Of ringworlds, time, and field agents (3)

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home at Holly Kai Park, unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, January 21st 19:00: Ringworld

Gyro Muggins reads the first in Larry Niven’s science fiction series focused on a gigantic artificial ring, the Ringworld, built around a far away star at a distance roughly equivalent to the orbit of the Earth around the Sun.

Roughly 1.6 million km wide, the ring rotates slowly around its central star to provide a gravity on its inner surface roughly equivalent to that of Earth, and it has an atmosphere suitable for humans. It was built by a race known as the Puppeteers, who have been working to affect both humans and the cat-like, warrior Kzin.

Regarded as a classic, Niven’s novel (and later series) is also curiously contradictory. On the one hand, it is focused on exact science of advanced technologies, but on the other it engages in bizarrely pseudo-scientific fantasy conceptions.

The series sits within Niven’s broader Known Space series, the fictional setting of about a dozen novels and several collections of short stories, and which encompasses his Man-Kzin wars series. In addition, the idea of the ringworld it presents is regarded as the inspiration for the Halo series of video games, and there are multiple similarities between the two.

Tuesday, January 22nd 19:00: The Time Keeper

The inventor of the world’s first clock is punished for trying to measure God’s greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years.

Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.

He returns to our world – now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began – and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, Father Time must save them both. And stop the world to do so.

Join Caledonia Skytower and Kayden OConnell as they read Mitch Albom’s 2012 novel.

Wednesday, January 23rd 19:00: The Jennifer Morgue

Corwyn Allen reads the second volume in the Laundry Files by Charles Stross.

Bob Howard is an IT expert and occasional field agent for the Laundry, the branch of Her Majesty’s Secret Service that deals with occult threats. In this second outing, Bob Howard finds himself dragged into the machinations and conspiracies of megalomaniac multi-billionaire Ellis Billington, The Black Chamber and The Laundry…

Dressed in a tuxedo (what else for a globe-trotting British Secret Agent?) and sent to the Caribbean, Bob must infiltrate Billington’s inner circle via his luxurious yacht. His mission? Prevent the Billington from violating a treaty that will bring down the wrath of an ancient underwater race upon humanity’s head.

Offering a wonderful pastiche on both the world of James Bond and a wonderful mimicking of Ian Fleming’s style of writing, Stross produces a novel that also evokes Lovecraftian overtones that is delightfully entertaining to read. In true Bond style, Bob is (reluctantly) partnered with an American agent – in this case a stunningly beautiful woman who also just happens to be a soul-sucking succubus from another dimension. Which, being the case, marks Bob’s mission somewhat differently to those of Bond: not only must he stop the bad guys and come through this at best shaken, he must totally avoid being stirred towards getting the girl…

Thursday, January 24th:

19:00: Moana Part 3

With Shandon Loring & Caledonia Skytower. Also in Kitely grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI.

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

With Finn Zeddmore.

My Anonymous Shadow in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: My Anonymous Shadow

My Anonymous Shadow is the intriguing name of an exhibition of work by Dixmix Source, owner and curator of DiXmiX Gallery, that opened on Saturday, January 19th, 2019. On display are 12 images focusing on – as the name implies – the photographer’s shadow, or in some cases the artist’s avatar presented as a shadow; hence the intriguing nature of the exhibition.

It’s an innovative approach to presenting what might be thought of as avatar studies; within each image we see an anonymous figure; a silhouette, sometimes cast by light across a floor or wall, and others, the shadowy outline of a figure expressing emotion or framed within a setting, or abstractly caught in what otherwise be the pages of a graphic novel. But in each and every one of them, the black figure is both the centre of the image, yet (literally) a dark unknown.

DiXmiX Gallery: My Anonymous Shadow

With a considered use of colour in some of the images (more blatant in the likes of Shadow 5 and Shadow 7; softer and more refined in the likes of Shadow 9 and Shadow 11), the use of abstract presentation (again, Shadow 9 together with Shadow 3 and its mirror twin, Shadow 12), and carefully composed character studies (such as Shadow 8  and Shadow 10), this is a fascinating series. There is a narrative within each piece, waiting to be told – and that narrative very much depends on how you approach this exhibition.

For example, they might be considered individually, and as they were formed: pieces depicting an actual shadow cast on a surface, or a figure shown in deliberate silhouette. Viewed in this way, the story each image tells tends to be one of composition, balance, tone, capture and presentation; the play of light and dark, the contrast of shadow and object, in which the shadow / silhouette is divorced from association with a person, but is simply a component part of the artist’s use of contrasting elements to complete the whole, even when as expressive as Shadow 8.

DiXmiX Gallery: My Anonymous Shadow

But if they are considered as a whole, and within the context of the title, the narrative becomes more involved and branched. On the one hand, they could be taken as imaginings on what our shadows might be doing whilst we are otherwise occupied: out in their own world, exploring, experiencing, searching. On the other, these pieces might be seen as reflections of thoughts and emotions; considerations on identity, place, relationships that are personal to the photographer; yet at the same time, the very anonymity of the figure within each renders them as reflections of moods, events, feels, that we, the observers have experienced and can instantly recall in viewing them.

Thus, My Anonymous Shadow becomes a fascinatingly layered exhibition, one which can be enjoyed purely from the artistic expression each piece presents, and / or for the more narratives and ideas that lie just below the surface – or should I say, within their shadows?

SLurl Details