Dreamer’s Feelings in Second Life

Dreamer’s Feelings

Dreamer’s Feelings is the title of a collaborative 2D and 3D art installation by Maddy (Magda Schmidtzau) and CioTToLiNa Xue, which opened at Trésor de l’Art on January 10th, 2018.

The installation is located in a sky gallery, reached via teleport from ground level – which instructions for the best viewing experience can also be found. Those who find the preferred windlight – Ambient Dark – a little to dim to see, might prefer setting their viewer to midnight. Do, however, take note of the need to have Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) enabled. Shadows are not required, so this shouldn’t be too much of a performance hit for most people – however, as the exhibition does use projectors, it is essentially ALM is turned on (if not on by default in your viewer) in order to fully appreciate the installation. Once any adjustments to the viewer have been made, the installation proper can be reached via one of two red teleport discs.

Dreamer’s Feelings

Dreamer’s Feelings,” the artists note, Is a dreamlike narration through happy feelings.” And so it is visitors travel through a series of halls wreathed within the darkness of night, each offering scenes of colour and expression in which certain motifs – notably that of music  – can be found.

Starting from an illuminated pool, the display halls rise step-like, separated one from the next by steps or ghost-like art which stands almost glass-like across entrances or glides like smoke across them (again, it is essential that ALM is enabled to fully appreciate the scenes).  In the first hall, hands rise from the watery surface, lights playing over them and they surround a guitar. Close by, two more arms rise from the water, fingers entwined as lovers might hold hands, while images are projected  on the marble-like walls.

Dreamer’s Feelings

From this starting point, the remaining halls rise to surround the pool almost entirely, each one offering a mix of 2D art (Maddy) and 3D art and sculptures (Maddy and CioTToLiNa), with some of the motifs freely represented in either format. Directly above the pool float four spheres containing Figures of an angel, who  – in three at least – appears to be keeping watch on things.

With the dark environment settings, the projected lights and images drifting around and through the sets, the repeated motifs, this installation has the feel of travelling through a dream – but whether it is your own dream or someone else’s is up to you to decide. Whichever you chose, the art by both Maddy and CioTToLiNa is engaging wnough to warrent  visit to Dreammer’s Feelings and spending time wandering through the halls.

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MetaLES to close its doors in Second Life

MetaLES: Haveit Neox The Haul (2017)

On Monday, January 15th, Ux Hax and Second Life partner, Romy Nayar, announced that their art region, MetaLES, would be closing at the end of the day. The announcement came in a simple statement passed through a number of art group:

After 8 years of art, fantasy and work MetaLES ..O.. closes its doors. Many thanks to all the artists, bloggers, friends and visitors who made it possible, The decision is for the lack of time to dedicate to the project.

Kisses and hugs

Romy & Ux

“Yes today is the last day,” Ux informed me. “We are sad, but the art in SL will continue!” He went on to say that the lack of time mentioned in the notices is related to a new physical world project he and Romy are involved in. However, he refused to be drawn into providing any  specifics for the time being.

MetaLES: Rebeca Bashly – Sleepy Snail

My first exposure to MetaLES was back when it was referred to as Per4mance MetaLES ..O.., and came with the installation Conformational Change by Selavy Oh. However, it wasn’t until 2013 and Cica Ghost’s Ghostville that I regularly started blogging about the region and installations hosted there.

From the start, MetaLES proved a popular venue for some of Second Life’s top artists – Selavy, Rebeca Bashly, Cica, Cherry Manga, Eupalinos Ugajin, Moya, Bryn Oh, Kicca Igaly, Nessuno Myoo, Igor Ballyhoo, to name but a few, together with Romy and Ux themselves. The depth of art displayed on the region speaks volumes on the esteem in which both Romy and Ux are held by the SL arts community. For my part, one of the great attractions of the installations presented through the region has been the depth of narrative in so many of them.

