Pixtoria: the art of Davenwolf Dagger in Second Life

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries

I recently gained an introduction to the photography of artist, photographer, and Second Life resident, Davenwolf Dagger as a result of his participation in the July exhibition at Kultivate’s The Edge gallery (see: Kultivate: The Edge Gallery – July 2019), where his presented an eye-catching collection of black-and-white photos entitled The Blacksmith Series, that particularly caught my eye, both for the richness of their narrative and for the fact they indirectly reminded me to recall the time I was lucky enough to spend in Tasmania.

Coincident to my review of that exhibition, Davenwolf also sent me an invitation to visit his in-world gallery, Pixtoria Galleries – an invitation I was happy to accept.

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries

Split between two levels, one on the ground and the other in a skybox, Pixtoria is a veritable tour de force of Davenwolf’s art  – and quite engagingly so. The ground floor provides an introduction to his digital images, running from the abstract through to fractal-like pieces to those suggestive of exotic, alien landscapes to a – for me – fascinating piece entitled DNA, with is marvellous suggestion of constructs and building-blocks and hint of architectural constructs.

The ground level gallery space is small, offering a social area on its upper floor rather than more images, but it is enough the whet the appetite and encourage the visitor to click the teleport disk to reach the sky gallery.

I’m a bit of a creator and perfectionist so I’m always making something. Whether it be in SL or the real world I like to keep myself entertained by creating artworks, photography, drums, videos, sculptures etc., you name it and I’ve done it over the years. Some projects I’ve had with better success than others but I eventually get there in the end.

– Davenwolf, describing his life and art

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries

The sky gallery is a much larger affair, split into two levels of two halls apiece, the upper levels connected to the lower by elevators. The lower level is home to more of Davenwolf’s digital art, one hall devoted to pieces that continue the themes evident in some of the ground level pcitures, with experiments in line, colour, form and tone. Some of these offer a clear fractal influence (Trident, the triptych like Connections and Spiral), while others present more “organic” forms.

Across the floor, in the other lower level hall are some utterly wonderful images expressing the beauty of geometry as a model for art. Spheres, rings, cones and more sit on chequerboard patterns and under expressive skies, their colours and reflective surfaces offers wonderful depth, so much so you feel like the reflections should move in response to your own camera / avatar movements. Tucked into one corner of this hall are two pieces – Urban Decay and Stranded – that each contain an especially powerful narrative.

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries: The Blacksmith Series

The upper levels of the gallery featured, at the time of my visit, two exhibitions of Davenwolf’s photography. The first focuses on The Blacksmith Series, his marvellous black-and-white series noted above, captured in an old working environment in Launceston, Tasmania, and, across the intervening atrium, Ward 21 Morisset Asylum.

The latter is an utterly evocative series, taken (I assume) in a disused wing of the psychiatric hospital that opened in 1908 either within, or very close to, the town of Morisset, New South Wales, Australia. Reaching its peak in the 1960, when it houses up to 1600 patients, today it still tends to dominate the town’s reputation, despite now having a patient population roughly one-tenth the number from the 1960s.

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries: Ward 21 Morriset Asylum

Davenwolf’s pictures capture halls and rooms now broken and decaying, but which are now the home of graffiti. Utilising light and shadow, camera angle and choice of lens, and the occasional image of a man, Davenwolf uses the condition of the ward and the presence of the graffiti to give  – and pardon the term, no pun intended whatsoever – graphic interpretation of a mind in turmoil.

When viewed as complete sets, The Blacksmith Series and the Ward 21 Series are striking in their storytelling. However, the individual pieces within each also stand as collectable images in their own right.  Similarly, the digital images offered through the gallery will natural grace any art collection, making any visit to Pixtoria Galleries doubly worthwhile.

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Of flying saucers and alien encounters in Second Life

 

Cornhub, July 2019 (click any image for full size

Cornhub is a rather curious region, one which apparently changes perhaps more regularly than other public regions (designer Mya Milena notes of the region, “we change themes like socks”!). At the time of writing this piece, it offers a look into one aspect of modern-day mythology: that of flying saucers and alien visitations.

