Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Saint George’s Church

While at one of Gemma & Quark’s parties recently, I ran into someone with whom I got into a talk about Easter. She mentioned a church building in Second Life would be decorated for the holiday: Saint George Church in the Larsson sim. So on Easter weekend I hopped over.

The sim itself was white with snow, trees both bare and evergreen covered with ice. stone steps lead up to the Eastern Orthodox style church, which has white walls and blue domes with crosses of shining gold. There is no closed door in the front, but an open archway leading inside.

Inside, there are a number of icons, Eastern Orthodox religious paintings, on the back wall, called an iconostasis, along with a number of paintings on the ceiling. There are also numerous lit candles, including incense candles. Some are on candlesticks or holders on the ground. Others are in a chandelier on the ceiling. Behind the wall of icons is the sanctuary, which houses an altar. In real-life. Traditionally, there is only one ceremony a year inside this room.

The notecard I was given, which can also be found by clicking a plaque near the entrance, did not describe St. George’s as being based on a single real life church, but rather based on the style typically found in Eastern Orthodox churches.

This church is one of the the most accurate and detailed in SL. The building itself is almost entirely hand-made, photoshop techniques have been used sparingly and only to accent the build. All icons and trim come from RL Eastern Orthodox churches in Europe and the US. The building itself is done Byzantine style with elements from the Serbian, Greek and Russian churches. St. George is 100% accurate down to the choice of icons and their placement in the church; one may even peek behind the iconostatis and find an altar area ready for a liturgical service.

Another aspect of this church is that it has been a group project. Various members of the "parish" community have contributed at different times, each giving something according to their ability; things, ideas, Linden$ and labor. The process has been very "real' in the sense that we have all learned to "live" and work with each other ..... and in the end value each other; it is a community composed of Serbians, British, Americans, Germans, Italians, Swiss, Bulgarians, Russians, Australians, Greeks and Dutch.

The church will not be used for actual liturgical services but instead as a place for learning about the Byzantine/Eastern Orthodox faith and cultural influences. The intent of the St. George community has been to provide a warm, welcoming spot in SL that is in a natural setting. The choice of a snow sim was accidental, but the church has become the jewel in the monochromatic setting and now the building has taken on an organic quality to it linking it to the snowy surroundings. The grounds are extensive, and include a pilgrim's chapel for private prayer and a wilderness trail that can only hint at the beauty of God's creation.

Eastern Orthodox icons are images which give us glimpses into the spiritual word, images that bring us into a more complete, unbroken reality. Icon writers (they are called writers not painters) understand this fundamental concept. Yet, icons are not only boards with images; humans are icons as well, made and called to reflect that complete, unbroken reality. So we offer St. George to SL as our icon, written by a community seeking that Complete, Unbroken Reality.

St. George’s Church is at the Larsson sim at (113, 71, 103).

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Random Ride Through the Stargate

On a particularly boring day last week I decided to simply fire up the ol' Stargate and see where a series of "/d Random" commands would take me. As the Stargate is pretty old technology on the grid, I figured the only places I would end up at would be older-than-dirt abandoned areas long forgotten by the pixels of time and barely worth a mention.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

/d Random

First stop took me to the Grayling Army Airfield (Grayling Airfield sim; 13, 128, 29). It's a nice little military base sim, with planes, bombers, and things of that nature. As I prefer the medieval past instead of that which is technologic, I only stayed for a short time and did a once over at the maximum range of my camera. The effort shows in the building of the sim, and appeared to be anything -but- an "abandoned place forgotten by the pixels."

/d Random

Stop #2 on my list of ten took me to Trinity Products and Defcon 1 (Amella sim; 34, 29, 128). After emerging on the floor above where the stargate was (not even the stargates are safe when you route teleporting to a set point), I had a look around to find that it was full of transformers and Star Trek things... mostly starships (some of which appear to be flyable versions).

The building also had a lot of barren land around it, making me wonder just how often it was visited. The sim itself looks barren on the world map, quite a bit off the nearest major road. Makes me wonder if they couldn't move it closer to the road so it could be seen by people who have the $L to spend, because they're -not- going to see it from the main road unless they're looking right at it.

/d Random

Off next to "Earth" (Dreamworld Gem sim; 83, 84, 22). It looked to be an office with a pretty neat teleporter effect they set up. But I ran into a dead end as the only way out seemed to be blocked by a large prim, so it was back to the gate after a very brief stay.

/d Random

Chronotis Sec at New Gallifrey (New Gallifrey sim; 161, 71, 3273) was by far the most impressive place I found on my travels. It looked like a bit of a Dr. Who museum, with a couple of doors off to one side of the landing point declaring "Beware of BOB." Naturally, I went straight for the doors.

