- Posted January 24, 2011 by
London, United Kingdom
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Stories from Second Life
Museum Showcases Magic & Illusion in SL, Pt. 1
In real life, a perfect Sunday for me involves a visit to one of my local museums.
In Second Life, citizens have a wide selection and variety of museums to choose from, and one pick from the SL editors is The Museum of Amazing Illusions and Magic.
A visit to this museum of magic in SL could mean losing your body to invisibility, having yourself levitated, getting your head cut off, spinning out of control in a violent tornado, or finding out you magically acquired a giant spider's body.
Like I said, it is all part of a perfect Sunday afternoon!
The museum is located in SL at the following address:http://slurl.com/secondlife/Enchantment%20Island/47/120/48
The Impossible Reflection
Second Life is all about doing the impossible, and The Museum of Amazing Illusions and Magic has set out to realize the most impossible tasks you could ever imagine.
Here is one example: People in SL have said that it is impossible to build a reflection in world. So the museum took it upon itself to provide a “Hall of Mirrors” with all the different kind of reflections that would disprove the skeptics.
Just as an aside, standing in the “Hall of Mirrors” is the best place to enjoy the awesome spectacle of the architecture of this museum, which is a replica of a French Victorian exhibition hall that was designed by Second Life flaneur Grey Kurka.
Back to the impossible: Was the museum successful? Is it possible to build a “virtual” reflection in SL?
One experienced builder in SL who is not associated with the museum, Xavier Sockington, took a nuanced view on the possibility of Second Life reflections.
"The only thing that reflects an avatar in Second Life is true water,” he said. “If you wade into the water, this will reflect the image of your avatar. However, avatars must have their graphic settings in their viewer preferences turned on to see this."
Outside of that, and knowing it was impossible to do, Xavier took it upon himself that task to build a reflection nonetheless in true Second Life spirit!
As you look at Xavier Sockington’s photo of his build in "Museum of Magic, Part II" [NOTE: THE LAST PHOTO IN PART TWO OF THIS STORY.], you will see that he has done the impossible and has made a reflection.
Sockington says with a grin that I should look at the reflection closely. After his hint, I suddenly had an "aha" moment.
As you stand in the middle of the Hall and among all of those reflections, see if you can notice why the shiny floor is not a true reflection, but an illusion of one.
If you look closely, you'll notice for yourself.
So going back to the Hall of Mirrors, you will see the most amazing examples there. The builders used several different techniques to create the illusion of reflections.
About those other types of reflections, my lips are sealed. You'll have to do your own investigative work when you visit!
Facing Your Fears
In this SL museum, you can confront some of your worst fears and nightmares from real life.
KittyLilly, who has almost been in Second Life a month, loved the Spider exhibit most of all. This even though she actually became a spider in the exhibit!
In real life, KittyLilly says she is afraid of spiders.
In fact, recently, she had a run in with a black widow spider in real. She was riding on her bike. As she was moving, she looked down and noticed a brownish black widow on her handlebars. Afraid, she immediately jumped off her bike while simultaneously throwing it down to the ground. In the panic, KittyLilly fell to the ground and broke her leg.
For her, it was probably better to break her leg than face the alternative of that icky spider.
What bothers KittyLilly most is spider bites and her fear of the poisons.
Still, the spider in this museum’s exhibit actually was part of KittyLilly, but she had fun at the same time, and it actually ended up being her favorite among all of the exhibits.
She brushed off her lack of fear here by explaining, "It's virtual!"
This is why psychologists are wondering whether Second Life might be a good place to start for people who need to overcome their fears of spiders, heights, small and close spaces of other phobias.
KittyLilly was seen sporting the coolest boots, called Glowy Boots, which left multicolored cat tracks all over the museum’s floors. Like all the other illusions in Second Life, her mess was cleaned up by itself.
No need to fear a mess here!
Who is Hiding Behind the Magic Curtain?
BambiTwice Nitely, who wears the tag above her name entitled "Enchantment Chief," owns the entire sim, or island, which is full of related spectacles, museums and surrealist art. She also credits her friend and co-builder Mirelle Linette for her contributions to many of the museum’s exhibits.
I actually ran into Bambi by accident and by illusion. She was levitated when I saw her, and I thought she was just a “bot,” which is a program that simulates an avatar and is often used for greeters or squatters in Second Life. Then all of a sudden Bambi got up, and I did a double take and recognized her name from the Owner’s listing as the person I needed to talk to.
