Giovanna: a welcome return to Second Life

Giovanna Cerise at Campbell Coast

For several years, Giovanna Cerise was a name synonymous with engaging, evocative 3D art installations within Second Life. Her work – which I took considerable delight in exploring and writing about – encompassed many ideas, themes and narratives, often drawn from the physical world as much as her own thoughts and imagination, with some offering unique interpretations of classic pieces.

It was through the latter – a re-interpretation of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, presented in 2015 – that I became utterly captivated in Giovanna’s work (although I had encountered and appreciated it prior to that installation) – and remained so throughout the time she was creating in Second Life. Marvellously capturing the essence of the classic story of Tristan, knight of Cornwall, loyal to King Mark(e), and Isolde, Irish Princess, Giovnna offered key scenes from the story, beautifully interwoven into settings that offered visitors insights into Wagner, opera, and a rich symbolism and commentary that reached beyond the original tale to make the installation truly unique of itself.

Giovanna Cerise, Tristan und Isolde, 2015

In Soul of Colours (presented in 2012 and again 2016),  Giovanna similarly presented an unfolding story inspired by Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute, K620), the 2-art opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Within her installation, Giovanna allowed visitors to undertake a journey through key scenes and events from the opera, and to appreciate the music from it in a richly layered and evolving setting.

With pieces such as Monochrome, and Line, Giovanna offered explorations of themes, often simple in idea but complex and engaging in execution; unfolding tales, if you will, with Line enfolding both Giovanna’s £d and 2D art. Both of which, for a time, could be appreciated in her own gallery Last Harbour, which again was always a joy to visit.

Giovanna Cerise at Campbell Coast

All of this I mention, because several years ago, Giovanna stepped back from active arts expression in Second Life – although her presence remained on the Marketplace. However, she is now making a return to SL, and may well be resuming her role as one of the platform’s most engaging artists.

I have entered Second Life a little recently, but now I have a desire to start over. I have to organize myself and then I think about taking a land. I have some ideas in my head that I want to do.

– Giovanna Cerise to me, discussing her re-engagement in SL

While she is considering her next steps – something she and I also discussed, but I’ll not break confidences to say more here – Giovanna has taken up a modest studio gallery where she is exhibiting some of her smaller pieces. The studio can be found at the growing arts community at Campbell Coast (about which I’ll have more to say in an upcoming article), and I commend all those with a love of art in Second Life to hop over and take a look at both Giovanna’s studio and Campbell Coast as a whole – ans to keep an eye on both as 2021 unfolds.

SLurl Details and Links

Artistic Gratitude in Second Life

The University of Western Australia has been a long-term patron of the arts in Second Life

The end of 2020 marks the end of an era in Second Life, as we will be saying farewell to the in-world presence of the University of Western Australia, as their last remaining active region is due to close.

Between 2009 and 2018, the University’s name was synonymous with patronage of the arts in Second Life, sponsoring as it did numerous Art Challenges with large-scale cash prizes on offer to participating artists. In the process these challenges yielded some of the most exceptional displays of art and creativity seen within – and beyond – Second Life. Art that I had both the privilege and the honour to both cover in these pages, and to help adjudicate as an invited judge for several of the challenges, allowing me to witness an appreciate first-hand the depth of creativity they seeded and nurtured.

UWA: Gratitude – Suzanne Graves
By way of a last farewell and to offer a “thank you” to the UWA for its support of the arts down the years, the arts platform over the region is currently home to a special exhibition of 2D and 3D art.

Entitled Gratitudes, the exhibition has been organised by Chuck Clip, who issued an invitation for artists to contributed 2D and 3D pieces back in September (see: Calling artists: an exhibition to say farewell to the UWA in Second Life). The result is a exhibition that includes news pieces created specifically for inclusion in it, as well a pieces that have been past UWA Grand Challenge winners – such as Sharni Azalee’s evocative Never Say Never,  a Grand Prize winner back in 2014.

UWA: Gratitude – Elle Thorkveld

The art is displayed on the sky platform over the UWA campus grounds in the region, and is framed by a collection of posters marking some of the art challenges organised by UWA under the stewardship of Jayjay Zifanwee and UWA in SL curator Freewee Ling.

Artists who responded to the open invitation to participate in the event include Sharnee Azalee, Chic Aeon, Suzanne Graves, Pixels Sideways, Merranda Ginssberg, Vroum Short, Ciottolina Zue, Cherry Manga, Alpha Auer, Sheba Blitz, Kayly Iali, Judylynn India, Monroe Snook and Chuck Clip himself, among numerous others. All of whom present s rich mix of 2D and 3D art to be appreciated and admired. Further 3D art selected by Jayjay can be found within the ground level of the university in what is very much a 3D art garden.

