It was one of the most indescribable experiences of my life, and bear in mind, my beloved readers, I was in Berlin when the wall came down.
Hello my dearest dears! How marvelous, here we all are ready for another exciting adventure on OpenSim , the software platform that hosts hundreds of independent worlds, many of which are connected by an amped up teleportation system called the hypergrid. If you do not understand any of this posts terminology, or want to know how to get onto OpenSim, please read my easy to understand OpenSim posts. And don´t forget my Newbie Glossary at the top of this page!
For those of you who are just joining us, in an attempt to tackle OpenSim´s leviathan OS Grid, I asked, okay, nagged my friend, respected metaverse artist, RL electrical engineer , grandmother of five,and really smart cookie, HYLEE BEKKER , an OS Grid resident who lives on her wonderful freebie region Ptarmigen Park , for a list of her favorite stuff. This is my second post in the series.
And now, just who the hell is Arcadia Asylum? I know how you feel; even after days of research and a long conversation with the lady, I am still wrestling with that one. Firstly she is probably the most well known, and prolific content creator in the entire metaverse. We are talking SL, OpenSim´s open and closed grids… just everywhere. After Linden Lab founder Philip Rosedale, she is one of our most important, and controversial figures. Born about the time Cambodia was still called French Indochina, a real life radical graffiti artist gone digital graphics designer, with a formidable resume in the video gaming industry, Arcadia was a natural for Second Life´s earliest cyber utopian incarnation . Her first avatar was a pretty girl rat in who lived in her wonderful sewer tunnels, her second, and most enduring, was a mischievous Victorian waif, who quickly aligned herself with Second Life´s HOBO CULTURE; which was emerging in a direct response to the increasing capitalization of the virtual world. Often working 12 hours a day she developed her own CUSTOM TEXTURES and PARTICLE SYSTEMS which transformed Second Life from flat, simple, cartoon drawings, to the current dazzling world of color, light and shadow. She took a strongly moral and very public stand against Linden Lab´s overt shift in agenda, famously referring to “festering cesspools of greed and corruption”. She infuriated the growing business community with the free distribution of every single stunning prim she ever made. SL tried to go sleek and vapid, Arcadia´s sumptuously textured slums and barrios possesed a riveting power commercial builders could never hope to emulate. Her creations were everywhere. She became so famous she would receive hundreds of IMs a day. She would mute everyone, bellow to be left alone, then spend hours patiently helping the most novice builder. Her Open Source Urban Blight Project spewed her magical slums across the grid. Refusing to acknowledge virtual gambling and prostitution as anything but grotesque symbols of exploitation and misery, she used her money and stature to force them into segregated adult zones.” This train don´t carry no gamblers, liars, thieves,nor big shot ramblers, this train is bound for glory …” There was one last blow out with the powers that be..it could have been about anything. Then she was gone. From Second Life anyway. For Arcadia Asylum had slung her inventory over her shoulder, and struck out for the OS GRID , still a child and and orphan, this time as pigtailed anarchist PIPPI LONGSTOCKING. In reality, she was bedridden, moving around different medical facilities, trying to prolong her life.
My three mind blowing hours included an elaborate tour. When I had recovered somewhat from the initial shock, I took lots of pictures and notes. I am going to mesh them in with my original piece, which will, I hope give you a reasonably complete picture of the African Slums. Oh, and for once I won´t be talking much about freebies because A) You can copy everything on the sim. EVERYTHING. B) if you were in the Guggenheim, and Frank Lloyd Wright suddenly appeared out of thin air, handed you a chocolate bar, then took you on a personal three hour tour of his masterwork, would you talk about the candy?
Before we get started a couple of things:
1) You can get there by jumping to Wright Plaza or any upper OS Grid address and running a search on African Slums. It loads slowly, and is a bit laggy. My computer liked it if I walked or flew at a leisurly pace,and I couldn´t run too many other programs , like Windows Paint, while I was there. Inworld functions like copying or snapshots, were often slow as well. I will point out very laggy areas in my tour.
2) Set your camera angle much closer to your avatar. That is preferences>input & camera>default camera, then jack down camera view as low as you can stand it. Your camera angle may need to be somewhat higher, so you can still see properly. This will help you not get stuck at odd angles on the surface, and the subway. The sewers are impossible to navigate without doing this.
3) Be careful where you sit! Famously puckish Arcadia has traps set all over the place, which will announce” you´ve been impaled by a prim of Arcadia Asylum” and send you careening home.
4) Arcadia´s builds are meant to be read. Take your time, read the posters, soap boxes, and the beautiful graffiti, which are photographs of her real world guerilla art. She is trying to upload all her work from her hospital bed.
5) Every build on the sim depicts an event, place, something from Arcadias life. Everything on the sim has personal meaning for her.
The train station I am standing in is named for AIMEE CESARE of Martinique, poet, author, Marxist politician; one of the founders of the NEGRITUDE, a literary and ideological movement in the early part of the 20th century which definitively established that the shared experience of the AFRICAN DIASPORA was the best tool for fighting European political and intellectual domination. This school of thought played a huge role in the HARLEM RENAISSANCE . If you wait on the platform, a train will come, and take you to the next station, named for LEOPOLD SEDAR SENGOR , arguably the most important African intellectual of the 20th century; Senegalese poet, cultural theoretician, another negritude founder, who became the first president of Senegal. Needless to say, the subway is wonderful to explore, reading and taking snapshots. Now let´s go back up to the main square,and cross the street to the first building.
4) Arcadia brought me to the warehouse pictured above, and simply said ” My old friend, MONSANTO” .
