Ivory Tower of Primitives, Second Life

In Memory of Lumiere Noir

Second Life® is a virtual reality platform. I logged in there for the first time on September 16, 2004. At the time, it was a far cry from what it is now. Everything “in world” (as we say) was built using basic building blocks called primitives.

Everywhere I went, people were talking about these “prims.” Everything was made from prims, they told me. This one or that one was a “prim hog” and used more than their share of prims when they made things. People talked about cutting prims, and skewing prims, and texturing prims. But no one would tell me where they got the prims in the first place. When I asked, they just said, “You just use a prim!” I was far too shy back then to explain I had no idea how to do that. But someone finally told me to visit the Ivory Tower of Primitives, and gave me a landmark.

I teleported to the nearest hub, and then flew to the Ivory Tower. (That’s how we got around in those days.) I thought it was going to be a place that I could find or buy some of these mysterious prims to use; a sort of giant collection of prims.

It turned out to be a giant collection of knowledge. A towering, intricate build filled with a self-paced tutorial about how to make and use prims. A self-guided tour into the world of building in SL™.

Resizing a prim in the Ivory Tower
How to resize a Prim, in the Ivory Tower of Primitives today.

I learned how to make a prim out of thin air, by just opening the Build menu and clicking on the ground. I learned how to cut a basic cube to make a chair. I learned about hollowing prims, and twisting them, and skewing them, and all kinds of tricks you could play with (and to some extent on) them.

It was that building that led me to stay in Second Life.

The person behind the Ivory Tower, the person who taught building skills to me, and to most of the other residents of SL in those days, and who continues to teach building with prims through the Ivory Tower, was Lumiere Noir.

Lumi was a remarkable man.

It wasn’t long before a mutual friend introduced us, and I learned far more from him than the building tricks at the Ivory Tower. He taught me about SL light, and SL physics. He taught me how to crash a sim by making a double helix constructed from tori into a physical object. He taught me the advantages of building on the ground, instead of in the sky. He showed me how quiet and peaceful it was under the SL water. He taught me so very, very much.

Lumiere Noir's avatar - Spy vs Spy
Lumi, from his Profile Pic

His avatar was a spy from Mad Magazine’s Spy VS Spy, and we played with submarines, and airships, and other odd and unusual vehicles of his own invention. We laughed, and joked, and had a world of fun.

When I asked him about adding texturing lessons to the Ivory Tower, he encouraged me to build it myself, on my own land, so I’d get the traffic and donations. Without him, the Texturing Tutorial would never have existed.

In those early days, the torus, tube, and so on were new, and most people were just starting to experiment with building using them. Lumi had a group called “Edifice Rex.” (Just the name really tells you all you need to know about Lumi, really.) He held building competitions regularly. He would assign a particular type of prim – the Tube, for instance – and everyone would build something using only that primitive. I was too timid to actually enter anything I had built back then, but I loved seeing what other people did.

The building competitions went on for years, and were a source of delight for many of us.

In French, lumière means “light”. I always thought his name was very apt. He did, indeed, bring light everywhere he went. He was endlessly generous with his time, his talent, his knowledge, his humor, his encouragement – his life.

He was an inspiration.

I was proud to call him my friend.

On Monday night, at the age of 53, he died of a sudden and unexpected heart attack. His name in First Life was Vince Frost.

He will be very greatly missed.

The Ivory Tower, which has been on Linden land for many years now, will continue to stand; a monument to a wonderful man who shaped Second Life in so many ways.

Goodbye, Lumi, my friend. I’ll miss you more than I can say.

6 thoughts on “In Memory of Lumiere Noir”

  1. Robin, I am so sorry that you’ve lost the chance to speak with your friend again. Mourn his passing, but remember his inspiraton and support.


  2. Thank you so much for sharing the story of your first view of the Ivory Tower & your friendship with him, first as a student, then as an equal.

    He was remarkable & will remain with us forever, he is part of our star stuff.


  3. Thanks, Lauren.

    I’m trying to figure out exactly what I want to make as a lasting statue to him. Avi has asked me to contribute something to the memorial she’s going to build for him.

    One of the things I’m going to do is update the Texture Tutorials in world, in his memory. But that’s just my own private tribute to him.

    I can’t believe he’s gone.


  4. Robin, I don’t sign into Second Life too often anymore but I did run across my Robin Wood Tarot Deck and thought I would log into your site and see how you were doing. I was completely shocked and saddened to learn about the sudden passing of Lumiere Noir– such a great man and a tragic loss to SL and to all of us who had the pleasure of knowing him.

    Like you, I was an early member of SL and joined in June of 2004. I immediately loved the vision of Phillip Linden and the seemingly endless possibilities that SL had to offer.

    I promptly purchased some land in Ganymede and, with great plans in mind, named it The Riverwalk. Unfortunately, having none of the building skills necessary to make my dreamland a reality, I was resigned to buying any objects that I needed.

    While I was off on my expensive, albeit somewhat successful, shopping sprees, PeteWyrm was back at The Riverwalk slowly learning to manipulate prims. He started by stretching and re-texturing some of the prims left on the property, then he learned to create his own primitive prims. However, everything changed one day when I “ported” to a Hub and decided to walk to my next shopping destination. Eureka! I had just stumbled upon the Ivory Tower of Primitives.

    Stuffing my Lindens back in my pocket, I slowly started through the tutorials learning more about prims than I could ever had hoped. Then it happened… around the 6th learning station I was suddenly interrupted by a whisper from one Lumiere Noir wanting to know if I liked the tutorials or had any questions.

    Not only did I have no clue how to answer a whisper, I had never had a complete stranger start a conversation with me– much less offer me unsolicited help. Vince was kind, compassionate, and extremely patient; he even walked me through the next few learning stations, filling in the gaps as needed. I couldn’t wait to get back to PeteWyrm to tell him what, and who, I had found.

    Pete and I returned to The Tower about a month later. Lumi was there and he greeted me like an old friend. While Lumiere and I chatted, Petewyrm wandered through several floors of the lessons becoming more and more excited with each step. Upon returning, he peppered Lumi with many questions and Lumi, being the gracious teacher that he was, answered each one.

    I can easily say, without any doubt, it was Lumiere and his Tower that helped make The Riverwalk the landmark that it is today.

    There was, however, one other Second Life resident that helped complete The Riverwalk legacy. During one of my many shopping sprees, I ran across a small shop run by The Sojourner. The grounds where the shop was located were beautiful and, not being at all shy, I decided to wander around them. In a small gazebo I found some texture tutorials that would change PeteWyrm, and The Riverwalk, forever.

    Pete and I spent hours studying both the prim tutorials by Lumiere Noir (Vince Frost) and the texture tutorials by Sojourner (Robin Wood). The lessons learned are reflected in The Riverwalk and it stands, today, as a testimony to both of their generosity.

    The passing of Lumi is a great loss to me and to the SL community but I remain grateful for all he did. Robin, you may not remember me, but I hope you know that I am equally grateful for your help and your spirit of giving.

    Bradder Therian

    1. Hi Bradder!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write. Lumi was a very special man, and I miss him still.

      But.. ummm.. I’m not The Sojourner. Soj was Karen Gans. Sadly, she’s gone too. 🙁 She died May 25, 2008.

      I’m Robin Sojourner in SL, and yes, I still have the Texture Tutorials, now all updated to work with materials and things.

      I remember meeting you, and spending some time on The Riverwalk, years and years ago. Thanks so much for your kind words.

      Glad you found me here!


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