Blogger, activist, supporter of live entertainment, raconteur, content creator – there are many ways in which Toysoldier Thor can be defined. However, the one by which he is perhaps best known is that of artist – and deservedly so.
A resident of Second Life since 2008, Toy works in both 2D and 3D mediums, many of which bridge the physical and virtual “divide” in the most interesting of ways. While his art has been widely exhibited across the grid – and even interpreted through dance – perhaps the best way to become acquainted with his work is by visiting his in-world gallery.
It would be easy to attempt witticism by referring to the gallery as his “toybox”, but it would also be unfair; what is on offer across five floors of viewing rooms is a veritable treasure trove of unique art. All of the pieces on display are available for purchase (and any aficionado of art is going to be hard-pressed not to walk away with one or two purchases); but more to the point, each comes with its one descriptive note card, obtained by touching the work in question.
These cards are well worth reading. Far from being a purely descriptive piece on the art itself, they delve into the history of the work – the inspiration behind it, the techniques used to produce it, the sources from which Toy drew in developing it, and so on. In this way, the cards not only reveal more about the piece, they allow us to share in the entire creative process, and provide links to influences and so on, thus providing a unique insight into not only Toy’s craft, but also to Toy himself.
The uppermost floor of the gallery includes a number of Toy’s mesh sculptures, including the remarkable Shattered. A remarkable and emotive piece Toy has produced as both 2D art in the physical world and a 3D mesh model in Second Life, Shattered and the artist have been engaged on a remarkable journey, further narrowing the perceived divide between the virtual and the physical; the piece first becoming a 3D printed model, and which now looks set to become cast in bronze in the physical world as well (and which you can still pre-order).
It’s actually this element of physical / virtual cross-over that I find really compelling in Toy’s art. By this, I don’t mean how he might use Photoshop or other digital wizardry in order to edit and enhance photos originating from in-world, but how he actually combines virtual and physical world images to create some quite spectacular works of art. As examples of this, I would point visitors to both Assassin’s Prayer and to Death Seer (seen in the above picture, on the right), which are, in a gallery of quite extraordinary art, utterly stunning.
Those familiar with toy’s work will need no prompting when it comes to a visit to his gallery. If, however, you’ve not taken the time to pay a visit, then it is well worth adding to your itinerary. Anyone who enjoys and appreciates art in either the virtual or the physical world is unlikely to be disappointed; quite the reverse, in fact.