Selfies and an exhibition in Second Life

Club LA and Gallery: Burke Bode

Club LA and Gallery, curated by Fuyuko ‘冬子’ Amano (Wintergeist) has a new ground-level location, which is still partially under construction. To celebrate the move, the gallery is hosting two exhibitions; the first, Selfies: Some of My Faces, by Burke Bode, has been open since July; the second, An Exhibition by Twain Orfan, opens on Sunday, August 20th.

“Pablo Picasso said ‘Everything you can imagine is real,'” Burke says of his exhibition. “He is right. Living in a world that is completely created from scratch just by the imagination of its residents you experience this. A place where you can invent yourself new every day and for a creative person a place where you MUST create yourself new every single day. [I’m] changing my look constantly as shape shifter. Some of my shapes last for a day, for one picture; and some stay.”

Club LA and Gallery: Burke Bode

He reflects this beautifully with an exhibition of images illustrating many of his various looks. These are presented in an enclosed space within the gallery, the images laid out to present something of a maze visitors walk through. Semi-translucent, the images resemble layers visible one through another so that as you walk through them, each appears to be peeled away, revealing the next, which is in turn peeled back at the next turn, and so on.

It’s both an artistic approach to presenting change and the possibilities to reinvent within the digital medium, and an intriguing means of commenting on the nature of identity and how we present ourselves in the physical world. While we may not be able to change our looks here, we do “change” according to circumstance, situation and those around us: the person we are with a lover is not the same as the person we are with a child; the person we present to colleagues at work is not the same as the one we share with our closest friends, and so on. Thus, Selfies might be seen as a reflection of this.

Club LA and Gallery: Twain Orfan

Twain Orfan his been active in Second Life for over eight years, but only immersed himself in the world of SL photography in 2016. “I enjoy taking photo [the] art of items that are often overlooked when photographers visit various sims,” he says of his work. “Finding pure art in objects such as a chair, a table, a flower-pot, or, perhaps a bicycle. From time to time I also try my hand at Landscapes, or an occasional shot involving my own avatar.”

An Exhibition reflects all of this with a collection of 18 images taken from around second life, all of which also demonstrate Twain’s interest in, and experiment with, angle, light and shadow. What is particularly fascinating with the images is the fact they are all raw: Twain resists the use of GIMP or Photoshop for post-processing, relying instead purely on the viewer and Windlight for his pictures. The result is a fascinating collection of pieces which are individual and collectively eye-catching, offering unique windows into our virtual lives.

Club LA and Gallery: Twain Orfan

Both Selfies: Some of My Faces and An Exhibition make for an engaging visit, with the latter officially opening at 12:00 noon on Sunday, August 20th, with music by Marain Dufaux.

The new gallery space itself offers more room for exhibitions, and includes a landscaped garden visitors can enjoy and an information centre / studio space. Teleport disks are provided to assist visitors in getting around – although in truth, everything at ground level is within easy walking distance of the landing point.

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No Life Without Art in Second Life

No Life Without Art: Kandinsky

“My passion for art has been part of my virtual life from the start, and in RL began many years ago,” Alo (Aloisio Congrejo) says of himself. “As an artistic ‘consumer’ there have been many artists both great and lesser known that I have followed and admired, but what is most important to me is to see the work of anyone who can craft various media in such a way as to express their feelings.”

Thus it is that for his latest exhibition, No Life Without Art, he uses his own artistic expressionism to celebrate some of the most influential artists of the early 20th century – Wassily Kandinsky, credited with painting one of the first recognised purely abstract works; Paul Klee, whose unique approach to art drew upon abstraction, cubism, expressionism and surrealism and surrealists Joan Miró, René Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico.

No Life Without Art: Giorgio de Chirico

A visit to the installation begins on a platform overlooking a 3D tribute to Kandinsky with a piece that – for me at least – echoes his Small World pieces, produced in the 1920s when teaching at the Bauhaus in Berlin. This part of the installation is perhaps best viewed from above and by camming, although there is a walkway leading down to it for those who wish to explore more closely.

Beneath this, and reached via teleport board at the landing point sit the tributes to Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte. In the early years of the 20th century, de Chirico founded the scuola metafisica metaphysical art movement, which profoundly influenced the surrealists. Featuring dream-like scenes offering strong contrasts in light and shadow and often with an undertone of mystery or threat, the movement flourished through the second decade of the 20th Century and is notable commemorated in this installation through the inclusion of a representation of The Disquieting Muses (circa 1917) and what might be a play on The Seer (circa 1914/15), together with architecture and backgrounds reflecting those seen in many of de Chirico’s works from this period.

No Life Without Art: René Magritte

Set across three platforms linked by walkways, the de Chirico pieces overlook a wall of identical pieces which offer a play on Magritte’s 1964 composition The Son Of Man and which also might be said it echo his 1966 piece, The Pilgrim. These form a link with the lowest level, where the artists is again celebrated, with another image of a faceless man, together with that of an apple, which for Magritte symbolised the tension between the hidden and visible.  Both of these images are also symbolic for the artist’s influence on the pop, minimalist and conceptual art movements, whilst also offering a tip of the hat towards his own playful use of art.

This level also celebrates Joan Miró and Paul Klee, with the latter’s highly individualistic style very well represented through a reproduction of his 1922 composition, Red Balloon, and a 3D representation of Flagged Pavilion (1927), while Miro is represented by his 1925 work, The Garden.

No Life Without Art: Paul Klee

All five artists are well represented, and Alo also provides biographical note cards on each, allowing visitors to gain a greater understanding of their lives and works. In introducing himself, Alo notes that he appreciates those who can express their feelings through their art. In No Life Without Art, he clearly reveals his own depth of feeling for, and admiration of, these five influential and provocative artists.

