Late at night, after struggling with my first serious build effort, I took a walk along the coastline of the Sonogno Sim toward the power station. I came upon a small quiet avatar sitting by an enormous unfinished tube covered in grid marks. The avatar was dressed in a muted grey sweater, stripped muffler, and had small pointy ears poking through a stocking cap. She was dressed in a careworn, but beautifully detailed way, in hand made woolens, and her face displayed a kind of kindness and child like openness I had never seen in my short life in SL. Her hair was black and she wore “Harry Potter” style black glasses and to my surprise she had a tail. Something about this avatar was different, for her appearance did not scream sex, or surface glamour, or even the flash of most avatars. Instead there was a quiet confidence, innovative originality, and a welcomed freshness I had not seen before or since. Above her head was the name bubble that read “Arcadia Asylum.”

Thus began a collaboration, in which I was allowed to study and assist Arcadia Asylum and Dagmon Zhukovsky, in building Slum City. Alas, Slum City is now gone, and its passing has been documented and discussed by many in this and other forums about Second Life. I leave the positive and negative attributes of Slum City to others, for in my mind I can no longer dispassionately, or logically, or accurately remember Slum City. It has become like Camelot, and I no longer consider my remembrances to be accurate or reliable about this wonderful creation.

However my recollections about Arcadia Asylum remain as crisp as a fall morning, and as sharp as her wit, as stinging as her temper, and as warm as her smile, kindness, and patience in training a novice builder who never deserved a teacher of her stature and accomplishment.

Arcadia sat next to a giant tube, which later I discovered was an early section of the sewer system of Slum City. The grid covering the surface of the tube gave the object an odd appearance and as a new builder I had no idea of the critical function of the grid as a texture alignment mechanism. Arcadia had been texturing and was taking a break and thus was open to a conversation with a “noob.” And what a “noob” I was.

I asked what she was building, and she replied in text, through the most amazing and detailed image of a phantom typewriter, that she was “texturing” a section of sewer to be placed under the power station. I proceeded to display my ignorance of texturing and all things “build”, and she laughed. Arcadia then carefully explained why texturing was important and how much effort and care were required to create interesting, detailed, and amazing objects in the virtual world. We spoke at some length and the essence of her advice to me was that in creating objects of wonder and worth in SL, one had to put 10% of the effort into primitives or “prims” and 90% of the effort into textures. “The eye is fooled by textures, not by prims,” she said.

I offered friendship and she declined. I felt hurt at first, but later I was to learn that was her way, and that if she accepted all the friendships she was offered she would never be able to build. Arcadia was a most amazing mix of private person and public figure. However I did discover how to find her in SL without the need for friendship. She was a compulsive builder and artist, and she must have spent 10 to 16 hours a day building and assisting others in mastering the arts and crafts of virtual life. When building she would be in Sonogno Sim working on the city, when socializing and assisting others she could be found at the New Citizens Incorporated (NCI) Sim where she was a mentor and teacher to legions of newbie’s or “noobs”. Understanding these two modes in which she worked made communicating with her possible. In the Slum City build, I would remain silent and watch her build and when she was ready to talk she would initiate a conversation or remain silent. At NCI she was open to conversation and had many friends there who grew to love her and appreciate her artistry. To this day, many of her objects remain in freebee vendors at NCI and NCI mentors remember her fondly and mourn her passing from the SL scene.

Within a few days of meeting her, a decision was made to split the Sonogno Sim into two parts in order to facilitate the plan for a Sim that would reflect heaven and hell, beauty and ugly, magnificence and decadence in the same environment. The idea had been discussed for some time among the collective that held the sim and was an abstract, if not philosophical idea. Beauty cannot exist without its opposite – ugly. The idea was that the build in the Sim would encompass a beautiful section, a middle mixed city, and a slum at the other extreme. However the shape of the land, and the desire to preserve the coastline, led to a decision to split the city into two sections, one at sea level, and the other at 300 meters in the sky. Shortly after this decision a frenzy of building occurred in the Sim. To this day the lower city remains beautiful and in some respects elegant. The upper city, soon called Slum City, exploded in a frenzy of original, detailed, and in many cases innovative building. The effort was led by Arcadia Asylum and Dagmon Zhukovsky. Arcadia set the tone with her amazing sewers and hidden rooms filled with lovely freebees. The freebees were her own creations, many of which can be found at the Arcadia Asylum Recovery Group’s location in SL. Others have been lost or are missing.

