Category Archives: SL Art & LEA

Cica’s Burning and poetic musings in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Burning

Cica Ghost: Burning

Burning is the title of Cica Ghost’s latest region-wide build, which opened on Sunday, January 15th. It is a piece which stands in contrast to several of her recent builds in that it is of a darker tone and style. Under a lowering, cloud-heavy sky, lit by a distant sunset, a town burns. The land around it is scorched and aflame, ashen tree trunks, bereft of branches and leaves, point to the heavy sky like gnarled, accusative fingers.

Within the town, the tall buildings are charred, their pain blistered and blackened as flames lick doorways and windows. Some walls carry some of Cica’s usually light and happy stick figures, which here are cast in a new role as poignant reminders that this was once a happier place. A single bridge spans what might be the parched bed of a vanished body of water, offering a way into – or perhaps an escape route out of – the conflagration.

Cica Ghost: Burning

Cica Ghost: Burning

The who, what, how and why of the fire’s origin are not revealed. The burning landscape and buildings are an open page on which we can write our own view of what has occurred. However, with all that is going on in the physical world, coupled with the general presentation of Burning, it tends to cause the name Aleppo to spring to mind. So is Burning perhaps a political commentary?

Possibly. But before we decide or judge, Cica provides a possible clue to interpreting the work. It comes in the form of a quote: time is the fire in which we burn. It’s part of a line from  a 1938 poem by Delmore Schwartz entitled, Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day (also sometimes called For Rhoda), which is by coincidence, a poem I know quite well. In it, Schwartz records how we go about our daily lives largely unaware of the uncontrollable passage of time and the fact that, with every moment, we are closer to our own deaths and the deaths of those we love. From childhood through adulthood, we are so often caught within the minutiae of our lives that we lose track of all that is really important – or should be; only in our closing years do we realise what has happened – by which time all may lie burnt by time.

Cica Ghost: Burning

Cica Ghost: Burning

So is Cica presenting us with a philosophical piece with Burning? “I didn’t know about the poem,” she told me, “But I came across the line while searching for quotes about fire, and it fitted what I wanted to say.”

The quote in question attributed the line as coming from a character in the movie Star Trek Generations, hence why Cica didn’t make the connection. However, she has perfectly captured the tone and meaning of Schwartz’s poem as a whole, from the melancholy through to the way in which we do hurry through our lives – as exemplified by the visitors Caitlyn and I sat and watched from one of several perches in the installation (hover your mouse around to find them) as they hurried back and forth through the buildings and trees before vanishing.

Cica Ghost: Burning

Cica Ghost: Burning

That Cica has captured all of the nuance within Calmly We Walk…. may have been serendipitous, spinning outward from that one line from the poem, but that doesn’t matter. Serendipity is often the cousin to artistic expression, and the pairing of the installation with the entire poem broadens our understanding and appreciation of Burning. It also perhaps sits with that image of Aleppo which pops into the mind when first arriving. Schwartz wrote his poem shortly before the outbreak of World War 2, a time when towns and cities burned and lives  – and generations – were shattered; thus another layer of poignancy is added to the installation.

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  • Burning (Aggramar, rated:  Moderate)

Mistero and William: dimensions in art in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Mistero Hifeng

DiXmiX Gallery: Mistero Hifeng

One display at DiXmiX Gallery for approximately a month, are two new exhibitions of art, one by Mistero Hifeng, and the second by William “Paperwork” Weaver.

Perhaps best known for his evocative 3D sculptures, which have become very much a feature of many regions across Second Life over the last few years, Mistero is no stranger to the gallery. Since it opened in September 2016, pieces from Megan Prumier’s personal collection of his work have been integrated into the overall design of the gallery as conceived by Megan, and Mistero has used her approach as the launchpad for his exhibition.

DiXmiX Gallery: Mistero Hifeng

DiXmiX Gallery: Mistero Hifeng

Located on the ground and mezzanine floors of the Grey Gallery at DiXmiX is a selection of some of Mistero’s more recent pieces mixed with some with which those familiar with his work may be familiar. But in addition to these is a display of his photography (which was his original reason for creating his first sculptures), offered in a large format, presenting visitors with a unique opportunity to see and appreciate Mistero’s artistry in both 2D and 3D.

