Saturday, 28 April 2012

CЯYSTΛL - What’s This Crap?

"Art is not about technical skills,
it's about the reaction you get out of it."

- What’s This Art?
CЯYSTΛL (crystalship.rehula) is without doubt one of my favourite Second Life photographers.
I have probably “favorited” more of CЯYSTΛL’s work on Flickr than any other photographer, with the possible exceptions of Jinx Jiersen and Phillip Sidek.
CЯYSTΛL is owner of the “What’s This Art?” group – dedicated to the artistic and uncensored content that can be created in Virtual Worlds.
I find much of her work to be inspiring in terms of imagination and technical accomplishment.
I have to admit, I typed that last sentence with a certain amount of trepidation and wariness. The ‘What’s This Art?’ group has a certain “cool-to-be-cynical” vibe going on and such sentiments could easily bring ridicule on me or, even worse, on CЯYSTΛL herself. Nevertheless the sentence is true.
I logged on today to see a Group Notice announcing that CЯYSTΛL has opened a new exhibition  of both her newest and older photography. The exhibition is entitled “What’s This Crap?” and I tp’d over right away.
CЯYSTΛL, whom I have previously met in-world a number of times but only ever to say “Hello”, was there at the exhibition but “Away”. Approximately 60 to 70 of her photographs are on display. Quite a number I had seen before, others were new to me – all are tremendously good.
As a rather interesting aside, CЯYSTΛL was creator and original owner of the infamous ‘The Cumhouse’ club. Although I have personally only ever visited a few times – preferring myself the more salubrious surroundings of Old Lar’s House – they were fun and funny visits.
CЯYSTΛL’s current venture is ‘Hotel Californication’ – a cool-looking adult hangout and chill out place. I was especially pleased to see the walls were adorned with paintings created by American artist Terry Rodgers, whom we recently blogged about here.
I’d like to recommend that you check out CЯYSTΛL’s in-world exhibition – I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Pixie xx

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

MachinimUWA5: The Last Syllable of Recorded Time

The MachinimUWA5 movies are starting to be released in readiness for the deadline of 30th June and prize pool of L$725,000
I recently attended the premiere of Ambrosia Lanley’s ‘The Unveiling’ which I thought was very well done. Ambrosia invested over 400 hours of work over six weeks on this movie and her hard effort shows. My only “criticism” – if “criticism” is indeed the right word – is that I couldn’t really see the connection with the UWA5 theme of “Seeking Wisdom”. But please do not let that put you off watching it – the film commends itself in and of itself, irrespective of any reference to UWA5.
Over the next few weeks I’ll get around to watching all the UWA5 entries. I will embed here those which especially tweak my interest.
Confession time: Contrary to prior promises I may not be able to enter. Sorry but time is against me.
It could very well be then that the nearest I will get to “entering” UWA5 is my cameo appearances in Tutsy’s latest movie.
Tutsy Navarathna – as any regular reader of my humble blog will doubtless already know - was joint-winner of MachinimUWA3 and outright winner of UWA4.
Tutsy is certainly “the man to beat”, so to speak, in UWA5.
The Last Syllable of Recorded Time” was filmed at a number of regions in Second Life, including some scenes from when Tutsy and I visited ‘Daytime Dreams’ created by .::DoL::.. I have extensively blogged our experiences on that region here.
I am not going to go on too much about this movie but instead hope that you take the time to watch it. The one thing I would say about it – or rather, I am now the third to say it after Larkworthy Antfarm and Iono Allen – is that it uses an absolutely beautiful colour palette.
Tutsy’s delicacy of touch and deftness in post-production colour correction/management is I think more apparent in this film than any of his previous machinima.
I believe that this dexterity with colour is one of the four or five factors which mark out Tutsy’s machinima amongst others. In this film particularly Tutsy demonstrates that he is first and foremost an artist; an artist who just happens to be currently working in the media of machinima.
To really grok what Larkworthy, Iono and I are referring to you need to watch “The Last Syllable of Recorded Time” at 1080i but, regardless, you can still very much enjoy it at lesser resolutions.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Pixie And The Dalai Lama

On Christmas Day 2011 I published a blog-post describing a very moving encounter I had had watching a film of the Dalai Lama.  Little did I know when I wrote that blog-post that only four months later I would actually meet him personally, in Second Life!
Today the Dalai Lama came to Second Life and gave a talk at the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit healthcare organisation with a presence in SL.
Tutsy heard that the Dalai Lama was in SL from a Group Notice sent out by Bryn Oh. He tp’d straight over. Sadly I wasn’t online for the talk itself, and only arrived just as the talk was ending. Tutsy excitedly tp'd me.
The Dalai Lama and the audience were still there when I arrived. I managed to snap off a few pics and then cheekily walked stage-left to stand next to him and take a photo of us together.
Everyone said we make a lovely couple. That isn’t for me to say, but, I do know this….at least one of us is going to remember this experience for a very long time indeed.
We chatted a little bit too. Not earth-shatteringly deep, I grant you, but still, for me, special.
[2012/04/24 09:51]  Pixie Rain: Hello Dalai Lama. Thank you for coming. I think your Real Life smile is nicer than your avatar smile :))
[2012/04/24 09:52]  Dalai Lama: Thank you

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Lie Back and Think of England

Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!
- William Shakespeare, Henry V Act 3 Scene 1 (1599)
Saint George is the patron saint of England.
Every year on 23rd April illegal gatherings are held in secret locations up and down England’s green and pleasant land to commemorate Saint George’s Day.
When Tony Bliar’s Socialist government finally succumbed to enact Sharia Law as the moral and ethical code for Great Britain, the final nail in the coffin was hammered into a historic festival that had previously been observed since the 7th century.
As late as the 15th century The Feast of St. George was considered a major festival in the calendar, easily on par with Christmas Day. In some domains St. George’s Day was known as ‘Georgemas’.
Such was this saint’s importance that in 1620, when the Pilgrim Fathers on-board the Mayflower arrived at Innsmouth Massachusetts, they flew a flag depicting The Cross of Saint George.
Although the celebration of St. George’s Day diminished somewhat from the 17th to 18th centuries, it regained popularity as The Empire On Which the Sun Never Sets industriously invaded, conquered and enslaved over one-fifth of the world’s population in the name of Queen Victoria. Indeed, the Royal Society of St George was originally established in 1894 to enforce respect for the English way of life and, ever since, each successive English monarch has been a patron of the society.
For the first half of the 20th century commemorating St. George’s Day remained popular. Celebrations usually took the form of flying St. George’s flag, morris dancing, playing cricket, heckling Punch and Judy shows, drinking tea and singing William Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ (known as ‘the unofficial hymn of England’).
It wasn’t until after the late-1950’s and mid-1960’s, when Pope Pius XII and Pope Paul VI attempted to relegate Saint George to the Church of England dustbin of history, that the English started to equate The Feast of St. George with imbibing copious quantities of alcohol. CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale - a loose confederation of middle-aged beer drinkers, bearded computer programmers and bespectacled Guardian readers -  was formed in 1971 as a activist protest against the Vatican’s decisions.
However, during the 1970’s and 1980’s the dark bedfellows of nationalistic politics and racism partnered to overthrow the good name of St. George and make his flag their own. The National Front Party, skinheads, football, Enoch Powell and Baron Von Black of Crossharbour were all instrumental in turning a symbol of unity and community into something of shame and embarrassment. Normal English people came to recoil from the symbolism of St. George, uncomfortable with that which it had become associated.
In 1997 Tony Bliar was crowned Prime Minister and Gordon Brown anointed Chancellor. They ushered in their disastrous immigration policies under the cover of the indigenous populaces’ discomfort and unease with discussing issues of race and migration for fear of being labelled a “racist” - which by now was an offence carrying a long prison term.
It is only some years after the reign of Bliar and Brown has ended that we slowly see a re-emerging interest in St. George’s Day and the flying of his flag without the anxiety of being attacked, or worry of being branded a racist.  Popular TV personality and unpopular part-time politician Boris Johnson is reportedly spearheading a campaign to restore Saint George to his rightful place in English culture, including the possibility of making 23rd April a public holiday.
It is our hope that St. George’s Day can be rescued from the slow tortuous death that we have witnessed happening to another traditional English festival, ‘Guy Fawkes Night’, and which we have previously discussed here.
23 April is special to English people for a number of reasons. William Shakespeare - arguably the world’s most influential writer after the 47 scholars who composed the King James Authorised Bible in 1611 - was both born on and died on the 23 April (1564 and 1616, respectively). As such, 23 April is sometimes also referred to ‘Shakespeare Day’. Furthermore, England’s most loved Poet Laureate, William Wordsworth, died on this date in 1850.
St. George, Shakespeare and Wordsworth are good reasons for all English people to mark 23 April in their diary. I, however, have my own more personal reasons.
Both my father and my grandfather are named ‘George’. My dad was born on 22nd April and granddad on 23rd April. Later today we get together as a family and celebrate both birthdays. The English delicacies of Shepherd & Neame’s fine Spitfire Ale served with butter and jam scones will be very popular.
So Happy Birthday to dad and granddad. And you, dear reader, have a good St. George’s Day. If all else fails remember this paraphrase of the 1939 WWII government propaganda slogan (which was never actually issued, and only re-discovered in 2000):
Keep Calm and Remain English

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Wei Dong and the Slug Daddy

Nasty "Slug Daddy" Puddlegum is currently on holiday touring his beloved fields of Cambodia.
He promised to send me a postcard every day chronicling his adventures and explorations.
And, bless him, he has! That man touches me in so many ways! Admittedly most of them are inappropriate but, to his eternal credit, they are never illegal.
Nasty’s postcards depict images created by Chinese avant-garde artist Wei Dong (b. 1968).
Another Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei ,was recently declared “the most powerful person in the art world” with the Tate Modern purchasing 10 tonnes of his famous porcelain sunflower seeds for an undisclosed sum of money. Wei Dong, however, uses the more traditional media of pen and ink to remain true to his culture’s artistic heritage.
Each of Wei Dong's images presents a particular modern twist which, to my eyes at least, becomes more and more bizarre and outlandish the more one looks.
For me, they *feel* politically subversive.
I cannot pretend to “understand” these images but I am most certainly captivated by them. Ironically, this sentiment is a good summary of how I feel about Slug Daddy himself!
Why the Cambodian Tourist Board should choose to decorate the official government-issue tourist postcards with images created by a Chinese modernist, experimental artist is far from clear to me but I am nevertheless thankful to Slug Daddy for introducing me to Wei Dong’s work.
It should be noted that the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office are currently advising against all travel to many areas of Cambodia. Nasty Puddlegum is only safe there because he is under the protection of the ruling Sar dynasty.