MetaLES 7th anniversary retrospective – 2016

For example, both Haveit Neox and Igor Ballyhoo both explored ecological issues with The Haul and Tumor respectively; JadeYu Fang examined our anxieties through OpeRaAxiEty;  Rebeca Bashly explored ideas of birth, growth and life, and renewal with Queens Gambit Declined, while Ux and Romy explored the tarot through a multi-part series of installation in Escenas / Scenes (see here, here and here).

Such is the richness of art displayed at MateLES over the years, that it is hard to pick out a personal favourite – I thoroughly enjoyed all of those mentioned above, as well pieces like the exploration of Gaston Leroux’s Le Fantôme de l’Opéra in A Bit of Red, by Kicca Igaly and Nessuno Myoo, and lighter installations like Romy’s Sparky’s.

MetaLES: Nevereux – Journey into Communication – 2017

MetaLES is currently hosting three exhibitions, all of which will end with the closure: Shattered, by Theda Tammas, Melancholy by Ini Inaka and Journey into Communication by Nevereux (see here).  All three are well worth a visit.

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Three artists at Gallery Cecile in Second Life

Gallery Cecile: Rose B

Gallery Cecile is a complex of eight display spaces for artists, curated by Cécile (Pierce Taurog). It is devoted to exhibiting art from both the physical world and Second Life, and from the former, is currently exhibiting selections of art by Salvador Dali (1904-1989) and Roger Suraud (1938-2016), which can be found in the gallery’s 0 and 1 exhibition halls (the latter of which forms the main entrance. Both are excellent displays, which the Dali exhibit offering links to the wikipedia pages. However, for this review, I’d like to focus on three Second Life artists: Dixmix Source, Rose Beaumont and Sakura Taurus.

Dixmix Source can be found in exhibition hall 3 at the gallery. Entitled I Don’t Get Lonely When I’m Alone, his display features 10 minimalist black-and-white images, nine of which feature a single male figure, sometimes seen clearly, at others appearing slightly blurred or ghosted, framed within a landscape or setting.

Gallery Cecile: Dixmix Source

At first look, there appears to be certain pathos in several of the images, which on closer examination slowly morphs into something else, which I can only describe as a sense of “all-one-ness”. While the figure may initially appear to be alone, lost within a setting, a second look reveals something else: a man who may be on his own, but who appears to be at one with his surroundings. There is a certain ease in the way he sits or stands; while some of his poses may suggest an attitude of “leave me alone”, so to do the images as a whole suggest he’s actually entirely comfortable with his condition and location. Simply put, he’s never lonely while on his own: his surroundings offer him all he needs.

The final picture in the series presents a different view of aloneness: what appears to be a tiny sapling (or perhaps a single twig of a tree) set  against a white background, offering s singular image of the beauty of nature. As well as the images, Dix has prepared a soundtrack for the exhibition – click on the sign in the exhibition hall for the URL.

Gallery Cecile: Dixmix Source

Above this, in gallery 4, is Eclectic Rose, by Rose Beaumont (Rose Bomse). A series of ten avatar portraits, these stand in strong contrast to I Don’t Get Lonely When I’m Alone through the opulent use of colour within most of them; however, they also in some respects continue the theme of individual studies offered by Dix.

“I like taking pictures that tell a story alone or with models,” Rose says of her work. “My tastes in photography are quite eclectic and vary with the inspiration of the moment and my mood but always with a concern for quality and details. Shooting is not like a job for me, but must be a pleasure and a nice moment to share.”

Gallery Cecile: Rose B

The majority of these images, if not all of them, appear to feature the same model (Rose herself?). Narrative is strong in most of them, with one at least carrying something of a self-statement – Picture This Rose – which I found to be both captivating and layered, incorporating Rose’s photography as a whole, her passion as a photographer (framing one eye as if looking through viewfinder), the repeated motif representing her name, the overall suggestion of sensuality and the idea that this is just one aspect of a multi-faceted personality.

As with Dix, many of these images suggest that being alone is not equitable to be lonely – some directly, others in a more subtle manner of posing and setting. The sentiments within each of the images  are somewhat revealed by their individual titles, but this doesn’t stop the eye and the mind from using each title as a launching point for a deeper examination and consideration of each picture – and I confess to being quite drawn to several.

