Under the Same Sky in Second Life

Artful Expressions Gallery, May 2022

Sorcha Goldshark (Sorcha Tyles) has re-opened her Artful Expressions Gallery once more, after almost a two-year break.

Since its inception in 2016, Artful Expressions has always been a mix of gallery space and hang-out; the kind of place you can go to specifically to set art, or use as a meeting place in which to spend time and take in the art that happens to be on display. With this latest iteration of the gallery, I’m pleased to say that this remains the case; as does Sorcha’s eye for photography – both her own and that of other SL photographer-artists.

Artful Expressions Gallery: Geoff Quinnell – Under the Same Sky

The re-opening of the gallery brings with it an exhibition of images by my fellow “Brit”, Geoff Quinnell. A big band leader, designers and SL landscape photographer, Geoff here presents nine images captured from around Second Life and which he has brought together under the title Under the Same Sky.

Taken at popular destinations around Second Life – doubtless seasoned SL travellers will recognise many of the locations presented – these are images that carry a bright and rich with a sense of summer, with bright skies and a natural sense of summertime vibrancy to the colours. All have been post-processed such that they have the look and feel of a painting or pen-and-ink art.

Artful Expressions Gallery: Geoff Quinnell – Under the Same Sky

All are richly evocative images, perfectly encapsulating their subject locations so as to entice people to pay them a visit. For those who perhaps haven’t witnessed these destinations first-hand, Geoff provides a list of SLurls in a note card that can be obtained from the advertising / info board just inside the gallery. However, do remember that places come and go / get remade in Second Life, so there is no guarantee the listed places will remain available indefinitely.

Expressive and offered within a welcoming waterfront environment, Under the Same Sky – a title that reflects the fact these are all images that have been captured within the same digital realm, rather that being imaged under the same lighting / environment – is a near-perfect exhibition of Geoff’s work and an excellent re-introduction to Artful Expressions.

Artful Expressions Gallery, May 2022

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Overlapping Realities in Second Life

Itakos ProjectOverlapping Realities: On Mars You Only See What You Wanna See! by Jean Toussaint Tosi

I’ve long been a supporter of the use of Second Life as a medium for artists to present their physical world art to audiences they might otherwise not be able to meet. While there are other means for 2D artists in particular to be able to present their work – their own websites and photo-sharing platforms such as Flickr / Smug Mug, for example – Second Life presents something of a unique opportunity to allow an audience to experience more of a uniquely “personal” involvement when witnessing physical world art and photography in-world.

Hence why I was drawn to Overlapping Realities, at The Itakos Project, an exhibition featuring the work of Jean Toussaint Tosi, a Corsican born, Paris residing photo artist. As well as providing the mean to witness Tosi’s work, the exhibition marks the start of a new series of exhibitions at Itakos Project, one that adds a unique flavour to physical work art being shown through Second Life, as gallery founder and creator Akim Alonzo explains:

With Overlapping Realities the Itakos Art Gallery inaugurates a new experience and exhibition concept: to show works by artists who have no presence in the Second life virtual world.

The Itakos Project – Overlapping Realities: Vision #12 by Jean Toussaint Tosi

As Akim goes on to note, while Tosi is an artist with no virtual presence in Second Life, thus very much making his work as fitting the aim of this new series of exhibitions, his photography carries with it a cinematic look as feel that is both rich in presence and style, it can also be surrealistic in look and tone. In doing so, it can be said to both reflect the richness, depth, and sometime surreal nature in having a virtual life, and so becomes a fitting bridge between SL and the aims of the exhibitions it inaugurates.

Offered in monochrome, these prints are quite marvellous in scope, forming sweeping panoramas rich in story. Some have a dark or coy sense of humour about them, while the surrealism can clearly be evidenced in pieces like On Mars You Only See What You Wanna See! (seen at the top of this article). Nor is that all; in places, Tosi’s photography offers commentary on life (She’s Waiting on the lower floor of the gallery hall and shown below) and / or issues such as the climate (Waves, aka Vision #7).

