Theatre: a story in pictures in Second Life

Diotima Leisure and Culture Gallery: Ana Oceanida

Opened on April 7th, 2019 at the Diotima Leisure and Culture Gallery, is a new installation by Spanish artist Ana Oceanida, featuring 2D images presented in a 3D space that forms a part of the overall statement for the installation, which has the simple title of Theatre.

I often discuss the idea of narrative within these reviews, the stories that so often exist with in the images presented by photographers and artists. With Theatre, the story very much is the installation, told through the images displayed, and via the broader setting itself. It is the story of the life – and ending? – of traditional theatre as a medium for teaching and telling stories; and it is a story told through the camera lens of a photographer – the images themselves taken at locations around Second Life.

Diotima Leisure and Culture Gallery: Ana Oceanida

Best enjoyed with local time set to midnight and with the viewer’s Advanced Lighting Model option enabled (Preferences > Graphics), Theatre can be very loosely split into two intertwined elements. The first is the setting itself, that of the photographer’s developing studio. It contains the paraphernalia of the photographer’s art: the chemical developers, the trays in which photographs seem to miraculously appear in their baths of chemicals, a cropping board, packs of developer’s paper, rolls of film awaiting use, scattered plastic containers of used film, and more, all bathed in the red glow of the developer’s bulb and the photographer stands before a bench carrying out her artistry.

On the walls and floor of this setting are the results of this work: a series of images that might be regarded as unframed slides, more than 40 of them, some in colour, some in black-and white. Offered sequentially, starting with 1-1A in the corner of the room above the photographer’s right shoulder and proceeding to the right, these offer an unfolding story about the theatre that winds back and forth across two walls of the studio, before dropping to the floor to finish their tale there.

Diotima Leisure and Culture Gallery: Ana Oceanida

The story perhaps isn’t easy to grasp. However, there are grab bags within the installation which contain, among other items, note cards outlining the tale.

I remember that moment, that time when, in the heat of fire started to tell stories , Stories of gods, Stories of monsters, stories of heroes, was such a fascination that I woke up among people that the cold nights became warm to the stories. Little by little you gave me a body, my first body was cold, hard, wide spaces and open-air stands but with your stories became laughed, suffering… and people. My childhood was happy.

In this, the story of the rise and fall and rise (or rebirth) of theatre down through the ages, I was reminded of Jaques‘ soliloquy and lament from As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players;…” in that we are both observers of this installation and the actors within it; we play our role here in witnessing the story, and thus give theatre another breath of life.

Diotima Leisure and Culture Gallery: Ana Oceanida

And like Jacques’ view of the seven ages of man, so to is this story ultimately a lament: the passage of time has meant theatre has grown and changed over time, only to perhaps now in the digital age to face its final passing, the permanence of physical structure through bricks and mortar, of floorboards and seats, now giving way to the ephemeral flow of bits and bytes that give rise to impermanence and passing. Hence, perhaps the tear-like rain in the installation.

I’m not sure I agree with the conclusion of the piece – digital environment could be a boon to theatre – but, this is a story after wall, and the tale has its own telling and conclusion. As to the images offered, I can only say that they are fascinating studies, each one of which stands on its own, whether or not one follows the broader story, offering a unique perspective on the places Ana visited in preparing this installation.

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Art and motion at La Maison d’Aneli in Second Life

La Maison d’Aneli: Calypso Applewhyte

La Maison d’Aneli, curated by Aneli Abeyante, has opened the doors to its April 2019 ensemble exhibition, and once again brings together the work of several artists to offer a rich mix of art and artistic expression, featuring 2D and 3D art and a marvellous journey into machinima.

This exhibition starts at the gallery’s ground level, with a most unusual motor show by Willem Koba, which juxtapositions a shiny, pristine parking garage with SL cars and vehicles that have, to put it mildly, seen better days. I’m not sure of the purpose of this element of the exhibition, but it does make an interesting and unusual gateway to the teleport up to the gallery proper.

La Maison d’Aneli: Magda Schmidtzau

It is here that the rest of the artists within the exhibition display their work. Calypso Applewhyte and Magda Schmidtzau between them present two very different, yet at the same time somewhat reflective of one another.  Magda – or Maddy – has the more extensive portfolio of the two on display, and it demonstrates the breadth of her avatar work, from portraiture, through nudes and fantasy to richly artistic pieces.

