Contemplations on an eternal light in Second Life

Milena Corbone: Lux Æterna

Milena Carbone (Mylena1992) has opened a new exhibition at Noir’Wen City. Entitled Lux Æterna, it encompasses themes in consideration of religion, humanity and personal belief; elements that are not new to Milena’s work, but are here presented somewhat differently, being projected largely through the work of others, notably Second Life artist Norton Lykin.

Through the exhibition Lux Æterna, I want to express this paradox which is at the heart of my deviant faith in an imperfect God. Our perception of light covers a ridiculously narrow spectrum, and yet this handicap allows us to contemplate incredible beauty. The human species represents a miserable, ignorant, fateful, devastating vermin, trapped in a thin layer of gas on a tiny planet, and yet we have been given the privilege to see, to feel what is. If there is an intention in the universe, this intention is totally indifferent to our fate, and has given us this gift with infinite generosity.

– Milena Carbone

Lux Æterna, “eternal light”, in terms of its religious use, is perhaps most familiar for being a part of the Catholic Requiem Mass, although – and as Milena notes, it most likely dates to Gregorian times. It is a call to God to let his eternal light shine upon the departed as they rest with his saints.

Milena Corbone: Lux Æterna – image by Norton Lykin

Here, the the idea of eternal light is used both physically and metaphorically. As Milena notes, the light humans can see is limited to an incredibly narrow spectrum; one that, long before we discovered the non-visible (to our own eyes) wavelengths on either side of it, nevertheless allowed humanity to contemplate so much, achieve so much through creativity on both an individual and collective basis, and to perceive the richness and beauty of not only our own planet, but the incredible cosmos around us. Yet, at the same time – and even with our going understanding of the non-visible spectrum this promises to reveal even more to us – humankind so often opted (and still opts) to walk the path of ignorance, even whilst espousing enlightenment.

Metaphorically, this narrow spectrum light through which we perceive everything could be said to reflect our narrowness of understanding of any supreme being that might exist. For so long, we constrained “god” in terms of our own viewpoint – one that, far from putting the almighty at the centre of things, has actually placed mankind so that everything – even the idea of a supreme being – literally and figuratively revolved around us, in what can only be viewed as a arrogant outlook on the cosmos.

And herein lies the first paradox: for just as the cosmos is vast – and made more so as we finally drew back the curtain on those parts of the spectrum we cannot visibly see -and with wonders yet to be understood, so to must any supernatural consciousness behind it be vast. Thus, could it even be aware of humanity, as we sit huddled under the protection of our backwater planet’s thin envelope of atmosphere? And so we enter into Milena’s realm of pondering the nature of God; whom she sees as not no so much capricious for allowing all the woes that can befall us, as some might argue – but simply indifferent  and / or imperfect, simply because they have far too much to do in just keeping the rest of the cosmos going to pay us that much attention.

Milena Corbone: Lux Æterna

These ideas are bound together through Milena’s exhibition in a number of ways. As she notes herself, Norton’s art, in its abstracted beauty, informs us about the two greatest elements within the cosmos: emptiness and light. Both are enduring and unalterable; we can see the light of the stars and nebulae, of novae and supernovae, and of galaxies beyond our own,  visual cues to the vastness of the universe in which we sit, whilst the distances separating them appear largely devoid of anything we can perceive, forming an huge and everlasting void around us. To this I would add that through the choice of colours found in the majority of the pieces – the reds, purples, oranges, blues and yellows – we are reminded of the spectrum of light that extends beyond either end of the visible, and thus of the unseen grandeur this sits within the cosmos, and which may yet be found within the the emptiness that sits between the lights of the stars and the galaxies.

And this is only scratching the surface of what is an incredibly simple installation in terms of design and presentation which folds within itself so much food for thought by way of metaphor and suggestion.within the design, for example, is a subtle blending of eastern philosophy and Christian religion: the installation stands as three arms, intentionally representative of the Christian trinity, whiles the empty space at its centre representing the eastern ideal of centring, chakras, inner peace and the natural flow of energy. Elsewhere the the rising stairs might be seen as metaphors for ascendency, an ideal common to both eastern philosophy and “western” religions, if interpreted somewhat differently by both.

Milena Corbone: Lux Æterna – images by Norton Lykin

Through all of this, Lux Æterna also serves to touch on two subjects that can never be far from thinking when contemplating life, the universe and everything (notably religious themes and similar): those of death and immortality. These are concepts that can be said to be uniquely human, as Milena underlines through her use of extracts from Jorge Lui Borges’s  The Immortals. Unique because – as Borge himself notes, we are the only creature on Earth with an awareness of death and by extension, contemplate immortality. So animals might be said to be “immortal”, simply because they do not share this awareness or live in that ever-present terrible shadow, and as such, they might be said to be “closer to god” than we can ever aspire (and thus the hare-headed figure standing God-like over the scene).

And yet still, there is that eternal light of the cosmos surrounding us and reminding us of the richness and of everything; a light we cannot help – and indeed always should – contemplate in humility and reverence, simply because of the beauty it enfolds, and the encouragement it gives for us all to expand our thinking beyond the petty.

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