Camouflage and questions in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Traci Ultsch – Camouflage

November 9th, 2020 sees the opening of the latest exhibition at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, and it is a double first for her. The invited artist is Traci (Traci Ultsch), who is an artist in both the physical and virtual worlds, and she is exhibiting  her physical world art in Second Life for the first time – marking this exhibition as the first time Dido has displayed work from outside of Second Life at Nitroglobus.

Camouflage is another provocative selection of art that pokes strongly at the grey matter sitting between one’s ears. Thirteen pieces (plus the titular artwork) are offered, and an initial glance at them might lead one to characterise them as “pop art” – but this would be misleading; these are pieces that are, both literally and figuratively, layered.

The literal layering lies within the technique used to create the pieces on display, which Traci describes thus:

My method of working usually revolves around the collecting of objects (Magazine cuttings, dirt, stones, tape) which are then laid out on glass layers, painted on, layer upon layer until the idea starts to fall apart. At which time, it’s photographed or scanned at the moment of collapse and gone. The moment is cleaned away and all that’s left a captured image of something now gone.

– Traci, discussing her technique

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Traci Ultsch – Camouflage

The figurative element is rooted in the title of the piece, and Traci’s description for the exhibition, which she gives as:

Camouflage is the use of any combination of materials, colouration, or illumination for concealment, either by making animals or objects hard to see, or by disguising them as something else
The idea for this exhibition came from the (not recent) realization that, for quite some time, my life and work has been driven in some way by the desire to lose myself. In both RL and SL I’ve spent many years trying to find a level of ‘exposure’ I’m comfortable with. A lot of these feelings and experiences have fed into my RL artwork and my ‘Second Life’ where I’m beginning to wonder who is really obscuring who.

– Traci, describing Camouflage

Thus, layered within Camouflage are questions of identity (including self-identification), reflection, exploration of creativity as it relates to her ability to express herself to the world(s) at large. These literally are nuanced, layered pieces, that invite the eye and mind to examine closely from title through imagery, a mental peeling of the layers as we visually bring together the various aspects of each piece.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Traci Ultsch – Camouflage

This idea of layering goes a lot deeper however than purely a reflection of the artist’s own introspection and examination. For anyone who has invested any part of their “self” in their avatar, these are pieces – and questions – with which they will identify: who we are, how our physical world dealings can inform our virtual identity and – equally importantly – how our virtual dealings, outlook and expression can come to inform our physical world life and outlook.

That said, Camouflage offers a broader theme as well. As Traci notes, art is a moment caught in time. Whether a photograph (posed our otherwise), a painting of the countryside or a building, or the Pollock-like splashing of paint on a canvas or whatever other technique is used – all art is, at the moment of capture / completion, an expression of a point in time that can never be truly reproduced again; copied, yes, but not reproduced as a unique statement.

This is particularly true of Traci’s work, which as she notes, reaches the point of near-destruction prior to being scanned, and then destroyed. As such, these pieces are not only expressions of identity and the questions that surround it, they are equally also unique captures of the artist’s sense of self and her governing emotions at a singular point in time, offering us a series of unique insights into her thoughts and feelings.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Traci Ultsch – Camouflage

Camouflage officially opens at 13:00 SLT on Monday, November 9th, 2020, with music from DJ Ferdy.

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