16 September 2016

Travels with Cherry: Fest'Avi 2016

I wrote last year about Fest'Avi 2015, a grand festival in FrancoGrid, one of the many OpenSims in the larger virtual universe. (OpenSims are much like SL.) These festivals are led by Cherry Manga, who for many years was active in SL. Last year's Fest'Avi consisted of an artistically spectacular dance performance, easily worth joining FrancoGrid, but only staged on one date. When Cherry returned to SL recently to build an installation at Split Screen called The Path, she created a glimpse of the coming Fest'Avi ... as it turns out, a tiny glimpse. This year Fest'Avi consists of a complex installation covering a sim and rising over 3000m, and it will be available to visit indefinitely.

One might call the installation a "travel build": you explore it (at least initially) not by walking, flying, or camming, but traveling on a programmed tour which also controls your camera. "The Path," indeed. This approach has several advantages -- you become acquainted with the many different parts of the installation, you don't inadvertently miss any major parts, and the tour provides a sense of narrative or flow. In addition to its artistic value, when you consider how often visitors to installations pop up, look around for three minutes, and then teleport away, having a programmed tour is a sensible way to get people to experience the entire work. Having your camera controlled has its drawbacks, of course, but you can return to explore the installation without the ride (which I recommend, as I missed one or two things myself).

The installation has a huge variety of settings: abstract, geometrical, schematic, spiritual, underwater, planetary, biological, futuristic, architectural, and more. Elven, human, and other humanoid beings (some only partly humanoid) appear throughout the space. One location reminded me of neurons with their network of synaptic connections. There's even a sort of political demonstration in which Cherry recalls the hippie generation. At the end, there's a bonus: numerous boxes of free avatars, some of which appear in the installation. All told, it's quite a trip -- in perhaps the psychedelic sense as well as the typical meaning -- well worth venturing over to FrancoGrid (if you haven't before, see below).

Click to enlarge photos

Although Cherry was the primary person working on the Fest'Avi installation, she credits a large number of people for their contributions (music, animations, some of avatars and objects, etc).

Cherry's work seems to have taken a lighter tone compared to when she worked in SL. At that time she tended toward surrealism which ranged from slightly disturbing or ominous, to the outright desperation of her sim-wide build, Insanity. The work I've seen of hers in FrancoGrid has been sunnier.

How to Get to FrancoGrid and Fest'Avi

FrancoGrid is free, and easy to join. First, go to the FrancoGrid website and click on "Inscription" to sign up. Although the site is mainly in French, the basic sign-up form is in English (you can almost certainly use your SL name).

Next, choose your viewer. The Linden Lab viewer won't work, but you can use Firestorm and many other viewers. These viewers have grid managers so you can pick the grid you want.
  • Some viewers -- Firestorm, Kokua and possibly others -- already have FrancoGrid (and other OpenSims) listed in the grid manager. If so, select it, log on, and you're off! (You'll need to switch back to Second Life again later.)
  • In other viewers, like Alchemy and Singularity, you first set up the grid access information manually. That's pretty easy: basically the viewer just needs this URL: http://login.francogrid.org:80/. You may have to tell the viewer that the grid uses the OpenSim platform.
Finally, once you've logged onto FrancoGrid, teleport to the "FestAvi 2016" sim. (Note the absence of the apostrophe in the sim name.)

Follow the instructions for graphics and sound settings. Look for the arrow on the ground pointing the way to the green poseballs. Once you sit on one, you'll get a message asking permission to take camera controls, which you should accept. When you're ready, click the "Click" sign. You'll get a dialog asking which tour you want. Choose "Complet" (i.e., complete). The tour takes about a half hour.


  1. "There's even a sort of political demonstration in which Cherry recalls the hippie generation." Ahahah this made me laugh a lot!
    Besides the joke, thank you for this good post, you even included how to join FrancoGrid, thanks a lot!

    1. Cherry, isn't this on a 768x768 varregion? That would give it much more scale rather than the article saying a region.

    2. So, looking up "varregion" ... a 768x768 varregion is nine times the size of an ordinary sim!

  2. Thank you so much for this article! You catch the spirit of this installation.

    Few details of the history are here for those who may be interested (french/english) : http://www.francogrid.org/infos/2015/06/12/fest-avi-2015-merci-et-bravo

    Also a collection about Fest'Avi on Google + https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/ACtGsB
    and the flickr group https://www.flickr.com/groups/festavi/

    1. ANd the full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wr82PfhTQw