Furillen in the rain

https://flic.kr/p/DLZjvC

As a glance through its Wiki page will testify, March 1st is not an especially significant day of the year. But to me it always feels as though we turn a corner at this moment – decisively away from Winter and towards the Spring.

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Given that Spring came a little earlier to Furillen this year, I thought it might be nice to celebrate my own small ‘first day of Spring’ moment with a gift from a Londoner to everyone who visits the sim.

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I made it rain.

Shit weather @ Furillen

This isn’t – it must be said – your typical London rain. Believe it or not, on average London actually has less rain annually – 29 inches – than, say, Zurich (42.5 inches), Amsterdam (31 inches) or even Milan (39 inches).

What London gets is drizzle, which can go on for days, adding little to the annual rainfall figures but making a mess of your clothes and hair.

dr who hair

(Well not quite like this, but he was the best Dr Who and I just had to share this gif.)

The playwright Peter Shaffer once said that if New York was an oil painting, London was a watercolour. I see what he means about the water …

big ben rain

At Furillen we have honest rain. Or to put this another way …

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… it is absolutely pissing down.

Dancing in the Rain

So being what they are, Furillenites have celebrated in the only way they know how … by taking some great rainy pictures …

Little hearts

Dancing in the Rain

Rain in Furillen

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… and by holding a special ‘flash(flood?)mob’, and taking some terrific pictures of that, too …

Les Parapluies de Furillen

Flashmob again

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Rainy flashmob @ Furillen

Colorful rain at Furillen

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Florilège de Parapluies @ Furillen

Just to be clear, the rain won’t be a permanent feature of the sim. The sun will return just as suddenly as the rain appeared.

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But bear with me over the next few days as I make this rain work as well as I can – reducing the lag, sorting out the soundscape (we have some very soothing rain sounds and some great thunder echoing around).

thunder gif

I also want to pack everything away into a rezzer so that – as in first life – the Furillen weather can change in an instant.

One or two of you have asked why didn’t I use a weather system. I actually tested everything. On the basis of those tests, the rain I am using is – I think – as good as it gets for the effect I was looking for.

So if you haven’t seen it yet, do visit soon.

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There is even a free umbrella.

keeping it real

There are a few days left before the deadline – Friday 4 March at midday SLT – in this competition round. To remind you, the idea was to put together an album about Furillen. This could contain just a few pictures, or you could use additional media such as video.

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The brief was to convey what Furillen represents to you: from a place to sit around and think during your quieter moments on the grid, through somewhere in Second Life you feel is a ‘home’ spot, to … whatever you might think about the place. This could also include reference to the real Furillen – but of course, this isn’t compulsory!

furillen real

The reason for asking you for an album was simple. Many people were submitting several pictures in previous competition rounds and finding it difficult to choose. So this is a logical extension of being able to submit several pictures. Just put them into an album on your flickr stream and give them a title – that’s all you have to do.

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I won’t organize a vote this time around because the entries are likely to be quite uneven. Instead, I’ll ask one or two people who are separate from the Furillen crowd to cast an eye and give their view, and come up with a ‘winner’.

breaking bad i won

But what I hope for every time we have a competition – and this time is no different – is that the taking part matters more than the outcome. You all love taking pictures, after all …

taking pictires gif

All of which got me thinking about what I would do for a competition like this. What does Furillen ‘represent’ to me? Well, this has changed over the few short months of the sim’s existence. What started out simply as a challenge to ‘make’ a sim that – in material terms – looked a bit like the real Furillen and was inspired by articles like this, mutated into a more committed attempt to create a sim with a social, artistic and creative life of its own.

Furillen Band

The flickr group, the music stream, the competition, the events, this blog … all are designed to support that project. I enjoy it all – from the people I have met at the sim, to the things I have learned while preparing for events or making things happen, to the occasional – usually completely silly – jealousies and controversies that come up there.

drama queen

But in the end, life itself – ‘real’ life – is far bigger and more important to all of us. We can shrug our shoulders and smile indifferently at the grid’s stupidities – its pettiness, its jumped-up little artistic revolutionaries and faux celebrities …

anchorman3

… because life itself provides a far greater context than anything the grid might throw in our direction.

By far the most interesting conversations I have had with people who visit the sim take place against this much bigger backdrop.

This, in a nutshell, is what Furillen means to me.

