Raspberry Dream Land: A Brief Introduction

Raspberry Dream Land is an invite-only artist platform which is accessible via desktop and VR devices. According to its “soft launch” announcement:

Raspberry Dream Labs is bringing to the world its brainchild –– the social WebXR event platform for progressive arts & entertainment – Raspberry Dream Land! A mecca of electronic music and alternative nights, creative hub and multisensory playroom opens its doors with an invite-only soft launch event in all major regions worldwide.

Our platform celebrates the solarpunk future coming into existence by uniting art, technology, sustainability and cyber-sexuality. Lose your avatar on the dance circuit to the live deep techno tunes, join the Central Plaza stage for the artists and brand talks, discover community generated 3D worlds, and experience the one-of-a-kind ‘Sense Magick’ Cyber-Tantra Ritual in the Underworld, the erotic playspace of the Future.

There’s not a whole lot of detail on the website so far, but the project has already attracted a number of artists:

Some of the artists associated with Raspberry Dream Land

There’s also a statement from the founder:

From multisensory academic VR study, 25+ IRL and VR events to [the] world’s 1st Burning Man in VR – over the past two years at Raspberry Dream Labs we explored how the potential of technologies-of-today can redefine self-expression, social entertainment and intimate connections.

While the interests in our events kept growing, we faced censorship from existing VR platforms which made us realize that while there is growing interest from users across the globe, there is no such platform that caters to these needs.

We are excited about our mission and the societal impact of what RD Land is going to unlock.

—Angelina Aleksandrovich, Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Raspberry Dream Labs

If Raspberry Dream Land intrigues you and you want to learn more, you can visit their website, join their Discord server, or follow the project on social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The platform is currently invite-only, but if you want to add your name to the waiting list, you can do so here.

New Art City: A Brief Introduction

New Art City is a virtual world platform created by students at San José State University (SJSU) in San Jose, California, which is intended to be a virtual gallery and exhibition toolkit for online art exhibitions. As SJSU’s Jon Oakes told me, “It’s like [Mozilla] Hubs, but for artists.”

According to the project’s website:

New Art City is a virtual exhibition platform for new media art with a focus on co-presence and experiencing digital art together. Shows are real-time multiplayer and accessed using a web browser on computer or mobile device, with no need to register, install extra software or enter any personal information. Using built-in tools to manage artworks and room layouts, curators and organizers can create a show and hold a virtual exhibition online. Participants can attend virtual openings together, chat and see each other moving around the space while experiencing digital art in its native format.

In its mission statement, New Art City’s curation and product design prioritize those who are disadvantaged by structural injustice. An inclusive and redistributive community is as important to this project as the toolkit itself, and the platform seeks to support artists who face barriers in the traditional art world, promoting and amplifying works by queer artists and artists of colour.

Galleries are accessible via the New Art City website, and run inside your web browser (Chrome is the preferred browser). New Art City is not yet compatible with VR headsets, but the creators have built it in a way where this will be possible in the future.

Examples of galleries in New Art City

There are already dozens of exhibits available for you to visit. New Art City is currently in private beta, and access to exhibitors is granted on an invite-only basis. They are planning to launch open signups soon, but in the meantime you may submit a proposal for access here.

Sotheby’s Sets Up Shop in Decentraland

The current boom in NFT art has led to new partnerships between bricks-and-mortar art galleries and brokers and blockchain-based platforms, such as Cryptovoxels, Decentraland, and Somnium Space, where such art can easily be displayed and admired.

Venerable art auction house Sotheby’s has just announced via Twitter that they have set up a digital replica of its London galleries in the blockchain-based virtual world of Decentraland, as part of Natively Digital, an inaugural curated sale of Non-Fungible Token (NFT) artworks (along with a discussion room on Clubhouse today):

Artnet News reports (this site is paywalled so use the incognito mode of your web browser to see this article):

Sotheby’s virtual gallery is a twin of its New Bond Street outpost, complete with five ground-level galleries—but instead of London’s tony Mayfair enclave, it is located in Decentraland’s prime art hub, known as the Voltaire Art District (map coordinates: 52,83).

A virtual version of Sotheby’s avuncular London commissionaire Hans Lomulder…welcomes visitors at the gallery entrance, top hat and all. 

The Observer website reports:

The NFTs that will be for sale include both the work of early, pioneering crypto artists in the field and more recent blockbuster stars; some of the names represented in the sale are Rhea Myers, Lethabo Huma, and Larva Labs. Recently, Christie’s scored a huge win with the $16.9 million sale of 9 Cryptopunks NFTs manufactured by Larva Labs, so that listing in particular is likely to score comparable dividends for Sotheby’s.

The rare face-masked alien CryptoPunk in Gallery 1 has a starting bid of US$480,000! Obviously, this is art that lies way, waaay outside my payscale!