Bob's a dinosaur. A Triceratops, to be exact. Unfortunately, I encountered him in a bit of a spot --- he'd ended up with his nose to the door I emerged from, and one of his hind legs had gotten caught in the rocks behind him... such is the fate of objects left "physical" in SL, I suppose.

I was VERY VERY impressed by the amount of work done on the area I did explore. The textures were amazing, and I smiled to myself as I found I'm not the only one to retexture both the outside -and- the inside of the "anywhere doors" used to get from one place to another.

5 Stars, hoards, or whatever. I would suggest going to see this build.

Dr. Who isn't my thing, so after about 20 minutes of looking around...

/d Random

My next stop was Fisher Island (Fisher Island sim; 192, 118, 3002). As it was 3000 meters in the sky I figured it was going to be some sort of hidden base or something just as interesting.

It wasn't. It was a flat featureless megaprim with a stargate. NEXT!

/d Random

I didn't stay very long at Vico (Vico sim; 200, 78, 701). I ended up on someone's build in the sky that was currently in progress, and they'd set a stargate out to accept random wanderers on the network. A quick hello, a quicker goodbye, and it was off again on my trips through the stargate network (double-checking my co-ords for these locations, I went back a few days later to find only empty air, resulting in a 700-meter skydive). Whee!

/d Random

It was off to the Rizzo sim (Rizzo sim; 48, 40, 501), which ended up a tiny shop in the sky, appropriately named the "Little Shop". This one had TWO stargates in close proximity to each other, so when I next triggered one, I'd trigger them both. The shop itself had a couple of vendors, but as they seemed to be Dr. Who vendors... yeah, time for me to "choose a gate". Triggering the stargates, one of them was about three times as slow on the rotations. I don't know why that is.

I tried triggering my home gate before hitting a random one --- only one succeeded, the other one shut down as "gate not found".

/d Random

I wound up at the campsite of the "civil barbarian" Aaron Kukulcan (Adeo sim; 20, 84, 38). This DID seem like an old spot to me and just had that "empty" vibe going. On the world map the area looks mostly undeveloped. It's on a small set of three private islands though, and who am I to judge... perhaps they wanted it mostly undeveloped wilderness as a nice and peaceful place to relax in.

Another two stargates, but the first choice lead directly into a packed sim (as in, 20 people near the landing point) with a sim name that sounded like it was a den of vampires. Not wanting to end up fed to the undead, I picked the second of the two gates.

/d Random

The result was the Destiny Isles, a solitary wilderness sim (Destiny Isles sim; 69, 153, 22). I laughed when I did a search a week later to find there is not only a Destiny Isle sim, but a Destiny Isles sim (with an s) as well.

It carried the "old" vibe, as if it hadn't been used in a while. Nothing spectacular to see here, unless you count the terraformed box canyon as part of "not being spectacular". It was the most creative use of terraforming I'd seen in a while and for a brief time considered doing it to my dragon cave and layering a megaprim over it as its roof. But since I have changed the appearance of my home four times in the last 5 weeks, I thought... nah.

Still, a very good job to the sim owner. The effort shows.

/d Random

My final stop ended up being a private residence, so I'm withholding the location.

Let me just say two words. Murphy's Law.

After that, I knew it was time to stop warping myself through space, time, and the grid, so I did a quick "/d wyv" and headed home.

So it does seem that not only is the stargate network not an abandoned piece of technology as I originally thought, but it is in fact thriving. You can get a free modifiable stargate at OS Labs over in Eternal Calm (210, 49, 22). It's about 125 prims though, so you'd better have room for it.

Xymbers Slade

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monaco Yachts

If you need a bit of luxury in your SL, Monaco Yachts is a new sim you’ll want to check out. It’s located at Monaco Yachts (214, 123, 22). The new venture is the collaboration of SL residents MichaelCorleone Losangeles and BlackBarbie Bravin. There have been some recent closures of large sims in SL, so the opening of a new one is a welcome treat.

MichaelCorleone Losangeles, who has been in SL since 2006, is Chief Executive Officer, and he is the yacht designer, too. BlackBarbie Bravin is the Chief Operations Officer. She met up with Losangeles a few months ago and persuaded him to expand on his building venture. Losangeles started building yachts as a hobby three years ago, and sold a few of them under “Christensen Shipyard."

Now he and Bravin have combined their talents to start the yacht club concept. They are joined by resident Anoron Hanson, who has also been a SL resident since 2006. Hanson is the Lead Architect for the sim. Currently there are three yachts and a large building designed for shops and events.