Located on he upper floor of the gallery, Calypso – or Caly – offers a more focused selection of work, which leans into fantasy and science fiction elements. Like Maddy’s selection there is a mix of colour and monochrome to the set, but I admit that – as much as I admire Maddy’s work – I was drawn more to Caly’s exhibition, simply because of its captivating “minimalism”. This can be seen in both the images and in the use of the display space around them. This latter point in particular allows the eye to more readily focus on each piece individually, without the distraction of neighbouring works intruding into the eye and mind. This minimalism also presents a rich vein of narrative within each piece, which for me is fabulously exemplified in the wonderful Ma tristesse, seen at the top of this article.

La Maison d’Aneli: RazorZ

Also split between the gallery’s upper are lower floors are RazorZ and Bachi Cheng – both of whose art I don’t believe I’ve previously encountered in Second Life. RazorZ’s digital work is presented in both 2D and 3D, and is a glorious use of shape, colour and form; his sculptures wonderfully alive and vibrant, while his (apparently physical world) photographs are given a marvellous digital  / alien life through the use of colour filtering / layering.

Bachi also presents some of her physical world art on the upper level of the gallery. These are raw, intense and emotive drawings, with Bachi noting, “I love to paint Moments. Moments of life, Moments of Love, Moments so deep that you never want to forget them, Moments at the edge of orgasm or despair, just life; like we ought to live it, plainly.”

La Maison d’Aneli: Bachi Cheng

Rounding-out the exhibition is a display of Aneli’s own 2D and 3D art, and a joint presentation by Iono Allen and Theda Tammas.

The majority of Aneli’s pieces are beautifully animated and make use of geometric expression to captivate the eye. Colour and monochrome, these are pieces that tend to draw the eye into them, casting an almost hypnotic calming influence through their gentle motion.

La Maison d’Aneli: Aneli Abeyante

Iono and Theda present Samuari, a machinima short film, reached via a walk along an avenue of Torii gates set within a midnight landscape. Filmed by Iona, it utilises elements of Theda’s art (and Theda herself), within an  extraordinary piece, worthy of the best of classical Japanese film-making. The story unfolds entirely visually and sans dialogue, supported only by the use of sounds and music. It is a film that, frankly, should not be missed.

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Andrea DeLauren at DiXmiX in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Andrea DeLauren

It’s been only a few days since my last visit to DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, but I was drawn back to it with the opening on a new exhibition there, this one featuring art by A. DeLauren (AndreaDeLauren).

Located in the gallery’s Grey hall, immediately adjacent to the main entrance, Body Lines presents series of 12 avatar studies. I confess to not being overly familiar with Andrea’s work, but these are striking images, rich in colour, boldly presented, and with an abstract tone to them that captivates.

DiXmiX Gallery: Andrea DeLauren

As the title of the exhibition might suggest, the focus is very much on the avatar body, with – I assume – Andrea being her own model. But this is only part of the story; each image uses a mix of geometric lines, colour, tone, blurring / soft focus and overlays to produced a finished picture. This results in each of the pieces being an abstracted piece that holds the attention quite marvellously and evocatively. When coupled with the individual titles for each of them, it is possible to start weaving a narrative to each image – although strictly speaking, no narrative is required; it is sufficient to be drawn into these images through the use of line and colour.

Some of the pieces, visually and by title, have an obvious focus – take Chest as an example, together with Milk and Honey. Others are more broadly evocative. In this, I was particularly drawn to the somewhat psychedelic tones and feel of Windows 70s, while the mix of colour, geometry and natural curve of Hips (also used in the exhibition’s poster advertising) completely captivated me.

DiXmiX Gallery: Andrea DeLauren

The use of geometry within the images is given further depth in pieces like Zebra, and particularly the “joining” of Surrender and Back Lines, where shadow elements are used to extend the lines of the individual pieces beyond their canvas and into the gallery.

A small, but elegant exhibition, Body Lines sits well with Moon Edenbaum’s The Likelihood of n e a r e s s, on display in the gallery’s Black hall (and which I reviewed here).

