Friday, February 22, 2008

The Magic of Julia Hathor

Over the past months in Second Life, again and again I have been captivated by utterly magical creations that I have encountered here and there... and again and again, I have discovered that the creator inevitably is Julia Hathor.

Darks Adria has placed many wonderful constructions by Julia Hathor at Castle Row... I do not know if that was the first place I ever encountered this marvelous artist, but it may have been. Many of her creations are almost interactive, with sound effects and animations. The gazebo displayed here includes a squirrel and peacock, both of which move. One can hear the rather strident call of the peacock from time to time. The morning glories and other plants and flowers sway gently in the breeze. Faerie stars appear to fall periodically from the lamp in the centre of the ceiling.

Julia Hathor has many different sims that are devoted entirely to a concept or season. One can stroll through a Winter sim or a tropical sim, depending upon mood or needs.

She is one of those artists who goes beyond what I would consider ordinary 'amateur' status in building, although there are many, many extremely talented 'amateur' artists in Second Life. When I regard one of her creations, I feel that I personally never could even begin to aspire to her level... For a start, I do not think I have the dedication required to learn what she obviously not only knows but has mastered in terms of technical achievement. The fact that she represents an unattainable level of expertise in my terms is neither good nor bad in itself, but what it means to me is that she demonstrates a very high level of technical knowledge and skill coupled with an exquisite vision that is both admirable and awe-inspiring.

The other component to this realisation is practical in nature. I would like to be able to share Julia Hathor's vision of Second Life to some extent. As one explores the virtual world, one begins to realise that one must choose where and how to spend Lindens. It may be a virtual world, but real money is converted to create the currency of Second Life. Perhaps $10. in U.S. currency can purchase a fabulous castle in Second Life where it barely provides enough money to pay for a day's worth of food in reality. Temptation to own fantastic buildings and clothing, not to mention wings and other supernatural accoutrements may be great, but ultimately any money spent in Second Life creates deprivation in the 'first' one if one is not careful.

Nonetheless, a creation by some one like Julia Hathor may be worth a small sacrifice I think.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Philip Dick and Second Life

Philip Dick's definition of reality perhaps more than any other epitomises the fundamental nature of Second Life.

'But I have never had too high a regard for what is generally called 'reality'. Reality, to me, is not so much something that you perceive, but something you make. You create it more rapidly than it creates you.'

Photographs of Christmas in Second Life... Christmas morning in the castle of Awakening with my cat... a snowcat I made ... a virtual Christmas card depicting my Christmas Cabin...

Perhaps Second Life can be more beautiful and closer to perfection in many ways and there can be a danger in that. One could be tempted to escape to the virtual world, to create a perfect vision of Christmas.

There is something in me, however, that is determined to keep one foot firmly on the ground, to embrace my own reality, however difficult and imperfect it may be. I love creating my own realities in Second Life but ultimately feel I am cheating myself if I spend too much time and energy there.

Nonetheless, memories of these visions now are as much a part of my memory of Christmas as any Christmas festivities in THIS world. Walking between two worlds is an enriching experience.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Chasing the Almighty Dollar

Where this particular post should be published, I am not certain, but this photograph is in stark contrast to the artists I admire in Second Life. Here is some one who cares NOTHING for the environment or the emotions and needs of others. Here is a crass greedy seller who only is concerned to make the LOUDEST, UGLIEST declaration possible by setting huge, bright revolving signs in the heavens proclaiming nothing more than land that is for sale...

Nearby, an artist named Azadine Umarov quietly sells her parcels and is willing to negotiate fair prices with buyers but THIS person is the ultimate selfish negation of all that is good and decent in Second Life.

Shame upon you and upon every one who thinks only of his/her own benefit in ANY world.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cynthia's Heaven

Cynthia Wilder is a very talented woman who has been in Second Life for less than a year but who has been very energetic in creating clothing and furniture as well as orchestrating social events from fashion shows to weddings and dance parties. She is Lebanese and her heritage is a rich resource that she has brought to her creations and her activities in Second Life. I have showcased her work on my 'Guide to Second Life' website.

These are a few photographs of outfits designed by Cynthia Wilder of 'Cynthia's Heaven'. The artist describes her designs as Gorean and traditional Arab, as well as Gothic. As you can see, the outfits can be worn in different ways. The burgundy gown has two different skirts and can be worn with or without the headdress and face veil. The black burqa is a very traditional but beautiful gown with complete burqa, allowing total privacy and concealment of identity.

She has created a number of dance poses in the form of dance balls as well as a rather clever HUD to enable individuals to perform traditional belly dancing. She has made some wonderful tents and items of furniture. I include a photograph of a wedding tent that she created for an elaborate wedding that she organised. More photographs of the wedding, her fashion shows and dance parties can be seen on her own site at:

Cynthia's Heaven

New Travel Guide Website for Second Life

It occurred to me that the world of Second Life is vast enough to merit a 'travel guide' of sorts. Furthermore, there were articles I wished to write about Second Life that dealt with places and experiences rather than particular artists. I decided, therefore, to create a new 'Travel Guide' page. You can find it at:

Travel Guide to Second Life

Articles about the Al Andalus and Roma sims have been posted there.

Meanwhile, I have commandeered my first Second Life Guide page now to feature articles about Second Life in general.

Freyashawk's Guide to Second Life

An article about Baron Grayson's recent Opera House auction for charity as well as an article about Cynthia Wilder have been published there.

Friday, December 7, 2007

How Art is Created in Second Life

This is not a new video, but it is a wonderfully detailed demonstration of the creation of a fairly complex object in Second Life. The object is a guitar and the creator is Robbie Dingo. The guitar was created for Suzanne Vega and her live performance in Second Life.

Incidentally, Robbie Dingo is the same artist who made the Second Life machinima 'Watch the World' tribute to Van Gogh. Although I posted 'Watch the World' on my main page some months ago, I am posting it again here as it is quite a masterpiece.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dark Adria's Winter Wonderland at Castle Row

Here are two pictures of the winter scene created by Darks Adria at Castle Row.
The third is of my own Winter Wonderland, created using the Winter Cabin made by Darks, a reindeer created by Bricklin & DeFarge and trees by Kriss Lehmann of Botanical at Straylight as well as some from Heart, one of the best sources for trees and plants in Second Life. The snowbells, a favourite flower of mine, are from Heart.