Itakos Project – Overlapping Realities: She’s Waiting by Jean Toussaint Tosi

I am above all, a serious humorist photographer.
Just a dreamer who loves all kind of pictures!
I’m never satisfied but I always try to do the best I can.
Many thanks to all the dreamers who follow me!

– Jean Toussaint Tosi, describing his work

Drawing on elements of fashion, fantasy, science fiction and Hollywood, coloured – despite their monochrome nature of the pieces in this exhibit –  with Tosi’s vision and outlook, Overlapping Realities is a marvellous exhibition in its own right and serves as an excellent introduction to his art as a whole; each of the images here link directly to his Flickr stream for those wishing to see them in full and explore the rest of his work.

Itakos Project – Overlapping Realities: Vision #6, by Jean Toussaint Tosi

An official opening for Overlapping Realities will be held on Saturday, December 14th, 2019 starting at 13:30 SLT.

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Cica’s Donkeys in Second Life

Donkeys by Cica Ghost – The Sim Quarterly

Cica Ghost returns to The Sim Quarterly with a new installation. Donkeys opened on Thursday, December 12th, and it is once again a delightful and light-hearted installation. As the name suggests, it is a place with a certain focus on domesticated equus africanus asinus. However, within it, visitors can find nods to many of Cica’s past installations and work, all of which means that it is place that is guaranteed to raise a smile, whether as a result of discovering Cica’s work for the first time, or because of the Donkeys and their heart-warming looks or because of the flashes of recognition brought about when coming across those familiar touches.

The donkeys, with their oversized ears and curious, confused looks, sit within a grassy, hilly land from which palm trees rise. Around this landscape sit Cica’s familiar finger-like houses, some of which are closed, others of which offer little vignettes. Ladders climb up to some, while others sit close enough to the ground to be entered without assistance.

Donkeys by Cica Ghost – The Sim Quarterly

Within these houses are interactive elements – seats, dances, surprises – and reminders of works like 50 Cats (see 50 cats in Second Life) and Strings (see: Cica’s beautiful Strings and stories). When exploring, it is essential you mouse over almost everything in sight in order to find opportunities for sitting and dancing – and for hanging around! For those who prefer, three sailing boats sitting on the waters around the island each offer a little perch from which to watch the comings and goings of others.

But really, it is the donkeys that hold  the attention; there is something quite touching about their soulful and at times slightly confused or worried looks; it’s hard not to to be drawn to them. Watched over by seagulls and some of Cica’s snails, they stand on their own or in little groups as if conversing. Nor are they entirely static – mouse over some and you’ll find additional sit points and poses.

Donkeys by Cica Ghost – The Sim Quarterly

Following on from Rocks, Cica’s previous installation at The Sim Quarterly, Donkeys is another charming setting – one that offers just the right amount of lightness and cause for smiles given the time of year. When visiting, it is recommended you have local sounds enabled.

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Lalawood: unconventional, interactive and anarchic

Lalawood, La Maison d’Aneli

Now open at La Maison d’Aneli, curated by Aneli Abeyante, is a multi-level collaborative installation entitled Lalawood which is quite the most unconventional – and potentially controversial (for some) interactive installation I’ve seen in Second Life for quite a while.

Designed by Onyxxe, Iono Allen, JadeYu Fhang and Theda Tammas, Lalawand is difficult to quantify. Intended to be humorous, it is also in part pointed, perhaps controversial, irreverent (with what appears to be a healthy dose of self-satire), anarchic and – perhaps most of all – unconventional.

You never heard of LALAWOOD? What a pity! It is the best playground in Second Life. A kind of LEGOLAND, just without the first L. Yes you understand well. Finally a place where you are allowed to show off your talents, value and persona without any restraints … You will meet kings, queens, godfathers, godmothers and many other successful gods. You even can bump at Philip Linden while wandering around.

