Tuesday, April 14, 2015

SL History

I visited the “History of Second Life” exhibit - part of the Linden Endowment of the Arts program - a while back and forgot to post the picture. The build, by Sniper Siemens, is actually titled “The greatest story ever told… SL History 1999-2015,” and it’s as advertised (well, the history part; I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it replaces the Bible as the greatest story ever told).

SL History 001

The path takes visitors chronologically through important developments in Second Life’s history, starting with the Linden Lab building in San Francisco.

SL History 002

Major events, including advances in the platform, controversial decisions by Linden Lab, and spats among Second Life communities, have written explanations and often a depiction of the event.

SL History 003

SL History 004

SL History 005

Even the Greenies make a return visit.

SL History 006

The exhibit closes May 31.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Bryn Oh's "Lobby Cam"

The latest exhibit from Bryn Oh on her Immersiva sim is called Lobby Cam, which draws the visitor into the story and then makes the visitor part of the story.

Bryn Oh Lobby Cam 001

From the painting-filled lobby, where one can obtain the (free) HUD that will record progress, proceed through the painting shown below to emerge into a Saskatchewan wheat field.

Bryn Oh Lobby Cam 002

Bryn Oh Lobby Cam 004

As you watch the wheat blow gently in the wind and survey the vast expanse that reminds me of AM Radio’s The Far Away, keep an eye out for pieces of paper. Click on the paper and the HUD records them as diary entries. Piece by piece, a story builds: a man, sitting by himself watching television, changes the channel to find a young woman in an apartment lobby. As days go by, the man finds himself drawn to this mysterious channel, drawn to the woman he has never met in a city far away from him. You become a voyeur into the man’s voyeurism.

Bryn Oh Lobby Cam 005

Bryn Oh Lobby Cam 006

Some familiar Bryn Oh characters make cameo appearances:

Bryn Oh Lobby Cam 007

I found myself eagerly scanning the ground, or in various nooks and crannies, to locate the next diary entry to read how the story would end. I’m not quite there yet, but, according to Ziki Questi, there’s yet another level of engagement between the visitor and the artist to be found. The next time I’m in-world, I’ll be back to see how Lobby Cam turns out.

Bryn Oh Lobby Cam 008

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Metamorphosis in Black and White

Far above New Babbage’s Quarry Hill is a sprawling work of art by Miss Beq Janus, modeled after M.C. Escher’s “Metamorphosis” wood cuttings. From the artist’s note:

My sim was inspired directly by a section of the 1939 woodcut Metamorphosis II - though the scene appears both in the earlier Metamorphosis I and the final Metamorphosis III, created towards the end of his career. 
Metamorphosis is itself a journey and the artwork "morphs" from one tessellated shape to another from a simple chequered grid through lizards and hexagons into bees and fish then birds, capturing many of the themes of his early paintings. It then morphs back into blocks before becoming the view of Atrani.  
I have left many other "journeys" around the sim, some that draw on the notion of infinity that informed one of Escher's key themes. I leave you to find them and to find your own journeys.

Quarry Hill  Metamorphasis 001

I didn’t have time to explore the entire installation, from nooks to crannies, but I was fascinated by how the buildings changed from black to white and back again as one rotates around the image.

Quarry Hill  Metamorphasis 002


Quarry Hill  Metamorphasis 004

Read more about the exhibit in Ziki Questi’s blog or Steadman Kondor’s Google+ entry.

As the artist’s note says,
From the still, black waters emerge flat square blocks, flipping noisily from black to white as they build into a chequered land. With a pop and a jiggle the squares deform and evolve; black and white take on a grey and form into solid blocks that rise dramatically from the ocean. These blocks of stone, stable and solid, now shape and reshape to evolve into architecture. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

In the “new” Caledon Pensans the new Vayandar Gallery is hosting a selection of art from Mrs. Tehanu Marenwolf-Brentano. The show is entitled, "Welcome to Nest of Dreams: The Art of Crowgirl Studio."

From the artist’s statement:
There’s something about being able to do something well that is akin to flying. Running, riding a bike, dancing, making music, writing: there’s this sense of freedom and motion inherent in making or doing something wonderful. That same sense of freedom and motion is what I feel when I dream of flying…or when I create a piece of art. 
Some people dream of worlds of ancient mysteries, of boundless exploration of the universe…worlds and stories on a grand scale. I dream of worlds where dreams find their way into the waking world, where people and animals are friends, where we sometimes have wings with which to fly. I create collages to share those dreams. 
Collage is a rich visual language - water from a deep and sweet well. I see myself as drinking from the same creative wellspring as artists such as Nick Bantock, Anahata Katkin, and Catrin Welz-Stein. I usually start with an image that catches my attention and then try to share the secret story it hints at to me. I create collages using material from a variety of sources, generally vintage images that are in the public domain, photographs and watercolor textures that I create myself, and other digital resources. I take great joy in bringing new life to old or forgotten images.

Caledon Pensans  Vayandar Gallery 001

Even though the opening party was long over, I helped myself to a glass of absinthe.

Caledon Pensans  Vayandar Gallery 002

My goodness, it’s Her Majesty!

Caledon Pensans  Vayandar Gallery 003

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Walk Among the Ruins

I found myself wandering through the watery ruins of a crumbling town, buildings now no more than bricks and even those not complete.

Ruins by Cica Ghost 001

Rickety walkways connect some of the structures, evidence of a recent presence.

Ruins by Cica Ghost 002

The views are desolate, but beautiful.

