Now open at CKB Art Gallery curated by Ceakay (CK) Ballyhoo is The Haze. It is the latest installation in a series of living stories featuring art and focused on the adventures of a principal character, whose journey we are invited to follow in words, images and settings. For The Haze, CK returns to her own character of Ellie, who featured in A Watercolour Wander (read here for more) and The Forest Beyond (read here for more) in a collaborative story developed with 2D and 3D artist Silas Merlin.
“It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” CK says of the installation. “An offer from Silas to use his new builds and sketches to form a story. Using Silas’s new digital sketches and the ruins and creatures he has created, a world started to form, darker than anything we’ve either done before, the story turned into a nightmare: Ellie’s nightmare.”
The result is a full region installation far removed from the green and pleasant lands of the first two instalments of Ellie’s dreamworld adventures. Instead, visitors find themselves in a desert-like, ghostly landscape, heavy with a dusty haze (I recommend exploring using the default windlight). Instructions on following the story can be found at the landing point – and should be read. In short, look for the little illuminated STORY stones set on the ground along the way, each one presents a chapter in the unfolding nightmare.
Another difference between this and Ellie’s previous adventures is that not only are the chapters presented in note card form when the stones are clicked, but approach a stone will trigger it being read to you – just have local sounds enabled (*not* the audio stream) to hear the readings. These readings can actually overlap one another, depending on how many are playing when you visit, and where you are in relation to the different stones. This might annoy some; for me, they actually added extra ambience: whispering ghostly voices, overlapping but each telling a story – if you listen carefully and focus on just one of the voices.
The setting, with its deserting buildings, twisted trees, creatures and ruins, presents an eerie landscape, barren despite the trees – which appear a sickly yellow-green, rather than the usual robust green of fir-trees. It’s a haunting place in which scenes loom up at you. They can seem disjointed, sudden – and very nightmare-like for doing so. Amidst all the rocks and fir-trees, seemingly dead trees also sit, their branches denuded of leaves, left to form easels on which groups of Silas’ drawings sit. These also have little STORY stones alongside of them which, when touched, will deliver background notes on a scene to you in note card form, adding further depth the the story.
Silas’ art is as captivating as ever – and there is a lot to see from buildings to gnomes to creatures to rocks (someone them resembling creatures) to people awaiting discovery. The 2D art forming the background stories is cleverly presented and offers an illustrative style reminiscent of a storybook – so thoroughly in keeping with the setting. He and CK have created an immersive tale, one which invites exploration – and be sure to keep an eye out for the Boogeyman and also the dragon rezzer – the latter will allow you to fly up to the higher reaches of the setting, unreachable by foot, and essential to the story.
Also when visiting, don’t miss the UP teleport at the landing point – it will take you to a sky gallery where you can find CK’s own art, more from Silas as well as from other artists, all taken from CK’s personal collection.