– Onyxxe, describing Lalawood

Lalawood, La Maison d’Aneli

The installation comprises six levels, including the landing point where something of an introduction to the installation is to be found, together with instructions on how to best view the installation. From here there is a teleport to the first actual level of the installation itself.

To describe the five primary levels of the installation would be to spoil the element of discovery and perhaps unduly influence personal interpretation of Lalawood. suffice it to say each includes interactive elements, starting with the “iLala” music player that provides a music track to accompany your exploration of the installation (it is essential you have local sounds active). These interactive elements combine in-world objects and those presented to your inventory you are asked to add to your avatar.

Perhaps the easiest way to define Lalawood is that it is an exploration of self and the role of ego in our Second Life persona. In this, it raises topics we may well find familiar through our experiences in Second Life (the roles of sex and drama), and a sideways look at many of the attractions / activities people find within the platform (artistic expression, creativity, the ability to generate income), and how these might affect, challenge and change us.

Lalawood, La Maison d’Aneli

In this, the presentation of the themes might best be termed anarchic; some may seem to border on being insulting to those who engage the the various pursuits noted above (art, etc.) – hence why a sense of humour is emphasised in the instructions for the installation. However, there is a strong dose of self-irreverence on display by the four artists themselves as they satirise themselves as much as anyone else.

How one responds to Lalawood really does come down to a mix of personal sense of humour and ability to interpret the various elements found throughout its different levels. I confess that while I found myself smiling in places, in others I found things perhaps a little forced, while the inconsistency of teleports (some are interactive click-to-TP, others open the map and require a manual TP) a little distracting as the latter drew me out of any sense of being involved in the installation. So I’ll leave it to you to plumb the depths of the installation and draw your own conclusions, lest anything I might add here unfairly biases your experience.

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FionaFei’s shuǐmò Reflection in Second Life

Shui Mo Gallery: Reflection

Shuǐmò, or shuǐmòhuà (suiboku-ga in Japanese or “ink wash”), is a type of East Asian ink wash painting that uses different concentrations of black ink to create an image. It first emerged in Tang dynasty China (618–907), and is marked by the emphasis of the brushwork being on the perceived spirit or essence of the subject, rather than directly imitating its appearance.

Within Second Life, it has become a form of art exquisitely brought to life by FionaFei, who uses it to produce the most extraordinary 3D art installations. I was first introduced to her work  at One Billion Rising in 2019 prior to visitingd her Shui Mo Gallery to see Wo Men Dakai, an art-as role-play environment she created using shuǐmò that had its inspiration on Joss Whedon’s Firefly series (see: Captivated by FionaFei’s art in Second Life).

I made a return to the gallery on December 10th, after Miro Collas pointed me to an announcement Fiona made via Flickr concerning her latest shuǐmò piece. Entitled Reflection, it presents a to-scale painting as a marvellous 3D environment, about which Fiona notes.

In this exhibit, I am utilising Second Life’s virtual platform to provide a new perspective on this traditional art style by adding depth, making what has traditionally always been portrayed as 2D paintings into 3D sculptures. When the viewer looks into the art, they are looking into a 3D space, and depending on the angle they are viewing it from, the art changes.

– FionaFei, describing her shuǐmò art

Shui Mo Gallery: Reflection

In this respect, Fiona is very much what Bryn Oh refers to as an Immersivist: an artist who makes use of virtual 3D environments such that the sense of immersion felt by an observer is more intense because as well as viewing the art as a static piece, they can become an active participant in it simply by moving through the piece and witnessing it from different angles.

In this respect, I do recommend stopping at the entrance to observe Reflection as a static observer first (perhaps in Mouselook). This reveals its richness as a painting. Then, after you’ve done this, either move or flycam around it to reveal the additional depth it presents as it beautifully transitions from traditional Chinese ink painting into a 3D sculpture that reveals many facets, each a painting in its own right.