The nautical theme is very well done. When you arrive at Monaco Yachts, a lovely fountain, accented by an anchor, decorates the landing point. Inside the building is a beautiful aquarium that lines one wall, plush carpeting, and more nautical accents. All of this luxury is set against a background of Monaco.

Bravin gave me a tour of the yachts, which are very impressive. Their flagship yacht is 87 meters and has three decks. When describing his yachts, Losangeles said, “I can't build small.” The black yacht is a perfect party destination, while the white yacht has a more residential feel to it. In both yachts, the furnishings are very upscale. Doors open automatically, and functional stairs are concealed until they are needed. The bathrooms were especially nice, with vessel sinks and lots of granite. Be sure to check out the showers—they’re great!

Costs for the yachts range from $20,000 to $40,000 Lindens, depending upon furnishings and other details. If you are interested in a vacation rather than a full-time residence, the yachts can be rented. The ballroom, stores, and other amenities are also available. SL residents are welcome to come to fish, jet ski, swim with dolphins, or lounge on the beach. I rezzed my little sailboat and had fun sailing around.

Monaco Yachts is open now for anyone who wants a sneak preview. The 7 Seas Fishing is set up on one pier, and I saw a few of the dolphins. More items will be added in the coming weeks. The Grand Opening will be May 31.

Grey Lupindo

Monday, April 11, 2011

AM Radio to Close His Places in Second Life in Six Months

AM Radio is an artist in Second Life whom has worked several places like a canvas. Some of his builds are small, others larger which take a little time to go about. His wheatfield, also known as The Far Away, is perhaps his best known work, and was shown to me by a few friends when I was new to Second Life, notably in Voss’ Second Life Tours. It was at the tour group I saw the artist himself, a tall avatar dressed in a rustic black coat and stovepipe hat.

Unfortunately, these classic places now have a time limit. In the Prim Perfect blog, it was announced AM Radio had made a group statement saying his places would be gone after six months time.

Dear Friends,

I know there are folks who visit my sims daily, weekly, or monthly and that these spaces have become a part of their experience in Second Life. I am announcing the closing of my spaces 6 months in advance so that it won’t come as a surprise, drama, or rumor.

It is merely the end of a series of artworks. I continue to paint, sketch, photograph and write about my time here on this little rock collection that’s spinning and hurtling through space.

IDIA Labs of Ball State University has been gracious to host my work without demand or requirement. The sunsetting of the IDIA Lab sim is the result of positive and thoughtful input from IDIA, myself, and many of you.

I have archived the work already, and I appreciate the impulse to want to save the work.

The work though was as social as any avatar in SL, making friends with many of you and enabling so many positive experiences many of you have let me know about. ALL OF YOU are what the artwork really was. It isn’t in the prims, the textures, or scripts. It was in your willingness to explore and experience the world in a way I tried to share it. My time in SL has been like having hundreds of people analyzing my dreams every morning. I have learned so much about many of you, but truly learned so much about myself.

Please feel free to continue to visit. Please encourage anyone you know who will miss the spaces to visit them with you. See my picks in my profile for landmarks. The extent of my estate is a foothold by the water. All are welcome to the infinite within it.

AM Radio

In an interview by Rowan Derryth, AM Radio described his grandfather as one of his major influences, working on the Gemini space program’s fuel cells, “He was doing a lot of the prototype work in his own basement.” His father’s interest was in old time tube radios. In many of AM radio’s places, one can find an old radio in a corner.

AM Radio has places at the following:

The Quiet – IDIA Labratories (150, 79, 23)

The Far Away – Dreamworld North (220, 130, 22)

A Little Further Than Before: IDIA Labratories (145, 229, 3476)

Superdyne: Surface: IDIA Labratories (164, 183, 3024)

Surface: IDIA Labratories (137, 110, 2058)

The Ferry: IDIA Labratories (133, 160, 1309)

Checking out these places for myself, they certainly had the feel of a work of art in three dimensions. One on which one can walk about, and sometimes be a part of. In the Wheatfield (The Far Away), by touching part of the windmill one can float around, for instance.

Perhaps not as large as some places, but Second Life stands to lose a classic.

::: I never stopped sketching you.
::: The smooth flesh on your cheek,
::: the gentle wave in your hair
::: dictating calculations of graphite onto paper.
::: The blurry trees behind you
::: drawn like baby's breath
::: in a wreath around your portrait
::: growing like vines
::: in stop motion animation
::: until you're gone.
::: The memory is left behind,
::: imprinted with a chemical mix
::: in a grand collection
::: of landscapes upon a life
::: of sketches as memories
::: looking to incorporate the next.

::: -- AM Radio

Source: Prim Perfect

Bixyl Shuftan