Rose Borchovski’s latest installation at the Linden Endowment for the Arts opened on January 11th. I missed the actual event, but popped along to visit last week, and thought it time I got around to putting words to thoughts and reactions to the piece.
The Arrival is a full sim installation which is both a standalone piece and a continuation of the saga of her Susa’s – child-like beings of a mischievous and sometimes malevolent bent. Here they have captured a fish, and celebrations of the fact turn to questions as the fish dies literally beneath them as they use it as a stage for their jubilation; are they to blame for the poor fish’s demise?
Or that’s one of four explanations Rose gives for the piece. The others include memories from childhood, the inspiration of other artists, and even the influence of religion. In introducing the piece on the LEA blog, Rowan Derryth provides thought-provoking insight into the work which includes more on the possible origins of the piece – and I’ll leave you to go read her thoughts.
Quite how you interpret the work is up to you – you can follow Rowan’s thoughts, which are themselves based on commentary from Rose herself, or you can let your own thoughts percolate as your explore. The latter, by the way, is best done by using the teleport at the arrival point to get you started.
For my part, I found the piece something of an allegory / metaphor for how we humans behave, always busy exploiting this, that or the other, congratulating ourselves on what we can achieve and how we can enjoy everything, with little thought for what might happen when things are gone and we’re left to ponder our own role in their disappearance / extinction …
The Arrival is a fully immersive installation. The level of detail is stunning and ranges from the macro to the micro, plus there is a complete sound scape to take-in (scripted sounds rather than a media feed, so you’ll need sounds active to fully appreciate the work), and all manner of things to touch and prod – and which may surprise you in return. You’ll need to take your time as you explore, not only to make sure you experience all the interactive elements, but also because the detail really is amazing – a genuine tour-de-force as to what can be achieved in SL both in terms of art and in immersive, engaging environments. Make sure, as well, that you accept the region’s windlight settings on arrival, if asked. They are as much a part of the piece as anything else.
The Susas themselves are (as ever) marvellously made and beautifully expressive, particularly when there are grouped together when their child-like innocence is dispelled by looking into the eyes of several of them and witnessing a mischief which might border on malice lurking there. There also seems to be something of a hierarchy among them, as well, which is also hinted at in their expressions.
There is a charm and a disquiet about the piece. The charm comes in part from the very evident care with which all the piece within the installation have been created created – witness the line of peguins going for a dive towards the top of this piece. It also comes from the early sections of the piece where there is much merry-making and happiness, and well as wonderful little touches which are a delight to find (a little book with swimming fish!).
Move deeper into the installation as the story progresses, and the disquiet grows. Full credit here to Caer Balogh, a long-time collaborator with Rose, and her incredible scripted sound scape, which does much to set the mood as it is realised the fish is dead and questions arise. It was towards the middle of the piece that my own conscience was pricked and my thoughts turned to the potential for the piece being a allegory / metaphor, as mentioned above. A scene with two Susas tearing at one another’s faces and biting one another did little to quieten the unease; and while it certainly gave pause for thought, it most certainly did not put me off continuing my explorations. Like many outstanding pieces of art, The Arrival seeks to challenge, not offend.
All in all, this is a fabulous piece of art for all of these reasons and more, and very definitely worth a visit to explore, consider and participate in.
So, now you’re hooked, why not go and see what tales you can land for yourself?