I’ve been an admirer of Gem Preiz’s fractal art ever since I first encountered it several years ago on my travels as a reviewer of art in Second Life.
This year, 2017, marks the fifth anniversary of Gem’s first exhibitions in Second Life, and he has been marking the with two retrospectives. The first, A Retrospective, was held at the start of the year, and you can read about it here. The second, appropriately called Five Years of Fractals, opened in September 2017, and you can read about it here.
To help celebrate this anniversary – and the fact that Gem himself is fast approaching his 10th anniversary in SL -, I had the opportunity to sit down with him in late September 2017 and discuss his work with him on behalf of Kultivate Magazine. It was a fascinating opportunity to learn about his arrival in Second Life, his art, his interests and inspirations. If I say so myself, the interview is well worth taking the time to read simply because Gem does have so much to say that is worth reading; this being the case, I thought I’d help whet appetites by offering a few excerpts from our chat.
On Second Life and The Potential for Artistic Expression
I actually discovered Second Life in 2007 while on a trip to America. I was actually there to study new technologies for use in business, but discovered a world with wonderful personal opportunities in this social and playful virtual world.
My awareness of the potential for sharing creations coincided with a growing interest in digital imagery. In particular, I discovered two artists – Fiona Leitner and Milly Sharple … Seeing Milly’s work helped me see the possibilities for displaying my own art within Second Life, and in reaching an audience from around the world while also having the freedom to create exhibition spaces which would be impossible in the physical world.
On His Passion for Fractals
I have a science and maths-focused education and have always worked with technology. Because of this, the computer naturally became my paint brush.
Some of my passions include ecology, Earth sciences, and humanity’s relationship and place in Nature. Astronomy and cosmology particularly bring together my fascination with science with my own imagination and fascination for the human capacity to imagine, discover, explore and learn. All of these play a role in my creative expression and imaginings.
… Fractals allow me to create – to paint, if you will … with such a diversity of results … In addition, the underlying mathematical aspect make them welcome to my rational, scientific side.
On Science and Science Fiction
We are the ultimate product of life on this planet. We have been granted a brain which allows us to understand and influence our environment. At the same time, we question what is our purpose as a species …
Science, in its broadest sense, is the means by which we do so, through exploration, analysis, deduction, questioning and reason … We have it in us to resolve all of society’s issues – health, wealth, the environment – if only we are willing … I have a passion for science and a concern for the environment. We need both to secure our future – if we are to have a future.
Thus, Fractals and digital art are a means for Gem to express all of this to an audience, while at the same time giving flight to his creative narrative through both his visual art and the written word – as narrative forms a strong element in his pieces. Sometimes this may be obvious, such as a story running within one of his exhibitions, as with Heritage: Wrecks reviewed here) or it may be subtle: a story suggested by and introduction to his images, but which is left to the visitor’s imagination to flesh out.
Through the interview, we were able to explore these ideas at some length, delving into just how some of his more recent exhibits came into being. We also explored his unique approach to reproducing his work in Second Life, as well as his ruminations on the platform as someone who has been a part of it now for almost a decade.
Gem is a genuinely warm, caring individual, and it was both a privilege and pleasure to chat to him for Kultivate. You can read the full interview in the October edition of the magazine, beautifully illustrated by images from Gem’s work selected directly from his library, which he kindly opened up to us to peruse in preparing the piece.
Click the magazine cover on the right to open it for reading in a new browser tab. You can also catch up on all of my reviews of his work in these pages through a dedicated blog tag.