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Yamagata in Second Life

Yamagata; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Yamagata – click any image for full size

“I have wanted an oriental themed sim for the longest time,” Ayla Zhoy (AylaJ) says of her homestead region design Yamagata, “and here it is! I’ve spent some time slowly working on this and I hope you enjoy your visit.”

Regular readers to these pages will know that I’m immediately drawn to anything with an oriental flavour. This being the case, Caitlyn and I hopped over to take a look around as soon as the opportunity arose – and we weren’t at all disappointed.

Yamagata; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Yamagata

As with many oriental regions in Second Life, Yamagata draws strongly on Sino-Japanese influences, blending the two together to create an environment which is eye-catching, relaxing, fun to explore (although do take note, it is a constant work-in-progess, and so is changing on a fluid basis) and with plenty of opportunities for photography.

The land is in fact split into a number of small islands – although such is the design, this may not immediately be obvious when exploring. The landing point sits to the north-west of the region, on an elongated islet it shares with a modest traditional Japanese style house and garden. A walk inland from the house will bring you to a stone arch, water tumbling from it as it links the island with one on which a bamboo of Pandas reside. A short distance away, and running through the trees occupying the eastern end of the island, a path provides access to the first of several bridges spanning the channels which divide up the land.

Yamagata; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Yamagata

However, before you leave the landing point, make sure you accept the offered note card, it has details of a number of points of interest worth visiting when exploring. These include tea houses, onsens, houses and ruins. They can be explored in any order, and each offers a setting very much worth seeing. Paths and grassy trails run across all of the islands, linking bridges and points of interest to one another, while stone steps provide access to the region’s elevated areas.

One of the more intriguing places to visit is the stone tower rising on the west side of one of the larger islands. This sits in two parts, one preciously balanced atop the other by a mix of what appears to be a narrow neck of stone blocks, an iron ladder and gravity’s attention being otherwise occupied elsewhere! The ladders offer a way up (right-click and sit), and the tower itself is a good vantage point from which to see the rest of the region.

Yamagata; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Yamagata

But really, the best way to see everything is obviously on foot, following the paths, discovering all the different locations and places to sit and contemplate or cuddle or bathe along the way. The pandas offer a cute distraction (the stone arch can be climbed over to reach them if you want – although it is not strictly speaking a bridge). There are a couple of boats in the region, but these don’t appear to be set to allow passengers to sit at present – or at least at the time of our visit; which is a pity as the one near the stone water arch makes for a nice spot from which to observe the pandas.

Yamagata really is a lovely setting, well suited to a variety of windlight settings and offering a lot for people to enjoy. The Sino-Japanese theme works well, and is complemented by a soft ambient sound scape entirely in keeping with the region.

Yamagata; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Yamagata

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Art in the wild in Second Life

Aly's Fine Art Gallery and Jungle; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Aly’s Fine Art Gallery and Jungle – click any image for full size

In May 2017, Caitlyn and I visited Aly’s Fine Art Gallery and Jungle, designed by Hepburn (Hepburn30) and Pross (Prosperine2) for region holder Aly (Alysheea). The region is a home for Aly to display her 2D and 3D art –  and also provide visitors with a place to explore. As such, it presents an interesting mix of place to visit and explore, and gallery to appreciate the art on exhibition.

The gallery space is located in the south-west corner of the region, and is formed by three tiki huts located around a small lake surrounded by sandy banks. Aly’s art, which is an intriguing mix of “traditional” photography, abstract images based on photos, and images which appear to have been captured in-world. These are displayed alongside and around 3D sculptures and mobiles.

Aly's Fine Art Gallery and Jungle; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Aly’s Fine Art Gallery and Jungle

Across the water, elephants graze on the long grass growing around a tall watchtower. Of African origin, the elephants are perhaps a little at odds with the rest of the setting, which – for myself at least – has a far more Asian look and feel to it than it does African. Nevertheless, the offer plenty of opportunities for photos and are quite magnificent.

Beyond this, the region is a mix of tropical rain forest and rugged uplands, and offers much that requires careful exploration.  The rain forest has a number of trails running through it, one of which leads to a wooden summer-house offering a place for couples to enjoy a cuddle or two alongside a series of waterfalls. Another of the paths leads to steps cut into the side of the plateau which rises from the north and east sides of the region. This is an area requiring careful exploration, as not everything to be found here is necessarily above ground: there are caverns awaiting discovery. For those who prefer staying out of tunnels and caves, there are platforms along the side of the cliffs offering seating areas, while others provide ways to explore some of the lower-lying rocks.

Aly's Fine Art Gallery and Jungle; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Aly’s Fine Art Gallery and Jungle

Throughout the entire region are many Asian influences: a statue of Buddha, ruins which wouldn’t go amiss in the jungles of Burma, Tai Chai exercise areas, and more. These are mixed with places to sit and cuddle in camp sites and elsewhere, and which include a platform beneath a hot air balloon. For the observant – again – a hidden opportunity to play the Moonphase Piano.

As noted, this is an intriguing region. The art exhibition is modest, but well worth a visit, while the rest of the region offers a chance for exploration and photography – and has over the months been captivate by talents far greater than my own.  That said, and being honest, I do have one or two quibbles with some parts of the build – the plateau and rugged areas are a trifle ragged in places, and could perhaps benefit from some gentle clean-up and tidying. But again, this doesn’t detract from photographic opportunities, either under the default windlight or similar soft lighting.

Aly's Fine Art Gallery and Jungle; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Aly’s Fine Art Gallery and Jungle

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