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SLEA Sets the Stage with New Performing Arts Center

The new year arrives like a blank canvas with all the promise of the months ahead. The celebratory décor, fireworks, confetti, particles, party dresses, and bow ties have now disappeared back into the black hole of our inventory folders. The next trip around the sun is underway for our shared virtual world and the Second Life Endowment for the Arts (SLEA) rode the tide of this new beginning. The regions opened to the public at midnight January 1st, passing the baton from 2020 planning to 2021 action and the upcoming Grande Opening Event and First Annual 24-hour International Celebration of The Arts later this month.

For many, this was the first opportunity to experience this new art community vision. With multiple regions and exhibits already in place and more in-progress, even now, there is not enough time to see and experience everything in that one visit. But landing at region 7 of SLEA, none could miss the 78-meter monolithic stone figure, depicting the torso of a curious youth.  It rises high upon the horizon and harkens out to all lovers of art in Second Life, and marks the location of the SLEA’s heartbeat—the Performing Arts Center (PAC).

Second Life Endowment for the Arts Performing Arts Center (photo by Shiny Journo)
Second Life Endowment for the Arts Performing Arts Center (photo by Shiny Journo)

The torso’s scale and stone textures imbue the youth’s body with the vitality of a child God. The dreadlock like hoodoo eruption from their head adds even more energy, suggesting that the being is either crowned royalty or a mad-hatted jester–maybe both. Their gaze focuses keenly on its hands. A glowing pearl hovers like a firefly between the palms and open fingers, which delicately enshroud the star, perhaps capturing the moment of inspiration and the focus of ideation. Following the gaze downward, the torso seamlessly flows like metamorphic rock, cascading outward to form the stages, aisles, and seating of the Performing Arts Center.

Details of sculptural elements of the SLEA PAC (photo by Shiny Journo)
Details of youth sculptural element at the SLEA PAC (photo by Shiny Journo)

Some might recognize the build’s youthful enthusiasm if they are familiar with its creator, Loki Elliot. Loki is a prolific builder and creator of experiences in virtual worlds and champions the opportunity to conjure the child’s liberated imagination. Asked what the monolithic child represented in the build’s concept, he says, “The child represents everyone whose mind is open to the spark of ideas. Children are synonymous with boundless imagination, unrestricted by the knowledge of (the) how’s and why’s things have to be in reality. In some ways, in virtual worlds, we are unrestricted from the real-world rules and allowed to imagine like a child. This theme I have explored many times in the past, and one reason I take the form of a child in Virtual Reality.”

The PAC is the main gathering area and became a high priority in the early planning stages of SLEA. The basic idea was to create a large enough space to showcase the tremendous variety of arts in Second Life that was “casual and welcoming” to all visitors. SLEA Coordinator, Tansee explained that the only requests were for “open-air, with a sunset view, surrounded by water.” Beyond this, the concept was open and provided the perfect setting for Loki Elliot to “provide the magic,” she said.

When the SLEA set out to find a designer that would be just the right fit for the PAC, it was a challenging search. There are many talented builders in SL. Loki’s reputation as a builder and his technical understanding of SL tools made him a top-tier candidate. Loki is a self-described “digital mischief maker.” Supposing one has enjoyed his weekly DJ sets at the Vortex Club, a zany Goonie adventure at his Escapades Island sim, or his Bear Tribe Experience at last year’s Fantasy Faire, the title of mischief-maker is clear.  After offering these few criteria and a landmark, collaborating with Loki was “effortless,” SLEA coordinators said, and he captured the “wow factor.” 

Loki described the process after SLEA reached out with the commission, saying, “I started from nothing. I had a few ideas in my head, which I sketched down. I had a list of what was needed for the build and where it was to be placed. I also had to consider what was already there and designed it to feel like it was part of what SLEA already had in place. It took a week to build the initial construct, then a few extra days to add final functionality to the stage.”

Preliminary Sketches for PAC design provided by Loki Eliot
Preliminary Sketches for PAC design provided by Loki Eliot

Loki met the goal to provide a theater for a seated audience. Early in the planning, all discussed Shakespearean theater-like qualities for the PAC.  Loki ultimately traveled both farther back in architectural lineage, to a more ancient past, and ahead to a magical future. The build echos Greek architects’ amphitheaters. Simultaneously, it is charged with innovative cyber tech magic and the clay of a pixelated multiverse. The architects of ancient Greece liked to site builds offering intimate, interactive views of the actors backdropped by an inspiring expanse of sky, land, or sea. One of the earliest examples is the magnificent amphitheater at Delphi embedded within Mt. Parnassus, built in the 4th century BCE so long ago. The Performing Art Center will give its audiences a sense of this open-air and illumination.

The main stage is amphitheater-style and accommodates nearly 100 humanoid citizens.  There are two smaller, “in-the-round” independent seating areas that function as audience overflow or more intimate gathering spaces. 

Performing Arts Center stages and seating  (photo by Shiny Journo)
Performing Arts Center stages and seating (photo by Shiny Journo)

Loki explains, “It’s a functional space for hosting events with a stage that can be adjusted or removed to accommodate whatever is wished to be presented there. It also has two small areas to sit and think, discuss, or philosophize.”

Modernity knows much of Ancient Greek Amphitheaters as revealed by archeology and excavated ruins, as well as details discovered upon unearthed Greek ceramics and their glazed images. The stage might have been 1 meter above the ground with steps at the front. Players acted on the stage, entering from the left and right or a single central doorway. The structure and entrances often resembled a temple or citadel. The Performing Arts Center is temple-like and adorned with painted, glazed, or maybe laser-carved symbols upon its walls and pathways. 

Decorative Symbols and Handprints on the walls of the Performing Arts Center (photo by Shiny Journo)

Loki says, “The symbols are from cultures worldwide that represent creativity, imagination or dreaming because Second Life is a collaboration from cultures all across the planet creating a community with no borders.” 

Among the runes and symbols, visitors will also notice five-fingered hand-smudges about the walls. Loki says, “The handprints are a call back to those first moments humans started to express themselves in art via cave paintings, and here we are now expressing ourselves in a collaborative digital community.”

The Performing Arts Center is available to all citizens involved in the Second Life art community. It provides the opportunity for smaller venues, groups, and individuals from across the grid who may need a larger facility for their event or gathering.

Loki says, “It is good to have space for people to be allowed to create and express art from all backgrounds, and for that art to be promoted grid-wide allows voices and visions of our culturally rich world to be seen by and inspire a wider audience. I think the eclectic mishmash or realities expressed in Second Life should always be supported, and I hope SLEA will continue and grow this.”

LM Teleport to Second Life Endowment for the Arts Main Landing

LM to SLEA Performing Arts Center

SLEA Events & Happenings Calendar

Loki’s Blog

Loki’s store in the Second Life Marketplace

Shiny Journo’s Twitter

Second Life Endowment for the Arts is currently seeking an enthusiastic person or team to be the dedicated SLEA PAC Event Planning Team. This person or group would be responsible for scheduling and organizing events.  To express interest in this opportunity, contact the SLEA Coordinator, Tansee. Join the SLEA Group inworld and stay tuned to the blog and social media for upcoming events at the Performing Arts Center.


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