Melusina Parkin is a Second Life photographer whose work never fails to impress and attract. Her images are among some of the most unique to be found in SL; beautiful blendings of focus, colour, tone, subject, angle and minimalist presentation that present us with highly personal yet resonant photographs that bring her subjects to life in a way that never fails to attract.
Generally building her exhibitions around an idea or theme, Melu uses her camera not only to present that theme, but to explore it, observe it, and even question it – or cause us to question what we are witnessing, thanks to her ability to offer not just a a moment in time, but an actual phrase within a wider narrative, inviting our imaginations to define what that wider narrative might be.
Which does not mean Melu’s art cannot be enjoyed simply in and of itself; all of her images are so perfectly composed and composited, that they stand as individual pieces that can be appreciated purely for the artistry they contain, without the need to plumb deeper ideas or thematic elements.
With Shining Lights, now available at Frank Atisso’s Art Korner, Melu explores the world of the signs and lights that illuminate our city nights, as presented within in Second Life. In doing so – as she notes herself – she follows in the footsteps of Walker Evans and other;, photographers who frequently used signage, billboards and the like as a means of adding depth to their photographic documentation of American life (Evans perhaps pioneered the technique whilst employed by the Farm Security Administration, documenting the impact of the Great Depression in the 1930s, and often returned to the subject of signage and billboards through his career, particularly during his 22 years with Time Inc..
Within this collection, Melu again offers her unique approach to her work – that use of angle, focus, depth of field, etc., that allows her to present the Shining Lights of Second Life in a manner that – thanks to her use of darkness / night to offer contrast to the bright glow of lights whilst avoiding wider structural detail – is again very minimalist in tone and feel, even when the colours are rich and bright.
Even for those of us very familiar the the neon glow that flows through our cities, Melu offers us completely new ways of looking at the night signs of a city, inviting us to view them not so much as informational / promotional elements designed to invite or entice, but rather as expressions of art in their use of colour and – particularly with neon lights – flow. Within this is also the hint of narrative – what are the lives being lead behind the glowing windows of high apartment blocks or who might be working within the illuminated of high office buildings.
Some of the images – consciously or not – touch on memes and tropes that too often get trotted out about SL – take Shining Streets 2, Shining Streets 3, and Shining Streets 8, for example. Others might be more emotive in the way they encourage memories of visits – real or virtual; or they simply give us pause to reflect on the art of the neon lighting itself, as noted above; an intricate form of lighting with its own form and flow.
There is something else within these images as well. We often talk about the beating heart of a city – the pulsing of life through the veins of its streets as we all come and go about our daily lives, travelling on foot, by car, by public transport, eating, talking, working, laughing, shouting through the hours of daylight. But at night, that pulse of life is changed; we still flow through the streets, we still meet and talk and dine and allow ourselves to be entertained, but only because we have the lifeblood of lights, be they neon, fluorescent, LEDs, OLEDS, incandescent, and so on – that holds back the night and like our ancient, primal times of pre-history, give us the sense of comfort and protection we still very much need.
Within Shining Streets, Melu beautifully reminds us of this: under the bright glow, the high fingers of illuminated windows and the invitations, the lights of our shining streets – always seen, if their artistry is rarely noticed – give us companionship and holds off the darkness that might otherwise leave those same streets not only darker, but also more threatening in their layered shadows.
All told, Shining Streets is another captivating exhibition from one of Second Life’s most expressive photo-artists, and one more than visiting.
- Shining Street, Art Korner (DeJu, rated Moderate)