I dropped into Alpha Auer’s Alphatribe Island to take a look at Mythologies, a rather interesting installation she has created which is part cultural collection, part experimentation and entirely fascinating. Alpha is best known for her own original creations and installations, some of which I’ve covered in these pages (most recently in 2019). However, this is something a little different, and the easiest way to explain it is through Alpha’s own words:
Mythologies is a curation of cultural artefacts that were found on a vast 3D resource called Sketchfab where many museums from all over the world, as well as private individuals upload all sorts of 3D models but with an overwhelming emphasis on heritage material that can be downloaded and freely used under Creative Commons licenses.
Thus, instead of doing my own modelling this time around, I decided to use this remarkable bounty to put together an architecture and a number of small landscapes in which deities and characters from different mythologies across history could be present virtually – sometimes sharing spaces and sometimes thematically separated.
– Alpha Auer
The result is a series of islands placed across a glass-like platform, each the home to the models Alpha has imported, each one more-or-less represent different cultures and their heritage. These range from renaissance Europe through North America to the Middle East, Asia and Far East. However, to define this as a dive into these cultures and mythologies would in part be a mistake, again as Alpha notes herself:
I do not pretend that this is a museum or any such serious endeavour. After all, I do not give any explanations or descriptions – rather it is one of my “follies” to be looked at as such. That said, should you wish to find out more about who these deities and characters are you can find them on sketchfab.
– Alpha Auer
That side, the way the pieces are set out does actually encourage their study and consideration of the times and culture which gave rise to them and what they represent. To help sate curiosities, Alpha also cites sources from within Sketchfab, such as the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Bonn Centre for Digital Humanities collection – Alpha can provide licenses to those wishing to find out more, and also – in terms of cultures. Wikipedia is your friend.
The second Level of the installation – reached via a broad stairway – offers access to Alpha’s own store, including her fabulous avatars, and a smaller store containing many of the pieces featured on the main platform, complete with their Creative Commons License.
Hailing from Istanbul, Alpha is an academic and graphic designer / artist. Widely published, she has presented papers and works are conferences and art spaces, some of which have spanned both the virtual and the physical worlds – such as her co-authored LPDT2/3 series of installations in Second Life and OpenSim, which she developed with MosMax Hax and Selavy Oh, building around Roy Ascott’s concept of distributed authorship – Ascott being one of the artists under whom she studied for her PhD. She very modestly does not consider herself an “artist” or “designer”, but rather a “thingmaker” – it’s an interesting term, given the range of her work, but I personally cannot help but think of her as a marvellously gifted artist / designer.
Separate to these main platforms are a pair of floating island and a third platform; these can be reached by the local teleport system. The islands continue the theme of mythologies and cultures.
The uppermost platform is home to one of Alpha’s own installations, From Here On There Be Dragons. Originally displayed at Dividni Shostakovich’s now sadly closed Split Screen, it presents a celebration of these mythical, mystical beasts and much of what they represent both culturally and in terms of our own psyche – and you can read more on my own thoughts from that 2016 installation here. It adds a further dimension to what is a very different exhibition, one very much worthwhile visiting.
- Mythologies (Alphatribe Island, rated Moderate)