Building on Megan’s idea of integrating his sculptures with the gallery structure, Mistero has a couple of pieces appearing to extrude themselves from pillar and ceiling, whilst throughout the hall, many of the other pieces make their presence felt almost peripherally. Rather than occupying the central floor spaces, they stand close to pillars, against guard rails. Thus, the visitor is made aware of their presence in the most subtle of ways as they allow Mistero’s 2D are to dominate the display spaces, naturally drawing attention to them before it naturally turns to the sculptures. Thus we are encouraged to appreciate both in turn, rather having 3D and 2D art vie for attention.

DiXmiX Gallery: William Weaver's The Paperwork Shows

DiXmiX Gallery: William Weaver’s The Paperwork Shows

Ensconced in the White Gallery at DiXmiX, which has been given something of a make-over for the event, is The Paperwork Shows, William Weaver’s exhibition, which officially opened on Saturday, January 14th, 2017.

An accomplished Second Life and physical world photographer, William is also responsible for the original Phototools for the Firestorm viewer, which expose the many and various photography and machinima related capabilities within the viewer, bringing them together within a neatly tabulated floater. Originally provided by William as a set of optional XML additions to Firestorm, were originally offered as a bolt-on option, Phototools were later fully integrated into Firestorm.

DiXmiX Gallery: William Weaver's The Paperwork Shows

DiXmiX Gallery: William Weaver’s The Paperwork Shows

With The Paperwork Shows, William offers a section of his 2D Second Life Art (some of which should be considered NSFW), and some of his 3D pieces. All of these are exhibited alongside two interactive elements; William’s own Photo Ring, and another featuring  a sculpture by Dolores Olivieri, both of which visitors to the exhibition can use to pose themselves and take their own photos.

The majority of the 2D art is offered at slideshows in the central display area of the White Gallery, although there are some individual pieces also on display, while one of the 3D elements is a model William built expressly for the purpose of photographing. He also provides a number of models to photographers  – some of which are in turn based on paintings or photographs – free of charge via the SL Marketplace.

DiXmiX Gallery: Mistero Hifeng

DiXmiX Gallery: Mistero Hifeng

Taken individually or together, there are two fascinating exhibitions, and both should be open for around a month. When visiting the gallery, do please consider a donation towards its continued upkeep, and be sure to catch Miles Cantelou’s exhibit which you can read about here) and Megan’s delightful aviation-themed gallery lounge.

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No Frontiers in Second Life

No Frontiers - Gem Preiz

No Frontiers – Gem Preiz

I’ve long been an admirer of Gem Preiz. His work in creating magnificent vistas using fractal art is simply astonishing. So it was a genuine pleasure to once again be offered an opportunity to previewing his latest installation, which opens on Thursday, January 12th, and runs through until the end of June.

No Frontiers is, in at least some ways, a sequel to his last two environments, Hertiage: Vestiges and Heritages: Wrecks (which you can respectively read about here and here). Within it, we are again asked to engage upon a journey through space and time. But where the Hertiage pieces were perhaps rooted in a dark vision of a future encompassing loss and departure, only brightening at the very end, No Frontiers presents something altogether more optimistic, a vision of a vast cosmos awaiting us, with opportunities unbounded, the potential for new encounters and a celebration of what we are, and what we may yet mature into.

No Frontiers - Gem Preiz

No Frontiers – Gem Preiz

As with is previous works, No Frontiers invites the visitor to travel through a series of vast halls, in which each of is placed a single, gigantic fractal image, each comprising around 18 individual elements. The halls are all interconnected by tubes, and are so vast, flying is the most practical way to see them. To assist in this, Gem provides two flying vehicles, a single-seater and a tandem two-seater (although visitors are welcome to free fly is they prefer). These are found in the “departure hall”, where instructions on how best to appreciate the installation can be found. I recommend the latter are read, and that in particular, particles are turned up and the music stream is enabled.

In addition to the massive, intricate and breath-taking fractal images, the halls include 3D elements designed by Gem which further enhance both the environment and add to the narrative suggested by each image. Some of these may be easily translatable, others may actually be more subtle, and require observation to pick up on their nuance.

No Frontiers - Gem Preiz

No Frontiers – Gem Preiz

For example, within one hall, two spirals of spheres slowly rotate, horizontal arms extending from the spheres. Each resembles a strand of DNA vertically split, and as they rotate, every so often they align to become the familiar double helix. But on either side of this joining, when they almost align, there are perhaps hints at other forms of DNA, suggesting life alien to ours, waiting to be discovered in our voyage out into the cosmos.

