Saturday, 24 October 2009

First few days in Tunisia

As we landed the sky was very dark grey, it was raining and fairly windy - we could have been forgiven for suspecting the pilot had turned around half way and landed us back in Gatwick! However first views of Tunisia is that it is lovely. It has trees and so many, many olive groves and grass that it looks quite green.

Sadly we landed in the evening and by the time we had travelled for an hour to the Hammamet it had been dark for a long time.

We got sorted, had dinner and went for a long walk. We walked to the beach and were somewhat surprised to find that we were the only people out and about at all. I would have liked to swim but the sea was far too rough, the tide was going out and the breakers would have made Newquay proud. It looked perfect for surfing but the drag out was strong.

We tried the indoor swimming pool - it was closed... We peered in on a show - then went for a drink - much safer :-)

We had not planned anything for today so decided to visit Hammamet old town and medina. We asked about transport and was told there is a regular bus. Went out to find a bus stop, as we got to the road a kid's train type vehicle approached and stopped for us that was the bus! So we had an hour long road trip seeing all of the local sites on the way to Hammermet old town.

The little Medina in Hammamet, surrounded by 15th century walls, is a maze of narrow lanes. The wares displayed in the souks are all designed to appeal to the tourists. The little shops mainly sell embroidery, pottery, leather goods and carpets.

The visit was slightly spoiled by local traders trying to drag us into their minute shops to buy their goods. I can understand it, it is very late in the season and we are among the few visitors left. The hustling was so bad though we did not spend much time there. We did buy a few bits where we were left to browse, one trader at least was happy to wait for us to go to him,
We were unfortunate enough to get driven into a Government festival of wool – the 2 day event where they sell carpets to the public. This was a real hard sell area – from the parcels wrapped to send all over the world it is clear they did manage to get orders by some means but when we said we were not going to buy it got quite ugly.

We left the Medina and got a taxi to the weekly open art market. This was a much happier place with lots of local people. Clothes seems to be the main merchandise but there were sweets – s type of nutty nougat and what we know as nut brittle. These seem to be a local speciality and people were queuing to buy it. There were also leather goods, I bought sandals.

We caught the train-bus back to the hotel to get a late lunch then went for a swim. The outdoor pool was freezing and the weather was still not good so we went into the indoor pool and sauna for a few hours, Started reading trashy novel:-)

Tunisia is an amalgamation of the ancient and new, it is interesting, especially once you get out of the tourist area. Where currently the tourist areas are pretty deserted as it is so late in the season the villages are very busy with hundreds of people on the streets, in the local shops and cafes etc.

We set off to find the roman remains, the famous Africa House, three Roman Villas and a museum where there are huge numbers of mosaics lifted from the villas for preservation.

We went to visit the Bourguiba Mausoleum which is an amazing memorial to the president.
We also visited the most famous amphitheatre and Colosseum which formed part of the set for the film Gladiator. There are loads of photos up already but not all are labelled.

Today we decided that as the wind had dropped slightly we would walk along the beach to the Yasmin Medina… and back… and swim. We have spent most of the day walking, the sand and beaches are just lovely, the sea is very rough, the people delightful. My time is just about to run out, so not I know the rules I will write before I log in! As soon as you log in once, even if only for ten minutes to check e-mail etc, the whole hour is gone.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Burning Life 2009

The Burning Life event is on now in Second Life.

Burning Life 2009 runs from October 17th until October 24th in Second Life. This is the 7th year for this celebration, though I have only been a part of it for two years. It is my favourite festival and now that it has opened and I have had a chance to look around it there are some amazing builds. These are just a few!

The Mousetrap Game is just so true to life, it is well worth a visit
Toy Box The slinky and bird are lovely :-)
Labyrinth Vision Quest Choose a platform, Heaven, Groud, Hell.... all worth visiting
Strange Creatures Ride on one of these amazing creatures!
Turning Cubes This work shows numerous cubes stacked on top of each other each displaying portraits and constantly rotating. Stand still to see it.