Gallery Cecile: Sakura Taurus

Taking the ramp upwards from Rose will bring visitors to exhibition area 6 (area 5 was empty during our visit),  an exhibition by Sakura Taurus, entitled Pour la Postérisé! (For the Posterized!) – a celebration of the art of posterization. Five panelled images are presented, all with a Japanese theme and shot around Second Life (I think I recognise Collins Lands in one, but am not 100% sure). All are presented on multi-panel frames, and each has been gently posterized, in keeping with the theme of the display.

I’m personally not a fan of this form of art, but confess to finding the five images offered by Sakura attractive. I’m obviously biased towards anything oriental in nature, so this may be a part of it – but it is not the sole reason. All five images show a more nuanced, subtle approach to posterization than is perhaps more usually the case; so often the process is very “in your face”, so to speak, in the degree to which it has been used and in the use of colour. The five pieces presented by Sakura are altogether far more gentle in approach, to the extent that they suggest a blending of posterization and traditional painting – which ideally, in my opinion, suits their subject matter.

Gallery Cecile: Sakura Taurus

These, and the remaining exhibitions on offer make Gallery Cecile a very worthwhile visit – one deserving of having time put aside to appreciate the various displays fully.

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A journey into Sapiens in Second Life

Gem Preiz: Sapiens

Sapiens is the title of a new region-wide installation by fractal artist Gem Preiz, which has an official opening at 13:00 SLT on Wednesday, January 10th, 2018.

This is – quite literally – a huge installation. It starts at ground level, on a walkway where visitors can find information givers on the installation and how best to view it. Camming out from this will reveal a large floating cube shape, formed by a 3x3x3 matrix of smaller cubes, which is something of a motif for the installation:  can also be found at the end of the catwalk, where a smaller version acts as a teleport which will deliver visitors to the installation proper.

Gem Preiz: Sapiens

The build takes the form of a giant “labyrinth” very industrial in looks (something heightened by the stream venting at various points throughout). More raised catwalks form a grid around huge towers rising from the floor, catwalks and towers alike enclosed by massive walls. The walkways are further enclosed under high ceilings. At various points around this grid of catwalks – such as where they intersect with one another or in the corners of the grid – are platforms, some of which  have square holes at their centres. Above these rise huge shafts, further platforms visible at their tops, and from which square sections may periodically descend to fill the open spaces in a platform below, becoming elevators visitors can stand on top be carried between the levels of this vast complex.

Throughout each level – all of which have a slightly oppressive feel about them due to the repeated fractal designs of floors, walls and ceilings which imparts a feeling of unending sameness – Gem has variously put pieces of his fractal art, forty in all. These are intended to represent four themes: technology, mazes, darkness and confinement. Some many only appear once, others may be repeated; all are meticulous in their design and presentation and are visually captivating. They are not images one sees as one is drawn into them. Most reflect the environment in which they are set: enclosed and confined, limited; other suggest broader horizons and the promise of places we might yet discover.

Gem Preiz: Sapiens

There is more here to be seen than may be at first apparent. For a start, depending on which elevators you use, you may find the build seems to have 3 levels – but if you use others, you’ll find it actually has four (I’ll let you decide which lead where…). Also, triangular windows in the corners of the central towers hint at a world beyond the confines of the tunnels and catwalks. This can be seen by flycamming through the walls or by – on two of the levels of the build at least – finding the door marked EXIT, which can be opened with a touch (but do not step through without flying!).

Beyond the doors the labyrinthine effect of the installation is greatly enhanced: great shafts and tunnels seeming to run outward to infinity, standing like great tower blocks interlinked by giant enclosed bridges and walkways, all stretching off into the distance, spherical shuttles scooting along them or rising and descending through them. It’s a giddying display, particularly if you just cam out over the lip of the doorways and cam up / down and around.

