Art and quantum states in Second Life

Milena Carbone: Agape in Pace

Having opened at the Itakos Project, curated by Akim Alonzo, on Sunday, February 16th, Milena Carbone’s Agape in Pace is a fascinating exploration of art, love, hate, religion, politics  – all of which might be summed up as the human condition; together with reflections on quantum field theory – specifically the quantum vacuum state and the Casimir effect.

Spread over two floors of the gallery space, the exhibit presents a mix of images and text panels, which together present a layered, nuanced story.

Initially, the exhibition was inspired by the strangeness of the quantum vacuum: a vacuum that was the result of interactions of matter, antimatter and quantum fields that cancel each other out. The image of the Agape and Lilith twins represented the course of matter and antimatter that arises and rejoins almost simultaneously to disappear in the peace of emptiness.

As my work progressed, I drifted towards the two parallel stories: of Agape, oriented towards love and the search for peace; and of Lilith, oriented towards hatred of the other and the search for destruction. These are two postures towards the world. Not just the world of humans, but of all forms of life and the mystery of our existence. The two stories inevitably unite in death and forgiveness.

– Milena Carbone, describing Agape in Pace

Milena Carbone: Agape in Pace

The stories of Agape and Lilith are told on the lower floor of the exhibition, Agape to the left and Lilith to the right as you face the hall. Each can be followed individually, while each acts as a reflection of the other. Neither can actually exist without the other, yet should they ever meet, they will mutually annihilate one another violently and completely. But while they stay apart each might continue indefinitely, as symbolised by the mirror-like triptych at the end of the hall.

Further nuance is added through the examination quantum field theory. The popular idiom life doesn’t exist in a vacuum tells us that everything is in relation to it’s context; thus, neither Agape nor Lilith exist alone; they are intertwined – love and hate, light and dark – each giving life to the other; neither occupies a vacuum, and together, whilst never touching, they operate as an example of the Casimir Effect: their very existence as individuals means that between them, they generate a non-zero energy that effects the space (or others) around them.

Milena Carbone: Agape in Pace

On the upper level, the exhibition, Milena both continues her examination of the human condition whilst offering her own examination of Agape in Pace. In doing so, she offers insight into her creative process and her use of layering in her art as a part of her storytelling. Here as well, there are nuances and reflections on the nature of life and existence, religion, and an understanding of our place in the universe – indeed, the idea that life itself is a reflection of the physical forces at work throughout the cosmos.

Provocative in stimulating the grey matter, attractive in its art presentation, and ending on a pointed commentary on both the small-mindedness we are all too often witnessing in modern politics, and the reality of our tiny presence in a cosmos that small-mindedness presumes we own, Agape in Pace is a captivating exhibition.

Milena Carbone: Agape in Pace

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A journey through CybeleMoon’s Dark Wood

CybeleMoon: Dark Wood and Other Destinations

Now open at Savor Serenity is Dark Wood and Other Destinations, an exhibition of CybeleMoon’s always enchanting art. It offers a journey through her world, from woodland to coast, taking us past ethereal settings inhabited by children and creatures.

Cybele’s art ranges from portraits to landscapes, encompassing magical totems, hidden groves, wild glens, fairie circles, haunted woods, lonely shores and gardens of colour, light and shadow. Her palette offers us mixes of digital and real, gently mixed with tales and stories, children at play, picnic teas and enchanted children. All of which are offered within Dark Wood – and more besides.

CybeleMoon: Dark Woods and Other Destinations

Splitting the gallery into three spaces through the considered placement of wall hangings that carry images of their own, Cybele presents us with a gentle tour of her work. Within the centre area we are introduced to her waifs, a wonderful set of largely monochrome portraits of children, together with one of her marvellously layered digital pieces that comes landscape and child’s face to present a haunting story within, and video presentations of her work.

Bordering the central area are images of her woodlands and coastal scenes, her glades and more of her children – the latter often infusing several of her images with a sense of fae magic. For me, one of the attractive aspects of this exhibition is Cybele’s use of 3D elements with two of her pictures; these lead us into the art with which they are placed, making a part of their narrative. In this, it is exceptionally hard not to want to climb the wooden bridge in from of The Winter Path and attempt to follow the trail to see what lies beyond the distant bend that sees it pass behind shadowed trees.

