Behind the Avatar in Second Life

Club LA and Gallery: Behind the Avatar

Now open at the Club LA and Gallery, curated by Fuyuko ‘冬子’ Amano (Wintergeist), is Behind the Avatar, an exhibition of images by Panteleimon Aeon. On display are eleven pictures (one of which forms a free gift to visitors) by Pan, which present Second Life as it might be seen through the eyes of an avatar, and in which we’re being allowed to share.

Each picture features a setting and a solitary avatar – mainly Pan himself, although Like Dreaming of Angels  and …Through both clearly feature a female avatar, and  Isoldes Remorse might feature a woman under the hat and coat.

Club LA and Gallery: Behind the Avatar

The avatars are mainly presented from the rear or in a three-quarters profile from the rear. In this way, they are not necessarily the central focus of each piece – although our eyes are obviously drawn to them. Rather then become come a part of the image, blending, if you will, with their surroundings whilst also offering a glimpse of what they might be reflecting upon whilst looking at the scene themselves.

I was first introduced to Pan’s work by Sorcha Tyles. At the time I commented, “Pan’s work is visually striking, combining a sense of posed set piece with natural flavour. The result is that while each may well have been composed, so to could each have been easily caught as a moment from the subject’s life; a frozen instant of an unfolding story, the subject unaware they have been so captured.”

Club LA and Gallery: Behind the Avatar

This is again very much the case with the images in this selection, offering as they do a wonderful sense of depth, emotion, and feelings. Each very much carries a story within it, combining avatar and setting into a whole – whilst also allowing us to more metaphorical see from behind the avatar – and through the eyes of the artist himself.

As such, this is an expressive display, and a superb means to gain familiarity with Pan’s work for those who have not previously encountered it. Behind the Avatar can be found on the mezzanine area to the right of the main gallery entrance, with stair leading up to it from the garden end of the hall.

Club LA and Gallery: Visions – Kimeu Korg

While visiting, be sure to check Transitions by Myra Wildmist, which I reviewed at the end of October, and Visions by Kimeu Korg.

The latter is another set of studies of Second Life, often featuring and avatar or avatars, some of which are beautifully humorous, while others weave a story in the observer’s mind. All are beautifully executed and the exhibition as a whole should not be missed.

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The beauty of a snowflake in Second Life

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug – click any image for full size

“Snefnug is Danish for ‘snowflake’. Welcome to our home in the Arctic circle.” So reads the description for the midwinter landscape of Snefnug, a Homestead region designed by Stella Pelous (Stella Mahogany).

Danish it might be, but with the high peaks of snowy mountains surrounding it, Snefnug is – as the description suggests – perhaps representative of a landscape somewhat further to the north in Scandinavia. Covered in a heavy blanket of snow, the region offers a relatively flat landscape within the bowl formed by the surrounding mountains, from which it is separated by water. This water also cuts into the land to form a deep inlet running from the west, which faces a channel reaching to the open sea beyond the mountains.

The landing point is at the eastern extreme of this inlet, looking out over the water and snow falls from a hazy sky. To the north and south, fingers of land point outwards, linked by a wooden bridge spanning a narrow sliver of water which extends a little further inland from the bay, its passage eventually stopped by the trunk of a mighty oak tree.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

The bridge is guarded at either end by wooden gatehouses, strong A-frames supporting steeply sloping roofs. But the gates are thrown wide, allowing free passage across the water, rather than forcing visitors to trudge through the snow and around the great oak. Whether you head south across the bridge or turn north and west along the northern side of bay is entirely up to you.

Should you head north, the way will take you past a track leading the way to a barn where fir-trees are being sold for Christmas, while a barn heated by a stove and cosy gazebo lit by a warm fire body offer very different places to sit and pass the time. Through a woodland of denuded birch trees, fir-trees and oaks, sits a studio cabin of modern design, warmly furnished – but with doors locked.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

Across the bay, on the southern shore, sits a boathouse and quays, the rooms above the boathouse unfurnished, but the building itself offering an imposing shoreline presence. Behind it, a track runs by a snowed-in carousel to a little café with a fireside terrace – the perfect place to enjoy a hot drink while exploring.

The land around and to the north of the café is a mix of open, snow-covered ground, woods, and a tree-lined avenue, inviting exploration. Deer roam the land here, and all routes eventually bring you to another house, roofs laden with thickly laying snow, but doors unlocked and inviting people inside. A short distance to the east, a set of stone stairs wind up one of the region’s two highland areas – a flat-topped plateau of rock on which sits a chapel. A second plateau sits close by, but doesn’t offer a way up its vertical sides.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

Those who enjoy walking in winter wonderlands will doubtless enjoy a visit to Snefnug, it is a delightful, open place with plenty of opportunities for photography, exploring and sitting – whether on your own or with a friend or close one. Do keep an eye out for all the little touches with the wildlife around the place from the bird-riding mouse and his (her?) companion to the raccoon family enjoying an outing in the snow.

Another picturesque winter seasonal regions well worth a visit.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

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  • Snefnug (Callisto Bay, rated: Moderate)

Holiday Trace in Second Life

Holiday Trace; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrHoliday Trace – click any image for full size

Over the years, a visit to The Trace family of regions – The Trace, The Trace Too, Summer Trace, Fall Trace, Winter Trace – has always been a pleasure. I’ve written about these regions, which were started by Kylie (Kylie Jaxxon), then became a partnership between her and  Elvira Kytori, on numerous occasions in this blog. So, it was with delight that I received news from Shakespeare that there is another in the series – Holiday Trace – now open for visits, and made a point to hop over and explore with Caitlyn as soon as we could.