And yes, of course … I know you didn’t read any of this …

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Furillen cartoon strip

I met Jinx Shipman a few days ago and commented on the great cartoon strips in his Flickr stream. I suggested that he might put a strip together at Furillen.

He did. It’s here. And it’s brilliant.

Someone has to do it...

As you can see, Furillen’s chairs – and your friendly neighbourhood janitor – survived the mindless attack from this little hooligan.

Thanks to Jinx – and I hope he does some more.

the janitor

The Janitor

A janitor is usually defined as ‘a caretaker or doorkeeper of a building’. In the UK we call them caretakers. Every school used to have one (these days they are ‘site managers’); they lived in grotty houses just inside the school gates, and kept equally grotty dogs or cats. They were marginal figures, hovering on the boundary between the school and the outside world.

In the Harry Potter series, for example, this figure is Argus Filch, with his cat, Mrs Norris. He is quite an unsavoury character. The name says it all: ‘to filch’ is to pilfer or steal something, usually in a casual way.

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Filch is not an outsider, but rather a figure who sits awkwardly between the two worlds – a squib, born into a wizarding family but possessing no magical powers.

I called myself the janitor at Furillen as a joke. I am just the guy who looks after the place, cleans up after visitors, fixes things. The designation suited my favourite outfit, the overalls.

The Old Man And The Sea

Over time, the name has stuck.

The janitor isn’t an artist – nor a curator. It is a role that is difficult to define, but interestingly, it does come up in installations within galleries, as in Palmer C Hayden’s ‘protest painting’ from the 1930s, The Janitor Who Paints 

janitor who paints

… as well as in cartoons about galleries …

'We better first check to see if that is trash or a piece of art.'
‘We better first check to see if that is trash or a piece of art.’
The janitor also appears as the innocent figure who cleans up a ‘mess’ that turns out to have been ‘art’

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… or who removes a ‘stain’ that was integral to an art installation

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In much the same vein, I quite like this cartoon, where the janitor is being told that what looks like trash is an artwork called ‘shunned by society’ …

Induction day at the modern art gallery was proving to be heavy going for Sam. . .
Induction day at the modern art gallery was proving to be heavy going for Sam. . .
… or this attempt by John Cake and Darren Neave to ridicule Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde-preserved tiger shark, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living – with a lego janitor, scowling and cynical …

janitor 3

In such images the janitor is portrayed as the wise fool, a guy with common sense and unwitting insight. Lacking the education or ‘class’ of the artists or visitors, the janitor plays a role similar to the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Emperor’s New Clothes – pointing at this ridiculous figure and puncturing the pomposity of everyone around him by stating the bleeding obvious and calling out ‘he isn’t wearing any clothes!’.

emperors-new-clothes

This is not, I hasten to add, how I see my own role at all. I like and enjoy a diverse range of art – and far from pointing out the pretentiousnesses of others, I can be rather pretentious myself.

But it’s interesting that art ‘needs’ such a figure, policing the margin between the ridiculous and the sublime.

And that – quite by accident – we created one at Furillen.

R DI HE D @ F RI L N

As I’ve said before, although Furillen stands in many ways for solitude with its emptiness and austere mood, it is a sim that lives and thrives on the strength of the conviviality one finds there. The sim is a virtual community of artists as much – if not more – than it is a landscape.

Furillen people

This is expressed in the art that gets made there: in the way that creative ideas are realised and expressed, shared and displayed. With our previous events – the Moon Edenbaum exhibition of portraits and the Bowie weekend – these qualities have been merged to create occasions that have been genuinely immersive and involving, and really quite memorable for those who took part in them.

In more spontaneous forms, too, Furillen is finding its own particular ways of expressing itself as a social space. The flashmob events are a great example of this process – and we had another last night. The line-up reached a peak of avatars on the sim within minutes of being announced, and while people came and went as first life commitments called on their time, a large gathering of Furillenites remained in place for several hours during the evening, plotting and planning future events and collaboration.

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This was, for me, Furillen at its very best, as expressed in these extraordinarily fine pictures by Nhera Larnia (above) and Laura …

Flash mmmmmmob

Of the future events we talked about during the evening, perhaps the most exciting will be the Radiohead weekend.

radiohead & furillen

2016 will be a big year for the band. Having been on hiatus for a number of years, they dropped their ‘rejected’ Bond movie theme song – Spectre – onto an unsuspecting public on Christmas day. The song, which I love, has been on the sim’s music stream ever since that time, as are a number of other Radiohead tracks.

