Five Years of Fractals in Second Life

Five Years of Fractals – Gem Preiz

Now open at the R&D Art Gallery complex is Five Years of Fractals, celebrating five years of Gem Preiz’s remarkable fractal art in Second Life.  Split over two floors of the exhibition space, the displayed art is divided between retrospectives of Gem’s past installations at the Linden Endowment for the Arts, and his exhibitions and installations displayed elsewhere in Second Life.

Normally displayed in a very large format, Gem’s work is always a masterpiece of fractal design and storytelling on a grand scale. As such, what is seen within Five Years is but the tip of the iceberg – a soupçon if you will – that should remind those familiar with Gem’s work with the power and majesty of his art and hopefully serve to whet the appetite of those new to his work such that they will want to see more.

Five Years of Fractals – Gem Preiz

I certainly fall into the former of these two groups. I’ve long been an admirer of Gem’s art and his virtuosity in both setting a mood and telling a story for almost as long as he has been exhibiting in Second Life, and a number of my personal favourites out of his installations are presented here, both directly and indirectly. The ground level section of the exhibition space presents a retrospective of, for want of a better category name, Gem’s “non-LEA” work. Some of this is presented through individual images, other is animated frames which page through scenes from those exhibitions. On this level we can again experience Polychronies, Rhapsody in Blue FractalsMythsTemples, Metropolis – complete with silhouettes of the figures which formed a part of it painted on the walls behind the images – and more.

As well as the art itself, there are books of his work visitors can peruse and also links to videos of some of this exhibitions – which I unhesitatingly recommend watching, bringing together as they do not only the art as it could be seen in situ whilst on display, but which also marry the images to the music Gem has offered with each installation, thus, through the videos as well as this exhibition, we can re-immerse ourselves in his art or gain greater familiarity with it and understand the inter-weaving of images and music.

Five Years of Fractals – Gem Preiz

Reached via teleport discs, the lower level of the exhibition space focuses on Gem’s LEA exhibitions, as noted. Among the pieces displayed, we can once again experience the visions of his Cathedral Dreamer, journey through his trilogy of stories, Vestiges and Wrecks, which formed his Heritage pairing, and No Frontiers, the unofficial sequel to Heritage, while images from the likes of The Anthropic Principle and No Frontiers cover sections of the walls behind some of the images. As with the upper level of the gallery, objects offer links to videos of some of the installations, while spaced around the gallery area are props and elements from others – such as the air car and the shuttle which Gem his used in his installations, allowing visitors to fly through them.

Fractal art is not uncommon in Second Life, but there is something very unique in Gem’s work. Perhaps it is the way in which it reflects both his interests – cosmology, nature, geology – and blends them with his background education in science and mathematics to present stunning visions of nature and future (or even ancient) scenes which are evocative, and both beautifully geometric and wonderfully fluid. Perhaps it is because, in composing his pieces, he presents not just individual pieces of art, but entire stories  we can explore and witness.

Five Years of Fractals – Gem Preiz

Whatever the reason, I very much welcome this opportunity to revisit – at least in part – many of his past extraordinary installations – and in doing so, to look forward to his next.

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CioTToLiNa’s Hope in Second Life

Solo Arte: Hope

Now open at Solo Arte, curated by Melania (MelaniaBis), is Hope, an exhibition of sculptures and art by CioTToLiNa Xue.

CioTToLiNa is an extraordinary artist, working primarily in 3D sculpture, although she also produces unique 2D art as well. She is entirely self-taught since joining Second Life, and I’ve long admired her work, having first encountered it at Art on Roofs in 2015, where she has a few pieces placed out as a part of the gallery’s setting, rather than directly on display. I was immediately captivated by her work, and when invited to present a full sim installation at LEA that year, I knew I wanted  CioTToLiNa – despite her own shyness – to share the opportunity with me, and worked to include a number of her pieces into that build (see: Impressions: a personal view of Second Life).

Solo Arte: Hope

Since that time, CioTToLiNa has clearly grown in confidence as an artist, producing ever more complex pieces which are not only beautiful and highly collectible (we have a number in the gardens of our island home), but also reflect her own interests / concerns for the world, and  how we relate as a species one to another and the world around us. So it is that she has produced pieces focusing on women’s rights, the environment, LGBTQ rights, racism and more, as well as pieces which reflect things like a love of music, thoughts on love and relationships, and so on.

With Hope, CioTToLiNa has selected some 24 of her pieces – three of them 2D art, the rest sculptures – which are displayed around the paths and canals of Solo Arte (itself a beautifully coordinated venue designed by Terrygold) and within one of the gallery buildings. These present many of the facets of her work and concerns, with several marvellously scaled up to fit the spaces within which they sit, offering a perfect opportunity for her work to be properly appreciated.

Solo Arte: Hope

These are evocative pieces, both in presentation and in naming. Many directly represent an emotion, reaction of desire – such as  Tenacia (Tenacity), Pace (Peace – using the CND symbol),  Il Desiderio (The Desire) and Escapology. Others are more layered in meaning, such as Babele (Babel), which carries within it assorted cultural references as well as reflections on relationships and the entire male / female dynamic.

What is particularly fascinating to me is the way other artistic influences on CioTToLiNa’s art have been incorporated with her work. For example, and as noted above, I first came across her work at Art on Roofs, which at the time was exhibiting Mistero Hifeng’s work. He also as a unique and evocative approach to sculpture in Second Life, and often moves within the same artistic circles as CioTToLiNa. Little wonder then, that one or two motfis that he perhaps pioneered in SL sculpture are reflected in some of the pieces included in Hope – such as with Donna Spremuta (Juicy Woman) and Salvezza (Salvation). However, in doing so, CioTToLiNa is by no means copying his approach: she is incorporating techniques into her work whilst producing something equally as unique and attention-holding.

