It’s Duran Duran’s Universe (and we are all just visitors)

How do you describe the Duran Duran Universe?

Take Jane Fonda from Barbarella, sprinkle in some Blade Runner, let Andy Warhol blend it all together (for 15 minutes only), give it a good run through the transporter of the Starship Enterprise and set the entire thing to a thumping soundtrack for THE pop band of the 80’s, and you have a pretty good start.

Officially opened in 2011, The Duran Duran Universe (DDU) is, according to the band’s website, the permanent virtual residence of and by the band Duran Duran. If you have not yet not been to the DDU sims, you owe it to yourself to run, not walk, and give it a visit. Although the bands music and imagery are certainly evident throughout the area, the sim is much more than just an all out tribute to a musical group. Using some really interesting visual and sound arrangements, The DDU is a virtual feast for both the ears and the eyes.

A  lipstick shaped tower-nightclub  reaching into the sky, a giant retro phonograph club, geometric light displays, plus a mountain range of snow capped eyeballs staring back at me all combined to make my avi felt like it was on acid (again) as I explored the location. My favorite spots were a tunnel of light that made me long for my Spirograph from chidhood, plus a…well, it is sort of like a…a…it is an awesome  musical light and sound thingy! (Work with me here!)  Imagine sitting in a chair and you are surrounded by circling boxes each identifying a track of a song. Touch a circling box marked “bass” and a bass line begins. Touch the box marked “vocal” and Simon Lebon is singing to the bassline. Keep adding and subtracting from over a dozen choices and you are creating your own mix of a Duran song.

A few  real word musical groups have tried to establish a presence in Second Life, with mixed results. WIth the DDU, Duran Duran is doing it better than most and seems to take a keen interest in the virtual world. Duringa recent show for the 2012 Olympics, the band used footage from SL in the background during their live performance.

Chrissy Welinder

Chrissy Welinder is the DDU Community Manager and in world face of the DDU. An admitted fan of the band, she keeps everything running in world. I really love how she has taken what could have simply been a typical “Isn’t Duran Duran Awesome” self indulgent promotional space, and made it into a real piece of performance art that any 80’s supergroup would be proud of.

Visit the DDU in Second Life

 

What does where we are going in Second Life say about us?

So there I was, slumming and looking about online when I stumbled upon a list of the top 25 most visited sims in Second Life. I learned that these monthly figures are often posted by the folks over at New World Notes. (A great read if you really want to know what’s going on behind the scenes in Second Life.) This list was interesting and, for me, a bit depressing:Image

Never one to miss the obvious,  my first thought as a I looked through the list of sims was, “Wow! Is everyone really THAT horny?” I mean, let’s look at the very top, right below our number one destination of London City. In second place, and by second place I mean the SECOND MOST VISITED SIM IN ALL OF THE WHOLE FRIGGIN’ GRID, we have “Sexy Nude Beach“. Now, color me a skeptic, but the name itself sort of makes you wonder about the creativity you will find on this sim.

“Hey, this is a really sexy nude beach. What are we going to call it?”

“How about Sexy Nude Beach?”

“Works for me!”

Don’t laugh. Why do you think THEY are number two and the folks down at plain old Nude Beach are number 22? It does manage to get way more descriptive as you journey down from the top of the list. Bukkake Bliss Island anyone? …anyone? The list goes on with Escort Oasis, Chained Desires and Bondage Ranch, with the forementiond Nude Beach bringing up the rear. With places like Sexy Nude Beach and Bondage Ranch doing so well, I am a bit shocked that Escort Oasis can stay in business. Like mom always said, why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free? (If only I knew back then that she was not encouraging me to be a dairy farmer.)

What really makes me sad is what you will NOT find on the list. Instead of naming my favorite sims, let me ask you to think of three or four of yours. Think of those places that you visited that just totally blew you away with what they where able to achieve. Those places that show what you are truly capable of producing in Second Life. Now, how many of the places that you thought of are on this list?

Is everyone really just coming here to get laid? I mean,are we all taking the time to log in, create an avitar, learn how to move and work a viewer, then listen to somone bitch that you are using the wrong viewer and ultimately learning that the two most important letters in SL are “A” and “O”  …all done just to get our rocks off?

Now, don’t call me prude. Karma loves a good romp on a well made set of poseballs as much as anyone. There is a reason the folks down at Xcite customer service know me on a first name basis! On the other hand, Second Life is about so much more than what this list shows.

As much as they hate us, and they clearly do, the folks at Linden Labs have basically given us a world that is a blank slate and have provided us with a set of tools …and left the rest up to us. A lot of folks have taken that challenge and put their hearts and minds into creating some truly amazing places. Inside those spectacular worlds we can meet people, fly a spaceship through the stars, pilot a sailboat at sunset, dance on a floating palace in a purple sky, be harassed by vampires. It makes me sad to think about what people are missing out on. Then again, to each his own. If somone is going to find their true bliss at Bukaki Bliss, who am I to deny them that joy? I just think they might be missing out on the real bliss that lies in the sims that, sadly, you will not find on this list. Clearly the method with which we promote the various destination to the best that Second Life has to offer is broken.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am heading down to Really Sexy Nude Beach for a swim.

Meet me at the Festival of Sin

Greed, Sloth, Lust…..Oh My.

If you have been missing me lately, I have been hanging out in the bad side of town at the “Festival of Sin“, a great new merchant event spearheaded by RubyStarlight Writer. The event features some great items from dozens and  dozens of Second Life’s best creators. It is a themed event, based on the 7 deadly sins. Come on kids, recite them with me: greed, lust, envy, sloth, vanity, gluttony and lust …I mean wrath. 