Given the time of year in the northern hemisphere, Holiday Trace is a wintry setting. Snow lies heavy on the ground and falls gently from a windless sky. Exposed water here is heavy with ice thick enough to skate on, and the sounds of the countryside are subdued.

Holiday Trace; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrHoliday Trace

In the south-east corner of the region sits a little country train station, sitting quietly with a tavern, each waiting passengers or customers. The great black bulk of a DRD Arctic Express steam train stands at rest before the station, having emerged from a dark tunnel, the great lamp on the front of its huge boiler still lit.

Across the region to the west and over the snow blanketing the land, sit the house and barns of Christmas Tree Farm, which may beckon visitors to set out across country to visit them. Northwards from the station however, along a brickwork footpath one might find the way to the local chapel. The path may have been salted at some point, as the snow is having a hard time settling on it. Also, it doesn’t offer a direct route to the chapel.

Holiday Trace; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrHoliday Trace

Instead, the path splits a short walk from the station and tavern, branching east and west to encircle a frozen pond where children skate. Nor does the path resume on the far side of the pond; visitors must walk through the snow and over an icy path (or is it another frozen body of water on which the snow has settled?

This route runs alongside a walled and fenced garden in which a fountain – drained, one might guess, for winter – before visitors arrive at the little chapel. Tall beech trees, barks frosted, branches bare, stand around the chapel as if protecting it. Between their stout trunks a rutted track winds westwards to where a covered bridge spans a narrow stream which feeds into a larger finger of water cutting into the land. A rowing boat is trapped in the frozen stream and a horse and sleigh might shortly vie for use of the track with a red pick-up truck that is coming up behind them.

Holiday Trace; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrHoliday Trace

Laden with a fir-tree, the truck might be making its way to the chapel from Christmas Tree Farm, sitting a short distance from the western end of the track, where a Surrey-style carriage sits in the snow, also bearing a fir-tree and watched over by a fox and reindeer as Canada geese fly risk an low pass through a gab in the trees overhead.

With trees a-plenty, rocky cairns and step-like slabs covered in snow, whilst offering a home to foxes, deer, reindeer, dogs, and birds, Holiday Trace is a delightful winter setting. It’s a place where wanderers can wander, couples can cuddle (try the sleighs and the old cable car!), individuals can sit and ponder, and photographers capture the scenery and memories.

Holiday Trace; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrHoliday Trace

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Within the Voice of Björk in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery – Cecilia Nansen Mode: Within the Voice of Björk

Currently on display within the Black Gallery hall at DixMix Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, is a selection of images by Cecilia Nansen Mode – whom I confess is one of my favourite exponents of the art of avatar studies. Entitled Within the Voice of Björk, the selection features some fifteen images inspired by the lyrics of thirteen songs by Icelandic singer Björk.

“Within the voice of Björk, I hear the roars of a beast of the North … the beast of a woman,” Cecilia says in introducing the exhibit. “Within the voice of Björk, I hear the voice of the little girl … Within the voice of Björk, I hear the finest and most delicate tones … Within the voice of Björk, I hear passion, anger love, hope and fear. The deepest frustration and the highest happiness. The acceptance of depression, the orgasmic explosions of joy.

“I hear a woman; I hear all women; I hear myself.”

DiXmiX Gallery – Cecilia Nansen Mode: Within the Voice of Björk

It’s a powerful set of statements, encompassing so much, including reflections on the rugged, unpredictable nature of Iceland itself – a country I know well myself. Its seemingly solid, stoic outward appearance: firm and unyielding in the face of the harshness of the North Atlantic hides a turbulent core, hot and unpredictable, prone to busting through that stoic shell – the very metaphor of the moods and passions to which Cecilia alludes.

The images for Within the Voice of Björk are equally as powerful. Set against plain white or black backdrops, using monochrome, soft tints or the minimum of colour,  each image has a simple, elegant  – dare I say calm framing, within which is set the most evocative, captivating interpretations of mood and feeling, beautifully expressed through the female form.

DiXmiX Gallery – Cecilia Nansen Mode: Within the Voice of Björk

Beneath each image is a button which, when touched, will display the title of the song which inspired the picture, together with a selected portion of the lyrics. These provide depth and context to each image, allowing us to delve deeper into each in turn – although in all honesty, each image is so exquisitely executed and presented, it speaks loudly and clearly even before one turns to the lyrics.

These are also marvellous examples of the technical art of photography: the considered use of lighting, backdrop, soft focus, depth of field, angle, use of colour, framing. All are used to perfection, the various combinations within each piece doing much to capture and hold one’s attention, drawing one into the moods and feeling expressed within each – the wildness, the passion, love, hope, frustration and joy to which Cecilia refers in her introduction to the exhibition.

DiXmiX Gallery – Cecilia Nansen Mode: Within the Voice of Björk

Most of the images correspond to a single song; however there are two images devoted to Big Time Sensuality and a triplet of images inspired by All is Full of Love, and I have to confess, this triplet is for me the centre piece for Within the Voice of Björk. While every piece in the exhibit is worthy of appreciation and praise, I found the emotive phrasing of these three images, and the inspired use of android figures to convey those emotions utterly stunning.

This is a truly magnificent collection, and one to be savoured.

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