Words and photos by Beq Janus
(except “Beq writing” by Judith Le Fevre)
The Second Life 8th Birthday event (SL8B) is vast. Large even by the standards of the large RFL events that have been on the agenda of late, with their variously configured 10 sims of treats. It spans 21 sims, a veritable continent of partying and enough to strike fear into the heart of the most intrepid blogger. I will not endeavour, therefore to give you a tour of the place, nor even a taster of each sim. Instead I have decided to meander somewhat aimlessly and see what I discover.
The theme this year is magic in all its forms and there are some truly magical sights to be seen.
As with any event of such proprortions there is a broad range of displays covering many ability levels and styles. If at first things seem rather uninspired and bland walk on a little and look further afield, there are delights to be found whatever your taste.
I began my excursion in SL8B Magnificent; all the sims are denominated by a superlative such as one might find in a magic show or circus act, in keeping with the theme. I appeared beneath a curiously formed tree, that reminded me of Amazonian stilt trees, stood high on root legs. Moving beyond the odd and slightly disturbing snake/worms I find a towering couple of mannequin forms, surrounded by 4 miniature scenes, each one encapsulating a season. A theme embedded in our minds with this year’s Relay for Life of Second Life theme of Seasons of Change.
My eye was next drawn to a small patch of sand coloured blocks, standing out against the mostly grey/white blanched builds around the tree. A pseudo-egyptian temple, looking to be still under construction judging but the ladders and half built walls. In the centre, raised upon a podium is a flying pig, perhaps a tribute, perhaps, to the impossible possibilities offered up by Second Life. Thi is the Lolly Gagger Lane exhibit a small fun plot to start this short visit.
Next stop is “Exhilarate”, where many there is almost a themed feel with the plots laid out like formal water gardens drawing the eye up to fairground rides in the distance. I liked the Rectangular water features shown here, they would grace a formal garden well and were both simple and well executed.
A sim split, an event where one or more sims become effectively isolated from their neighbours, and causing the sims around me to vanish and reappear, drew my attention to the verdant forest and meadows of “Mesmerize”. I really have a soft spot for beautiful natural landscaping, it is perhaps one of the features of Second Life that has improved vastly since I joined just over 4 years ago and yes has done so quietly. swathes of swaying summer flowers would have been impossibly expensive until the clever creators we have on the grid came up with, well, creative solutions I guess. particle flowers sculpts and coiled flexi prims are now a staple of our landscapes and add organic style to our digital lives.
Taking to the air to get a good view of the mesmerize sim, the neighbouring “Stupendous” leapt out. Giant letters terra-formed as islands in the ocean spelled out in style “Second Life 8th Birthday”
We touch back down, and find ourselves in “Electrify” next to a rendition of the famous “the evolution of man” image, but wait…. no, there is something more to it, this is Failed Inventor’s take on that familiar image in his work “Digital Evolution”. Digital Evolution shows evolution from single cell organism to mesh is a splendid set of silhouette statues.
On the other side of the curtain we have another impressive sculpt of a silhouetted magician conjuring prims from a hat.
Nearby, we see another magic trick, a colourful spread of cards and the treet.tv build. Pausing for thought, all the cards are queen of hearts, except for a single king of hearts…
We step across the border from “Electrify” into “Spellbound” to a sim that held, for me at least my two favourite exhibits.
The first is easily missed. A veritable tardis of a build. from the outside an unassuming black cylinder. I am drawn to it by the words drawn on the outside “The Owl and the pussy cat by Edward Lear”. Good or bad, I am drawn to the Owl and the Pussycat for my simple love of the work itself. If like me you adore Edward Lears poem then you will not be disappointed.
The Owl and the Pussycat (http://slurl.com/secondlife/SL8B%20Spellbound/104/64/22) is built by Empyreal Dreams, an ongoing collaborative project between Ariel Wingtips and Remington Aries. It aims to visualise famous poems and literature.
Arrows on the side of the cylinder point towards the entrance and you are excused if like me you miss it at first, strolling past the large book with the animated picture in it. A quick double take on the book and you realise that it is not a moving picture but a window into a technicolour wonderland and you hold find yourself holding your breath as you push your way into and through the book only to fall into the poem.
I adore the colours and the fantastical flora. Laze on the pea green boat and imagine the Owl’s serenade before sneaking off to sate your hunger with your runcible spoon by the piggy.
I freely admit to standing in awe for a significant time simply soaking it up.
My only slight disappointment was in the rather characterless poses that were installed in the cushions by the pig. when sat with a friend it had no coziness that the scene somehow cried out for. But do not let this one remark taint my view. This was the undoubted highlight of my journey.
But the Spellbound sim does not stop at a single build of note. for just a few blocks on there is another build that captured my imagination. Windyy Lane’s Soaring with magic (http://slurl.com/secondlife/SL8B%20Spellbound/112/150/22) is a monochrome scene. It uses the Second Life trick of one sided transparency to create a scene in a cube that appears open on three sides externally but encapsulate you once you enter.
A simple scene of a moonlit savanna, a large, ungainly bird, taking to the sky. On the ground a small easel and chair lets a guest immerse themself.
Simple and effective, in static monochrome, almost the complete opposite of the Owl and the pussycat but equally worth a look at
And here I will leave SL8B, at least for now. There is much more to cover, I have scratched the surface of less than a quarter of the sims but with RFL building so heavily on the agenda I doubt very much I will get to return to them all; and so I am afraid, that you, dear reader, will simply have to go there yourself, no excuses. See the Second Life destination guide for more and watch the Prim Perfect blog for details on interviews and events that will take place here.
This week’s Designing Worlds show will feature the SL8B celebrations so don’t miss it.