We were dawn to the region after seeing Ricco Saenz’s pictures of Cornhub on Twitter (and you can read about his explorations here). But if I’m honest, they didn’t entirely prepare us for what we found: this iteration of Cornhub is quirky, unexpected, different and, well, strange, with the flying saucers just a part of the story. However, it is the one I’ll start with, as it is perhaps the most obvious.

Cornhub, July 2019

Sitting in the midst of this desert landscape is a crater out of which rises the crashed hull of a flying saucer, bodies of “greys” lying on the cracked ground where they were either thrown during impact or staggered to on escaping before collapsing. A second flying saucer is circling above, wobbling in its flight in the way such vehicles tend to do in those old 50s sci-fi B-movies.

A sign by the roadside that passes the crash site points the way to the “UFO Crash Site Roswell, New Mexico”. So, whether this crash is intended to represent that so-called incident is debatable. Certainly, other signs in the area suggest this is might actually be the legendary (in alien conspiracy theory circles) “Area 51” (officially, the  Homey Airport or Groom Lake in the middle of the Nevada Test and Training Range) – which is roughly 900 miles from Roswell.

Cornhub, July 2019

For those perhaps unfamiliar with the Roswell incident of mid-1947, it was triggered when a special high-altitude balloon being used by the (then) US Army Air Force in a top-secret endeavour came down some 75 miles from the town of Roswell. That secret endeavour was Project Mogul, an attempt to detect the sound waves generated by Soviet atomic bomb tests using special equipment suspended from high-altitude balloons.

Due to the sensitive nature of Project Mogul, various official statements were made about the nature of the crash were contradictory or simply didn’t match the facts (one USAAF report referred to the crash being a “weather balloon”, although the Project Mogul balloons were very different beasts). The event occurred just two weeks after aviator Kenneth Arnold made his famous report of seeing nine “saucer-like” flying objects near Mount Rainier, Washington State, so when a report was issued that a “disc” (albeit one apparently small enough to be held in the hands) had been recovered at the crash site, the press briefly went wild with speculation – something which, 30 years after the fact, resulted in Roswell becoming infamous as an alleged “UFO crash site”.

Cornhub, July 2019

Whether you chose to see the Cornhub flying saucer crash as being a play on the so-called Roswell UFO incident is up to you. For my part, I found myself leaning more towards the road sign with its arrow being more a passing reference to Roswell, and the setting within the region far more of a play on the whole mystique of “Area 51” and its place in both “UFO / Alien visitation” mythology and some science fiction films.

There are certainly enough clues for the latter being the case: the Area 51 signs, the military vehicles parked close by, and the spacesuited figures of humans also scattered about the crash site. The latter in particular take on more of a sci-fi meme: the suits carry the NASA logo and look to be modelled on modern US EVA spacesuits. However, they also appear to have been ineffective in projecting those wearing them from something undoubtedly nasty in the immediate vicinity of the crash.

Cornhub, July 2019

North of the crash site is what might be the edge of a town, one which might be taken as Roswell if one goes in that direction, or perhaps some little hamlet on the edge of the Nevada Test and Training Range. It offers a curious mix of buildings: there’s a very 50’s style diner and drive-in diner sitting alongside an 80s video game arcade, while SL table-top games can be found in the parking lot. Meanwhile, just across the road, there’s a concrete tower block that might at first appear to be a military-style structure (and thus suggestive again of “Area 51”), but which is in fact an apartment building, a trailer park (travelling UFOlogists?) located in the car park at its base.

Elsewhere, back towards the middle of the region, sitting between the flying saucer crash site and the region’s landing point, the top of the Statue of Liberty’s head rises from the dried sands, almost in a nod to the Planet of the Apes franchise and adding a further twist to the setting. Meanwhile, and off to the south where it stands alone, is the warehouse-like bulk of a television recording studio, apparently the home of “Cornhub’s Blind Date”.

Cornhub, July 2019

Eclectic, unusual, overlooked by a Hollywood-echoing hillside sign spelling out the region’s name, and with a pot-pourri of ideas, Cornhub in this current iteration makes for an undoubtedly a strange – but also curiously photogenic. But remember, it might not be around too long, so should you want to visit, it might be best to do so sooner rather than later!

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  • Cornhub (North Korea, rated Moderate)