. Two buildings were added to the cluster of houses in the center and all of them are now snugly contained by walls and fences. There is a pavement with streetlights and a road. The new North abandoned motel is facing the ocean. Christmas decor is minimal on the sim, most notable is a large christmas tree by AM Radio in the courtyard from which stretch strings of light. As the astute observer may also notice, the waves have been turned properly (they were facing the wrong way before lol). The new North music stream is up and a new North windlight in the making. None of this would have been at all possible without the generous help of Toxx Genest, Mich Michabo, Bay Addens, Sasaya Kayo, Livio Korobase and others. It dawned on me once done with the makeover, the greatest part of it was the work we shared. Thank you ♥

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

north updates

North has been up for almost two months now and there is a steady stream of people visiting the sim. It is not yet listed in the Second Life Destination guide, which to me is a good thing since it would ultimately just bring large crowds of visitors, something I am hoping to avoid. The North Flickr group is flourishing and pics are posted daily. I take great pleasure in seeing how you experience and interpret with your photographs North and, truthfully, every time I see a new image posted my heart beats a little faster. I will continue posting the five North Friday Pics on the board next to the skateboard rink and announce them via the North inworld group every week.

I would like to continue keeping North simple. I am reluctant to bombard visitors with messages when they arrive at the landing point and thus just provide the most basic information. People who have joined the North inworld group for rezz rights have mostly been great at removing their objects when done. Thank you for that. Some of you have asked me why there is no “tip jar” and the answer is that I am not looking for donations. I want people to enjoy the environment without feeling pressured to pay.

Moving forward I would like to work on getting a proper North windlight and also a unique North music stream. As many of you know, I am itching to transform the sim for winter! I already started removing and adding little things here and there, but there will be a major transformation in a few weeks. I will then close the sim for a week or two. The North foundation will remain the same, but I imagine the general ambience will end up being a bit more raw and austere.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

Berg by Nordan Art Closing

I will close my gallery Berg by Nordan Art December 31. Until then, we will continue operating as usual; CapCat Ragu and Meilo Minotaur have a new exhibit coming up October through December, as does moon Edenbaum. Gallery M, the permanent exhibit space by Mich Michabo, remains open. I hope to be able to extend at least a smaller version of Marina Münter‘s installation Non-Perishable beyond the end of September as well. More about this to come.

Berg by Nordan Art started as Nordan Art. The gallery operated as Nordan Art from 2010 through March of 2012 and then as Berg by Nordan Art from 2015 through 2017. The vision of the gallery has remained consistent; to offer the highest quality virtual art, both when it comes to large immersive installations on the ground as well as to virtual images in the gallery build. Thank you to the outstanding artists who exhibited in the gallery since 2010; they are, in chronological order, nessuno Myoo, Paola Tauber, freebee Withnail, Kicca Igaly, Natsha Lemton, Del May, Bliss Violet, typote Beck, Syn Beresford, Feathers Boa, soror Nishi, Betty Tureaud, Rebeca Bashly, Rose Borchovski, Helene Lytton, Simotron Aquila, Claudia222 Jewell, Shelina Winkler, Theoretical Afterthought, Igor Ballyhoo, Cherry Manga, Anley Piers, lalie Sorbet, Romy Nayar, Trill Zapatero, Artistide Despres, Alizarin Goldflake, Stephen Venkman, Robin Moore, Scottius Polke, Tutsy Navarathna, Piedra Lubitsch, Harbor Galaxy, Giovanna Cerise, Sina Souza, Haveit Neox, Mich Michabo, Imani Nayar, Maloe Vansant, Livio Korobase, Mi, Meilo Minotaur, CapCat Ragu, Huckleberry Hax, daze Landar, Senna Coronet, Marina Münter and moon Edenbaum. Some of these artists exhibited twice and of note, there was a period in the beginning of 2012 where documentation about the gallery is not available. Please let me know if you exhibited then and are not on the list and I will make sure to add you.