Gem Preiz: Sapiens

So what is to be made of all this? Gem offers an explanation in the notes accompanying the installation, which might be summarised as an expression of growth, of overcoming limitations and the shadows of primal (and other fears) we individually and as a race have and do confront. Just as this is a maze of walkways and elevators, so to is the human mind a maze of thought processes which run this way and that, sometimes intersecting, sometimes looping back on themselves, sometimes offering glimpses of what might be. And some lift us a step at a time towards greater understanding, greater abilities, even as we are shadowed by fears (these in the form of the black hands stretching out towards / over some of the catwalks); until finally, we’re ready to break free of the shadows and fears and achieve.

This latter point is beautifully presented on the upper level of the installation’s catwalks, where a golden figure sits, cowering beneath the outstretched hand of primal and other fears – but which offers the way for us to become human, to become reasoned thinkers and creators – as indicated in the final scene of this installation (which also contains for catalogues of the fractal images used within / which inspired the build a teleport cube for returning to the landing point).

Gem Preiz: Sapiens

Complex and challenging, Sapiens offers a commentary on human growth and understanding. It is a theme, Gem informs me, which will be expanded upon in a second build Demiurge, which should open in late February / March time. I’m already curious to see if it will embrace either the Platonic of the Gnostic views of the word – or perhaps combine them both.

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  • Sapiens (LEA 29, rated: Moderate)

Cica’s Bird People

Cica Ghost: Bird People

Bird People is Cica Ghost’s latest region-wide installation, and it presents something of a conundrum. In a largely denuded landscape, the ground of which has been partially and neatly divided into a black-on-white grid, sit giant, ornate metalworks. Some stand alone, others support great cages – or form cage-like structures, equally huge, while block-like towers, apparently made of stacked cubes also rise from the ground here and there. It’s a strange environment – and one, frankly, difficult to see when using the default landscape and following the viewing instructions (ALM enabled and Shadows set to Sun/Moon + Projectors).

Throughout the landscape, stairways rise, curl and undulate, some supported by metal structures, some starting from the blocky forms.  All of them twist and turn, and run by rise and fall to connect the ground – or at least their foundation blocks – offering people climbs up to dizzying heights and the giant cages waiting there. Some of these cages, but many are occupied by strange creatures with the bodies of bird and the heads of men. Most of these creatures sit within their cages individually or in pairs, facing open doors or sides to their enclosures almost apprehensively, as if fearing stepping out into the world beyond.

Cica Ghost: Bird People

What are we to make of this? The clue, perhaps, lies in the quote Cica has offered with the piece: We are all living in cages with the door wide open. It’s a quote from Star Wars creator George Lucas about creativity and imagination. It references the idea that we can all be creative, we can all soar far and wide on the wings of imagination, if we are only willing to just let go; So does the installation perhaps stand as a metaphor for this idea?

Certainly, there is a strong contrast between the expressions worn by the creatures who have stepped out of their cages and are variously gathered or dotted across the open spaces beneath their former prisons, and those who have yet to venture forth. The former – for the most part – appear happy, chatty, curious and even playfully (although there are one or two looking slightly wary). Those still within their cages look through open doorways with a mix of confusion, apprehension and uncertainty – or even close their eyes on their potential route to freedom. This contrast plays strongly into the idea that stepping beyond the confines of our personal cages – our comfort zones – if you will, and embracing the imagination can be a liberating, positive influence on us.

Cica Ghost: Bird People

For me, and in keeping with the broader theme offered by Lucas’ quote, the installation stands as the embodiment of a piece written be Debbie Hampton , the blogger and writer behind The Best Brain Possible. In 2015 She used the quote as the title for an essay about overcoming personal fear and the apparent “comforts” we can have in allowing ourselves to become caged by a “normal” life; we become, in effect, our own jailers.

I’ve lived most of my life like a bird in a cage with the door wide open. At any time, I could have hopped on over to the opening, taken flight and soared to new heights. All along, I’ve known how to fly. No one clipped my wings.

So, what kept me in the cage? My own fear and self-imposed limitations held me there. I was my own prison guard. I think we are all born knowing how to fly, but life happens and beats us down little-by-little until we forget that we ever had this valuable skill.