If you want to visit the virtual Sotheby’s in Decentraland, read my step-by-step guide on how to get started, then type /goto 52,83 into chat (note that you should also be able to visit Decentraland as a guest, without setting up an account). Enjoy the art!

UPDATED! The Lost World and Lost Horizon Music Festivals Take Place July 3rd and 4th, 2020 in Sansar: A First Impressions Review of the Events

Please note that I am taking a vacation from the blog for the next two to three weeks, except for sponsored blogposts (with the occasional exception, like this review).


This morning, I paid a long-overdue return visit to Sansar, to check out both of the two-day music festivals that are taking place on the platform this weekend (July 3rd and 4th, 2020):

  • The Lost World event, held by an organization called Global Music Festivals, is being held in a specially-created world called Lost World, based the Incan architecture of Machu Picchu in Peru (here’s the entry in the Sansar Atlas):
  • The Lost Horizon Festival, which is associated with the real-world Shangri-La event at the Glastonbury Festival, a five-day festival of contemporary performing arts that takes place in Pilton, Somerset, in England every year (which, like many other events, was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic):

According to the Lost Horizon event page:

Two days. Four stages. Fifty-plus performances from a star-studded global lineup, including Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox, Jamie Jones and more. Welcome to Lost Horizon, from the team behind Glastonbury’s Shangri-La – the world’s biggest music and arts festival in virtual reality! Join us from wherever you live, across desktop PC and VR here at Sansar.

These are extraordinary times, and we know fans everywhere are hurting. Which is why we’re thrilled to offer a FREE TICKET to any and all affected by this current crisis.

If you can contribute, we’re also offering a PREMIUM TICKET that helps benefit two important causes – Amnesty International and the Big Issue – and includes some amazing goodies: an exclusive piece of art from Lost Horizon creatives, Instruct Studio; a virtual shirt from Instruct Studio; and more.

While you have to buy a ticket (a free one, or the US$10.00 Premium ticket) to get into the Lost Horizon events, anybody can pop in to visit the Lost World event, which is smaller and feels more intimate.

Lost World (by Global Music Festivals)

The Lost World event features more than 20 live DJs performing sets over two days. The two 12-hour streams will be live broadcast on Twitch and into the Lost World in Sansar especially built for this event. Deejays will play EDM, Trance, Goa, Techno, Psy, House, and Nu Jazz.

When I dropped by this morning there was an appreciative crowd of about 20 avatars gathered, dancing in lockstep to the light show. I found that if I stopped playing my own dance animations and stood still, eventually I, too, would start dancing with the rest of the crowd! I’m not sure how comfortable I feel about a world imposing its dance moves on me, though. (I would have preferred a choice!)

Saturday Night Fever moves in front of an Inca God!

Unfortunately, there is no lineup of artists on the Global Music Festivals rather bare-bones website, but there is a poster located in the stone building to the right of your spawn point. with the day’s lineup (there’s also a quest you can do as part of the festival):

Lost World Festival Schedule and Quest Giver

Lost Horizon Festival (by Glastonbury’s Shangri-La)

It’s clear that most people in Sansar this weekend are here for this festival, as this snapshot of the attendance figures (taken from the in-world Codex) indicates:

When I visited, the Gas Tower had over 100 avatars present, while the Freedom Stage and the Landing Zone had about 60 each, and the Nomad Stage about 40.

The Landing Zone makes a great first impression

This being Sansar, I expected the visuals would be top-notch, and they certainly are! You can use your Codex to hop from stage to stage, or start off at the Landing Zone, which features teleporters to take you to the various stages and exhibits:

The Info Booth at the Lost Horizon Festival’s Landing Zone
(I think the woman in the pink fringe boots is trying to steal my wallet!)

In addition to the stages, there is an art exhibit called ShangrilART, and a television studio called SHITV, broadcasting films and videos relating to the event. Both spaces were less crowded, giving you the opportunity to take a breather from the much busier music stages.

A documentary on transgenderism at the SHITV studio

At the Freedom Stage, the performers were a flat projection onto the stage rather than embodied avatars (the organizers used a green screen to erase the background). While I was a bit disappointed (I was really hoping for some sort of full-body tracking suits on the performers, like the one that electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling wore to animate her avatar in her awesome concert in Wave last August!), I do think that this was a best choice under the circumstances, and it worked well, especially when viewing the show from the back to the middle of the room:

It was only when you got right up to the stage that the illusion was shattered, as you can see from this shot I took of the deejays behind the booth at the Nomad Stage:

The only problem I encountered was the audio quality, which was consistently choppy and extremely poor while using a VR headset, and better but still a bit choppy while in desktop. I left and revisited several Lost Horizon stages where musical performances were taking place, listening while wearing my Oculus Rift and just on desktop, and there were definitely problems with the sound quality, especially in the Rift. If you are planning to participate in this festival, you might be better off setting your VR headset aside and just using desktop.