UWA: Gratitude – 2D art

All told, Gratitude presents a rich cross-section of art and creativity, and is well worth taking the time to visit and appreciate. It will remain open until the end of December 30th, 2020.

SLurl Details

  • Gratitude (University of WA, rated General)

A little Andante in Second Life

Andante Gallery

Andante is the name Jules Catlyn and Iris Okiddo (IrisSweet) have given to their cosy gallery, located in is own gardens alongside, but quite separate to, Jules’ car business of [Surplus motors].

I have to confess that this is a gallery I’ve somehow managed to miss until now, which is a shame as it is very charmingly appointed within its grounds.It comprises the Apple Fall Country Hall (a place that, coincidentally, we have set for one of our own home designs). It’s a versatile build, and here has been “twinned” with itself to provide two large exhibition spaces with an interlinking open-air courtyard.

The garden offers art of its own in the form of sculptures by Mistero Hifeng, the ground around the gallery richly flowered in a manner that is inviting and encourages a sense of warmth and of taking thing slowly in the manner of the gallery’s name.

Andante Gallery: Charlie Namiboo, December 2020

Exhibitions apparently open here every 5-6 weeks, although at the time of our visit, the current exhibition was into its 10th week. Not that I’m complaining;  the guest artist is Charlie Namiboo, and her work is always a delight to see – but just keep in mind that as it has been around for a while, the gallery could be changing artists fairly soon.

Don’t Judge Me is a series of images by Charlie predominantly focused on avatar studies, with a handful of landscapes to break the mould.

Offered in both colour and black and white, the avatar studies present thoughts and feeling on life and relationships that are genuinely emotive. they are mixed with self-studies that while posed, can oft appear as candid, spur-of-the-moment snaps that give them their own unique depth. The landscape pieces, meanwhile reveal Charlie’s ability to both capture a scene and render it as a piece of art guaranteed to capture the eye and and found myself particularly drawn into Wildness is the preservation of the world.

Andante Gallery: Charlie Namiboo, December 2020

As noted, I don’t know how much longer Charlie’s work will be on display at Andante, but I would recommend hopping over sooner rather than later in order to see it – contrary to the exhibit’s title, these are pieces worthy of our judgement in that they are all very much pieces worthy of viewing and appreciation. As to Andante Gallery itself, it’s now on my list, and I hope to be returning in the new year to see who else Jules and Iris invite to exhibit there.

SLurl Details

A Dickens of an art display in Second Life

The Dickens Project: Invitational Art Show – CybleMoon and Silas Merlin

The Dickens Project 2020 Edition enters Christmas week with two art exhibitions for visitors to appreciate. Each is located in a different part of the Project’s Victorian townscape, offering those who visit the opportunity to explore the streets and discover more of what the Project has to offer this year.

Located in the church sitting to one side of Dickens Square, the Project’s main landing point, is the Open Art Exhibition, featuring artists who accepted the Project’s invitation to display one or two pieces of art that have created on a Victorian Christmas / Dickensian theme.

The Dickens Project: Open Art Show – VanessaJane68 and Jezzamine2108

In  all, seven artists responded to the invitation, and between them they offer an engaging series of images on the themes. The artists are: Jessamine2108, VanessaJane66, Stevie Morane Basevi, Dawn Greymyst, Banshee Heartsong, Evelyn Held and Vita Theas.

Together their images capture the spirit of The  Dickens Project Past (e.g. Evelyn Held: A View From Dickens Harbour Lighthouse, Jessamine2108: Dickens Harbour), images with a decidedly Victorian feel (VanessaJane68 with Christmas Hall and Tower Lane; Dawn Greymyst: Holiday Preparation), and others with a clear Dickens influence (e.g. Vita Theas: Kids, Evelyn Held, Magic of Christmas Past).

The Dickens Project: The open Art Show – Evelyn Held

All of the pieces are evocative of the period they represent and the Dickens Project theme.

Off to the east side of the town, and between the clock tower and the harbour, sits a warehouse that is home to the Invitational Art Show. Open since the event started (the Open Art exhibition having opened its doors on Friday, December 18th), the participating artists for this exhibition comprise CyebelMoon, Iris Okiddo, Silas Merlin and … Yours Truly. Again, the overarching theme is of reflecting, Dickens, Victorian England and the Dickens project.

