Second Life is an outstanding medium for presenting art, and 2016 has again seen a huge range of 3D, 3D and immersive art exhibitions and experiences presented to users, many of which I’ve been unable t include in these pages – my apologies to all of those I’ve missed.
While it may seem a little unfair given there is such a wealth of art available in Second Life, I’m taking this opportunity to point to three installations in particular which have caught my attention during the year. I’m doing so in particular with two because they will be closing on December 31st, having reached the natural end of their time in-world. However, all three are more than worth the time taken in visiting them, and so if you haven’t done so already, or if you did visit earlier in the year, I’d like to again offer them as destinations for your in-world time this holiday period.
The first of these personal choices is Invictus by Storm Septimus, This is a stunning visual interpretation of William Ernest Henley’s famous 1875 poem of the same name – although it was initially untitled for around the first 25 years of its existence. It is a stirring statement of our innate determination to overcome the adversities we face in life, no matter how dark, and that even with the portal of death awaiting us, we alone determine our fate.
As I note in my review, Storms design leads the visitor through scenes evoked by the words of Henley’s poem, guided by the verses themselves. The imagery throughout is powerful, reflecting not only the theme of the poem, but also a sense of Storm’s own experiences, which themselves add to the sense of immersion we experience. Across a wild stretch of water, reached via rowing boat (symbolic of the fact we are captains of our souls) sits the serene setting of a ruined cathedral. While outside of the poem itself, it is not out-of-place within Storm’s installation, providing as it does a place for contemplation and reflection, complete with symbolism reflective of the poem’s heart.
Preiddeu Annwn, designed and built by Hypatia Pickens, a professor of English at the University of Rochester, New York, and her students, is a fabulous visualisation of the famous gnomic / philosophical Middle Welsh poem, Preiddeu Annwn (or Preiddeu Annwfn, “The Spoils of Annwfn“). As I noted in July 2016, its function is to provide an interactive means by which the poem and its themes can be explored and better understood, both within itself and with regards to broader medieval Welsh mythology and medieval literature. It is also an extraordinary piece of scholarly art.
The installation allows visitors to explore the poem through and open cycle of paths beautifully laid out in an underwater environment which presents a sense of entering the Otherworld of the poem. For those who follow the route through to the point of “following the waves” can visit a medieval studies library containing holding in all aspects of medieval literature, history, art and theology.
My final recommendation is another installation due to close on December 31st, having also reached the end of its allotted time within Second Life. It is Tahiti Rae’s EVRE, which opened in September, and formed the subject of an article in this blog shortly thereafter.
EVRE has been very much a living installation, host to numerous events and discussions since it opened, all of which have been reflective of the philosophical core of the installation: are we everywhere at all times?
As I noted at the time, Tahiti is one of the more thought-provoking, consistently engaging and visually aware immersive artists in Second Life, and this is amply demonstrated within the 13 environments present within EVRE, which conduct us through a study of consciousness, connectedness and time. Rich in content and ideas, it fully deserves exploration and consideration; if you haven’t done so already, I strong urge you to find time to visit it before the year’s end and immerse yourself – Just as I do with both Preiddeu Annwn and Invictus.