One very odd thing that I noticed was the dozens of animated bots that were placed in various spots near the periphery of all three music stages, or under the raised platforms provided for better viewing. You could tell they weren’t other “real” avatars because when you clicked the trigger on your hand controller and looked at them, an avatar name did not appear over them. Most were uniformly dressed in drab, grey colours, and they all cycled through the same dances. It was strange, to say the least.

Lots of animated bots under a viewing platform at the Freedom Stage…but why?

In an event that was already packed full of avatars, why did the organizers feel that they needed to add dancing bots to pad the audience? Were these bots included in the user concurrency figures in the Codex listings? I found myself wondering if the poor audio quality would be improved a bit if they were shut down and removed (I mean, having to render all the real avatars in a crowded world is adding enough to the load on my computer’s graphics card as it is; why on earth would you deliberately choose to increase that load by doing something like this?).

So, if you attend either or both virtual music festivals this weekend, be advised that you might have some sound problems (which will be more likely if you are using a VR headset). These are likely not events that users on lower-end hardware, or more restricted internet bandwidth, will enjoy.

There are schedules of the performers at each of the stages, with the times in BST when they are performing, information which is unfortunately missing from the official Lost Horizon Festival website (which just lists the artists at each stage alphabetically and provides links to their Facebook pages):

The schedule of performers at the Lost Horizon Festival’s Freedom Stage

Aside from the sometimes-poor audio quality and the creepy dancing bots, I’d encourage you to pay a visit to Sansar this weekend (perhaps your first ever?) to check out the dueling music festivals and experience the platform yourself. Sansar is, still, the most beautiful social VR platform in my opinion, and it lends itself well to events such as this. I’m quite sure that Wookey (the company now running Sansar) wants these festivals to bring many more new users to Sansar—and entice them to pay return visits.

It is now somewhat out of date, but back in April 2019 I did write up a step-by-step guide for newbies to Sansar, which you might find helpful. (I do know that Wookey has updated the selection of starter avatars.)

Have fun! I will be popping in an out of these two music festivals in Sansar all weekend, so say hello if you see me!

UPDATE 1:52 p.m.: Well, I signed out of Sansar and signed back in again, and there is a crowd of 188 avatars at the Lost Horizon Festival’s Gas Tower Stage:

While it is so good to see such a large crowd in Sansar having fun (I assume they are spread among multiple instances of the stage), the audio quality is still very poor, especially in VR, but also on desktop at times. For a music festival, I consider this to be a pretty serious problem. Let’s hope that Wookey can find a way to fix this before the Lost Horizon Festival ends tomorrow!

UPDATE 2:08 p.m.: There are now a total of 287 avatars at the Gas Tower Stage, and the sound on desktop is still choppy (I have given up trying to listen in VR). And just now, my Sansar client crashed completely. It would appear that the Sansar platform is experiencing some serious scaling-up problems as more and more people join (it’s evening now in the U.K., where I would expect the bulk of the audience is from). Signing in again, crossing my fingers…

UPDATE 2:21 p.m. Back in again, and I do have one piece of advice for people experiencing audio and/or visual glitches in Sansar: make sure that the Sansar client is the only thing that is running on your computer! I just checked and it is using well over 90% of my CPU just to render the Gas Tower stage and process the sound. Normally I have WordPress open in a browser window, but even something as simple as that brings the whole experience to a crawl, and garbles the music stream.

Now at 315 avatars at the Gas Tower Stage for Fatboy Slim‘s set, and rising…

UPDATE 6:41 p.m.: Well, I decided to pay one last visit today to all three music stages at the Lost Horizon Festival, and I am very happy to report that the music stream quality is much better in my VR headset! I’m not sure what Wookey did (or even if they did anything), but for the first time, I could stand in the middle of a virtual mosh pit in the front of the stage, feel fully immersed in the colorfully and creatively-dressed crowd in my Oculus Rift, and actually enjoy the music.

However, it’s clear that other people are encountering audio problems too. One person in the crowd near me posted to the chat at the Freedom stage:

Is there a www audio stream? I’m still clipping, even in desktop mode and low render; I’ve been trying for over 2 hours now.

Once again, the minute I opened up WordPress in a browser tab to report on this, everything went bad again. (So even if that person were to open up a livestream of the concert to get better audio, his performance in Sansar would take a hit.) It would appear your sound quality is a factor of three variables: how fast your internet connection is, how powerful your computer is, and what other programs you may have running simultaneously.

Your best bet might be to catch the Lost Horizon Festival via Twitch: the Beatport Twitch channel (which gives an overview of several stages at once), or the Lost Horizon Festival channel (which was offline when I checked this evening). There are also, new mobile apps for Sansar, which I will be writing about in another blogpost.

And, as I said before, it just felt right to see so many people in Sansar. Here’s hoping that the attendance at the music festivals this weekend met Wookey’s expectations, and that there are more such events in future.