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Men in Focus: April 2019 edition

Men in Focus: Skip Staheli (photographs) and Haveit Neox

Men in Focus, the gallery owned and sponsored by Men in Motion in support of the Movember Foundation (donations to which are accepted at the entrance to the gallery) and curated by JMB Balogh, launched its second ensemble exhibition on April 3rd, 2019.

The gallery is somewhat unique in Second Life, in that while there are many featuring studies of avatars at work or play or simply relaxing, there are few that expressly and solely focus on the male avatar. For this exhibition, the artists are split between invited 2D artists, invited and returning 3D artists, and those responding to a call put out to the Men in Motion group for submissions. Together these comprise:

  • Invited 2D artists: Roy Mildor, Fenris Resident, Skip Staheli, and Artem Viiperi (NykVIIPERI).
  • Invited and returns 3D artists: Livio Korobase and Haveit Neox, and Mistero Hifeng and Reycharles Resident.
  • Men in Motion photographers: Antonio Atovio;  Alex Avion, Sebastian Bourne, Fafnir Kiranov, and Niecho Vollmar.
Men in Focus: Roy Mildor

The range of art offered is once again impressive, with a good mix of monochrome and colour avatar studies. I confess that I have started to find myself drawn more to monochrome avatar images of late, and this is certainly the case here, with Skip Staheli’s portraits in particular catching my eyes, as per the banner image for this article.  The 3D art is well placed through the exhibition space, nicely split between the  gallery’s levels, allowing it to break up individual display areas in a natural manner.

While I cannot say this with any accuracy, it seems as if the gallery may have grown an extra couple of floors in order to present enough space this time around; I have this thought in the back of my head that when I last visited – for the inaugural exhibition – the gallery building was four levels tall, rather than the current six. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been to bed since then 🙂 .

Men in Focus: Fenris

I understand from JMB, that the aim of this exhibition is to coincide with April being Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. However, there is little sign of this within the exhibition space itself; there is no graphic highlighting any connection between the two, no information giver on the subject of testicular cancer, so I’m not sure just how close the tie is intended to be.

Be that is it may, this is still a superb exhibition from a rich mix of photographers, not all of whom may necessarily be known on the wider SL art and photography scene.

Men in Focus: Fafnir Kiranov

About the Movember Foundation

The Movember Foundation is a multinational charity raising awareness of, and money for, men’s health and welfare, with a focus on cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. Its titular and widely known campaign is Movember, which encourages men to grow moustaches during the month of November. The foundation partners annually with the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride to also raise money for men’s health.

Founded in 2003, in Melbourne, Australia by Adam Garone, Travis Garone, Luke Slattery, and Justin Coghlan, the organisation attained registered charity status in 2006, and as of 2014, has raised over US $580m in charitable donations used to fund more than 800 programmes focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health, men’s health awareness and healthy lifestyles. It is active in 21 countries and has a global workforce of 130 people. In addition, Movember coincides with International Men’s Day (November 19th), which among its aims, shares the goal of promoting the health and well-being of men and boys.

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Celebrating van Gogh in Second Life

ArtCare Gallery: Vincent van Gogh

Currently open at the ArtCare Gallery, curated by Carelyna Resident, assisted by Kurk Mumfuzz and Yany O’Real, is a celebration of art marking the 166th anniversary of Vincent van Gogh’s birth.

This is at first appears to be a most unusual exhibition, in that the gallery space is given over to large cubes, on four faces of which are reproductions of many of van Gogh’s paintings, while the inner walls of the gallery space carry a repeated reproduction of his 1888 painting, Starry Night Over The Rhone.

The reason for presenting the paintings on large cubes is presented at the landing point by a cube bearing a quote from van Gogh, “I would rather paint on big cubes, but I can’t carry them”.  Also at the landing point is a brief biography of van Gogh, that provides a broad thumbnail of his artistic output and the tragedy of his life.

