Saturday, September 15, 2007

The King is dead. Long live the King! Starax Statosky is gone, but Light Waves carries on

Someone needs to say it, so I might as well be the first, and I do so after careful consideration and with great admiration for the man in question. Like the Phoenix - that mythical bird that dies in flames and is reborn from the ashes - Starax may be gone, but in his place stands the extraordinary Light Waves.

I spoke at length today with the British man behind these two avatars, and found him to be warm, approachable, and unpretentious... not at all like the sardonic fellow I'd read about.

Light Waves has already been in touch with several of the most dedicated collectors of Starax sculptures, as well as many, if not most of the owners of his legendary magic wand. These people have kept quiet... have been walking on eggshells, out of respect for their monarch of builders, and possibly a fear that he might disappear again. I think that is a safe assumption. I hope I'm wrong, but I propose that we enjoy him and celebrate him while we still have him within our sights.

At any rate, it is all true. The man who was Starax and is Light Waves today told me that he closed Starax for many reasons and that, despite rumors to the contrary, the wand had been just one of them and not even the most important one.

What is all this fuss about, you might be asking yourself? A little history for those who, like me, were born in Second Life after his abrupt departure...

Many people have come and gone from Second Life and more than a few have been missed by the friends they left behind, but when Starax Statosky vanished mysteriously in June of 2006, hundreds of people grieved. In fact, his departure cast a pall over the art and builders community of Second Life that is felt to this day.

As of this writing, when you Google Starax, you get back 25,200 hits, and there is only one Starax that comes up. The Friends of Starax group in Second Life pays tribute to him even now - 15 months later - and their charter reads "because Starax was so beloved, we form this group in remembrance and appreciation of his unique gifts and talents."

Note that this shrine to Starax sits on Governor Linden's land.

Starax Statosky was born in Second Life on December 23, 2003. His profile reads: "Nice weather out!" The only group Starax is still a member of is the Magic Wand Society.

In October of 2006, the NMC held a retrospective of art by Starax, which can be seen in this Machinima produced by RacerX Gullwing.

Then, on July 25 of this year, Morris Vig's Oyster Bay gallery and NPIRL'er Tayzia Abattoir's Crescent Moon, the oldest museum in Second Life, launched Hidden Starax!, "a spectacular rotating exhibit that celebrates the Second Life of the master of SL sculpture, Starax Statosky." The show presented 20+ rare Starax pieces over the course of 6 weeks and free, copiable editions of some of his works were also rotated, encouraging visitors to take copies for their private art collections. I've made a point of dropping in frequently, and now own four sculptures by Starax.

Fact is, Starax made prims do unnatural things. He took the unwieldy cubes and spheres and molded them as if they were putty in his bare hands to create sculptures that take our breath away.

And then there was his wand... Aenea Nori did a great job of documenting both its capabilities and the things it rezzed on this slide show.

Speaking for myself, I was introduced to Starax's wand in April when a pair of young boys showed up at Hobo Village on the Calleta sim and put on a show that I shall never forget. As I told Light, it was a transformative moment. As far as I am concerned, a person's Second Life can easily be split by the BW (before-wand) days and the PW (post-wand) days... or that moment when you realize what SL can be like when taken to the maximum of its potential.

Most everything Starax created was not transferable, including the wand. Even Light Waves' wand by Starax is no transfer, or so he says.:P In fact, Light Waves was quick to point out that he doesn't own anything by Starax.

So there you have it. I think we can all now conclude that Starax's creations are the true artifacts of Second Life.

"Any chance you will make another wand?" I asked hopefully, to which Light Waves replied, "I doubt I will make another wand. It was just too expensive. I felt uncomfortable selling it to people who didn't really feel it was worth it, or to people who couldn't really afford it."

So how did I find out? I won't tell all, but really, if you look hard enough, the bread crumbs leading to Light Waves are all over the place. I will say this... getting to this point, this conclusion to my quest, has been more fun and intriguing than any Myst game could ever be!

Aenea Nori was on to something when she blogged about some of the things found at Greenies Home Rezzable, saying they were built "by an av named Light Waves (whose profile appears to be that of an alt, and may or may not have been Starax — hence the discussion of whether he-who-has-disappeared has returned."

While our very own Pavig Lok is the lead creator of Greenies Home Rezzable, working together with NPIRL'er LittleToe Bartlett, it was Light who made the graceful ballerina, the fanciful canary escaping from its cage, and it was he who begat the very droll and adorable Greenies.

So what is Light up to today? NPIRL'ers had a preview yesterday of a whole new sim which he began less than a week ago. Dearest readers... the beauty of it brought tears to my eyes! It is everything you would expect of a builder of Starax's stature and more. I won't give out the landmark nor publish photographs of it until it is complete, except for these two pics. For those who knew his work, the whale and the bird here are testaments to the fact that Starax and Light Waves are one and the same.

And what does Starax look like now? Well... the day I met him he looked sorta like this - a greenie! - though obviously this isn't him:

Finally, I had to get his opinion of sculpties. "They're umm... okay, I guess :) A bit wobbly and a lot of hard work to make. But then everything is hard work to make these days. People expect so much more. I miss the days when I could just make something from raw prims and people would like it," was his reply.

Light shared that he is using Mudbox, Cinema 4D and Maya and then he added, "but I've just seen Modo 301. That looks rather nice, so maybe it's time for a change :)"

I would have to agree with you, Light. I'd say it's definitely time for a change. And Light? Welcome home! Want a cookie? A glass of milk?


Dirk Talamasca said...

OoO What detective work.. ::eyeroll::

Tayzia said...

Bettina has indeed been a wonderful detective for the art world in Second Life. She tirelessly seeks out artistic builds and some of the most talented people, then spreads the word about them, for all to see and enjoy.

Kudos for promoting the arts in SL, and bringing attention to these amazing artists Bettina!

The fact that Starax was still around was not a secret to most who knew him as it was revealed long ago here:

For the newcomers to SL that have admired his work and are not aware, this is wonderful news to them I am sure!

Your enthusiasm is infectious Bettina, keep up the good work!

Stitchavr said...

this entry was particularly eloquent. betti you rock our world.

Aenea Nori said...

Bettina, you have no idea how happy this news makes me.

I first heard about Starax and his influence from Margot Abatoir during my first waterfall-building class, when she said she gave so much of her time and effort in his memory. Margot inspired me to learn to build, and I can only imagine that that makes my inspiration second-generation from Starax. :)

My sis, Bethany Heart, showed me her wand, which I'd lusted after just from descriptions, and which I documented on my blog. I despaired of ruining wand surprises for others when I wrote that, but I also reasoned that it would become increasingly difficult for new SL residents to find the oldbies who had wands, and to convince them to show them the magic. Furthermore, at any moment Linden Lab may do something to the client or the back-end which might break the wand permanently.

I'm excited to see what Starax/Light Waves comes up with next, and I hope I'm so lucky as to meet him someday...

Thank you SO much for this article. It makes me happy in SO many ways. :)