” Keep it simple.” is one of Arcadia´s famous slogans. By simple, she is referring to prims; where she maintains , less is a helluva lot more. Arcadia has taught a lot of people to build; in her own classrooms, as a volunteer at newbie orientation, and in spontaneous conversation with the many people who have watched her building. She has told them all that a builder should put 10% of their effort into prims, and 90% into textures. “The eye is fooled by textures, not prims.” The busted staircase next to the slogan is a good example- like so many things here it is a flat picture, but the quality is so intense, you have walk up to it to be sure. If you look closely at a lot of the” three dimensional” detail here, to me they look like ORIGAMI FOLDS, with vivid textures laid over them.
She gave me this link to THE OFFICIAL GRAND THEFT AUTO WIKIA and sure enough, there was the diner. She also told me, that, among her many projects, she had led a team of twelve designers on WORLD OF WARCRAFT, worked for JAMES CAMERON, who was not exactly her favorite person, and for PIXAR.
At this point she and I went underground, but for clarity´s sake, I think it would be best to finish my tour of the surface.
This slum´s proximity to the beach and hillside location makes me think this is a representation of the infamous ROCHINHA FAVELA , Rio de Janiero´s massive shanty town- gone- partially- urban slum. But I could be wrong; I am sure there are a depressing number of places that fit this description.
And now it is time to head for the sewers. And a spoiler alert! If you enjoy mazes and puzzles, this next section will tank that for you. If you are like me, with limited patience and a large collection of walkthroughs and cheats, following Arcadia´s tour will be exactly your cup of tea!
To the left is a room with a descending stairwell; take it down to the next room, then go down the curved tunnel until you come to the next junction. Here you can go straight ahead, or to the right. Go straight ahead, down to the double grill doors. Touch the doors to open them.
Now leave the room, and go left at the junction; up, up, up the windy tunnel( by the way, if you haven´t changed your camera view, you are totally screwed.) This will take you to another sewer level. Go right and follow the canal around the curve. Take the second left .
Now let´s go into the tunnel, it will begin to ascend, keep going up, ignoring the junction, until you arrive at the ladder. Fly up the ladder, and click the cover. Then you can fly out.
And now my dears, I am unsure how to end this post, so I´ll do a little question and answer, a form that always seems to unstick me.
Q. There have been alot of “Arcadia” sightings since she left SL. There are people in SL claiming to be her. How do you know this is actually Arcadia Asylum?
A. Well, the people in SL claiming to be Arcadia have been exposed by her old friends there. It is easy to create an avatar and a name, but a personality someone has known for years can´t be faked.There is only one Arcadia Asylum in OpenSim, and her many old friends from the SL days, who also packed up and went to the OS Grid, all confirm that this is in fact, her. I cannot think why so many people, a few of whom I know and respect, would all agree to lie for this person.
Q. Why is she one of those creepy child avatars? Is she into some kinky sex thing?
A. No.There were quite a few”waifs” around the Hobo camps, when Arcadia came on the scene. These people used non sexually mature avatars because they thought people wouldn´t hit on them (ha!)- Arcadia was famous for not wanting anything to do with online sex in any form. They were also into children´s literature, such as Pippi, and the German” BLACK BROTHERS “books, which were about children who were sold into labor as chimney sweeps,formed a band, and managed to escape and return home to Sonogno Village.Remember Sonogno Sim? VICTORIAN LITERATURE is littered with resourceful, rebellious, intelligent street urchins,which seems to have struck a chord in this steampunk oriented subculture.
Q. What didn´t she want you to print? What is she hiding?
A. Nothing. Like a lot of people, Arcadia´s persona has always been a part of her art. Her private details were a tapestry of late 20th century suffering and oppression, but her special rage was for the victimization and exploitation of children. It could all be literally true, but in my mind, if it isn´t, that doesn´t make her a lair, or hiding something. I mean, I don´t think she really has giant orange pigtails either .
Q. I am not interested in the whole trash and urban grunge thing. I have seen a lot of these buildings anyway around SL and OpenSim. Why should I go to the African Slums?
A. I hear you. I would have never gone to the African Slums for exactly the same reasons. I went because it was on Hylee´s list. But after spending time in the slums, even before the great lady made her appearence, I had realized that pigeonholing Arcadia´s work as simply”grunge” or “trash” is like listing FRIDA KAHLO as an important artist´s gimpy little wife.Was EMMA GOLDMAN just some flower obsessed dingbat who kept losing her passport? Was MARY HARRIS JONES simply a dressmaker? Was VIRGINIA just Leonard Woolf´s mentally ill spouse? Seeing one of these buildings alone in God knows what tepid setting, is different than seeing them all together in a setting designed by the artist. It is an extremely powerful experience. It will change the way you percieve the metaverse.
Q. What should I do if I meet her?
A. I had thought of calling this post,” shut up and listen”. Let her talk. Enjoy .You don´t often meet someone who is operating on this level. It is very intense, she can´t help it. Arcadia must be used to being the most intelligent person in the conversation, so don´t worry about sounding stupid. Of course you do. She was really nice, teleporting me around, laughing at my jokes, answering my questions.
Q. So who is Arcadia Asylum?
A. Arcadia Asylum is a visionary. And to my mind, of all the people who were invoved in creating and shaping the metaverse, Arcadia is the only one who seemed to have percieved it as having a soul. She has fought and continues to fight with every last ounce of her strength for that vision .
And now my beloved readers, I have to got to get some sleep!!! Thank you Hylee for sending me to the African Slums, thank you Arcadia, for everything!! And thank you my beloved readers, for joining me on my small adventures! Your company means so much to me! The sweetest of dreams and the brightest of days to you all!! Until next time, Adieu