ArtCare Gallery: Vincent van Gogh

Some of the reproductions include The Church in Auvers-sur-Oise (1890), The Langlois Bridge at Arles with Women Washing (1888), Olive Grove (1889), The Cottage (1885),  Still Life with Lemons on a Plate (1887), Pietà (1889), several of his self-portraits, and a two-walled reproduction of The Starry Night (1889). Between the cubes and walls are several settings suggestive of café spaces, possibly a reference to van Gogh’s mixed view of such places, of which he once said, “I have tried to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad, or commit a crime” whilst referencing his 1889 painting, The Night Café.

It is the range of paintings present here that makes this an interesting exhibition: while some of van Gogh’s more famous paintings are shown (notably, perhaps, the Starry Night paintings), so to are perhaps lesser-known studies, such as from several of his collections: shoes, flowers, people at work, and so on, while there is a balance between his oil and watercolour works. There are also possible references to some of the less considered aspect of van Gogh’s life, such as his relationship with religion, as seen through Pietà.

ArtCare Gallery: Vincent van Gogh

My only complaints are that the use of the cubes, coupled with their size means that viewing some of the works on offer can be difficult. my second is that the paintings are presented without any supporting information – and given the selection on offer, some additional note cards / panels offering insight into some of the themes of van Gogh’s work could encourage a greater appreciation of his work.

Nevertheless, this is still an exhibition worth seeing for anyone with a love of van Gogh’s work. And I confess that while visiting it, I was once again reminded of another tribute to van Gogh’s work, that of Robbie Dingo’s Watch the World. Made far back in 2008, it takes viewers of on a time-lapse journey through the in-world recreation of The Starry Night. The build itself has long gone, but is commemorated in a couple of videos from Robbie, and I’m embedding the 2008 version, presented to Don McLean’s 1972 hit, Vincent, here.

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ArtCare Gallery (Prychek, rated: Moderate)


Moon’s Likelihood of Nearness in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Moon Edenbaum

Moon Edenbaum has a talent for taking avatar studies that provide a richness of possible narrative. I first encountered his work in a joint exhibition of art featuring Moon and Hillany Scofield back in 2017 (see Dathúil: Me_You – Moon Edenbaum), and have appreciated his work since then. So it was with a sense of anticipation that I jumped over to DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, to view a new exhibition of Moon’s work entitled The Likelihood of n e a r e s s.

With its official opening held on Friday, March 29th, 2019, this is a series of some 17 images of Moon’s friends. However, rather than being a set of what might be called “traditional” avatar studies, these are quite marvellous studies taken from some unique perspectives, presented in fitting monochrome finishes.

DiXmiX Gallery: Moon Edenbaum

Each image offers a particular context on the individuals portrayed. They are by turns captures of intimacy, of candidness, of coyness and, throughout all of them, nearness. The suggestion is that the avatars are not so much facing the camera, but are spending time with a friend.

This gives all of them that narrative depth I do enjoy with Moon’s work. Each picture has a story to tell, both about the subject and about their relationship with the camera / the person behind the camera. Take Pai, for example; by avoiding any of her facial features, we are presented with an image of someone who could be shy, or at least self-conscious with the idea of a  camera pointing at her. But this is picture that also reveals she trusts the camera enough for it not to reveal her vulnerability in this regard, while the camera in turn understands her discomfort and respect it by turning its eye away from the potential to embarrass her.

DiXmiX Gallery: Moon Edenbaum

Coyness is perhaps best exemplified through Yul and Mic. Side-by-side, both offer playful views of their subjects that does much to suggest their nature and their relationship with the camera / photographer. Perhaps my favourite among this collection, however, is perhaps Cyn.

Once again a glorious close-up, there is a layered richness to this picture that is attention-holding. It is at once intimate, revealing and allows the imagination to take flight. From the collar around the subject’s through, through to her pose to  the selected angle of the shot itself, the picture offers a story of a woman both aware of – but not bothered by – the presence of the camera, as her attention is held elsewhere, through to a tale of her desires and preferences in relationships. It also raises intriguing questions that give the imagination flight on such matters of her desires and with whom and how they might be met, through to thoughts of exactly who holds her attention, and whether it is in fact the photographer.

DiXmiX Gallery: Moon Edenbaum

It is also, for me, the piece that reflects the title of this most fascinating exhibition, which I have no hesitation in recommending, each picture offering so much to those who view them.

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