In addition Arcadia placed within the city the first of several buildings of intense detail and interest which still bring amazement to the visitor today. The City Mission was placed in the city and shortly thereafter Arcadia created her astonishing Bodega. Other buildings were to follow, but after these two great buildings she focused her attentions on both the Sewers and objects, such as phone booths, pigeons, the grundged taxi, a school bus, and a myriad of details that made the city come alive. These details, like her conviction that textures are the most important element in a convincing and interesting build, made the city an amazing place to visit. To this day I have seen some wonderful builds, often with excellent textures, but they remain sterile and somehow emotionally hollow. However in Slum City these tiny details and the many puns that punctuated her builds, made the city build endlessly fascinating and interesting as well as inspiring Dagmon and myself to keep pace with Arcadia’s wit, skill, and artistry. Dagmon succeeded and is today one of SL’s outstanding builders. As for myself, I plunged into texturing and building with a fury, and a few of my buildings were “interesting” and one or two were good. However what I learned by watching Arcadia build and listening carefully to her advice, was a priceless gift that inspires me to this day and makes me realize that a skill like Arcadia’s is truly rare in SL or in RL



The day of the Dandelion Picture – by Lunata Lupino

Lunata Lupino, who is on the left in the image below, sent this to me:

I remember that day very well. She was jumping around me, seeing i was in busymode, when she arrived Because I didnt react, she jumped like a ball around to get attention -) I just saw a jumping Dandelion and thought, whats that!!!???

(Don’t we all know, when building we dont look around and never in the chat?)

Because she wanted to give me some new textures, she was suddenly wearing this ring, to find inside the name of the file. When you dont have acess to rez, its a funny way to analyse files i thought and made a screenshot because our situation was so ridiculus.

Pity, if i would have known, she leaves without saying goodbye, i would have taken more screens of her. Seems I felt too secure having a longtimefriend with Arcadia. And i must say i am really worried about her leaving with no message. Was not her style to make others worried, she had strong principles.

The region i took that picture was the project of SL Relay for life 2007, Our team made those SIMs with the theme ‘Lord Of The Rings’, where i made the complete gardening. Arcadia just came there to visit me during my work and she explored with me the new environment, to see what we had done there.

This was the story of my picture you published

A Conversation between Daggy Zhukovsky & Orhalla Zander

These remembrances of Arcadia were given to me by Dagmon. Orhalla agreed for them to be used by the library, of which this blog is the codified extension. It took place on 7/31/08.

[17:51] Orhalla Zander: hope you’re feelin well
[17:51] Dagmon Zhukovsky: am indeed sir.. yourself ?
[17:51] Orhalla Zander: Yeah, I’m doin fair.
[18:02] Dagmon Zhukovsky: i remeber the very first time i ever laid eyes on her.
[18:02] Dagmon Zhukovsky: let me tell u the short story
[18:02] Orhalla Zander: I’d love to hear it
[18:02] Dagmon Zhukovsky: i was just starting to build hoto.
[18:02] Dagmon Zhukovsky: i mean i had 3 road prims laid down.
[18:02] Dagmon Zhukovsky: and there was this jack ass neighbor that we had.
[18:02] Dagmon Zhukovsky: his place was poo.
[18:03] Dagmon Zhukovsky: a casino too !
[18:03] Dagmon Zhukovsky: so .. me and lindsey were talkin.
[18:03] Dagmon Zhukovsky: and i said…. you know what this place needs ??? trash !
[18:03] Dagmon Zhukovsky: and she said…. just a sec… let me tp someone.
[18:04] Dagmon Zhukovsky: this little rat comes rolling up on roller blades. and I said.. hey.. linds said you might have some garbage for me.
[18:04] Dagmon Zhukovsky: she said ” D D :D”
[18:04] Dagmon Zhukovsky: and in 30 seconds had a whole dump in the back yard.
[18:04] Dagmon Zhukovsky: trash.. burning tires.. roaches.. the works.
[18:05] Dagmon Zhukovsky: the casino guy moved out less than 2 hours later…. and at that point…. arc was already a long time friend… and I told her the sim was hers… she started the sewers that very night….
[18:06] Dagmon Zhukovsky: and ive loved her ever since…
[18:06] Orhalla Zander: ) It’s nice to hear stories about arc
[18:06] Dagmon Zhukovsky: bet the whole time we nknew each other we didnt even say 100 words… but we hung out together every night for about 4 months
[18:07] Orhalla Zander: I spoke to arc quite often
[18:07] Orhalla Zander: Not sure if you want to hear the story how i met arc.
[18:07] Dagmon Zhukovsky: of course
[18:08] Orhalla Zander: Well, one day while hanging out or managing the hobo railroad… someone mentioned there was this little girl walkin along the train tracks back and forth from afar in calleta
[18:08] Orhalla Zander: I went over to say hi, and at first she was shy…. she didn’t have the rat ears or tail at the time
[18:08] Orhalla Zander: it was arcadia and i welcomed her to come to the hobo railroad, and she said she was unsure b/c she had seen griefers there
[18:09] Orhalla Zander: I assured her that it wasn’t the hobos that hang out there, that… we get attacked from time to time for being an info hub
[18:09] Orhalla Zander: i set her up with her own homeless box, and she started to place a light next to it…. she said if she went to sleep she needs a light b/c she’s affraid of the dark
[18:10] Orhalla Zander: so i set up a lantren for her
[18:10] Orhalla Zander: and from that point on, i got t know her more often, and even showed her how to torture prims before she went on her building fest
[18:10] Orhalla Zander: we talked a lot, and i asked how did she come to find the hobo railroad
[18:11] Orhalla Zander: she said it’s actually what inspired her to come to sl… she was web searching vr’s and saw calleta in a photo, and she always liked the hobo theme
[18:11] Dagmon Zhukovsky: ohhhhhh
[18:12] Orhalla Zander: so knowin i had a hand in her decision to join sl, i wish i could of had a hand to encourage her to stay, which i did try
[18:14] Orhalla Zander: I’m not big on RP, but she would call me Pah too
[18:14] Dagmon Zhukovsky: tell her i love her and because of her I learned how to actually make textures for my self rather than steal them from video games… and if she doesnt want to join sl again;… tell me what vr she is at.. so i can come there instead
[18:15] Orhalla Zander: I would say i was her unofficial father, it wasn’t proven yet
[18:15] Dagmon Zhukovsky: awwww
[18:17] Dagmon Zhukovsky: what a sweet story.
[18:17] Dagmon Zhukovsky: can i post it at the arc museum ?
[18:17] Dagmon Zhukovsky: D
[18:18] Orhalla Zander: sure