CybeleMoon: Dark Wood and Other Destinations

Similarly, the use of a pool with small boat and lilies sitting upon the water that adjoins The Fairy Glen at Rosemarkie, adds a depth of narrative to the idea of fae folk the art presents, the face below the water suggesting a water nymph at play in the waters spreading outward from the glen and “into” the pool.

Evocative, rich in image, colour, tone and story, Cybele’s art is always a delight, and for those familiar with it or have yet to experience her work, Dark Wood and Other Destinations should not be missed.

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Moni’s Forbidden Fruit at Nitroglobus in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Forbidden Fruit

Monique “Moni” Beebe makes a further return to Dido Haas’ Nitroglobus Roof Gallery to mark the start of the year, with her latest exhibition Forbidden Fruit.

Moni is one of the most sensuous, evocative artist and – given she is generally the subject of her own work – models in Second Life, somthing I’ve noted in the past, as such I’ve been looking forward to seeing her latest exhibition since Dido tipped me the wink that Moni would be making a further return to Nitroglobus. She has the ability to present studies that are rich in mood, sensuality, nuance, story and sexuality – the latter without relying on being blatant provocation.  Rather, they are genuine works of art that would be fully at home in any physical world gallery as they would in a virtual setting.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Forbidden Fruit

This latter point is very much proven with the selection of work forming Forbidden Fruit, which marks something of a departure from Moni’s previous exhibitions at Nitroglobus – Hidden Faces , Sensuality, and Changing Moods – in that for some of the pieces here, Moni has found inspiration in the work of a another artist, as Dido explains:

Moni got inspired by a RL exhibition of famous Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf, which she visited last Spring in the Gemeente Museum The Hague. Especially the mood of the early series Squares and Chessmen by Mr Olaf you will notice are reflected in some of the images of this present exhibition.

Such is Moni’s compositional eye that she presents a unique perspective on Olaf’s work (take Stone as an example) which is far from derivative – but which would nevertheless be completely at home in an exhibition such as Chessmen.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Forbidden Fruit

For me, the power of Moni’s work is her ability to offer a tale of sensuality through pose and / or focus on bodily curve without necessarily utilising exposing nudity or full facial expression (which is not to say nudity is not present in some of the pieces here). Take the titular Forbidden Fruit, for example. It carries a rich sensuality that evokes feelings of desire bordering on lust, heightened by the use of clothing and the hiding of Moni’s eyes under the wrap. This particular piece also highlights another maturing aspect of Moni’s work: her ability to layer narrative and images; in this case the pairing of a woman with prominently placed apples offers a suggestiveness of story that reaches all the way back to Eve, the apple and a certain serpent – and what form the knowledge may have taken.

There is also a richness of self about Moni’s work that I again find attractive perhaps more than other artists who produce images using their avatars as models; Moni offers subtle insights into her personality and nature – with the emphasis on subtle. This heightens the response to her work that can reach beyond examining any single image or selection of images, to tickle the desire to know her personally.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Forbidden Fruit

Rounded-out with lounge, a sculpture by Kaiju Kohime that sits perfectly with Moni’s images, this is again a marvellous exhibition by an exceptionally talented artist and visualist.

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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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Berthe Morisot at the Museum of Fine Arts in Second Life

The Museum of Fine Arts: Berthe Morisot

In September 2019, I toured the Museum of Fine Arts with curator Tonem (see: The Museum of Fine Arts in Second Life), and was impressed with the care and attention that has been put into the gallery’s operation in making it as much akin to the experience of visiting a physical world art museum / gallery as possible.

Since that original article was posted, the team behind the Museum of Fine Arts have been continuing to develop the museum’s grounds, and also recently opened the second part of their exhibition of art by les trois grandes dames of French Impressionism, so this gave me a reason to pop back and spend time once more at the museum.

The Museum of Fine Arts: Berthe Morisot, self-portrait, 1882

Having featured the art of Marie Bracquemond in the first part of the grades dames exhibit, this second part features the work of Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot (1841- 1895), and it can be found in the Lindal Kidd terrace gallery space, which had now been increased to two side-by-side pavilions behind the main museum building (just enter the main building and past through the ground-floor exhibition spaces and exit through the rear doors to find the terrace).

