Seeking Invisible People

Invisible People
Invisible People

I’ve mentioned previously in this blog that I’m an unashamed fan of Rebeca Bashly, so when I found out via Ziki Questi that Rebeca has a new exhibit in Second Life, time had to be set aside to visit it.

Invisible People is a stunning piece which pokes at the social conscience within us. It is simple enough in explanation, but as with all things, simplicity hides a complex structure.

Scattered around La Citta Perduta (the Lost City) on the region Land of Glory are twenty-one little vignettes. Each features a character or two, sometimes three, engaged in various activities. Some are lounging on or against railings, some are seated, some are shuffling along or engaged in various activities from feeding or scaring pigeons to spraying graffiti on walls. All have one thing in common: they are textured such that if you align your camera correctly, they fade into the background of the scene behind them.

Invisible People
Invisible People

This takes a little practice, and aligning things comes easier with some of the sculptures than with others. It’s also fair to say the finished effect can also rely on your choice of lighting, windlight-wise, so you might what to have a little play when you visit – the region’s default lighting isn’t always the best. Also, depending on the steadiness of your hand, the impact of lag (and either end of the connection) and the vagaries of working with the camera and camera controls, you might also want to turn off basic shaders while fine-tuning the position of your camera on a given character and then re-enable them before snapping your shots. However, the finished result is worth the effort, not just because of the sense of achievement you get when things are lined-up, but because the very act of trying to align things draws you into each scene, and  – for me at least – results in seeing it from an entirely different perspective.

Invisible People
Invisible People

“This is a story, presented thru camouflage body art,” Rebeca tells us through the introductory notecard. “About all those people that you pass by on the streets every day and never notice them…” And this is where, perhaps, our social conscience is pricked.

“Invisible people” is a term which is often used to describe those is society we so often “don’t see” (or prefer not to see) or contemplate. The infirm, the elderly, the disabled, the homeless, the underpaid. As well as presenting a unique and engaging piece of visual trickery through the careful application of textures, this is a piece which actually underlines the way in which we do so often, individually and collectively, turn a blind eye to those is society we might prefer not to think about.

Each of the little vignettes raises questions as to what it is we’re actually seeing. Some appear to be straightforward, such as the couple kissing on the steps or the young boy rushing to startle the pigeons in the square. Others, however, carry perhaps something of a different message.  Is the man curled on the bench resting, or is he lying there for want of nowhere else to sleep at night? And what of the man with his head inside the dumpster? Is is dumping something or looking for something? Then there’s the young girl leaning against an alleyway wall and beneath a lamp, is she merely awaiting a friend or a client? Is the old woman carrying her shopping in her oversized bag, or her entire life?

Invisible People
Invisible People

These possible subtexts gives Invisible People a powerful voice which, for me at least, reaches beyond the visual appeal of the pieces. indeed, it might be said that the latter is simply a means of drawing the observer into each of the scenes, opening our minds as to what each actually might represent or how it might be interpreted.

Certainly, in my case,  and as I explored the streets of the lost City, discovering each of the little vignettes in turn, I found myself thinking more and more of one song in particular.

Invisible People is open now, and for those who can photograph all 21 of the sculptures as they are intended to be seen, Rebeca is offering a personal gift. It’s a wonderful, thought-provoking piece and well worth taking time to visit. Recommended.

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