Gem Preiz: a retrospective in Second Life

Gem Preiz Retrospective: Complexity (2013)
Gem Preiz Retrospective: Complexity (2013)

Open now through June at LEA 26 is a retrospective of Gem Preiz’s entire catalogue of fractal art installations in Second Life. For anyone who is familiar with his work, they offer a visual treat in spades; while for those who have yet to encounter Gem’s stunning canvases of intricate, fractal-generated images, all of which combine technology with wonderfully organic forms, even when depicting artificial structures, there has never been a better opportunity to be immersed in his work.

The installations are reached via individual teleports, arranged in chronological, left-to-right order as the visitor looks at them, each with its original info card giver located on the wall above the teleport disc. This allows visitors to not only visit each of Gem’s past installation in turn, but also to witness his growing confidence in using fractal generators to not only create scenes, but to weave narratives through his work, offering insight into his own growth within his medium.

Gem Preiz Retrospective: Heaven and Hell (2012)
Gem Preiz Retrospective: Heaven and Hell (2012)

I have covered Gem’s work extensively in this blog (all of my reviews can be found by following this tag, or view the menu: Second Life > Reviews > Art Reviews > Art in SL > Gem Preiz), and so was personally delighted to see his two earliest installations, Heaven and Hell and Complexity are included in the retrospective, as I’ve not previously had the opportunity to view them.

Heaven and Hell, Gem’s first ever exhibition in Second Life, dates from 2012 and takes as its lead a quote from French artist Georges Braque, “Art is made to disturb, science reassures.”

“It seemed to me funny and interesting to evoke the concepts of hell and paradise, which are by definition irrational, by means of one of the most accomplished domains of the science: mathematics and fractals.” Gem says of the installation.  inviting people to cross the Styx and enter the devil’s domain before being reborn in paradise.

Gem Preiz Retrospective: Polychronies (2014)
Gem Preiz Retrospective: Polychronies (2014)

Complexity, first displayed in October 2013 at Timamoon Arts, is an intriguing voyage of creation and growth, physically and in terms of knowledge, reflected in a quote, “The detailed knowledge of the world helps us to better understand it, but we never understand it better than when we forget its details.”

It takes us through fifteen images, each an ever more complex outgrowth of the last, carrying us from a single fractal at the centre of a blue realm, to the most intricate and complex shapes which form their own universe, expanding ever outwards until at last we come to … what appears to be a single fractal floating in a blue realm. A perfect summation of the quote.

Gem Preiz Retrospective: Metropolis (2015)
Gem Preiz Retrospective: Metropolis (2015)

From Complexity, one can travel onwards through Cathedral Dreamer – my first exposure to Gem’s art,  to Polychronies, which still stands as one of my favourite installations by Gem,  and onwards through to Metropolis, with his most recent joint work: Heritage: Vestiges and Wrecks, also on display above the same entrance hall, thus providing a complete tour de force of Gem’s work to date.

Gem’s work is a wonderful mix of art and science, organised structure and organic growth. Within it complex themes are interwoven, which also doesn’t prevent him from having a little fun as well. But when taken as a whole, his work simply isn’t something to be missed, as this retrospective amply demonstrates.

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