Asterion Coen at LEA28: at what price art?

Update, December 4th: Asterion took the time to contact me and explain some of this issues which impacted his installation at LEA28. I’ve therefore offered a follow-up to this article which includes his comments, which I encourage you to read.

The fifth round of the LEA’s Artist In Residence (AIR) programme is in its final two months, and will draw to a close on January 31st, 2014. Already applications are open for round 6, and in the meantime, we’re well into the minimum time frame those awarded a region under the programme must open it to public access.

Asterion Coen was one of those awarded the use of a full region under AIR 5, and his build can be found on LEA28. Quite what the intent is with it, and why it was considered an “outstanding” (to quote the LEA Committee’s statement on the quality of the proposals granted the use of a full region) is, frankly, baffling.

Asterion Coen, LEA28
Asterion Coen, LEA28

There is no doubt that he is a gifted creator. His military vehicles, ships and submarines,  military and civilian aircraft, trains and so on, are all beautifully executed, very well detailed and often a tour de force of prim design and construction. You can find them on the Marketplace, ranging in price from around L$900 through to over L$5,000 – and until the end of January 2014, you can find a good proportion of variants of those commercial models sitting on LEA28.

Tanks, trucks, buses, trains and a Concorde (partially embedded in a wall), sit on a platform of building false fronts and from which a Star Wars space ship is taking off / landing and above which a B-52 bomber looms. Under the platform sits a dockyard where many of Asterion’s ship and submarine models are docked. Quite why they are here, or what the build is intended to represent is unclear. A brief entry in his profile Picks suggests that it is simply intended to show the power of the prim to create a wide range of vehicles when many have turned to mesh.

Asterion Coen, LEA28
Asterion Coen, LEA28

As a concept, this isn’t an invalid idea for an installation; in many respects the prim is still the backbone of content creation in SL – and still the only means to actually build in-world. I’m just sadly unconvinced that this installation actually achieves such a goal. Perhaps more guidance was needed from someone within the LEA to help visualise the strengths and attractiveness which were hopefully present in the original proposal. As it is, what is on display comes across as less of an exhibit and more of a private sandbox. Given that the majority of models do appear to be from Asterion’s commercial range of offerings (although none of them are actually on sale in the build), it also comes over as something of an inadvertent window into his SL Marketplace store. Not that there is anything wrong with an artist selling their works; just that in this case, the cart seems to be well before the horse, so to speak.

Others may see things differently; for my part, and given there were some 30 applications for the 20 regions on offer, successive visits to LEA28 have left me wondering what might have been, had the aforementioned guidance perhaps have been given, or indeed what might have been had the region been awarded to another proposal.

Asterion Coen, LEA28
Asterion Coen, LEA28

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