Suggestions of alien civilisations appear elsewhere as well. Take, as another example, the tiny spacecraft forming orderly lines of traffic heading towards a planet being orbited by a vast structure (the 2nd image in this article). Are these intergalactic commuters on their way to / from work? And what of the giant ringed sphere floating before a similar such object orbiting another world with one of Gem’s images? What tale of intelligences might they hold?

No Frontiers - Gem Preiz

No Frontiers – Gem Preiz

Meanwhile the connecting tubes themselves suggest two things. On the one hand, they are offered to us and connecting tunnels between environments, capped at either end by airlocks. On the other, they resemble wormholes we fly through, tunnels through the fabric of space and time, allowing us to travel the vast distances of the cosmos in mere seconds.

At the very end of the journey, visitors enter a vast space, surrounded by distant stars, and within which, as one rises through it, lay planets, spheres, the funnel of a black hole, the billion and billions of stars contained within an ever-spinning spiral galaxy. And, eventually, a landing platform / arrival point where they can safely lands and exit their craft.

No Frontiers - Gem Preiz

No Frontiers – Gem Preiz

Gem’s work is never less than awe-inspiring; and while he has used 3D elements in past installations no Frontiers offers something entirely new in how physical elements are images have been combined to add to our sense of voyage and immersion. Add to this the soundtrack he has provided, and No Frontiers makes for a stunning experience, visually, aurally and for the imagination. Not something to be missed. The official opening will be at 13:00 SLT on Thursday, January 12th and as noted, the installation will remain open until the end of June 2017.

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The Forest Beyond in Second Life

In the latter half of 2017, Ceakay Ballyhoo presented A Watercolour Wander, an exploration of a landscape rendered as a watercolour painting, complete with its own story (read more about it here). It was an imaginative approach to art and storytelling which at the time attracted Seanchai Library’s Caledonia Skytower to present readings of the story during walking tours of the installation.

Given that this melding of art and tale worked so well, little wonder that Ceakay has continued to explore the idea, and recently opened a follow-up environment and story, The Forest Beyond. Only in this case, rather than wandering a landscape rendered as a painting, visitors are invited to explore a painting rendered as a landscape.

Located on Ceakay’s own region, The Forest Beyond reunites us with Ceakay’s little girl from the first story – whose name, we learn, is Elle. As she drifts off to sleep, her eyes are drawn to a new painting on her bedroom wall, a Christmas present depicting mushrooms with faces under their broad, spotted tops, sitting under a starry sky, the warm glow of lights or a fire emanating from the entrance of a cave beyond them – and thus she falls asleep, and into the painting itself, wherein lies an adventure – which visitors are invited to share as they follow a path through the region and the painting.

A story is provided to help people along the way, and can be read in one of two ways: by visiting Ceakay’s blog, or by touching the little story stones located alongside each major scene of Elle’s dream to receive a note card. But be warned – there is more than just one story to be found here!

“The painting was made in autumn 2016. It was part of a small exposition at my gallery,” Ceakay (CK for short) explains. “[Then I]  started to try to make a hollow hill sculpt and once she accomplished that, [I] decided on making a world behind the painting.  The story developed as the build was progressing, fitting the separate textures and sculpts together as a whole.”

“Not all the creatures and trees or scenes have been included in the story of the Little Girl and the Forest Beyond,” she continues, referencing the additional scenes to be found in the forest. “The ones that have are certain to have unmentioned stories to their lives yet, the one that aren’t are waiting for people to add their own stories to them.”

And therein lies an invitation. If you enjoy creative writing, CK invites you to visit the forest and write your own short story or poem or song about what captures your imagination there – look for the reflections in the lake as an example of some of the things not featured in Elle’s story.Sorties submitted to CK via note card or e-mail ceakayballyhoo-at-gmail.com) by February 12th, 2017, could stand to win a L$500 prize!  To help get imaginations turning, there are several spots just off the main path offering places to sit and think, or to simply spend a little time relaxing.

This is another enchanting installation by CK. When visiting, do please consider a donation towards the upkeep of the region, and if you enjoy the story, memorabilia – models of the characters, paintings of the scenes, etc., can be purchased from the little shop area at the end of the trail.

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