Wednesday February 22nd, 2022 saw the opening of the first half of a 2-phase art installation by Gem Preiz. Presented under the over-arching title Exoplanet, the installation carries the sub-title One Step Further, and is located on a sky platform within the region of Akikaze, held and curated by Akiko Kinoshi (Akiko Kiyori) as a part of her “Akipelago” group of regions.
This is another exhibition by Gem that combines a prim-base build with his always fascinating fractal images; as such it follows in the tradition of past installation such as Arcadia, Skyscrapers, Elusive Reality, Sapiens, and The Anthropic Principle, allowing the visitor to consider an architectural theme and / or enter an immersive environment in which his fractal art offers an extension to the environment. At the same time, it is also something of a harkening back to installations such as No Frontiers, his two-part series Heritage: Vestiges and Heritage: Wrecks and Rhapsody in Blue Fractals, in which the fractal images are the nucleus of a tale – a journey, if you will, of the imagination to futures and places within the cosmos that await our discovery.
In terms of the the build, this takes the form of a human outpost on another world. Where this may be is anyone’s guess; the environment outside suggests Mars, but that belies the main title for the exhibition – Exoplanet – so I prefer to think of it as somewhere beyond our solar system. It’s a curious place, sitting within a geodesic dome (which for me carried echoes of a much smaller dome sitting within Gem’s Skyscrapers city), powered by solar arrays which sit alongside a communications array beyond its curving walls.
In all, 14 different locations can be explored within the dome, either on foot or via the teleport HUD that is offered to visitors on arrival (and which contains a 15th destination – a point just outside one of the dome’s access points). These range from a control centres through to crew habitation units, although not all of the buildings are necessarily accessible. Within the base are also a number of vehicles: shuttles, hover cars and tracked rovers, which can be sat upon and driven, adding a dimension of fun, while the base is staffed by static NPCs that have a slight Star Trek edge to their uniforms.
A point to note here is that the base isn’t supposed to be in any way “accurate” in its representation of a stellar outpost, as Gem explains in the installation’s introductory notes:
Exoplanet does not intend to look realistic or even consistent from a scientific point of view. Rather, it aims to create an immersive 3D environment which evokes space exploration. It deliberately uses, as with all my builds, prims with their SL attributes (bumpiness, shininess, alpha etc.), and does not rely on meshes or textures to reproduce reality — except for crew avatars.
– Gem Preiz
Turning to the art, a total of 18 pieces are offered within the installation and can be seen in one of two ways: via a large screen that hangs to one side of the dome, the 18 images displayed on it as a slide show, or by visiting the needle-like Tower that faces the screen from across the dome, where the images are displayed across several floors connected one to the next by wall-mounted teleports (note also that this tower also incorporates the Observation and Headquarters destinations on the teleport HUD).
While they may not necessarily all be new, these are pieces that all tell a story that is literally cosmic in its theme, carrying us to strange, new worlds orbited by vast space station-like structures, or upon which a civilisations has created massive cities and structures, and out into deep space where more structures are huddled – but whether they under construction or damaged and broken by events unknown and their age or finished articles built to some strange design ethos, is left entirely to our imaginations.
With the facilities under the dome suggesting a human base sitting beyond our solar system but still on the very edge of the rest of the galaxy, the images present suggestions of both humanity’s journey to reach this point in history (BZ Fractal SF9, BZ Fractal SF18, BZ Fractal SF1 and BZ Fractal SF13), and of the far older alien civilisation whose remnants have both drawn humans to the remote location in the inky blackness of space, and which even now is the reason the people of this base are preparing to venture still further from their homeworld.
There is another aspect here as well, as again noted by Gem in his introductory notes:
The purpose of the combined mixture of fractals and 3D interactive build, is to make them resonate : the space base offers an immersive 3D experience, even if it is in a simplistic environment, while the fractal images show a complexity impossible to reproduce in 3D.
– Gem Preiz
All of which makes for an engaging exploration. When visiting Exoplanet: One Step Further, be sure to not the recommended environment setting displayed at the landing point. And for those interested, Gem has produced another of his soundtrack videos on You Tube, which offers a mixes of pieces that contain within them echoes, perhaps of M83 and Hans Zimmer.
- Exoplanet: One Step Further (Akikaze, rated Moderate)