How did you find Arc’s work the first time?

Hobo Boots - November 7, 2006

Hobo Boots - November 7, 2006

I don’t remember where I was, it was at a freebie shop somewhere during my early weeks in SL, but I ran across a box full of hobo stuff. It contained the bicycle, backpack, boots, and a number of other things. I put them in a directory of their own, but didn’t know enough to look for the creator’s name yet. As time went by, I found more and more similar objects at freebie shops; the blimp, clothes, and other fantastic objects, and I discovered her name as creator. I began sorting things, searching in various ways for her things, and it became a quest, an obsession, to find all I could find. I joined Sylvia Sonoda’s Arcadia Asylum Recovery Group and became semi active. Eventually, I found about 250 objects, and in April of 2008, started the Arcadia Asylum Library. So far, another 200 pieces have been donated, and are all available for free, and almost all of them have full perms. How did you find her work?

Arcadia will probably best be known for her builds.

Betsy Pristing - February 6, 2007

Betsy Pristine - February 6, 2007

Her building & texturing skills have been called phenomenal, stunning, prolific, quirky, detailed, varied, extremely well crafted, and have been given other such accolades, yet they have always remained free of charge at her insistence. One of the reasons I have heard that she left is her anger over the fact that some of her objects appearing in boxes of things other people are selling.

If you knew and worked with her, do you think some of her builds were more important than others? Whether you did or didn’t, what are your favorite builds? There are a few builds that only one copy is known with no-copy permissions on it or some part of it. At what cost should that be build be saved? Do you think she’d build under the free and open source model again?

Not everyone has good feelings about everyone else.

Smith Corona Typewriter (Wear & Type) - December 16, 2006

Smith Corona Typewriter (Wear & Type) - December 16, 2006

Arcadia had notoriously long mute and ban lists. Quoting from her profile, “I get constant IM Spam every minut, so if you IM me and i don’t know you, you will be automaticaly added to the MUTE LIST!” Did you end up on one of those lists, and feel like talking about it? I hear that one of her grievances was that people wanted to chat with her while she wanted to work. Have you ever tried to build while someone wanted to talk? How do you handle that? Not everyone enjoyed her company, even though they appreciate her work…is that the case for you?

Memories and feelings of times past can’t ever be taken away.

Slum City Underground Sewer - c. 2007

Slum City Underground Sewer - c. 2007

Arc created things that evoked pleasure for a lot of people. She built a sim called Slum City that was both enjoyable for those involved with her in the building, and the many visitors who were fortunate enough to experience it. Much of Slum City was in the sewer system underground through which people could roam and wander, reading the seemingly endless bits of graffiti, posters, and other things on which she could express her wit. The Modular Sewer System, Available in the Library, contains many of the blocks of the sewer system.

Of all the memories of Arc and of Slum City, what stands out most strongly for you? Since feelings can’t be separated from memory, how did the destruction of Slum City affect you? And, when you heard the news several months later that she left SL for good, what did you feel? Dates to these events are welcome, even if only approximate.

Telling and retelling stories are part of the human experience.

Arc wearing student's crown of dafodils; a demonstration in no build area - c. 2007

Arc wearing Lunata Lupino's dandelions; discussing at SL-Relay for life project - 2007

Since opening the Arcadia Asylum Library and Museum in early April, 2008, I’ve heard a lot of stories about Arcadia, almost all of them positive. If you knew her, what were some of your recollections of Arc? Many have said that she was the consummate mentor, the ever patient teacher. Is there an experience that stands out in your mind that illustrates that? When I was growing up, my grandfather was the person from whom I learned the most, and there are things that I do now that I learned from him that remind me of him. What did you learn from her that reminds you of her in that way?