Journeying through mineral fractals in Second Life

Gem Preiz: Journey to the Centre of the Fractal Earth

Gem Preiz, the master of the fractal image, is once again back with a new exhibition of pieces that opened on July 7th.

For those familiar with his work, Journey to the Centre of a Fractal Earth sees him return to familiar territory after his trip into the world of scale city design with Skyscrapers (see: Gem’s Skyscrapers in Second Life) as he presents some 16 fractal images linked by the theme of mineralogy, whilst also touching on some broader themes common to his art.

The core of the exhibit is an exploration of mineral formations, carried out through a hypothetical journey to the centre of the Earth, that we might see them in their natural environs.

Gem Preiz: Journey to the Centre of the Fractal Earth

Our Universe, whose laws of thermodynamics teach us that its disorder is constantly increasing, nevertheless conceals in some places such extreme conditions that matter is organised in a perfectly ordered way. At the scale of our vision, the optimal arrangement of the atoms produces crystals with flawless geometry and colours entirely determined by the composition and structure of the mineral.

There are a few hundred mineral species on Earth (a few thousand if we include those that the microscope only can reveal), born of the fantastic pressures suffered by the rock in the Earth’s crust, the sudden cooling of volcanic material, or the accumulation of sediments crushed by their own weight. While tectonic movements and volcanoes lava have brought to Man many of these natural treasures (quartz, gypsum, sulphur, obsidian …), many of them were discovered in the depths of the planet only through industrial research or scientific exploration. 

– Gem Preiz, introducing Journey to the Centre of a Fractal Earth

Gem Preiz: Journey to the Centre of the Fractal Earth

This journey is carried out through the visit of sixteen large rooms, one after the previous, topped and tailed by tunnel-like walks from and to the “surface”. Within each room is displayed one of Gem’s marvellous, multi-panel, high-resolution fractal images generated in the form of a mineral, or rock laced with mineral striate. In an of themselves, they are stunning pieces, their form echoed in the walls and floors of each room, which may also utilise particle effects  an Delain Canucci.

Whilst intended to be representative of mineral deposits ” at the bottom of the most obscure caves and in the most secret veins,” some of these pieces equally have an other-worldly feel to them that brings to mind objects that might be found in deep space. for example, a gold-and-grey comet that catches the light of a star, the outgassing of volatiles forming a bright halo around it. Others suggest not so much crystalline minerals lying deep underground, but fabulous coral formations sitting on the deep ocean floor. Thus, Journey weaves into itself, intentionally or otherwise, those mentioned broader themes that captivate Gem’s thinking, and so often influence his art.

Gem Preiz: Journey to the Centre of the Fractal Earth

My only slight reservation is with Journey’s general presentation. On the one hand, I could see how travelling through the rooms is intended to reflects on the idea of the great depths and pressures at which minerals can be found / are formed (and of course gives a physical link to the title of Jules Verne’s famous novel used in the installation’s title). But on the other, in travelling through so many rooms of near identical presentation, I couldn’t help but wonder if an alternative, more compact means of delivery couldn’t achieve the same result?

That niggle aside however, for those drawn to fractal art Journey is well worth a visit simply because the framed images are genuinely captivating and elegantly beautiful.

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