Then there is the mystical temple - it really is at its best in the burning - but I will miss it :-( Will have to watch it on You Tube later!
The Temple

Every year Burning Life Art Department picks 12 art projects out of many wonderful applications for featured presentation - the 12 Big Art plots:

Bryn Oh - Vessel's Dream A new cam build based off of her poem Lilac. For a machinima

Gulliver's travel Gulliver's travel scene.
Ub Yifu and Copan Falta Audio; streaming by Reverend Upshaw

Towards the future is a fully immersive installation created at Burning Life. You have to get to the top of the build then click the fireball and "you are rolling through the future lights of a burning dimension" Solkide Auer - Shellina Winkler

Sekhmet's Serpentunes A temple for the Egyptian Goddess.
Builder/Prim Abuse Artist: Madcow Cosmos Sound/Music Design: Lorin Tone Research/A

Proud Flesh
Avatar-interactive, wind-responsive, evolving audiovisual sculpture - Adam Ramona

The Tower and the Quest
Someone was here and left a story, half finished, broken, unsatisfied, no beginning and no end. Through shapes, figures, poses, avatars, stages the participants are invited to create their own story. Alpha Auer & Frigg Ragu

Among Other Things Join in and help create the art for this space! Graffiti the train! Touch the ground to open a new browser where you can paint images to add to the train. AM Radio

Irregularity a structure - Selavy Oh

The Roof Is Gone The Roof Is Gone is a multimedia installation with an original music by Misprint Thursday and Miso Susanowa. The piece is a combined work including music, sound, video, video art surfaces, video architecture, video HUD, video particles, and a unique art HUD. The piece will engages avatar interaction as well as avatar exploration and discovery. The video will presents as moving paintings of landscapes in dissarray.

144 - Low-fi art made in a simplistic manner out of products one could take with oneself, junk and scrap. I love the skeleton!! Dekka Raymaker and Penumbra Carter

Kicca Igaly & Nessuno Myoo *ArtEvolutionCube*
From a pencil sketch of a work, to realization in 3D ... Are not you curious? Come and see the result of an Artistic Evolution.

Yoa Ogee - Friends are everywhere!
circle of friendship and friendliness!

There are more photographs on Flickr.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Getting ready for Burning Life

This year I managed to get a plot in the land rush – so very thrilled.
I had already done a lot of work on a music build so was able to move onto the land and start preparing very quickly. My build was too big for the plot so I had to cut it down quite a lot.

Once it was set up my colleague, who always adds the above ground stuff added the most amazing and very large wooden Burning Man! I was very pleased with it as far as it went and the scripts etc. worked properly but something was still wrong. Eventually we decided it was the colours and textures so we redid all of that focussing on fire colours. It worked and was vastly improved.

The build consists of spheres, which when touched play music sample. By touching various spheres different music can be made. There are several air-born type of dances in the dance balls that enable the dancers to float about above the music and have a wonderful time :-)

It was lovely to see - as I just popped in to take a photo of the MAN - that people are there and dancing :-)

To visit join Second Life and follow the link:


Autumn from Wordle - it no longer embeds in the blog so I have had to make it an image :-(

We have had the most glorious autumn in the UK. The leaves have been changing colour for a month now and though it is impossible to photograph as it is all around in every direction and you need to experience it I have taken a few pictures. Nothing captures the beauty however! I will leave it to a master to describe it :-)

To Autumn John Keats (1820)

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Sumo Paint

This week I came across Sumo Paint for the first time and could not believe that I had missed it previously; it is a really amazing on-line program!
I see it is a very important web 2.0 tool that anyone anywhere could make good use of, but especially pupils in school :-)

Sumo Paint is a very comprehensive painting program providing all the usual tools, the capacity to work in layers, has loads of different brush stroke, effects, colour managing tools, picture management tools and more.

Only two things in my experiments that were not exactly as I expected were
1. I could not copy and paste an image into the canvas that I was working on. At first I percieved this as a huge problem but I could save an image to my computer and then import it to the working canvas - so - not perfect but most definitely manageable!
2. I wrote in text "Puppy" on the puppy image and wanted to rotate it across the corner. As I hovered over the edge of the text box a rotate symbol appeared. It did not seem to work, once I did manage to move it a little - in the wrong direction - but as I released the rotate tool so the text disappeared. I did not find a way of doing that - but that may well be either my computer or my own ineptness!

I can't get over the quality of this program - I created loads of little test images and saved them all to my computer without even registering but you can register, login and save your work on-line, it is completely free :-)