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

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The GoodLife

The GoodLife is a post-apocalyptic urban setting, complete with decaying houses and destroyed highways.  Abandoned vehicles, graffitied walls, piles of trash and shabby furniture are disbursed in between. Most of the builds are by the talented Death Row Designs team, but there are objects by other creators as well. This is an adult-themed sim where various sex poses can be found throughout. While I don’t visit adult-themed sims to engage in role-play, I generally find that darker places with post-apocalyptic and adult themes have more ambience and depth. They are excellent places to take pictures. The creator and owner of The GoodLife sim, CrankyGrit (aka Rwah, who also created the sim Purple Crayons), notes that [t]his build is based on a long time idea I have been toying with to combine things that are to my knowledge, not often combined. SL sports many luscious adult sims. Exquisitely decorated and well established. This little hole in the wall is not that. Nor is it exclusive, unless you call being a stickler for manners being exclusive. I wanted a sim where I ould enjoy the urban, post-apocalyptic sights with hangouts and adult nooks and crannies. A place where I can just be and perhaps watch or be watched or simply hang out. There are no expectations, other than that those who choose to visit here, are expected to behave and respect that adult RP could be going on. What I hope for this build, is that a wide variety of artistic souls, kinksters, out-of-the-box thinkers will come and visit and hopefully come back to dwell a bit longer. No doubt, Miss CrankyGrit totally succeeded in bringing to fruition her long time idea. I am amazed by this place and will keep coming back. A the landing there are notecards with information about the sim, the dungeon and about exhibit spaces that are also located on the sim. I will write more about the photograph exhibits in my Art in June post coming up in a few days. Head on over and take a look, this is in my humble opinion one of the coolest new places on the grid. Don’t forget to bring your camera, images can be posted in The GoodLife Flickr group.

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

phabolaois strain

There is a new destination, Phabolaois strain, by the designer duo Miuccia Klaar and Squonk Levenque. This is a mostly flat space, but with a few hills, consisting of water and rain. Trees, boats, docks, benches, houses, seagulls, ruins, a light house and a large air balloon, as well as other objects, are dispersed throughout. The sim derives it’s theme from the island Phabolaois strain, founded in 1578: The discovery of large amounts of hephaestium due to the great meteor shower of 1862 made the island interesting to neighboring countries such as France that was not blessed in receiving this new and revolutionary mineral. After the failure of diplomacy France sent its troops in march 1865. A task force invaded Phabolaois stran finding only little resistance by the natives. The 1st batallion legionaires and the 4th senegalese tirailleurs occupied and ruled the land for a short period of time. Britain did not respond as most of the troops were involved in the African campain (1865-1877) which ended with the battle of Tripoli and with the Border and Sea Protection Act issued 1864 to respond to the threat of Germany and Austro-Hungarian naval forces. Indiscipline and boredom drove the french occupying troops out of Phabolaois stran to join the Belgian army as mercenaries. The island remained inhabited until 1928 when Gwynplaine, son of Lord Clancharlie, one of King James political enemies, arrived and established himself in a little surviving property, seeking refuge from the king’s men and Dr. Hardquannone and his ”comprachicos” (pirates scavenging the coast). Due to his disfigurement, Gwynplaine sought isolation and peace together with his blind girlfriend Dea, his friend Ursus and his beloved dog Homo. Only the mansion, a few wrecks from the french invasion and the remains of an unknown ancient city are still to be seen. Seagulls and a deadly and deceiving tide protects Phabolaois strain today.

Phabolaois strain has a set region WL, which I strongly suggest to use as it makes all the difference in the world. It lends the sim the foggy, misty and generally wet ambience I believe it was meant to have. While the theme of the sim at first glance is of course about the old island, to me the meaning of it also extends beyond that; the places created by Miuccia and Squonk are generally all about the inside and the outside. The outside, with  rain, grim, bare, cold, leaves the visitor feeling lost or, perhaps forlorn. The inside, which usually consists of interiors of decaying builds, piles of thrown together old stuff, but a perfect mess really, suggests belonging, warmth and comfort. The visitor’s experience of the interior and exterior spaces combined is a sense of poetic melancholy.

Let me also note here that there is no doubt in mind that this designer pair has found the perfect virtual rain. It is heavy and strong, pouring and wet, with just the right amount of feeling of wind. I am also in awe about the objects that are repeatedly used by them, mostly refurbished, scruffy old stuff. These are things that have been found in a virtual attic or flee-market, no doubt. Head over and take a look and make sure to post your pics in the Phabolaois strain Flickr group.

Addendum: Here are a few things I neglected to include: As of today, the sim is not yet open to the public, but it will be soon. Also, there will be moments, and I suspect this is dependent upon the tide, when it will not rain! Finally, and so glad to hear this, the cool space Le Petit Japon will still be accessible.

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

L’intangible

I told my friend this morning that I will cut down on blogging. I just don’t have the time for it anymore. But here I am again, writing the second post for today. Oh well. Inspired by an incredible photo posted on Flickr, go! go! little ship! by Sare, I headed over to L’intangable Reve. I am not sure who created it, but believe most likely Iska Poppies in collaboration with Sighwatr Crowbone. This is such a lovely place. You will find here country houses clustered amongst rolling hills, rivers, winding paths, swaying trees, and flowers of all kind. I fell in love especially with the sunflower field and the groups of little red poppies. The interiors of the houses are elegant and inviting. I wanted to stay. Head over and take a look and don’t forget to post your photos in the Field of Dreams & L’intangible Reve Flickr group.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

