Tag Archives: Linden Endowment for the Arts

A Tudor love story in Second Life

Now open at LEA 8 is Tahiti Rae’s Love, Henry. Created with the assistance of Sonic Costello, Augurer Resident, Caryl Meredith, Annu Pap, Mitsuko Kytori, Abel Dreamscape, this is an interactive examination of the relationship between King Henry VIII of England and Anne Boleyn, from their courtship to her becoming his wife and Queen Consort, through to events immediately prior to her death just 1,000 days later.

An outline sketch of events would be to say that Henry was bound in childless wedlock to Catherine of Aragon when Anne caught his eye (having in earlier years taken Anne’s older sister, Mary, as one of his mistresses), causing him to desire her to the point of having his marriage annulled so that he might wed her. Thereafter, and unable to provide him with a son and heir, she also suffered a fall from grace, largely engineered, to suffer execution in the Tower of London.

Obviously, the full story is far more complex, involving as it does several figures key to England’s unfolding political and religious landscape, including Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell and  Thomas Cranmer, and the upheavals of the English Reformation; however, part of the intent of Love, Henry is to encourage people to explore Tudor history for themselves, so I’ll leave it at that.

As a love story, Love, Henry focuses on two things: a letter said to have been written or dictated by Anne Boleyn following her incarceration in the Tower of London, and a “new discovery” author Sandra Vasoli claims to have made. The provenance of the letter has been hotly debated over the years, and is believed to have never come before the eyes of the King, having been withheld and hidden by Cromwell. However, Vasoli claims to have found evidence that on his deathbed, Henry expressed remorse for his actions towards Anne. Thus Tahiti poses her question to visitors and invites their thoughts and feedback: did Henry come to regret his decision to have Anne executed?

The installation itself is split into three parts, which visitors are guided through in turn, from the welcome area, which offers information necessary to fully enjoy the experience together period costumes which can be optionally worn during the rest of the visit; through the Tudor Library, which forms the main interactive element of the installation, and is built around Anne’s letter from the Tower, together with notes on Sandra Vasoli’s “new discovery”; to a  ground level build focused on a grand Norman-style cathedral set within a beautiful garden space, in which there are secrets to be uncovered.

Love, Henry, deserves to be explored carefully. Not only because of the wealth of information it contains and opportunities to provide input and feedback of your own (which aren’t restricted just to the Library, which really does offer a lot), but because it is beautifully put together. For example, the garden contains a loggia which appears to have been inspired by the one at Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn’s home. Further, the cathedral the garden surround may be an imposing centrepiece, but it is also very symbolic, representing marriage and death, both of which have obvious significance where Henry and Anne are concerned, while simultaneously also reminding us of the religious strife their relationship caused. Nor are these the only touches to be found as one explores; hints of Anne’s fate might be seen, together with reminders of the brutality of the age.

The slant to the installation might be a little romanticised – the relationship between Henry and Anne was born as much out of ambition on both sides as out of love; but that doesn’t matter. This is supposed to be a romantic “what if”, one which encourages the visitor to explore one of England’s important periods of history, both through the information presented here and for themselves.

As mentioned above, do keep in mind when exploring that there are secrets to be found – including the gateway to the “final chapter” of Henry and Anne’s story. However, as bloggers have been asked not to reveal too much about these,  I’ll say no more here. Also, do make sure you have the audio stream enabled with exploring. Excellent and considered use is made of music by Canadian composer Trevor Morris, which adds further depth to Love, Henry.

Tahiti says that contributions from those willing to provide their thoughts and feedback will be incorporated into the installation, and she welcomes requests to bring in student or group tours to visit Love Henry.

Very definitely recommended.

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The mystery of the Egg in Second Life

Now open at LEA 19 as a part of the 9th Artist in Residence series is Livio Korobase’s The Egg. And a curious installation it is (slight pun intended).

The introductory notes provide a Theosophy Trust treatise on the role of the egg throughout human history. It’s a comprehensive piece, guiding the reader from the creation myth of the Cahuilla Indians by way of Scandinavia, Russia and China, through the Laws of Manu and asks us to consider the role of the egg in reproduction, the power of life, of creation, that it contains.  It’s also quite heady, and something that may well leave the reader just how it and the installation might relate to one another.

This presents a giant egg, supported atop a scaffold, and itself topped by a meditative frog. Below and around this lies a gently undulating landscape, semi-flooded and overlaid in places by mandalas. On this sits what I can only describe as a series of scenes, each one individual in style and presentation (and each uniquely identifiable as Livio’s work). Some of these offer elements those familiar with Livio’s past installations may recognise. Some of them are wonderfully interactive (touching and clicking is strongly encouraged, as is having local sounds enabled).

