Questioning the meaning of love in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: The Meaning of Love

Now open at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is The Meaning of Love, an exhibition by street photographer Natalia Serenade.

Noted for her vivid use of colour and composition, Natalia notes that her art is centred on physical world photography that are very much images caught in the moment as she roams with her camera, and then mixed together, given life and colour through Photoshop to become statements in their own right.

For the Meaning of Life, Natalia brings together a series of images that offer reflections and comments on love and relationships as they can occur in the virtual realm (but do not always remain there). Such relationships can, as many have learned over the years that Second Life has been around, be deeply rewarding – adding depth and light to our virtual presence, offering love, closeness and comfort that never need to stray out of the confines of this digital medium.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: The Meaning of Love

Sometimes it is possible for such relationships to reach beyond the digital and into the physical and become even more enriching for those involved. This is something the Lab has sought to emphasise through the video series Love Made in SL. But virtual relationships can also be fraught with uncertainty.

Anonymity allows us far greater freedom than the physical world; this is both a blessing and a curse – a point people can so easily forget when blithely quoting Wilde. “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth” is only half the story. While we may well speak a great truth through the freedom given us by the mask of an avatar, so to does that same mask allow those who would  – if I might use half another famous quote, if slightly out-of-context and this time from Sir Walter Scott – “practice to deceive”.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: The Meaning of Love

To put it another way, when restricted to the the virtual, how can we ever be sure what we’re being told is the truth? What about those who enjoy the art of deceit and think nothing of using one or more alts achieve their own satisfaction? How can we even be sure such thoughts as these really have a grounding in “reality”, rather than being a product of our own uncertainty / hidden fears?

All of these ideas are explored in the images Natalia presents here: the warming glow of being basked in the happiness of love and of having “found someone”, the first rising concerns that al might not be as it seems, the realities of being manipulated, the uncertainties created by our own thoughts, the deceptions of which we might be guilty in keeping our on-line life and lives hidden from those physically around us. Each image in this collection of thirteen represents an aspect of love and the rewards / risks it brings. Each image richly makes use of colour as much as form  and subject to convey visceral feelings and emotions.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: The Meaning of Love

It’s an engaging, vibrant exhibit (be sure to mouse over individual pieces to see names / gain context, and one in which Natalia appears to be asking a question – perhaps of herself more than anyone else: is love in SL real, or just – for most at least – a fantasy?

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A Nutmeg Getaway in Second Life

The Getaway – Nutmeg, March 2020 – click any image for full size

The Getaway – Nutmeg is a homestead region designed by Jacky Macpherson, and towards which we were steered by Shawn Shakespeare.

It’s a wonderfully simple design that is delightful in its attractive minimalism; the kind of place where description is superfluous, simply because its allure is entirely self-evident on arrival.

The Getaway – Nutmeg, March 2020

Two islands, split by a narrow, meandering channel and with shorelines partially formed by low-lying rocks, gently rise out of the surrounding waters. One rises just a few metres above the misty seas, the other somewhat – but not much – higher, thanks to its single, humped hill. Simple plank bridges cross the channel between them, as if stapling them together in an attempt to keep them from going their separate ways as they drift on the tide.

The Getaway – Nutmeg, March 2020

The larger of the two islands is home to the landing point and a single, open-plan cabin with deep-set verandahs. Cosily furnished and open to the public, the cabin has a fence for its neighbour, one that runs across the island as if cutting it into two and keeping the cabin separated from the only other man-made structure of significant substance to be found here: a sun-faded barn that is apparently home to a flea market, and which is also open to public visits, despite the fence.

The landing point sits between two fences that run – for a short distance at least – north-to-south, pointing the way both towards the  cabin and to the northern headland over which gulls wheel. A similar pair of fences curl in part around the hill of the second island, marking a routine around its northern flank, while the hill itself is crowned by a sunken tree that raises its boughs in scrub-like abandonment, and a comfortable looking hammock.

The Getaway – Nutmeg, March 2020

Covered in the coarse hair of wild grass and studded with silver birch and a few mountain pine, The Getaway – Nutmeg sits under a windlight sky and over a white sea that are both perfect for photography – as is the setting as a whole. Exploring is easy on the eye, as is the subtle richness of detail, with lots of little touches awaiting discovery.

But as I noted, lengthy descriptions of the region are superfluous, it speaks loudly, clearly and attractively for itself, making a visit more than worth the time taken to drop in and explore.

The Getaway – Nutmeg, March 2020

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