You’ll find just about everything there at the fistival. I personally loved the large selection of original poses created for the event but you’ll find  unique clothing, shoes, skins, etc. The entire theme is very interactive with regions for each “sin”. This is not for the faint of heart and you may want to stay out of the bathroom in the “lust” section. Then again, you might be one to hang out in there for a bit. We are not here to judge and …if you find a set of keys, those are mine damnit!.

The event planners are asking for minimal scripts in order to decrease lag. For me it was worth it to enjoy the immersive aspects of the event surroundings. You’ll want to hurry to check this out, because the event is underway now and ends March 3!

http://festivalofsin.wordpress.com/

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Diablo/138/119/72

Musical group ChouChou’s immersive sim returns to SL

With so many wonderful sims in Second Life falling to the wayside, it was great to see the return of the stunning region created by the group ChouChou. After being gone for a while, the group recently announced the return of the region, along with a new album!

Chouchou

Chouchou

Chouchou is a Japanese musical duo formed in SL that creates electronic ambient music and has also created some visually stunning regions in SL as a unique way to promote and present their music to the rest of us. The three regions are simple and contemplative, much like the groups music. To put it simple, they have figured out how to do more with less. Yet each region makes a huge impact as you explore all the group has created.

To get the full effect of the regions, you want to make sure you have some basic viewer settings in place before you go. Make sure you have your viewer set to play a land’s music and media and you need the latest Quicktime on your computer. You also want to be sure and have your sky set to “Use Region Settings”.  With these settings, the unique sky settings move from day to night (every four hours), bells chime on the hour and the waters around you glow in a variety of colors. If you really want to have some fun, pick up the free “Chouchou Cinematic HUD” and get a real cinematic experience  as you take in the music.

The first and main region, aptly named ChouChou, is a pale barren landscape. The horizon line between land and sky is almost non-existent.  As I walked along  the region the water around me slowly changed colors form yellows and blues, to pinks and lavenders. As I watched others, i noticed we were all just sort of standing still, in our own little spaces, taking it all in.

Climb a slender tower and you will find the second region, Islamey or “The Garden in The Sky”. It is a beautiful garden like setting that also serves as the groups live performance area. As I walked around and listened to the music, I was amazed at how the group had done so much with so little. I probably have skyboxes in my inventory that use more prims than these entire regions!

Memento Mori

Memento Mori

The last region, Memento Mori, is my favorite of the three! It is a giant cathedral in the clouds that is breathtaking in its dimensions. To enjoy its full impact, set your view distance to 512m. I have made a point to experience this place  at both night and day and both are equally stunning.

ChouChou has recorded their music and it is available on Itunes. It would be easy enough I think for the group to just plop in world and stream their music in a club or other static setting. Instead they have used all the tools that SL has at an artists disposal to create a visual experience that intertwines with their music

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Chouchou/180/163/21

Chouchou’s webite:

http://chouchouholic.blogspot.com/

Carnivale D’Lunatique @ New Babbage

When an event promises “Freaks, SIdeshows, Mayhem and Madness”, my only response is “where and when?”

Ringmaster Gadget Starsider

Such is the case with the New Babbage Carnivale D’Lunatique currently underway through the weekend in Second Life. This is the second year for the event and it has grown significantly. If you are an admirer of steampunk, this is a definite addition to your “to do” list this weekend. Personally, I love steampunk AND I love a good freak show …so it is a win-win for Karma. Steampunk attire is not a requirement, but New Babbage is a fantastic steampunk sim and it always fun to dress the part. It enhances the experience for you, as well as those around you.

The carnival features an open midway full of carnival games, spontaneous performances and rides. You may also come across a bearded lady or other oddities making there way throughout the location. Obviously, I will be hanging out near the tent that advertises “beer & ale”. The main events are held on the carnival’s main stage on Saturday, Feb 11, at 6 pm SLT, and on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 2 PM. (SLT) In a clever move, the main events will place the audience on 3 sims and the stage on a 4th to keep lag to a minumum.

So, if you are like me and you love a good freak show, stop by the  Carnivale D’Lunatique.

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Wheatstone%20Waterways/217/198/106

Not Everything Is Plain … (even in your Second Life.)

I love when artists take on the basic environment in Second Life and convert it into something beautiful or thought provoking. Despite the increase in costs to do so, artists have a history of grabbing hold of the flat, bland look of SL and twisting it, massaging it and painting it into something truly unique.

One of the latest to do so is artist Fuschia Nightfire who has created a wonderful sim environment entitled “Not Everything Is Plain Black & White”. Nightfire has created an immersive, interactive environment using very simple shades of black and white. The main path takes you through elaborate, dazzling halls into to wide open vistas.I love when you can stray form a main path and still find  some unique settings, and this environment that  Nightfire has made has plenty to see. My favorite part of the visit was coming across beautiful “transparent” Zebras. I am always amazed how a certain environment in SL, when done well, can provoke a feeling to me in RL.  There are those moments when a place can actually make me “feel” cold or warm, or provoke optimism  or melancholy. I would say Nightfire’s creation has moments of all the above.

At the entrance area, Nightfire has taken the time to provide some wonderful free gifts that go along with the theme of her display, including skins, eye shades and a few clever outfits for both men and women. The Exhibition runs from 20th January until 20th February 2012.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/MetaLES/56/62/30