Has it been a success? I think so, and in three key areas.
First, numbers. All records for visitor numbers to the sim – and for listeners to the music stream – were broken during the course of the evening (European time), and it seems to have been an extremely busy night.
I spent several hours at the sim and it was full or very close to full for most of that time.
For anyone who was trying to get in for a quiet moment or two … sorry about that, but normal service will be resumed in due course.
Second, the experience. Moon and I had worked hard to make this an immersive show. Besides the music and lighting, the idea behind ‘projecting’ the images onto the building walls was to create a collective experience of art: a bit like the cinema, but while looking at pictures instead.
Not only the pictures in the slide show, but the four animated gifs on the hotel rooms behind. Like this one:
Watching pictures together, waiting the (carefully selected) 45 second period for the introductory slide for each image to clear … waiting and anticipating, together … has a strangely hypnotic effect.
There were some moments that really felt quite special.
I recommend reading this excellent piece by Kate Bergdorf, for a description of how this felt from her perspective.
Third, the concept. I wanted to show art not only at Furillen but of Furillen. Art that belongs at the sim because it was made at the sim.
I wanted to offer an alternative to a gallery, using other aspects of what I felt Second Life could offer.
I wanted to show pictures in a way that emphasized what art stands for at Furillen, its sense of community and co-operation.
Moon’s wonderful pictures were the perfect vehicle for this, and I am very grateful to him for agreeing to what must have seemed – at first – to be a bit of a strange idea.
Fortunately, Moon knows enough about Walter Benjamin – who, unashamedly, was my inspiration for this project – to have agreed to come along for the ride.
Without Moon’s excellent portraits – all of them made at Furillen in the same room using the same set – this show could never have worked.
So, to repeat …
Just see it.
This weekend sees Furillen’s first ‘art show’ – an exhibit of portraits that were made by Moon Edenbaum.
They were taken at the sim itself, in the same room using the same set.
As you will see, this gives them a thematic unity that is rather powerful … and, when displayed as we will be displaying them, absorbing and meditative.
For obvious reasons, these pictures have a connection with Furillen, and as I said before, displaying them at the sim reminds me of what Walter Benjamin said about the authenticity of an artwork and its connection with the location – the space and context – in which it was produced.
Moon’s portraits have another – and, I think, deeper – connection with Furillen. They echo its minimalist style in their simplicity and repetition.
We wanted this to be immersive. So please, if you can, listen to the music stream when you look these portraits. Moon chose this music. I think it fits very well, enhancing what you see in these pictures, and how you look at them.
Neither of us is claiming to be doing anything astonishingly original here. We just wanted to do something simple, and well.
A straightforward, no bullshit, art show.
For this very reason, I really like Moon’s pictures.
He usually posts them on his flickr stream in groups of three. They are always portraits that have an impact, a rawness and an honesty, that I appreciate.
It isn’t easy to ‘catch’ an avatar in a way that distills personality, life and spirit.
Moon is one of a few people in Second Life who can do this.
I also love his treatment of colour.
So, please, come along if you can – we’ll be showing ‘shoot the shooters’ to a few small groups at various times during the weekend. At these times the sim may have to close, so that those we invited can get in.
The first time is today (Saturday 30 January) at 8pm CET – which translates as 11am in Second Life Time (SLT).
The second time is also today, at 11pm CET – or 2pm in SLT.
The third time is tomorrow (Sunday 31 January) at 3pm CET – or 6am SLT.
Outside those times, starting as soon as the first show has ended, the sim is open as usual – and the show will roll on, so everyone who wants to can see it.
Moon will be posting the series on Flickr as soon as the show is over. I will take it down very early on Monday morning, European time.
Thankyou for your attention. I hope to see you there.
“He dreamt he was a bird on a wire”
One of the most neglected aspects of sims that I visit in Second Life is the soundscape. Occasionally, I have visited a sim and been captivated by what I hear – music, or other sounds (birds, creaking doors, the wind – whatever fits).
More often, alas, I visit a beautiful sim, switch on music, and hear traffic news, or an advert for something really shit that ‘you always knew you needed’ …
There was a sim called October Country – does anyone else remember it? – that streamed audio books and plays. Visitors – me! – would sit for hours in a spooky graveyard listening to classic broadcasts, usually of science fiction. It made for a wonderful atmosphere.
I wondered about doing this sometimes at Furillen. If I did, it would surely have to be War of the Worlds to start everything off …
Although there is a separate page on this site referring to music at Furillen, I wanted to mention it here partly to draw attention to the fact that the sim has its very own music stream.
I won’t bore you with how it works, but there is around 60 hours of music on a random loop. I have 12gb of server space, so there is room for plenty more. But I reserve that for special occasions …
… there were some Christmas tunes for a very short time …
… the new song released by Radiohead on Christmas day was uploaded and played once per hour (just wait until their new album is dropped – any time now!) …
… when David Bowie died I uploaded 15 hours of his music and played it for two days, and I still use this playlist from time to time …
… and this weekend, I will be playing music chosen by Moon Edenbaum to accompany his series of portraits that will be on show.
I don’t know many other sims that have their own music stream permanently running. Elysion – a favourite place on the grid for many of us – is one. There is always great music on there, and I enjoy talking to the owner – Syn Beresford – about music choices.
The music I uploaded to the stream is mainly what I’d play when working – or running, strangely enough. It’s mostly ambient, very atmospheric, usually without words.
Biosphere, Eno, BVDUB, Hammock, John Foxx, Nils Frahm, Oophoi, Stars of the Lid, This Will Destroy You … all feature heavily, alongside a smattering of other stuff, including some classical (Avro Pärt, for example) …
I think it not only fits the sim’s special atmosphere, but enhances it.
One feature of the stream you might find odd is my voice, intermittently telling you that you are listening to Furillen radio, etc. This is done in order to prevent – or discourage – a larger commercial sim from latching onto the stream. It would sound a bit strange …
I do this because there are 50 listening slots on my stream. More than enough for a homestead like Furillen, but easily swallowed up …
The stream provides listening stats, which are interesting reading. On average, I would say that between 50-70% of those on the sim at any one time listen to the stream. Those who tune in listen – on average – for around half an hour.
One in ten listen for well over an hour, some for more than 4 hours …
But here is my favourite statistic. Since the stream began, listeners have tuned in from a total of 102 countries.
Want a list? Alright then, if you insist. Here they are, in order of listening minutes …
Korea, Republic Of
United Arab Emirates
Moldova, Republic Of
Isle Of Man
Bosnia And Herzegovina
Trinidad And Tobago
Palestinian Territory, Occupied
If nothing else, this demonstrates just how cosmopolitan the grid can be.
But I hope it also encourages those of you who haven’t listened yet, to tune in …
… and enjoy how Furillen sounds, not just how it looks.
One of the reasons for keeping this blog is to build a kind of memory board, or diary, because so much happens in such a short time in Second Life that developments often get lost to the memory simply because they are so fast.
So here we go.
First. I changed the sky and ground textures again.
Neither will be a long-term change, but I am exploring different settings ahead of a possible Furillen ‘spring’.
In response to my recent post on this question, many of you said you’d like to see seasons at Furillen. Some said you wouldn’t …
What you can be sure of is that the unusual atmosphere at the sim will be always be retained, if not the snow (although there is more snow than ever, right now).
As I’ve said before, this means searching for a combination between realism and something akin to hyperrealism or even surrealism. I usually know when a combination is right when I see it.
It’s never quite a eureka moment, but it is a little bit like this …
Second. One of the hotel rooms has been changed and I’ll be moving more things around in the next week or so, as time permits. As always, the rationale I follow is about making pictures.
Inevitably, perhaps, reflections are involved …
Third. The first Furillen art event, featuring portraits by Moon Edenbaum, happens this weekend. There will be minimum disruption, but it will be intriguing to see how the sim looks and feels with something going on there.
There may be one or two closures, just look out for group notices.
As always, please let me know what you think.
Fourth. A new Furillen gift has been left out for visitors, located next to most tip jars – just touch the prim and it will give you three items, the rest should be self-explanatory.
The gift is a beautiful album of Furillen words and pictures that was made – without my knowledge – by Anna, whose flickr stream is here. I am very grateful to her for allowing me to make this available to everyone who wants it.
Please let her know if you like it.
Fifth. I hope to feature some guest blogs here in coming weeks. If you’d like to write something, let me know. Anything Furillen-related or photography-related.
You don’t need to be a fabulous writer, I can edit what you do – and I’ll do the layout here. (Do you imagine I’d allow anyone else to do that …?)
And don’t listen to all that Hemingway shit …
If you say you don’t want to because you ‘don’t like competitions’, think about this. I have made clear that this is a competition with a difference – less about the prize, more about the process; less about competing interests, more about community; less about one person or committee deciding on the ‘best’, more about people deciding together.
Having heard me say all of that, and if you still don’t want to join in … well, perhaps the problem isn’t really competitions at all …
So come on. Remember that great Ghandi line. It may seem cheesy now, and he was talking about somewhat more important things than a Second Life picture contest.
But I need to end somewhere, so I may as well end here.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
By all means prioritise alleviating world poverty, dealing with climate change and ensuring that there are no more wars. But by comparison, submitting a picture to the Furillen competition pool isn’t too big an ask.
Enjoy your day, wherever you are. And see you inworld … you know where.
Had this essay not been written in 1942, one could be forgiven for wondering whether Borges hadn’t simply spent a day or two in Second Life.
Because one could make a similar list of creatures seen at Furillen:
Anyone care to add to this list? Or throw in some pictures of anything you might have seen but haven’t posted?
Here are some I found in Furillen’s flickr stream – which, incidentally, passed 2500 pictures yesterday, while the visit counter for the sim itself went through the 16,000 mark!
I also wondered about starting a new flickr stream on the “Creatures of Furillen” theme – perhaps to run alongside one containing some of the great images we already have of people of Furillen.
Feedback, as always, is welcome.