Reflection is actually one of two shuǐmò installations on offer. The other might be described as a foyer / events area, sitting immediately beyond the huge red doors of the landing point. This includes elements from Fiona’s SL16B installation Umbrella Landscape. Interactive, these sit as part of a landscape where water falls to a pond of Koi and on which interactive umbrellas float. Painted board walks running from the red doors provide access to Reflections (to the left as you face the exhibition space) and a second gallery area to the right.

This second space contains Rising, an installation Fiona created for the One Billion Rising in Second Life 2019, part of the annual global event to raise awareness of the plight of women and girls who face violence and abuse in their daily lives, and the staggering fact 1 in 3 women on the planet is beaten or raped during her lifetime.

Shui Mo Gallery: Rising

Rising represents those women who have experienced abuse who have finally been able to break free of the pain that they’ve experienced, literally rising from the darkness they have experienced. The particle figures are all hand-drawn, while the abuse they have suffered is additionally indicated by the bruised hands also being lifted up out of the darkness.

Nor is this all. The entrance hall containing the landing point includes a collection of 6 more pieces of art by Fiona. These are 3D pieces that represent scroll paintings combining both shuǐmò and guóhuà (“natural”) styles of Chinese. These are exquisite pieces, some of which are animated, and all of which are available for sale.

Shui Mo Gallery: paintings

Fiona’s art is captivating in both form and style, marvellously capturing a traditional form of Chinese art and bringing new life to it.

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A Carnival of the Arts 2019 in Second Life

The Dirty Grid

The Dirty Grind Independent Artist community is celebrating its sixth anniversary over the weekend of Friday, December 6th through Sunday, December 8th, 2019 with a Carnival of the Arts. The weekend will be marked by live music sets throughout the three days, and an installation by artist Bryn Oh.

At The Dirty Grind, artists and patrons are family and when one visits, one is a welcomed guest in their home. Everything from the décor, landscape and building design is intentionally planned to enhance visitors’ experience. While visiting when live shows are not going, be sure to listen to the commercial-free independent radio station, Radio Grind, featuring the musicians of The Dirty Grind family. Spend some time strolling through The Hollow and enjoy the whimsically eclectic mix of Adirondack and Steampunk design and style.

The Dirty Grind Independent Artist Community has been awarded Best Unique Venue and Top 10 Live Music Venues by Showtime Magazine.

– From The Dirty Grind website

The music event kicks-off from 14:00 SLT on Friday, December 6th, and at the time from writing, the schedule looked as follows:

Time Friday 6th Saturday 7th Sunday 8th
13:00 Wald Schridde
14:00 Naga Flow Rosedrop Rust Zorch Boomhauer
15:00 CelticMaiden Warrior Shannon Oherlihy Ren Enberg
16:00 Lexus Melodie Suzen JueL The Matthew Show
17:00 Grace McDunnough David Csiszer Effinjay
18:00 Jed Luckless Dimivan Ludwig Twostep Spiritweaver
19:00 Jamba Losangeles Senjata Witt The Vinnie Show
20:00 Gypsy Dhrua

However, given that events can always undergo last-minute changes, be sure to check the Dirty Grind website for updates or changes to the schedule.

Bryn Oh: Eliose’s Dream

For the event, Bryn Oh is presenting Eloise’s Dream, featuring a scene from her 2018 installation Jane and Eloise, a story of two sisters who go fishing on Lake Superior.

Sadly, theirs is not a happy tale, as they are caught by the changing weather, their boat capsizing and Jane drowning. Afterwards, Eloise is left tortured by guilt that she survived and nightmares. You can read more about that installation in Bryn Oh: Jane and Eloise in Second Life. The inclusion of the piece is somewhat fitting, given that Jane and Eloise made its début a year ago, on Saturday, December 8th, 2019.

So, do make a point of hopping along to the Dirty Grind over the weekend to appreciate the region, the installation, the music and to wish the folks there a happy anniversary.

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