Artemis Gallerie: of WAR and violence

Friday, December 6th, 2013 saw the opening of Nino Vichan’s latest work in SL, WAR: We Annihilate Remotely, which opened at Galerie Artemis on Friday December 6th.

Nino’s work is both creative and visually stunning, and he is an artist unafraid of tackling political and social issues, presenting clear-cut messages within evocative pieces that challenge one to think. At the same time, his immersive work can be simply amazing and enjoyed in its own right – as with When the Mind’s I Listens, a brilliant use of space and particle generation which was displayed at LEA6 earlier in 2013.

Nino Vichon's WAR: We Annihilate Remotely
Nino Vichan – WAR: We Annihilate Remotely

On the surface, WAR: We Annihilate Remotely appears to focus on what is a provocative and contentious issue:  the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) to undertake acts of aggression half a world away.

This is a topic worthy of debate and discussion; one which has many sides to it. Those who favour the use of UAVs and other unmanned weapons systems will point to both the fact that as they are operated remotely, they present zero risk to those operating them, and that they are so technologically advanced they can be used against a target aggressor with “minimal” risk to a wider (and potentially innocent) civilian population.

Nino Vichon's WAR: We Annihilate Remotely
Nino Vichan – WAR: We Annihilate Remotely

The flip side to this is of course, is the very fact that the use of such weapons platforms are so “risk free” and “surgically precise” perhaps encourages their proactive use. Something which is enhanced be the perception that they can be used to “manage” the loss of innocent lives down to “acceptable levels”. Even the fact that innocent lives can still be lost has itself been sanitised in the public consciousness  – they are no longer victims, they are “collateral damage”. In short, the very act of using such weapons becomes so clinical, so “clean”, that they risk becoming the preferred method of response to any situation, whether warranted or not.

There are wider aspects of the debate as well. Does the use of such systems enhance the security of those “back home” in the nation deploying them, or does it put them at greater risk of becoming retaliatory targets through acts of terror? As the use of use systems becomes more ingrained in the public consciousness, how long before the deployment of similar systems to deal with matters of domestic unrest or civil disobedience is seen as acceptable? There’s even the potential for cross-over discussion with virtual environments, where many excuse their own acts of aggression against others on the grounds that it is “only digital”, and “no real harm” is done.

Nino Vichon's WAR: We Annihilate Remotely
Nino Vichan – WAR: We Annihilate Remotely

Sadly, WAR: We Annihilate Remotely fails to address either its intended target or any potential wider issues. Indeed, I have to say that from my perspective, it fails to deliver much of anything at all. Even the note card on the subject matter of the installation may not be an obvious find for some visiting the piece (click on the image of Nino to receive it).

Yes, there are some impressive models on display, and there is a minimalistic approach to the use of colour (everything is predominantly red, white or black), coupled with a clever use of binary and circuitry as imagery. But at the same time I couldn’t help but feel the piece lacks any real statement, and is perhaps superficial in its presentation. And that’s a shame, because there really is much to explore, real and digital, in the intended subject matter.

Also at Galerie Artemis, and running through until mid-December, is a collaborative exhibition forming a part of the 2013 2Lei project, entitled Regaining Freedom.

Kicca Igaly: Free...Free at Last! a part of Regaining Freedom
Kicca Igaly: Free…Free at Last! a part of Regaining Freedom

Now in its fourth year, 2Lei began as a project involving artists, gallery owners, musicians, etc., with the aim of raise awareness and disseminate events related to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25th.

In Regaining Freedom, which opened on November 19th and runs through until Sunday December 15th, presents eight pieces of machinima created by SL artists as commentary on the many and varied forms of violence against women, all of which surround a centrepiece sculpture  created by Kicca Igaly entitled Free…Free at last!

As this is a presentation of videos, you’ll need to have media streaming enabled; just click on any of the media-on-a-prim (MoaP) whiteboards to watch a film. Images of the participating artists are located alongside each whiteboard, all of which include a YouTube link to the video in question, allowing you to watch them via a web browser if you’d prefer.

Not all of the pieces are original; some were originally created for other purposes, although their message remains clear. Some many not actually play in your country – I found Gregory Kappler’s Out of Paris blocked as a result of Warner / Chappell music’s PEDL. Some are highly charged and all are visually impressive.

The participating artists are: Kicca Igaly, Noke Yuzita, LeMelonRouge Onyett, Mary Wickentower, Natascha Randt and Karima Hoisan, Yesikita Coppola, Mauro Enyo, Gregory Kappler, Elros Tuominen and Holala Alter.

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