The Dickens Project: Invitational Art Show – CybeleMoon

Both Cybele and Iris offer evocative (as always!) pieces, that richly reflect these themes. Within Cybele’s pieces,  entitled Winter Solitudes are a set of marvellous captures of past Dickens Project scenes, beautifully processed such that each encompasses its own story that captures both the romance of Victorian Christmases, and the settings found through The Dickens Project.

Iris, meanwhile, presents her own take on A Christmas Carol, presenting eight images  in which she takes on the role of Ebeniris Scrooge and offers her interpretation of some of the damous scenes from the story. Thus we see her sitting miserly in her cold house, walking with the Ghost of Christmas Present, revisiting her lonely past, glimpsing a possible future, embracing a happier, brighter future (with, I think I’m correct in saying, Skippy Beresford getting a co-starring role), and more; all of the images again richly presented for our enjoyment.

The Dickens Project: Invitational Art Show – Iris Okiddo

Silas offers sculptures both indirectly and directly connected to the Victorian / Dickensian era, including barefooted street urchins, Oliver Twist, and a bust of Charles Babbage. For my part, I’ve offered a series looking back over The Dickens Project builds between 2015 and 2020.

Two engaging exhibitions in a setting that offers much to see and do – see my preview of this year’s Edition of the Project for more on the event.

The Dickens Project: Invitational Arts show – Silas Merlin

Links and SLurls

Note that The Dickens Project regions are rated Moderate. Note that SLurls will be available for use from 07:00 SLT on Friday, December 4th.

Contemplations on an eternal light in Second Life

Milena Corbone: Lux Æterna

Milena Carbone (Mylena1992) has opened a new exhibition at Noir’Wen City. Entitled Lux Æterna, it encompasses themes in consideration of religion, humanity and personal belief; elements that are not new to Milena’s work, but are here presented somewhat differently, being projected largely through the work of others, notably Second Life artist Norton Lykin.

Through the exhibition Lux Æterna, I want to express this paradox which is at the heart of my deviant faith in an imperfect God. Our perception of light covers a ridiculously narrow spectrum, and yet this handicap allows us to contemplate incredible beauty. The human species represents a miserable, ignorant, fateful, devastating vermin, trapped in a thin layer of gas on a tiny planet, and yet we have been given the privilege to see, to feel what is. If there is an intention in the universe, this intention is totally indifferent to our fate, and has given us this gift with infinite generosity.

– Milena Carbone

Lux Æterna, “eternal light”, in terms of its religious use, is perhaps most familiar for being a part of the Catholic Requiem Mass, although – and as Milena notes, it most likely dates to Gregorian times. It is a call to God to let his eternal light shine upon the departed as they rest with his saints.

Milena Corbone: Lux Æterna – image by Norton Lykin

Here, the the idea of eternal light is used both physically and metaphorically. As Milena notes, the light humans can see is limited to an incredibly narrow spectrum; one that, long before we discovered the non-visible (to our own eyes) wavelengths on either side of it, nevertheless allowed humanity to contemplate so much, achieve so much through creativity on both an individual and collective basis, and to perceive the richness and beauty of not only our own planet, but the incredible cosmos around us. Yet, at the same time – and even with our going understanding of the non-visible spectrum this promises to reveal even more to us – humankind so often opted (and still opts) to walk the path of ignorance, even whilst espousing enlightenment.

Metaphorically, this narrow spectrum light through which we perceive everything could be said to reflect our narrowness of understanding of any supreme being that might exist. For so long, we constrained “god” in terms of our own viewpoint – one that, far from putting the almighty at the centre of things, has actually placed mankind so that everything – even the idea of a supreme being – literally and figuratively revolved around us, in what can only be viewed as a arrogant outlook on the cosmos.

And herein lies the first paradox: for just as the cosmos is vast – and made more so as we finally drew back the curtain on those parts of the spectrum we cannot visibly see -and with wonders yet to be understood, so to must any supernatural consciousness behind it be vast. Thus, could it even be aware of humanity, as we sit huddled under the protection of our backwater planet’s thin envelope of atmosphere? And so we enter into Milena’s realm of pondering the nature of God; whom she sees as not no so much capricious for allowing all the woes that can befall us, as some might argue – but simply indifferent  and / or imperfect, simply because they have far too much to do in just keeping the rest of the cosmos going to pay us that much attention.