Bambi is from the United Kingdom in real life, and she says that she is into illusion in both worlds.
She told me she just spent a few days building an upside down art gallery in SL which gets torn up by a tornado!
“Oh, the tornado will thrill anyone who is within 50 meters,” she said.
I actually experienced it for myself and had a true Dorothy moment in what seemed like a Wizard of Oz flashback!
A house was thrown into the air and tumbled. Debris shoots out from the tornado. Sirens wail. A poor little deer gets tossed around. There is lightning, rain and chaos everywhere!
If you survive it, you may be lucky to tell others about it like I am.
I asked her, if she always kills journalists when she’s giving them an interview, and in true Bambi Nitely humor she responded, “Only three a week.”
“Thank goodness, I was the fourth and waited until Sunday,” I answered.
Other great Bambi Nitely illusions can even be seen outside of Second Life in YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=bambinitely&aq=f
In real life, Bambi is a consultant for the movie industry, and she is into illusions there, too.
Although she knows all the tricks of the showperson’s trade, she enjoys each and every trick herself as if she were still a girl.
She included the spider trick in the exhibit because she had fond childhood memories of seeing it at the fair.
To this day, Bambi still revels at the historic expanding dice trick that was done by De Kolta around 1903. It involved a lone die that expanded instantly from 4 inches to 4 feet before an audience only to have De Kolta's wife, who was said to be a plump woman, jump out of the top of the single die to the thrill of the audience. The kind of craftsmanship that went into the construction of that die, she says, does not exist today.
As you begin to talk to BambiTwice, you learn about the past and present of great magic and illusion.
She ticks off a list of all the great magicians around today, like David Blaine or David Copperfield.
Her favorite magician is Simon Drake. Although most Americans are not familiar with his work, audiences from the UK have enjoyed the simplicity but brilliance of his technique.
Everybody can see his work on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pye57C_GHR0
None, however, can compare to the Victorian Age’s masters of magic.
"In the Victorian Age, magic was the Rock n' Roll of the day," said Bambi with a smile.
Her museum pays homage to "The Father of Modern Magic," French magician Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin (1805-1871).
That's not Harry Houdini (a.k.a. Erik Weisz)
In fact, the great American magician and escape artist named himself in honor of Robert-Houdin and added the "-i" to the end of it to make the name sound foreign.
In true Victorian fashion, Robert-Houdin was actually sent on a “diplomatic” trip to scare natives with magic.
He invented the style of performance, some of the principles of magic, and magic tricks that still awe audiences.
For example, the classic fashion of black top hat, suit with cape owes its existence to Robert-Houdin, which is just one of the facts you will learn during the visit.
Robert-Houdin’s influence is all around the museum.
At the entrance of the museum is fortune reader. Not just any fortune reader. Zoltar is a virtual replica of a Fortune Teller Automata that would have been built between 1912 and 1935.
Robert-Houdin made many automata himself.
Zoltar read a fortune for me for the small price of $10 Linden dollars, "A good idea doesn't care who has it, and neither should you."
So true, Zoltar!
The Museum of Amazing Illusions and Magic is one of the classic places and good ideas that you have to visit in Second Life.
It is becoming a true must-see destination like Greenies! used to be for those who are still around who can remember it. At Greenies!, you were a little person in the land of Giants. Honestly, I think, it was the greatest Second Life site ever built!
And what makes Enchantment Island even more special is that The Museum of Amazing Illusions and Magic is only one of several spectacles.
Second Life Spectacle
It is strange how technologies like radio could inspire some of the great ventriloquism of the day like Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy (guess which one was the dummy!). A radio listener back then couldn’t even see if Bergen’s lips were moving.
Now a technology like Second Life is inspiring some of the Greatest Magic and Illusions of our Time. A Second Life visitor will never see the artifice of the illusion.
Both are pure Spectacle! And that is why they are so successful.
See "Museum of Magic, Photo Essay, Part II." Additional photos available in Part II at http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-544143
[Editorial: By the way, don’t forget to leave a small $100 Linden dollar donation or buy some “Excellent Crap” for more enjoyment after your visit while you are at the The Museum of Amazing Illusions and Magic.
Or we might just lose Enchantment Island like we lost Greenies! Sims like this in Second Life typically cost owners $300 US dollars a month for rent. Greenies! was lost because it couldn’t make tier cost.]