Solo Arte: Hope

Hope is another superb exhibition at Solo Arte featuring a marvellous talent. It is a delight to visit and I have no hesitation in recommending you hop over and spend time wandering the canal side paths and gardens of Solo Arte to admire  CioTToLiNa’s work.

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Seven lilies, seven virtues and seven artists in Second Life

DaphneArts: Lilium

Now open at DaphneArts is Lilium, the second in a series of exhibitions focus on the mystical number seven, following on from The Endless (reviewed here).

The curators of DaphneArts, Angelika Corral and Sheldon Bergman (SheldonBR), who are also two of the seven artists participating in the exhibition, describe it in part thus:

Number seven is sacred and powerful. Pythagoras, the father of numerology, considered seven as the most spiritual of all the numbers. Seven is the number of divine perfection. Seven are the colors of the rainbow. Seven are the notes of the diatonic scale. There are seven ancient wonders of the world, seven days of the week, seven letters in the Roman numeral system, seven arts…

When Pope Gregory defined the Seven deadly sins, he also included a counter-balancing set of values, in a way to protect one against temptation from the deadly sins. The seven [heavenly] virtues … For this exhibition, seven photographers were invited to create a photo, each of them representing one of the seven virtues.

DaphneArt: Lilium – Temperance by Fenris

Lilium is itself Latin for “lily”, a symbol of virtue, as Angelika and Sheldon also note in their curator’s introduction to the exhibit, illustrating the point with the inclusion of an image The Annunciation by Paolo de Matteis.

Thus it is, with viewer correctly set, visitors to the exhibition start their journey in the chancel of a marble-like white cathedral (white obviously symbolic of virtue). A HUD is offered on arrival and should be worn, while overhead is a set of easy-to-follow steps guide people through ensuring they have their viewer correctly set-up (e.g. ensuring the required Windlight is selected and Advanced Lighting Model is enabled).

DaphneArts: Lilium – Patience by Magic Marker

From here, a walk through the nave of the cathedral to the porch brings people to the main exhibition space, progress to it marked by the lyrics – in Latin of the Elven Song, or Elfen Lied, as featured in the Japanese manga series of that name, the lyrics based on biblical passages and the hymn Ave Mundi Spes Maria. Beyond the porch is an open platform set against a uniform backdrop and on which are arranged seven gilded lilies.

Approaching any of these lilies will cause it to open, revealing the art apparently “held” inside it. At the same time, the title of the art – the virtue it represents – and the name of the artist are revealed by the HUD.

DaphneArt: Liluim

The images / virtues are, by artist: Charity – Inexorably; Chastity – Sheldon Bergman; Diligence – Harbour Galaxy; Humility – Kimeu Kamolla; Kindness – Angelika Corral; Patience – Magic Marker, and Temperance – Fenris. Each is obviously a personal representation of the virtue it depicts, however each carries a degree of symbolism which may be related to the virtue it represents, to virtue as a whole or to the mysticism of seven.

Lilium is a further nuanced ensemble exhibition built around a central theme, rich in symbolism and interpretation. And for those curious about Elfin Lied, I’ll leave you with this.

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Haveit’s Elastic Garage in Second Life

UTSA: Elastic Garage

Sometimes magic is elusive. In the dark, in a large crowded storage space with one hanging light bulb: the realm of shadows and highlights, everything is sculpted of wonder. A broken down car dreams of the morning sky. An old-fashioned white porcelain bathtub with rusted scars, broken furniture, a collection of rocks in little cloth bags hanging from a beam, yellowing slides and photos from the old days stowed in a corroded file cabinet … the air tempered with repeated phrases of Prokofiev that my mother is practising on the piano in the distant living room … This was the garage of my childhood, where my visits were frequent in search of all manner of treasures to furnish the little cities I was building in the garden.

Thus Haveit Neox introduces Elastic Garage, his installation now open at the University of Texas at San Antonio’s ArtSpace. And indeed, on entering the exhibition area, visitors are confronted with the bric-a-brac which might have been gathered over time, and cherished, before being put away in the garage of the mind.

UTSA: Elastic Garage

Filing boxes lay stacked against the walls, a child’s old railway track lies on the floor, cabinets and boxes scattered around, the bath toppled on its side and the broken-down car parked to one side. Memories from childhood scattered around, spiders and their cobwebs covering some. but so is there more: memories of art builds, fragmented and scattered among the bric-a-brac.

Sitting atop some of the filing boxes, for example, is a telescope. While this may well be a childhood  memory, it might also be a reflection of Haveit’s Paper Observatory, first unveiled in 2014, and the successor to his Paper Tower. On the floor by the bodywork of the old car sits a tiny city, streams of cars rolling away from it over elevated roads; a reflection, perhaps of Haveit’s Miniature Goal and his wider concern for the environment. Inside the cabinets and upright boxes, partially hidden and awaiting discovery – just like memories in a draw or cupboard of a garage – are paintings and images, again perhaps echoing past installations Haveit has presented in-world.

UTSA: Elastic Garage

Elastic Garage is a both an expression of art and of memory; personal elements from life mixed with personal expressions of life. It makes for a fascinating visit, and will remain open through September and into October.

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