Here is Spectre as we might have heard and seen it in the movie theatre, were it not for the exceptionally poor musical taste of the film’s producers…

https://vimeo.com/150012825

One of my personal all-time favourite songs by Radiohead is Exit Music (For a Film), which is beautifully conveyed in this ethereal movie …

A new Radiohead album – likely to be released without warning – is due out any moment now. A summer tour is also being planned, with festival dates already being announced regularly on the band’s website.

Here is the image the band is using to publicise the tour – and possibly the artwork that will be used on the album itself – mocked up as Furillen’s welcome mat. Please note – geek alert! – that the font I have used  here (BD Plakatba) is from the Kid A album …

radiohead 2016 furillen2

As a few minutes on Google will testify, Radiohead’s music lends itself very well to all kinds of original artistic expression, and this is what we would like to tap into and celebrate at Furillen.

We are therefore inviting producers of machinima and pictures – as well those who work in other media – to join us in exploring any aspect of this band’s music that inspires them. Our suggestion – but it really is only a suggestion – is to focus on a particular song and produce a work that conveys it or responds to it in some way.

We have been approaching people individually to invite them to contribute, but if you read this and feel excited by the project, please get in touch, I am very open to ideas.

As ever, I am pulling this together with help from others. In this instance, Mareea Farassco is lending a hand, so please also speak to her if you want to take part.

Let’s fix a date in mid-March for this.

RADIOHEAD AT FURILLEN POSTER 3

Not everyone likes Radiohead’s music, of course – and not every band or music genre demands or justifies a full weekend of attention. In this spirit, I wonder about holding some smaller, shorter – evening-long – musical events in which we can face the music and dance.

So here’s a question for you. For a shorter music event at Furillen, involving striking costumes and music from Sweden that you can sing along at home to, does anyone fancy some of this?

Let me know, and I’ll ensure that it happens very soon.

 

live like it’s Spring

Spring has arrived at Furillen – and the response has been good. Sometimes there is no need to ask for your feedback, I simply see it in your pictures.

New light, new life. Furillen.

Laura Feeling It @ Furillen

Spring Air @ Furillen

The ‘Spring coating’ of the sim has been low key.

The Spring Is Coming @Furillen

The windlight was changed …

Renewal

… trees have been greened …

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and three Spring pairings have been introduced:

of huskies…

Early spring mood

… magpies …

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… and swans …

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This new life at Furillen – alongside the woodpecker you’ll find in the treeline – brings with it a new soundscape.

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The monochrome feel remains key, as does the sim’s overall minimalist design.

Shy'Sun'Spring @Furillen

But while the snow has gone, there are no guarantees that the sun will always shine. A Furillen mist is an ever-present possibility, as is rain. Only time will tell …

 

memory of a free festival

david bowie weekend by pup

Mareea Bowie @ Furillen

The Children of the summer’s end
Gathered in the dampened grass
We played Our songs and felt the London sky
Resting on our hands
It was God’s land
It was ragged and naive
It was Heaven

https://flic.kr/p/E6H6Yo

Stardust!

Touch, We touched the very soul
Of holding each and every life
We claimed the very source of joy ran through
It didn’t, but it seemed that way
I kissed a lot of people that day

been chased by his huge blocks..

Spirit of Bowie @ Furillen

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Oh, to capture just one drop of all the ecstasy that swept that afternoon
To paint that love
upon a white balloon
And fly it from
the topest top of all the tops
That man has pushed beyond his brain
Satori must be something
just the same

One, two, three...

Homage to David Bowie in Furillen_003

We scanned the skies with rainbow eyes and saw machines of every shape and size
We talked with tall Venusians passing through
And Peter tried to climb aboard but the Captain shook his head
And away they soared
Climbing through
the ivory vibrant cloud
Someone passed some bliss among the crowd
And We walked back to the road, unchained

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“The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We’re Gonna Have a Party
The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We’re Gonna Have a Party
The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We’re Gonna Have a Party
The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We’re Gonna Have a Party
The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We’re Gonna Have a Party.”

The Free Spirit of Furillen – 13-14 February 2016