Currently open at the annex (formerly Dido Space) at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is a small but enticing exhibition entitled Noir by Kitten (Joaannna Resident).
From her Profile, Kitten appears to be something of a newcomer to Second Life – but one who has made a considerable splash both as a writer on the subject of art, and as a photographer-artist. With the latter, she leans towards landscape images, using a more panoramic image ratio (as Ialso tend to lean towards) than most to produce stunning images of the places she visits – as can be seen within her Flickr stream.
However, with Noir, and at Dido’s request to her to push her artistic envelope, Kitten takes a different route: avatar-centric images in celebration of the film noir genre, and here presents eight images offered monochrome pieces in keeping with the genre’s core thrust, all of them centred on a character who might potentially be considered both the protagonist and the femme fatale as are both found within this classic movies of the 1940s and 1950s.
And I do mean “character”, for rather than offering individual images and scenes, these eight images tend to unfold in the manner of a story – or to further remain in keeping with the theme, as stills lifted from a classic noir movie with some prototypical structures of classic crime and mystery stories. This unfolding narrative arc is given further depth through the fact that none of the images have been staged in terms of purpose-built sets and backgrounds; instead that have been captured – as the exhibition’s credits note – within some of Second Life’s more well-known locations. Combined with Kitten’s eye for angle, focus and composition, this gives each picture a depth that draws us into it.
Compositionally, these are pieces that are structured to reflect the filmic aspects of film noir; the foundational minimalist look of German Expressiveness, the low-lighting and unbalanced nature in framing. Narratively speaking, five of the images allow us to witness a mysterious woman making her way by night through a darkened city; where she might be going and what purpose she may have remains unknown – although there are subtle clues contained within two more of the images that may help nudge the imagination.
In one, for example, we witness our heroine seated outside Berlin’s Café Kranzler, a location that – given the Noir theme – suggestions the Cold War, political intrigue and espionage. Within another we see her moving by torch light through a museum, the scene suggesting an illicit act – but is it simple theft, or a further twist on the idea of espionage? Note, as a well within this image what might be a nod towards both another era and genre of classic Hollywood movie-making.
Then, within the remaining image, we get a change in perspective, with a reflective umbrella and a spotlight play as much a role as our model. Through it brings a further suggestion of film sets and the magic of film, whilst also bringing to mind a particular noir / black comedy classic with its closing words uttered by Norma Desmond…
Richly engaging – one can forgive the slightly repetitive element of shots of the woman walking because Kitten’s framing and composition is so beautifully structured – Noir is a deceptively captivating series.
- Nitroglobus Roof Gallery Annex (Sunshine Homestead, rated Moderate)