Listening to the Silence in Second Life

Kultivate Signature Gallery: Melusina Parkin, Listening to the Silence

Kultivate Magazine and Gallery premier a new exhibition space on Tuesday, March 17th, 2020 with the opening of the Kultivate Signature Gallery, a new 3-storey hall that will provide exhibitions by established Second Life artists. for its opening exhibition, it features the work of Melusina Parkin.

Melu, whose work stands as one of my featured artists in this blog, has an exquisite balance in her photography, a fine blend of detail, space and minimalism, all carefully combined and crafted to present images that are elegant in their unique focus, and rich in narrative and feeling. This is once again apparent with Listening to the Silence, as presented at the Signature Gallery.

In writing about the exhibition, Mule notes:

Sounds and words fill the world up. Nature talks by wind whistling, waves lapping, animal sounds; humans speak, cities talk by signs. Silence is rare and it’s never absolute. It’s a gem we have to keep carefully. Silence allows us seeing the world without the distractions caused by the sounds and seeing more clearly our interior worlds.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: Melusina Parkin, Listening to the Silence

And so it is that with Listening to the Silence, we are presented with a series of signature Melusina Parkin views of Second Life. No, not “views”, but “portraits”; Melu’s work so uniquely captures the virtual world in which we spend so much time, that each piece genuinely presents a sense of a living, breathing entity, one in which the presence of avatars would actually reduce that sense of life within it, rather than enhance it.

This is a collection of images that offer something of a continuation / reflection of ideas witnessed in past exhibitions such as Empty Spaces and Night Walks. In this selection, we are presented with views into deserted rooms, along empty streets, and over lonely waters. Each piece is haunting in its singular beauty – but we’re not being asked to just look at them, but to hear their very sounds of silence, again as Melu notes:

A photograph doesn’t produce sounds, although it can suggest them; so we can observe things just imagining their noise or appreciating their quietness. Images stop any movement, then they stop any sound as well. Silent images – images of silent things – are closely related to a sense of loneliness and of absence; we can multiply the meanings we give them.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: Melusina Parkin, Listening to the Silence

In pointing us towards this consideration of the absent sounds within photographs, Melu is opening a much broader door to how our imaginations might otherwise create the narrative to accompany each piece. However, there is perhaps something more to this exhibition; something perhaps unintended when conceived (or perhaps not, I’ve no idea as I’ve not spoken directly on the exhibit), but utterly prevalent to the global situation the is unfolding before all of us.

The spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has seen cities forced into lockdown, travel restrictions enforced, and general warnings for people not to gather in groups and to remain home / work from home wherever possible. The result has been a strange emptying of streets and places – perhaps not to the extent witnessed with Melu’s images, but still very evident. Thus, her pieces within this exhibition might be seen as presenting a silent echo of what we’re seeing world-wide in the physical world. In doing so, they offer a very different voice, a reminder of the chorus of sounds that accompany our daily lives that, if not entirely silenced, has been quelled.

So it is that Listening to the Silence can be seen as a richly layered exhibition, one with the power to not only engage us in reflections about how we perceive the digital world where we spend or time or on how sounds affect our daily living; but also the potential for the world that we regard as ours and familiar, to still present us with a collective threat and challenge.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: Melusina Parkin, Listening to the Silence

Listening to he Silence formally opens at 13:00 SLt on Tuesday, March 17th, with music by live performers Parker Static and SaraMarie Philly (14:00 SLT).

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