Signs and portents in Second Life

Escenas / Scenes: El Miedo /The Fear
Escenas / Scenes: El Miedo / The Fear

Now open at MetaLES is the third instalment of Ux Hax and Romy Nayar’s 4-part series of scenes entitled Escenas / Scenes. Taken together, all four parts are apparently intended to tell a story, although they are not necessarily being presented in chronological sequence.

While I missed the first in the series,  EL Tiempo / The Time, which ran from November 1st through to the 14th, I did catch the second element, Decisiones / Decisions, which I wrote about here. This has now been replaced by El Miedo /The Fear, which opened on November 28th, and will remain at MetaLES for the next two weeks. And like the first two in the series, it is an installation on a gigantic scale.

Escenas / Scenes: El Miedo /The Fear
Escenas / Scenes: El Miedo / The Fear

Central to the piece is a woman standing in a room. A tall clock sides to one side, a sideboard to the other alongside an open window. Behind her, the door to the room stands slightly ajar, almost beckoning. Towering over all of this is a truly enormous figure of a crouching man, arms wrapped in a straitjacket, while before the woman – who is arrayed in black – a baby’s crib fades repeatedly in and out of view.

The first thing which tends to spring to mind on seeing the main scene – the woman and crib in the room – is that it reflects the loss of an infant child; but what then of the looming figure of the straitjacketed man? What role does he play? The husband / father, perhaps, driven mad over the loss of the child? The cause of the baby’s death? Or something else entirely?

Both Decisiones / Decisions and EL Tiempo / The Time seemed to me to resonate with elements of the Major Arcana from the tarot – The Hermit appearing in EL Tiempo / The Time; with  Justice, The Chariot and The Hanged Man in Decisiones / Decisions. Within El Miedo /The Fear there is what appears to be at least one reference to the tarot; supported in the woman’s cupped hands is a stone tower, perhaps representative of The Tower from the Major Arcana.

Escenas / Scenes: El Miedo /The Fear
Escenas / Scenes: El Miedo / The Fear

If this indeed the intended symbolism, it fits the broader part of the story: The Tower is associated with sudden, disruptive, and potentially destructive change – and what could be more destructive and disruptive than the death of an infant child? But there is potentially more here as well.

The Fool is another card from the Major Arcana, and is more archaically known as  Le Mat or Il Matto, which as well as meaning “vagabond” – the usual depiction of The Fool in tarot decks -, can also mean “the madman.”   Thus, it’s very hard not to see a degree of further symbolism linking this scene with the tarot through the (mad?) man in the straitjacket.

There are two other symbols event in the piece which also appear in the previous parts: time and the crow. Quite how they fit into things is unclear; but in EL Tiempo / The Time, the clock suggested the subject of death to me – and the wheel of fortune elements of Decisiones / Decisions focused around The Hanged Man may have carried similar connotations; so again, it might be a further thematic flow evident here as well, through the grandfather clock as it presides over the woman’s apparent mourning and the fading crib. The crow’s presence, as he stands upon a table might present a two-fold role: that of our narrator or communicator through the scenes, or possibly as The Trickster.

Escenas / Scenes: El Miedo /The Fear
Escenas / Scenes: El Miedo / The Fear

Once again, I offer no attempt to present a complete interpretation of the story – or even this particular scene. With one more piece still to appear in December, it would be presumptuous to offer commentary on the story as a whole, while the notes I give on this scene are more thoughts rather than any attempt at interpretation. If, like me you have been intrigued by the first two parts of  Escenas / Scenes, then I do urge you to see Part III.

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