Memories, Friendship, Love, and Art in Second Life

Terrygold: My Friends, May 2023

Terrygold has always been and complex and expressive artist, her work often touching on matters of politics, ecology, the environment and more, her installations often a treatise of a theme intended (and succeeding) in getting the grey matter going. Some of her more recent works – Empty Chairs, Rain, I Would –  have contained autobiographical elements and reflections on life.

Such is the case – if only in part, perhaps – with My Friend, an installation which opened on May 20th. Given that they are somewhat autobiographical, these more recent installations can be difficult to follow; not because the narrative is particularly confusing, but simply because the subject matter is so personal. Such is the case with My Friend; but also, like Empty Chairs, Rain, and I Would, it has a message that can resonate deeply.

Terrygold: My Friends, May 2023

However, before getting into the installation itself, a quick detour into viewer settings. Terry’s work relies heavily on ambience, and the local environment is an important part in My Friend, so make sure you have your viewer set to Use Shared Environment (World → Environment →), and that Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) is enabled (Preferences → Graphics). Terry also advises the Shadows are set to Sun/Moon+Projectors, which can place an additional render load on a system; however, as this appears to be for the projected lights – which work just as well with just ALM enabled, so don’t fret if your system cannot hand Shadows. For the benefit of other, do please remove any facelights.

The installation combines three elements – a story presented in text, 2D images, and 3D dioramas, which in turn are combined into three parts. In the first, the story and images continue the broader narrative found in Terry’s earlier instalments, the narrative mixing with images to present the opening idea of how life can be shaped by memories and dreams. From here, on turning a corner, the story segues into a different narrative, one which may well leave the more autobiographic elements behind. It deals with reflections and memories of a lost friendship – and what might have been a first, and ultimately unrequited / lost, love. Finally, and on the upper level of the installation, we are invited to share in some of the memories that form recollections of that friendship.

Terrygold: My Friends, May 2023

The darkened environment reflects both the subtext of dreams used to open the installation and the fact that for many of us, memories most vividly come at night, in the darkened period between the lights going out and sleep arriving, leaping out unbidden. Here, the darkness of the setting causes the images Terry uses to illustrate her story do much the same: their  muted colours leaping from wall to eyes, reflecting that way in which those memories mentioned above flash into being.

In travelling through the art and story, we are drawn into a tale of a precious friendship held by one person towards another, and the mixing of positive and negative emotions that so often ebb and flow through the interactions which mark that friendship, and its eventual – perhaps inevitable – end. I don’t want to spoil the story by saying too much; however, there are elements throughout that will doubtless echo with us as we progresses through the lower level – for who has not had a certain friendship / love that has become framed by regret? What I will note is that all of the images presented have been created in Second Life and sans post-processing of any description, instead relying entirely on the available environment settings.

Terrygold: My Friends, May 2023

At the end of the story, two round openings offer access to a stairway leading to the upper level and a parkland sitting in darkness, pools of light illuminating little vignettes reflective of the story below (most notable the two bicycles).

Exactly how autobiographical the friendship elements within the My Friend might be is not for me to say; they could just as easily be born of the imagination. That is for Terrygold to reveal (or not!). But taken as a whole, My Friend is an evocation and nuanced story in both art and words.

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