Currently open at Melusina Parkin’s gallery is Roadside, her latest collection of images taken from around Second Life, which will continue through May and June. Presented in Melu’s familiar and captivating close-up style, they present a series of pictures with a theme of road trips – but with a very specific focus, as she explains in the introduction to the exhibition:
Diners, motels, pump stations, garages are elements of a “road popular culture” developed in wide spaces crossed by monotone and endless roads. We can’t imagine a motorway without them.
Like mountains, hills, fields, lawns and rivers, they are part of any landscape we see when travelling through the country.
– Melusina Parkin
So it is that we have a series of images of motel signs, petrol (gas) stations and pumps, parked vehicles, wooden walls of motel cabins and more, each one offering a unique take on the idea of the Great American Road Trip. Within them are many of the icons of that tradition – the coupé with its top down, the ribbon of dead-straight road vanishing into the distance, the metal-sized roadside diner, the pannier-laden motorbike, and so on. However, they are presented in such a way that rather than simply offering a scene for us to appreciate, Melu once again frames them in a manner that invites a story.
Take Roadside 3, for example: a battered yellow coupé sits parked in the foreground, inviting us to consider it: it’s condition, who might own it, where might they be going, and so on. Then, beyond it and through partially shaded windows, we can see the familiar bright red vinyl seating of a diner – something that always inspires a feeling of warmth and comfort, and our thoughts are similarly comforted with ideas of good food and rest in a friendly environment, whilst also broadening the story of the owners of the car: what might they be eating, what conversations are going on at their table, and so on.
Similarly, Roadside 5, with the motorcycle parked before petrol (gas) pumps immediately spins out thoughts of the freedom of riding the open road through to (perhaps) thoughts of iconic road trip films like Easy Rider. And so it goes on around the four walls of the gallery space (a single room at the top of her store).
There is perhaps a wider context for this exhibit as well. June will mark Second Life’s 17th anniversary with the familiar Second Life Birthday celebrations taking place. The theme for this year’s event, the theme is road trips and vacations, so Melusina’s Roadside might be said to offer a lead-in to the celebrations.
- Melusina’s Gallery (Time portal, rated General)