Alex Riverstone’s Melancholia in Second Life

NovaOwl Gallery, November 2022: Alex Riverstone

After my almost back-to-back forays of late into art exhibitions that either focus on, or lean towards, hybrid art and the use of AI tools (notably MidJourney), I thought I would do a little course adjustment and offer a look at some Second Life based photographic art. To that end, I trundled off to NovaOwl Gallery, curated and operated by ULi Jansma, Ceakay Ballyhoo & Owl Dragonash.

It this there, within the ground-level gallery space, that people can find – through until the end of 2022 – an exhibition of art by Alex Riverstone, an artist whose work I have appreciated for some to and always enjoy witnessing.  This is a modest exhibition, featuring a baker’s dozen of pictures by Alex; however, it stands as proof that quantity isn’t necessarily everything: quality accounts for more.

Second Life has allowed me to enjoy it in a different way: allowing the exploration of scenes, poses and angles which wouldn’t be practical in the real world.

– Alex Riverstone

NovaOwl Gallery, November 2022: Alex Riverstone

On first viewing the exhibition, I was struck by the apparent disconnect between its title – Melancholia – and the subject matter of the images presented.

In purely medical terms, melancholia is a subtype of depression, characterised by a number of symptoms such as severely depressed mood, pervasive anhedonia, and lack of emotional responsiveness. As a concept, it has a history dating back to ancient medicine in Europe, and was long regarded as one of the the four temperaments matching the four humours. However, whilst the pieces Alex presents within the exhibition can be called many things – artistic, picturesque, engaging, and so on – none immediately strike one as being of a depressed or melancholic nature when looked upon.

However, in their visual richness they do encompass another interpretation of “melancholia”, one popular in the Renaissance when it was taken as a sign of artistic genius; and there is plenty of artistic expression to be found in each of these pieces from their initial composition, through their processing and presentation and finishing with their titles, such that each one stands as a unique image capable of carrying our imaginations into a world of self-made narrative.

NovaOwl Gallery, November 2022: Alex Riverstone

And it is within that narrative that we chose – as this is purely subjective – to see some of the images as how aspects of melancholia might be visualised in a picture or painting. For example, take the Duality images (7, 8 and 9). within them are hints of melancholic traits we might chose to see: the absence of anyone to enjoy the flying kites and the puppies on the bridge perhaps echoing feelings of anhedonia; the empty chairs speaking to the loneliness of depression / melancholy; the tree with its suggestion of a figure hanging by their wrists from it suggesting despondency. Others, through their titles perhaps whisper more keenly on the subject – as with the Wall and Lonesome Cottage.  Even the loungers of Summer Holiday, fading into the white-out of the picture as they  do, might be taken as a metaphor for the emptiness of melancholia.

But these interpretations are, as note, entirely subjective. Whether you opt to see then or prefer to take  the presented pieces purely as an expression of Second Life’s multifaceted beauty really doesn’t matter; this is Second Life photography rendered as art in a manner that is genuinely captivating and worth visiting.

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4 thoughts on “Alex Riverstone’s Melancholia in Second Life

  1. 💜 Inara, The depth and interpretation of your art reviews is such a pleasure to read! Thank you for coming by NovaOwl for Alex’s Melancholia.


  2. Thank you so much for visiting my exhibit and for the kind comments, I truly appreciate it!


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