revisiting norderney

Jacky Mcpherson’s NorderNey feels very much like real life to me. Rarely have I encountered in Second Life a landscape sim that is so incredibly true to nature. It has to do with the objects used and how they are put together. Jacky seems to know exactly what kind of grass and rocks to use, which flowers and trees to select, and then picks out the perfect ground texture to go with it. The terraforming is carefully planned here as well; the place seems just flat, but it is not the case at all as there are subtle variations in level all over. The immersive sense of being on a beach is of course not achieved by merely selecting the right objects; it is the result of years of sim designing experience. There is a love for the craft of designing and a devotion to accuracy that is immediately noticeable here. Bravo Jacky for all of this and thank you for sharing with us your talent.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

natural falls

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Dann Chris has done a fabulous job with the newish sim Natural Falls V. The location name is followed by the roman numeral V, so I am assuming there must have been several Natural Falls places before this one. I never visited any of them and this was a pleasant surprise. One teleports into a boardwalk in front of a huge neon sign that reads and so the adventure begins. I love that this spot is the beginning of a journey that follows on the rather derelict and shabby part of a metropolis that awaits ahead. The boardwalk extends throughout the sim; above it, an old railway and below it, accessible by stairs, all kinds of builds in water. The builds here are fabulous! Most of them are by Soy, but also some by AptB, KT Syakomi and Agathe Latte and others. Do not be fooled, however, by the run-down architectural maze here, there is plenty of green spots in between. Head over and take a look and don’t forget to post your images in the Natural Falls Flickr group.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

Japan at One Caress

japan-at-one-caress

Today I re-visited Japan, a newish addition to One Caress, by sim designer duo Squonk Levenque and Miuccia Klaar; it is located in the sky and accessible from the One Caress landing space. I’ve been wanting to visit again for a while and my report is long overdue. Upon landing in the sky area, one stands in a small dark space. There is no direction or advice on how to proceed from there, which I think is very clever; the visitor has to sort it out and find a way on their own. Suddenly, after a few attempts to enter, one is then on a street surrounded by busyness and neon lights. That is all that Japan really is – a little street. But this is not any short strip of street, far from it. Rarely have I seen in SL a place with so much ambience in such a small space. The details here are incredible and there is stuff in most every corner. But nothing is really random here I think, each object seems to have been placed with the utmost consideration for space and overall impact. And it rains. The rain somehow envelopes the space and makes it come together as a whole. I am so impressed. Bravo Miu and Squonk, this place is nothing short of astonishing. Oh, and as I was standing around blogging, my friend Huckleberry Hax  eventually joined me and took some amazing photos; be on the lookout for them on his Flickr stream.

ninja

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

L2 studio & LHOOQ gallery

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I always liked the work by Lindini2. She is foremost a designer of buildings, but a talented landscape designer and photographer as well. Her beautiful sim L2 studio & LHOOQ gallery has now been given a makeover and it is just stunning! A quite elaborate landscape consisting of sand-dunes, beaches, all kinds of stately trees, carefully selected grasses and animals surround the buildings designed by Lindini2. The houses are fully furnished and decorated and all are welcome to hang out and enjoy. The builds are also for sale in the demo area in she sky. Tucked away in one part of the sim is the LHOOQ Gallery, also build by Miss Lindini2 and currently showing works by Jessica Belmer. The gallery space is incredibly well constructed and fits perfectly in this tranquil setting. Do head over and take a look at all this and don’t forget to bring your camera.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

places to visit now

la-digue-du-braek

There are several interesting places to visit right now. One is the the very recently opened La Digue du Braek, created by Serene Footman and Mlle Jade Koltai Jacuzzi, who also put together Furillen and Pravum Est. Teleporting in to this sim, one lands on sand. There is is a sense of not knowing where to turn and what to do next as no directions are provided. I really appreciate this opportunity to explore, to find my own way. Nice touch. Walking up to the top of a small dune then, one then stands in front of a waterway, on the opposite side industrial builds, completely unexpected. My curiosity peaked. About La Digue du Braek, Jade and Serene note that [i]nspired by La Digue du Braek, a 7km long road near to Dunkerque, flanked by a beach on one side, and heavy industry on the other – a perfect tension between nature and machine. Head over and take a look and if you bring your camera don’t forget to post your pics in the La Digue du Braek Flickr group. The other intriguing place that recently opened, and which has already become immensely popular, is the sim One Caress by the talented sim designer duo Squonk Levenque and Miuccia Klaar (the two also previously created H22O, 2304 Rain, and Treptower Park). One Caress is rainy and dreary, just like most of us love it for SL places to be. Gloomy-looking trees, bears, rusty furniture, and whimsical builds come together here to create a beautiful photogenic whole. Bravo Squonk and Miuccia. Head over and take a look and don’t forget to post your pics in the One Caress Flickr group. The last place worth a visit is Mineral Ridge, a grungy old mining town; a town once booming in the mining industry a now eerie place to visit. Come explore the unknown because the biggest fear in life is the fear of not knowing what lurks around the corner or just a few feet down the street. There are plenty of things to explore here and many photo-worthy corners. Head over and take a look!

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

winter trace

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The Winter Trace sim, by renowned landscaper and decorator team Kylie Jaxxon and Elvira Kytori, is now open. It was fun visiting today, bumping into many Flickr photographers who most I assume were there for the same reason that I was, namely to take photos. There was actually a kind of tangible excitement in the air, at least I thought so! Some of us were not at all dressed for the cold weather and zoomed home and put on proper attire and then returned, inspired. A gentle but steady snowfall falls over hills and valleys here, covering roof tops and trees with a gentle layer of snow. The trademark Trace sim combination of various kinds of grass, trees and other kinds of vegetation mix beautifully here with fabulous builds. There are of course plenty of poses to use here too. Head over and take a look, enjoy and make sure to post your pics in The Trace Flickr group.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf