Currently open through December 2022 is Cyborgs, an installation by Austrian artist Sophie de Saint Phalle (Perpetua1010) located within her Sucutan Art region At its heart Copper plate etchings and lithographs, although they are framed in a much broader story.
Leave the security and assurance of your spoiled civilization and immerse yourself in the fantastic and futuristic world of Cyborgs and dangerous creatures.
– Cyborgs by Sophie de Saint Phalle
The full story behind the exhibition can be obtained from the information giver board at the landing point. In short, it is the far future and humanity is now an interstellar civilisation. However, it has also faced numerous wars with other civilisations, some of them possibly biological / genetic in nature, so humans have been left weakened and in need of cybernetic enhancement in order to survive, eventually reaching a point where children are conceived in vivo and assigned to full cyborg bodies which define their role in their civilisation.
Within the exhibition, the images represent a group of these human-cyborgs now forced to live bound to a single planet, where limited genetic materials are of ever increasing importance, as does the need for these human constructs to express their humanity.
Set within an environment representing the landscape of the planet to which they are confined, the installation comprises two parts: the landing point and events area – the installation opened with 6 hours of music – with the second containing the art itself. when visiting, it is essential you have Advanced Lighting Model enabled (Preferences → Graphics → make sure Advanced Lighting is checked), and preferably use the local environment (World → Environment → make sure Used Shared Environment is checked).
Within the art area, the etchings and lithograph are presented mounted on a series of granite-like blocks. At least two copies of each etching is presented, generally on the same block (or a neighbouring block), with each version of an etching given a different finish. They form expressive and very human aspects of life – people at work, people resting from exhaustion, male and female alike. None of them looks particularly “cyborg-like”; rather, but for the title given each piece, these could be studies of fully flesh-and-blood humans.
And it is in this that the power of the art lies: the rich suggestion of largely artificial beings trying to express (or recapture?) their essential humanness through art and carvings; seeking to reconnect with their species heritage and origins.
As well as the images, the landscape includes figurines intended to represent the races which may have forced humanity down this evolutionary path, the creatures they have had to tame – and the artificial bodies into which they have been forced based not on will or desire, but as a result of genetic make-up and algorithms about which they had no knowledge even as the life-forming decisions were being made about their futures.
Sophie’s work is always evocative and captivating, and Cyborgs offers a further dimension to her work displayed in Second Life, whether you opt to view the pieces as etchings in their own right or within the framework of the installation’s wider narrative. When visiting, do also consider using the teleport disk to visit the other exhibition spaces Sophie has created within her Subcutan arts region (about which you can read about in my January 2022 review).
- Cyborgs, Subcutan Art Gallery (Ocean Island, rated Adult)