– Debbie Hampton, In A Cage With the Door Wide Open

Cica Ghost: Bird People

I must also, and in passing, admit that Cica’s human-headed birds put me in mind of something else – something entirely unintended by Cica (I know this because I asked her!), so I’m not going to draw any parallels between the two. I’ll simply state that in looking at these creatures, I couldn’t help but be put in mind of the Brontitallians from Douglas Adams’ Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – and while it may have been unintentional, it was also quite delightful.

A conundrum it may first be upon first arriving within it, Bird People is worth exploring and thinking about – although I do perhaps suggest you try a Midnight windlight setting rather than the default; it doesn’t detract that much from the experience (just ensure you do have LM enabled and Shadows set to Sun/Moon + Projectors), and it can certainly make navigation a lot easier when climbing the various stairways and reduces the risk of falling off them somewhat.

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Celebrating music, films and dance in Second Life

The Listening Room

Second Life offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy music, films, dancing and dance troupes in Second Life; however, R. Crap Mariner and Marx Dudek bring all of these together deep inside the bowels of Mount Edloe, on Crap’s home region of Edloe.

It is here, either reached via the road winding up the mountain from the lands beneath, or via direct teleport, visitors can find three interconnected venues: The Listening Room, The Screening Room and the Bad Luck Steak Gallery.

“The Listening Room (or TLR for short),” Marx explains, “Began as a private place for me to lure friends out of my IM box and into a common space where I could chat with them all at once – with the promise of music. I try to play a set every Wednesday night from 6-8pm SLT. Feel free to stop by!”

Bad Luck Streak Gallery

TLR is the largest space (by volume) in the mountain, offering something of an industrial chic environment of high brick walls, shipping containers, pipes and metal catwalks and stairs. The shipping containers form the backdrop to a DJ’s booth, with pallets and trolleys topped with mattresses, bolsters and cushions offering a cosy sitting area close by, alongside an impressive collection of vinyl records. Billy Bragg, Bowie, the Goons and more look down from posters on the walls, while HMV is celebrated via graffiti on one wall.

Opening off of The Listening Room, but connected to it over all four levels, the Bad Luck Streak Gallery is curated by Crap and is a showcase of dance troupes from across SL, (and also of Crap’s own photography). Each level of the gallery space has a number of framed slide shows on display – each representing the work of a specific dance troupe in Second Life. Click an image on any frame for a dialogue box of options, including paging back / forward through the slides and receiving a copy of any individual images you like. Push pins in front of each of the frames provide a landmark to the specific dance troupe’s theatre / home region, and may also offer a note card of information.

Bad Luck Streak Gallery

Crap notes of the gallery, “There are a lot more dance troupes out there in Second Life. My friend Sho Kyong got me into Dance Performance in Second Life. She kept inviting me to Guerilla Burlesque performances, and I finally made the time to see for myself. Now, I roam from performance to performance, trying to capture a moment of motion and emotion. I did my best to display as many groups as possible here, but I only have so much wall space and prims to work with. And I don’t know about every dance group in Second Life.” Personally, I think this is a superb resource for anyone wishing to discover, with almost 40 troupes represented, and Crap unsells the emotions caught in the images.

Connected to The Listening Room via the stars climbing the various catwalks (and a passage in the mountain) or via the ornate Maxivator elevator, The Screening Room sits atop both The Listening Room and the Bad Luck Streak Gallery (and so in the first venue to be reached as visitors enter the mountain’s tunnel after climb the road up from the rest of the region. With a foyer area offering an eclectic mix of movie posters and where refreshments might be had, a red carpet lead the way to the screening room proper.

The Screening Room

“A long time SL dream of mine realised,” Marx says of it. “I finally have a movie theatre! I will be showing films every Wednesday, and other nights as well. Foreign films, classic films, B-movies, documentaries, music movies, and more!” At the time of my visit, the film on offer was 2007’s Fears of the Dark, scheduled for a Thursday – although I confess, I’m not sure which Thursday.

Hidden within Edloe mountain, all three offer a great set of venues, although both The Listening Room and The Screening Room are best suited to smaller numbers. Those wishing to be kept appraised of events at both can join The Listening Room group via the group joining in TLR.

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