Ruins by Cica Ghost 003

Still, the only things that prosper here are the wildflowers, adding a pop of color into the gray landscape. Life, as a famous philosopher once said, will find a way.

Ruins by Cica Ghost 004

Ruins, by Cica Ghost, runs through March.

(Via Ziki Questi.)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Snow and Tell

What a difference a few miles make! On Thursday, around eight inches of snow fell. On Friday, I finished shoveling.

2015 03 06 15 02 02
The view of the (late) winter wonderland from Chez Jameson

On Saturday, I drove to Richmond. The city got almost no snow.

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The United Daughters of the Confederacy building

That’s quite enough winter weather, thank you. Now to see if my car is still black under the layers of salt and brine...

Friday, February 27, 2015

In Which I Visit Goatwood Village

The other day I took the train to a charming village called Goatwood. Oddly, as I disembarked from the train, I saw nary a person or even a stray cat. Not letting that bother me, I took a stroll around the village, starting at the train station...

Goatswood 2 24 2015 001

… and through the central street.

Goatswood 2 24 2015 002

I passed many a quaint building, including a pub and an inn.

Goatswood 2 24 2015 003

The purpose of other buildings was more obscure.

Goatswood 2 24 2015 004

I even encountered a gypsy caravan.

Goatswood 2 24 2015 005

The strangest thing about this quaint village was that it was entirely deserted - not a soul in it! Perhaps some form of witchcraft spirited away everyone. If so, one can only hope that the residents are returned shortly.

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Goatwood is described as a “residential RP” sim, which I take to mean that people not only RP there but have residences as well. Visitors are welcome, but only with an “Explorer” tag, which is free at the TP point (the train station) and provides three days of access to the village. The station also has a wealth of information about the types of characters and ongoing story lines.
From the introductory notecard:
Everyone who wishes to role play in Goatswood should first explore the place.
You should try to find out as much about the Village and the people who live here as you think you need, before  settling down to serious play.
In an attempt to make this exploration more of a fun and productive experience, I have placed the note cards which explain the history and back story of the Village around the sim in the appropriate places.
In outside areas reference material can be found in Red Mushrooms.
If you see a red mushroom, pick it (left click ) and you will be given a note containing an RP intro to the  location.
Inside locations reference material can be found in small green books.
For instance: there is a book on the counter of each Inn.
Some notes will indicate where you might find more information.
The extensive notecard, elaborate backstories, and gaming HUD all point to a serious, involved style of RP.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mr. Biggins in Love

While I’m on the subject of New Babbage, I saw that episode 261 of Designing Worlds returned to New Babbage with a little intrigue (as usual) and the timely subject of love - Mr. Jebediah Biggins, in particular, as the love-lorn but ingenious fellow.

Monday, February 16, 2015

New Babbage's Quarry Hill

At some point, when I wasn’t looking, the town of New Babbage extended its borders once again, this time to an area called Quarry Hill. I strolled around the place one winter’s day.

Quarry Hill  New Babbage 001
McLachlan estate

Quarry Hill  New Babbage 002
Carpe Diem Coffee House and Tea Room

Quarry Hill  New Babbage 003
Carpe Diem interior

Quarry Hill  New Babbage 004
Baron Insurance Agency and Catacomb

Quarry Hill  New Babbage 005
New Cocoa Java Cafe

Quarry Hill  New Babbage 006
Carillon

Friday, February 6, 2015

Addendum on the minimum wage

Just after I posted yesterday’s piece on the minimum wage, I saw this column by Larry Elder, noting the views of two prominent - even infamous - economists on the Left.

MIT economist and Obamacare architect Jon Gruber, in 2011: Let's say the government rolled in and set a minimum wage. ... Workers want to supply more hours than firms want to hire. ... You end up with excess supply. And we call that excess supply ‘unemployment.’” And: "We have a downward sloping demand curve, and why is it downward sloping? Because the higher the wage, the fewer workers the firm wants to hire. It would rather use machines instead."

Here’s Elder quoting Princeton economics professor (and New York Times columnist) Paul Krugman:
In 1998, Krugman reviewed a book that supported the living wage, titled "The Living Wage: Building a Fair Economy." But Krugman slammed the idea: "The living wage movement is simply a move to raise minimum wages through local action. So what are the effects of increasing minimum wages? Any Econ 101 student can tell you the answer: The higher wage reduces the quantity of labor demanded, and hence leads to unemployment." 
Krugman even dismissed Card-Krueger, the widely cited minimum-wage study that purports to show its positive effect. Krugman pretty much dismissed it. "Indeed," he wrote, "much-cited studies by two well-regarded labor economists, David Card and Alan Krueger, find that where there have been more or less controlled experiments, for example when New Jersey raised minimum wages but Pennsylvania did not, the effects of the increase on employment have been negligible or even positive. Exactly what to make of this result is a source of great dispute. Card and Krueger offered some complex theoretical rationales, but most of their colleagues are unconvinced; the centrist view is probably that minimum wages 'do,' in fact, reduce employment, but that the effects are small and swamped by other forces. ... 
"In short, what the living wage is really about is not living standards, or even economics, but morality. Its advocates are basically opposed to the idea that wages are a market price -? determined by supply and demand, the same as the price of apples or coal. And it is for that reason, rather than the practical details, that the broader political movement of which the demand for a living wage is the leading edge is ultimately doomed to failure: For the amorality of the market economy is part of its essence, and cannot be legislated away."