But what is their relationship with the introductory notes? Obviously, if one seeks meaning hard enough, it will be found; and in truth there are some subtle echoes between text and installation. The egg sits at the centre of everything, much as it is represented as being at the heart of all creation; and certainly, there is a lot of creation evident in the installation: scaffolds, ladders, wheelbarrows, and cement mixers. The egg is the source of life, and there are  references to life and love to be found. The egg is a cultural symbol, and there are cultural symbols in evidence here as well; some perhaps more obvious than others.

But all that said, I cannot help but feel that when all is said and done, Livio has approached this installation with a very large twinkle in his eye. While the Theosophy treatise on the egg may well stir the grey matter, he’s actually telling us not to look too deeply for a connection, but simply accept – and enjoy.

However you opt to interpret the installation, do be sure to visit – and make sure you spend time poking and touching and listening and enjoying. Above all, do make sure you pay a visit to the area under the egg, and follow the arrow (that is, click on it). It will lead you to the heart of the egg itself.

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Cica’s Dreamers in Second Life

The ninth round of the Linden Endowments for the Arts (LEA) Artist In Residence (AIR) programme kicked-off on July 1st, with the awarding of the LEA’s 20 AIR regions to their respective grantees. Under the terms of the AIR grants, those awarded a region have up to 4 months in which to prepare it for their installation, and have it formally open to the public for at least two months – although the set-up period is flexible, and can be a lot shorter if the artist(s) wish(es).

Cica Ghost opted to really maximise the time people could enjoy her work. While she only received the region on July 1st, it officially opened to the public on July 6th (an event I had to miss due to being away between the 5th and 7th inclusive).

Dreamers is a marvellous build which extends from the ground up into the sky, where eight scenes await visitors. The ground level presents a fantasy environment, perhaps lifted from a dream, full of bright colours and fantastical creatures and wheeled vehicles on a huge scale, all waiting to be explored, and bearing Cica’s colourful paintings, making careful examination of all of them a must.

Within the midst of this marvellous landscape sit sixteen long-necked heads, faces lifted towards the sky, eyes closed – the Dreamers of the installation’s title. Touch eight of them, and they will each allow you to share in their dream, transporting you to one of the eight skyborne scenes Cica has created overhead.

These will each be immediately recognisable to anyone familiar with Cica’s work, presenting as they do little extracts from past installations she’s created. So it is that through the Dreamers we once more get to see the likes of Little Town, Ghostville, Ruins, and Living in a Bowl, to name but four of the scenes on offer.

Small in size, these little scenes are enough to either pique curiosity (for the first-time visitor) or awaken memory (for those who visited the originals), setting one on a personal daydream. I could write a whole lot more about Dreamers, but really the best way to experience it is to go see it for yourself and have a little fun; it is a bright, uplifting place, full of images and daydreams, and there are more than a few poses and things to be found throughout which let you become a part of the settings, at least for a while.

Given only eight of the 16 Dreamers currently allow people to share in their dreams, I wonder if Cica might be adding to the installation as time progresses through to December, and the end of this round of AIR grants, allowing the remaining eight heads to share their slumbering imaginings with us. Or perhaps something else might appear in LEA 24 in due course.

Either way, I took the liberty of making a short film of what is there to enjoy now, if only to give a further flavour and whet appetites. So – enjoy!

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The HuMaNoiD side of Second Life

HuMaNoiD - LEA 6

HuMaNoiD – LEA 6

Making a welcome return to Second Life – for a limited period of time, at least – is Wendy Xeno’s HuMaNoiD, which can now be seen at LEA 6, having last been available on the grid a little over a year ago.

I first encountered HuMaNoiD far back in 2012, on the recommendation of Chestnut Rau. At the time, it was a fascinating, contemplative visit, and throughout several return visits over the years, I continued to find it an evocative place; I’m pleased to say this it still is.

HuMaNoiD - LEA 6

HuMaNoiD – LEA 6

For those who have visited HuMaNoiD in the past, all of the familiar elements are there: the ground level watery landscape, the cello awaiting a player as J.S. Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1: Prelude can be heard. Around this stand five doorways inviting visitors to open each in turn and step through, and explore the realms in the sky on the other side of each one.

Beyond these, water breaks the landscape into a series of vignettes the visitor is invited to explore. Again, for those who have been to HuMaNoiD in the past, there will be a pleasant feeling of familiarity and comfort to most of them, although one or two nuanced changes have been made from the original, the result of working within the dome needed to give the installation a feeling of an infinite open space;. However, it’s fair to say the changes enhance the region’s aesthetic; I particularly like the bridge suspended beneath balloons (seen at the top of this piece).

HuMaNoiD - LEA 6

HuMaNoiD – LEA 6

The sky spaces are in places similarly reworked, but all present environments rich in context and colour, and once again offer places of contemplation and introspection.  With the sky a little darker than previously, but the elements of poetry still to be found and read, a visit to HuMaNoiD offers much to all, whether you recall the original or make this opportunity a first visit.

One definitely not to be missed, I understand HuMaNoiD will remain at LEA 6 until the end of July.

HuMaNoiD - LEA 6

HuMaNoiD – LEA 6

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