I recently had occasion to drop into the Inspira Gallery of Art operated and curated by Mark Uladstron. At the time of my visit, the gallery was advertising itself as being in a “new waterside location” – although I have to admit, it is not a gallery I’d previously come across, so my apologies to Mark for not having done so sooner.
Occupying a two-storey building, the gallery also presents itself as a museum of art, combining exhibitions of art from both the physical world and created through the medium of Second Life, the Former coming in presenting reproductions of works by some of the most influential artists – east and west – of their respective ages, These are all presented on the lower floor of the gallery, and at the time of my visit featured Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso and Gu Kaizhi (Changkang).
This is the first gallery museum I’ve visited in quite a while that offers an audio tour of some of the works on display (the very first art museum I visited that did so was the Vordun back in 2016 – see: The Vordun: a new art experience in Second Life). Here, the audio tour is provided for the exhibits of Picasso’s and da Vinci’s works. It is facilitated by a HUD which should be offered as you enter the gallery, but if not, it can be obtained by clicking the blue globe at the reception desk, and while not a necessity for a visit, I would recommend using it.
Once added to your screen, and unlike other tours of this nature, the HUD isn’t tied to a local experience, but is triggered by simply entering a hall where the tour in enabled. When you have done so, the palyback buttons are activated, and you just need to tap ESC on your keyboard a couple of ties to ensure your camera is free, then press the central Play / Stop toggle button in on the HUD. Doing so will trigger the HUD’s scripts and focus your camera on the first image within the exhibit and trigger the associated audio track, together with a text display in local chat. In addition:
- Clicking the “fast forward” or “rewind” buttons on the HUD will position your camera at the next painting in the sequence (or the previous, if moving back through an exhibit), again, triggering an audio / text exposition.
- Clicking the Stop / Play button will re-centre the camera on your avatar, halting the audio / text. Providing you do not leave the hall, clicking the PLAY / STOP button again will centre the camera back on the last painting examined by the HUD and resume the audio / text expositions from there.
- If you prefer, you can disable the text display or the audio by clicking either the Closed Caption or Audio toggle buttons directly under the main playback buttons.
- Two further buttons will invite you to join the Inspire art group or receive a landmark to the gallery respectively.
The audio files appear to be drawn from a variety of sources, with some sounding slightly artificial / electronic in nature. The alternate between various male and female speakers, and the provided information strikes a good balance between being informative whilst avoiding going on too long.
As the audio doesn’t extend to the hall featuring Gu Kaizhi’s work, traditional museum-style information displays are provided for in-world reading. It would perhaps be nice to see these information plinths also offering a note card when clicked to help thought who might find reading such in-world text difficult, but again the information that is provided in informative and adds to the experience of a visit.
A noted politician, painter, poet, calligrapher and author – he wrote three influential books on the theory of painting – Gu is most noted today for his silk scroll paintings, which form the focus on the exhibit at Inspira.
Stairs hidden behind the reception desk offer the way to the upper floor of the gallery, where two halls are devoted to Second Life artists. At the time of my visit, these were showing landscape images by the always captivating Rachel Magic (larisalyn) and pieces by Thomaz (Thomaz Blackburn). Between the halls is a cosy café / venue area, where images by Mark’s SL partner, Lisa Cruise (lisacruise), might be appreciated / purchased.
I will admit to being surprised that the reproductions of the images by da Vinci, Picasso and Gu are offered for sale. While I appreciate galleries, etc., in-world need to cover the cost of tier, seeing the images available via right-click buy did raise concerns (e.g. the potential for transgressing copyright on owned works or contravening any established Creative Commons (or other) licence that might be applicable, etc).
However, this discomfiture duly noted, I will say that the Inspira Gallery of Art does makes for an engaging visit, and I particularly enjoyed becoming acquainted with Thomaz’s SL art, and the opportunity to see more of Rachel’s work on display.
- Inspira Gallery of Art (Scheveningen, rated Moderate)