Now open at the R&D Art Gallery complex is Five Years of Fractals, celebrating five years of Gem Preiz’s remarkable fractal art in Second Life. Split over two floors of the exhibition space, the displayed art is divided between retrospectives of Gem’s past installations at the Linden Endowment for the Arts, and his exhibitions and installations displayed elsewhere in Second Life.
Normally displayed in a very large format, Gem’s work is always a masterpiece of fractal design and storytelling on a grand scale. As such, what is seen within Five Years is but the tip of the iceberg – a soupçon if you will – that should remind those familiar with Gem’s work with the power and majesty of his art and hopefully serve to whet the appetite of those new to his work such that they will want to see more.
I certainly fall into the former of these two groups. I’ve long been an admirer of Gem’s art and his virtuosity in both setting a mood and telling a story for almost as long as he has been exhibiting in Second Life, and a number of my personal favourites out of his installations are presented here, both directly and indirectly. The ground level section of the exhibition space presents a retrospective of, for want of a better category name, Gem’s “non-LEA” work. Some of this is presented through individual images, other is animated frames which page through scenes from those exhibitions. On this level we can again experience Polychronies, Rhapsody in Blue Fractals, Myths, Temples, Metropolis – complete with silhouettes of the figures which formed a part of it painted on the walls behind the images – and more.
As well as the art itself, there are books of his work visitors can peruse and also links to videos of some of this exhibitions – which I unhesitatingly recommend watching, bringing together as they do not only the art as it could be seen in situ whilst on display, but which also marry the images to the music Gem has offered with each installation, thus, through the videos as well as this exhibition, we can re-immerse ourselves in his art or gain greater familiarity with it and understand the inter-weaving of images and music.
Reached via teleport discs, the lower level of the exhibition space focuses on Gem’s LEA exhibitions, as noted. Among the pieces displayed, we can once again experience the visions of his Cathedral Dreamer, journey through his trilogy of stories, Vestiges and Wrecks, which formed his Heritage pairing, and No Frontiers, the unofficial sequel to Heritage, while images from the likes of The Anthropic Principle and No Frontiers cover sections of the walls behind some of the images. As with the upper level of the gallery, objects offer links to videos of some of the installations, while spaced around the gallery area are props and elements from others – such as the air car and the shuttle which Gem his used in his installations, allowing visitors to fly through them.
Fractal art is not uncommon in Second Life, but there is something very unique in Gem’s work. Perhaps it is the way in which it reflects both his interests – cosmology, nature, geology – and blends them with his background education in science and mathematics to present stunning visions of nature and future (or even ancient) scenes which are evocative, and both beautifully geometric and wonderfully fluid. Perhaps it is because, in composing his pieces, he presents not just individual pieces of art, but entire stories we can explore and witness.
Whatever the reason, I very much welcome this opportunity to revisit – at least in part – many of his past extraordinary installations – and in doing so, to look forward to his next.
- Five Years of Fractals, R&D Gallery (Gigli Waves, rated: Moderate)