Retrospective publications (Nordan Art: A Retrospective 2010 to 2011, Berg by Nordan Art 2015, Berg by Nordan Art 2016), machinima (Rebirth by Iono Allen, Penumbra Machinima by Erythro Asimov, Penumbra Opening at Berg by Nordan Art by Tutsy Navarathna, Berg by Nordan Art by Zarrakan the Cat, Berg by Nordan Art Opening 2016 by Tutsy Navarathna, Fading Mask by Haveit Neox, Berg by Nordan Art Opening October 2015 by Tutsy Navarathna, Harbor Galaxy at Berg by Nordan Art by Tutsy Navarathna), lectures, Nordan Art awards (both at UWA and at Nordan Art), inworld groups (Nordan om Jorden and Berg by Nordan Art), blog posts (The Bergdorf Reports and The Virtual Review) and Flickr groups (Berg by Nordan Art, Nordan Art Issuu Publishing and Non-Perishable) came about as extensions of the gallery. A special thank you to Igor Ballyhoo, Huckleberry Hax and Tutsy Navarathna. You were integral as creative collaborators and contributors.

Moving forward I will focus on my sim North, create my own virtual images and maybe write some art blog posts here and there. We will publish a Berg by Nordan Art 2017 retrospective next year. The Berg by Nordan Art inworld group, as well as the Nordan om Jorden inworld group, will remain open and active. I also anticipate that I will be involved in various art undertakings in the future, which will then all fall under the auspice of Nordan Art/Berg by Nordan Art.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

north is open

I’ve been working on North for about two months now. There are still things that need to be finished, like windlight, music stream and some tweaking here and there, but I am more or less done. What started off as a desire to depict the Shetland Islands, over time turned into a northern landscape themed contemporary space. One trusted astute observer noted that “it’s an odd mix of city and country.” I think that is true. You will find on North wide open spaces, nature and ocean, but also a scruffy skateboard park and a garbage dumpster which at some point may turn into an anarchist headquarters (kidding). Still, overriding all this is a northern theme meant to induce an experience of something unspoilt, raw and serene. For optimal experience when visiting North, please set draw-distance to maximum and make sure that the LOD Factor is not too low (Advanced – Show Debug Dettings – RenderVolumeLODFactor), it should be between 4 and 8. Join the n o r t h inworld group in order to rezz (20 minute auto return). Feel free to post pics from North in the North Flickr group, would love to see your photographs.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

North

draw me a sheep...

I am putting together a new sim called North. It all started as an inspiration based on an ever-stronger desire to live away from the big city and move to rugged nature somewhere in the remote north. I created two other places a few years ago, one was Winter and the other Leka, both of which, looking back, I think I put together too quickly. So I knew I wanted to take my time with North and I have.

Inspired by the Shetland Islands in Scotland, where Scotland meets Scandinavia and the North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, I envision North as raw, serene and still. While I want it to be as true to the original islands as possible, I am not set on having it be a perfect replica. Open space, remote buildings, nature, and ocean are themes, not part of a perfectly constructed reproduction.

I learned going through this virtual sim creating process that there are both practical and emotional aspects involved. The tangible characteristics require some virtual world technical expertise, like, for instance, terraforming. The emotional aspects of sim building have to do with introspection and personality.

Those of you who put together sims already know what the practical initial tasks at hand are; terraforming, ground textures, layout. Then the adding of objects; rocks and stones, grass and flowers, buildings and objects, animals and animate objects. It is important to me that the sim is unique and different and this, truthfully, becomes the greatest challenge of all. I keep reminding myself that less is usually more. If I can avoid it, I don’t use popular objects that are immediately recognizable. Not always possible, but I try. I am also selective when it comes to the quality of the items I place on the sim. This involves digging deep into my inventory and also a lot of running around looking for things that might fit.

Taking time to create provides the opportunity for things to enfold. Just like when creating a painting, or when editing a virtual photograph for that matter, things look different on different days. There are days when my imagination seems to know no bounds and my creativity flourishes. These are the days when I excitedly add to the sim an incredibly detailed sewing room or a dilapidated urban skateboard park. Then there are other times when I am overwhelmed by the entire process and just want to throw in the towel. On those days I seem to just be aimlessly shuffling things from one place to another.

When putting together a sim and the practical and emotional are thoughtfully integrated, I think the end-result becomes a meaningful and inspiring sim ambience that in one way or another reflects the creators persona. I hope to get this project done soon and I look forward to sharing it with you then.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf