shoot the shooters


The German cultural theorist, Walter Benjamin, once wrote:

Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.

He believed that an indispensable part of the authenticity and meaning of an artwork was its connection to the location in which it was originally produced.


Even in a virtual space such as Second Life, we can still develop attachments to place and location. I have learned this at Furillen. It is a sim that has come to mean quite a lot to some of the regular visitors.

Coming back

One of the most striking aspects of Furillen is the art produced there. The images – and videos – that have emerged from the sim have been displayed on its flickr stream, and in this blog. It is a remarkable testimony to the creativity and imagination of visitors.


Partly with Benjamin’s thoughts about authenticity in mind, the logical next step is to put some of this art on display at the sim itself. This has already happened with the competition winner, which is on show in the hotel reception.

wilberforce reception pic_002

And now …

… Furillen will host its first exhibition.

Next weekend, 30-31 January 2016, I will be showing series of portraits by a fine Second Life photographer, Moon Edenbaum.

moon exhibit

These striking portraits are of eminent Second Life photographers. They were all taken at Furillen, in the same room, using the same set.

We will be displaying these works in a way that draws them right inside the Furillen setting. I won’t say any more about this; you will just have to come and see for yourself.

This exhibition will be quite special – and not only because it is Furillen’s first. It will be a social event that celebrates Second Life art through portraits of the artists themselves, displayed in the very setting in which they were produced – with as many of those artists present as we can manage.

Moon has been making portraits at Furillen for quite some weeks now, posting them in series of three. For those of you who are not familiar with his flickr stream, here are some examples of his outstanding work.

new years day

humble study

description of a perfect morning 3

We hope you can find the time to witness, and participate in, Furillen’s first art event.


picture of the day: 18/1/16

Furillen contest

“Furillen contest”

by lamouettesurlepont

This picture was the runner up in the first round of the Furillen Photography Competition.

It is an extraordinary image, which clearly moved many of you who voted for it. One person commented that it ‘grabs you by the throat’.

I couldn’t agree more.

For me, the picture captures the theme – solitude – very powerfully indeed. I sense a great deal of emotion in it. It speaks not only of solitude, but of isolation.

The sense of space here, and the mood conveyed through the sky, are stunning.

When I contacted Oyo about the picture, she described the image as a “cry in a huge silence, a way to express the inaudible. I think we are many in this case, perhaps almost all of us”.

This did, I must confess, leave me speechless.

competition review

So our first competition reached its conclusion yesterday. We have a wonderful winner.

Congratulations to Wilberforce Buckshot for producing such an eye-catching picture. I think it really gets to grips with the theme of ‘solitude’.

Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.

I love the discursive title, “Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self”. It is a quotation from May Sarton’s memoir, Journal of a Solitude.

To me, this line draws the viewer right into the competition theme, and I believe that it was this close correspondence between theme and picture that many of you wanted to see in the winner.

But even without this title, there is something hugely evocative in the image of this elegant man, silhouetted against the Furillen sky.

This picture is quite clearly a ‘Furillen picture’.

Minimalist. Powerful in its use of space and light.

And as I am sure everyone will agree, this is not simply an artist to reckon with, but a splendid avatar, too.

I never hold a grudge. As soon as I get even with the SOB, I forget it.

There is an additional, very touching aspect to all of this. When I told Wilberforce the news, I discovered that he is marrying his Second Life partner, Gidgy Buckshot – marrying in real life, I hasten to add – on Tuesday of this week.

I wish them both great happiness.

Wilberforce has produced an incredible run of great pictures from Furillen. As someone commented on one of them, he really seems to bring the place to life.

Here are some examples of his Furillen work:

I stayed in a really oldfashioned hotel last night. They sent me a wake-up letter.

I don't know anything about the hotel business.

It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.

All labour is directed towards producing some effect.

If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever. (Part I)

But I could – and would – say the same thing for so many of the people who entered. And I look forward to doing so …

This contest was, I must say, a close run thing. There were many strong pictures in the pool, and this was reflected in the voting.

Every one of you who voted thought about this hard. You had good reasons for choosing the picture you voted for; reasons that you often stated to me when you voted.

I was struck – and really impressed – by the thoughtfulness, generosity and sincerity of your reasons.

I will be featuring some of the other great pictures from the competition pool in the picture of the day slot this week – starting with the runner up, which I will post later today.

True to competition rules, Wilberforce’s picture will be displayed on the sim for the next two weeks.

And he has nominated our next theme: “cold”

cold a

Many of those who took part in this round said that they didn’t usually like competitions, but this one seemed a bit different.

It wasn’t about the prize, it was about the process – the taking part, the sharing of perspectives on a theme, the fascination of seeing what others came up with.

So thank you, everyone who took part, for proving that it really is possible to have – for want of a better term – a ‘non-competitive competition’.

The next round starts now. Same procedure as before. It ends on Friday 5 February at midday SLT.

Enjoy …


Second Life can be a rather self-absorbed world, as we tinker with our avatars: buying them new outfits, changing shape and skin, giving them new body parts, trying out new ways of standing and walking, and so on.

It’s like playing with dolls.

Doll portrait

We seem to spend a lot of time looking at ourselves. A high proportion of fickr pictures are self-portraits.

And yet there are no working mirrors in Second Life. Those mirrors we have are dead, opaque, staring blankly back at us.

mirror d

If we want bring our mirrors to life, we have to use trickery.

Solitude V, mirror

I started playing around with reflections in the Furillen rooms by accident, when making this picture …

chairs f

It began as an experiment: taking a picture and then uploading it, inserting it into the same frame, and taking another picture. Then I was reminded of the way we can play with mirrors, creating an infinite loop of reflections by holding one mirror behind us and one mirror in front.

mirros wedding

Lots of people do it these days using their phones.

phone reflections

Then, more out curiosity than anything, I started to play around with reflections for whole room scenes.

Furillen - Love of life

Some worked better than others, but it was an interesting way to play around with line and perspective.

Oil and Broken Legs

Then I noticed that visitors were beginning to take an interest in these pictures …

Draped Chairs

… and even to insert their own reflections into them.

So I began to place myself into these pictures more and more, as if I were a trace or shadow.

The absent janitor.

absent janitor a

Some photographers have superimposed themselves into these images to brilliant effect ….


… while others – rather touchingly – placed themselves right next to me.



And so it continues – this ongoing conversation between me and visitors to Furillen.

A dialogue in pictures.

Broken chair room

No longer just playing with dolls, but with mirrors.