Milena Corbone: Lux Æterna

These ideas are bound together through Milena’s exhibition in a number of ways. As she notes herself, Norton’s art, in its abstracted beauty, informs us about the two greatest elements within the cosmos: emptiness and light. Both are enduring and unalterable; we can see the light of the stars and nebulae, of novae and supernovae, and of galaxies beyond our own,  visual cues to the vastness of the universe in which we sit, whilst the distances separating them appear largely devoid of anything we can perceive, forming an huge and everlasting void around us. To this I would add that through the choice of colours found in the majority of the pieces – the reds, purples, oranges, blues and yellows – we are reminded of the spectrum of light that extends beyond either end of the visible, and thus of the unseen grandeur this sits within the cosmos, and which may yet be found within the the emptiness that sits between the lights of the stars and the galaxies.

And this is only scratching the surface of what is an incredibly simple installation in terms of design and presentation which folds within itself so much food for thought by way of metaphor and suggestion.within the design, for example, is a subtle blending of eastern philosophy and Christian religion: the installation stands as three arms, intentionally representative of the Christian trinity, whiles the empty space at its centre representing the eastern ideal of centring, chakras, inner peace and the natural flow of energy. Elsewhere the the rising stairs might be seen as metaphors for ascendency, an ideal common to both eastern philosophy and “western” religions, if interpreted somewhat differently by both.

Milena Corbone: Lux Æterna – images by Norton Lykin

Through all of this, Lux Æterna also serves to touch on two subjects that can never be far from thinking when contemplating life, the universe and everything (notably religious themes and similar): those of death and immortality. These are concepts that can be said to be uniquely human, as Milena underlines through her use of extracts from Jorge Lui Borges’s  The Immortals. Unique because – as Borge himself notes, we are the only creature on Earth with an awareness of death and by extension, contemplate immortality. So animals might be said to be “immortal”, simply because they do not share this awareness or live in that ever-present terrible shadow, and as such, they might be said to be “closer to god” than we can ever aspire (and thus the hare-headed figure standing God-like over the scene).

And yet still, there is that eternal light of the cosmos surrounding us and reminding us of the richness and of everything; a light we cannot help – and indeed always should – contemplate in humility and reverence, simply because of the beauty it enfolds, and the encouragement it gives for us all to expand our thinking beyond the petty.

SLurl Details

Moods and emotions in Second life

IMAGO Gallery: Liz Winterstorm

Currently available at Mareea Farrasco’s IMAGO Gallery for visitors to appreciate is an exhibition of avatar studies by Liz Winterstorm (TinLiz) that is – in four words – beautifully and emotionally expressive.

Presenting 28 avatar studies, all of which are either black-and-white or soft monochrome, every one of the presented works is powerfully evocative in its narrative and emotional content, each one perfectly framed and presented, making the entire selection an extraordinary must-see exhibition.

Taken without external post-processing enhancement – Liz notes she simply does not have the patience to learn PhotoShop, these are images show that Liz has an innate grasp of lighting, and the use of light and shadow through her selection of Windlight environments in order to express her pieces.

IMAGO Gallery: Liz Winterstorm

While the selection is untitled (other than Liz Winterstorm at IAMGO), there appears to be a twist of thematic threads running through the images. The first might be seen as purely reflective of emotional states arising from a relationship – particularly those images that involve two figures. There are emotional responses anyone has likely experienced through the ups and downs and turmoil that are a part of many (all?) relationships.

The second thread, equally as evocative, might be seen as a considered reflection of the way many of us have felt at one point or another through the past year: loneliness, emptiness, of wanting things to be over, separation, of  being unable to escape (the world’s woes?), anger.

IMAGO Gallery: Liz Winterstorm

It is this layering of ideas – or at least, suggestions of ideas – that gives this exhibition its depth. But it is not the only thing; as noted Liz has a magnificent approach to using the natural environment through Windlight settings and framing to create pieces that are genuinely visually impressive. Just take a look at Shunned as an example, the use of a pure white lighting and background, coupled with the pose and row of seats gives the piece a quite remarkable depth and emotional focus that can be felt within whichever narrative thread you choose to follow.

As a second example of this narrative and visual richness, take Apocalyptica; it’s title alone is powerful and the imagery fully reflective of either theme.  But there is perhaps more here; within the picture is what seems to be a direct reference to the Finnish band itself and the lyrics from their single Life Burns. And this abundance of narrative and imagery flows across all 28 pieces in the exhibition.

IMAGO Gallery: Liz Winterstorm

Very definitely not an exhibition to be missed by those who appreciate Second Life art and photography.

SLurl  Details