Morisot was born into a family enmeshed in the arts: her father, while local administrator, was trained in architecture, while her mother was the great-niece of Jean-Honoré Fragonard, one of the most prolific Rococo painters of the ancien régime. So, even allowing for art being a natural part of her education, she and her sisters perhaps received additional encouragement in pursuing it. This encouragement continued through her early career, which brought her into contact with artists such as Édouard Manet and Oscar-Claude Monet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.

Her own work was not publicly exhibited for the first time until 1864 – largely because she was a hard self-critic, destroying a lot of her early pieces because she regarded them as not being good enough – particularly her early work in oil paints, a medium she particularly struggled with initially. However, from the early 1870s Morisot began to be exhibited more regularly, gained a patron – private art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. By the late 1870s, she was regarded as the “one real Impressionist in this group”, and judged Morisot among the best of the impressionists by many art critics.

What is particularly engaging about the exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts is that it amounts to perhaps the large single gathering of Morisot’s work to be seen in the world today outside of the Louvre in Paris. As such, it is a must-see for anyone with a love of classical art, whilst again demonstrating the uniqueness of SL itself as a means to present such a collection to what amounts to a global audience.

The Museum of Fine Arts: Berthe Morisot

In keeping with the Museum’s approach, individual pieces are offered to scale to one another and of a size equating to how they would appear in the physical world when standing before them. This can make individual paintings a little small when viewing them and call into use some steady Alt-camming, but the effort is worth it. In addition, each is displayed with an information card giving the title, date, medium and provenance of the piece – all of which can be viewed in local chat by clicking on a painting.

This is another engaging, engrossing exhibition of physical world art, offering a unique opportunity to appreciate the work of one of the great names of the French Impressionist movement.

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Life and moods at Vibes Gallery in Second Life

Vibes Gallery: Paola Mills

Vibes Gallery, curated by Eviana Robbiani, is currently home to an untitled exhibition featuring Sunset Theas, Paola Mills, Lyack Glenwalker, Megan Prumier, and Aurora Donner. Given some of the images involve nudity, it should perhaps be considered an exhibition that is NSFW.

Immediately inside the entrance to the gallery is a quartet of images by Sunset Theas that follow a theme of their own, perhaps best described as condensing the seven stages of life into four evocative monochrome images, entitled, Embryonic, Birth, Life and Death. As the titles imply, each captures a moment in time and life.

Vibes Gallery: Sunset Theas

The use of monochrome, soft focus and life and shadow serve to make each of these pieces an intriguing study that fully captures the essence of their titles. Take Embryonic, for example. The use of depth of field and the off-centre capture are so suggestive of an ultrasound scan, with just enough form and substance for us to understand what we are seeing.

And so the images progress: Birth using light and shadow and a huddled form that offers the idea of a babe is dark swaddling; Life offers a image of the full vitality of a person in their prime, the use of a mask preventing us from being drawn into studying the model, but considering that broader idea of life. Then depth, with it simple setting, soft focus and back view of a naked body without adornment of clothing or within the setting is simply glorious – if such a term can be used – in its presentation of the body’s emptiness in death.

Vibes Gallery: Megan Prumier

At the far end of the gallery space are four images by Megan Prumier that again offer a theme; this one using reflections in the form of overlaid images of the female body. Each displays a considered use of technique that makes the nudity within the images secondary to their narrative. Take Warm Shivers, for example; the marvellous placement of the image, one copy superimposed over the other wonderfully suggests both someone feeling the cold in their nudity whilst at the same time presenting the idea of receiving warm comfort from someone close.

Between these two groups lie another set of four images by Paola Mills, and two pairs of images by  Lyack Glenwalker and Aurora Donner. I admit to being unfamiliar with the latter two, but again, on the strength of the two images presented here, Lyack has a talent for producing images rich in narrative. Certainly, his images reflect the stories inherent in the four pieces offered by Paola, while Aurora’s pair of studies round-out the exhibition nicely.

Vibes Gallery: Lyack Glenwalker

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