The art at Fantasy Faire 2019

Fantasy Faire 2019: 2D art at Fairelands Junction

Sl photography is a popular subject – as any casual glance through Flickr with the search tags of “virtual worlds”, “SL” “Second Life” and similar will reveal. There are many styles and subject matter of SL photography to be sure, but it not unreasonable to say that fantasy art is one of the more popular fields of endeavour, be it through avatar studies or the recording of the many fantasy environments that have graced the platform over the years.

It’s therefore fitting that Fantasy Faire embraces this wellspring of individual creativity each year by offering Second Life photographers and artists the opportunity to display their work. And one again, Fantasy Faire 2019 offers two gallery spaces where art can be appreciated.

Fantasy Faire 2019: 2D art at Genesia

The first can be found at Fairelands Junction, and is itself in two parts: the image gallery, located in the ruined structure that houses the Fairelands portals, and the Worldlings display, located in the rock formation upon which the ruins sit. The second gallery can be found within the Genesia Arts and Performance region.

Forty 2D artists are presented within both the gallery spaces, and as with previous years, the focus for art is on avatars and fantasy, with the official blog noting:

The galleries focus on various fantasy avatars within Second Life, celebrating the freedom from the mundane, showing how in here you can be whatever you wish to be, your true self.

The focus continues to be variety in fantasy forms, inspiration in character creation and talent in photographic arts.

Fantasy Faire 2019: The Call of the Forest by Aleriah

A full list of the artists participating in the exhibition can be found in the link above, so I won’t repeat the list here. However, what I will say is that the art is remarkable for its richness of imagination and presentation. Many pieces are obviously influenced by popular fantasy genres – there are a number that clearly draw from the Likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and G.R.R. Martin, for example. This isn’t a critique, as it is always interesting to see people put their own slant on popular fantasy; but for me the magic of many of the pieces is in their depiction of settings entirely born from the imaginations of their creators – such as with The Call of the Forest, by Aleriah (shown above).

The art at Genesia is displayed within yet another remarkable region setting by Haveit Neox & Lilia Artis, as the Art and Performance region at this years Faire. This stands as a work of art in of itself, and should be explored for its incredible creativity, both above and below the water, and the way it offers a link to past Fantasy Faires in its overall design.

Fantasy Faire: Genesia

The gallery space for Genesia sits on the outer path of the region, with art displayed on rock walls or held aloft by elephants and stork-like birds, the path leading the way around to the main performance area.

Meanwhile, the 3D Worldlings art can be found, as noted, in Faireland Junction. Described as the “Fairelands That Could Be”, the Worldings are seven realms-as-dioramas suggesting possible Fairelands as imagined by their creators: Kerryth Tarantal, Faust Steamer, Colemarie Soleil, Bonny Greenwood, Ameshin Yossarian, Bee Dumpling and Beryl.

Fantasy Faire 2019: Worlding by Faust Steamer

These dioramas – at least one of which is interactive – offer windows into the imaginations of the Fairelands (and region) creators behind them. Whether any of them might be expanded out to become a full Fairelands setting in the future is open to question; but I admit, I wouldn’t mind seeing Faust Steamer’s idea (above) fleshed out and given form!

Fantasy Faire 2019: Wrong Direction by Sugarfairy88

I often am prone to comment with these art exhibitions that when it comes to the 2D art – and allowing for the subject being that of fantasy avatars – it’s a shame that the net isn’t cast a little wider to more generally encompass fantasy settings in Second Life; there are, after all, a fair few. There is also as vast catalogue of images of past Fantasy Faires – so it would be nice to see some broader celebration of fantasy art that can be created within SL beyond a purely avatar focus.

Nevertheless, given how easily an art exhibition can be overlooked with so much else occurring at Fantasy Faire, I do very much recommend that anyone who enjoys Second Life art and photography stop by the galleries at Fairelands Junction and Genesia.

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2019 Raglan Shire Artwalk: call to artists

Raglan Shire Artwalk 2018

The Raglan Shire Artwalk is one of the staples of the SL art calendar, and for 2019, the 14th Artwalk will take place between Sunday, May 12th and Sunday, June 16th, inclusive.

Every year over 100 artists and residents in Second Life display 2D and 3D art across a number of exhibition spaces across all the regions of the Raglan Shire cluster. 2D art is displayed on hedgerows in and around the regions, offering visitors the chance to view pieces as they explore the Shire, while sculptures and 3D art is displayed in a number of designated areas across the regions.

Those wishing to exhibit their work at the 2018 Artwalk are invited to complete the  Artist Registration Form, which should be submitted for inclusion no later than 21:00 SLT on Sunday May 5th, 2019.

General requirements for entry (ass also the official requirements page):

  • The event is a non-juried show.
  • Artists can display more than one piece if they wish.
    • 2D (“flat” art pieces will be awarded a maximum of 15 LI, and individual pictures should be 1 prim, including the frame.
    • 3D art (sculptures, etc.), will be awarded a maximum of 500 LI for up to three pieces of work. Artists are requested to state the LI per piece in their application.
    • Sales of art are allowed.
  • Types of art supported by the show are: representations of RL photography, painting, drawing, printmaking, collage, and digital fine art that can be displayed on a prim;  and SL photography, manipulated SL photography and SL sculpture.
  • Pictures of RL crafts, such as beadwork, leatherwork, etc., are not part of the show’s  definition
  • All the above art forms are welcome, but should be rated PG / G – so no nudity, please!
  • Group membership will be required in order to display work
  • Questions and enquiries should be forwarded via note card to Artwalk Director Karmagirl Avro, or Artwalk Assistants Kayak Kuu, Linn Darkwatch, maggi696 or RaglanShireArtwalk Resident.
Raglan Shaire Artwalk 2018: Bear Silvershade

Details on set-up will be sent to participating artists on Tuesday, May 7th, 2019. Step-up commences at 09:00 SLT on Friday, May 10th and runs through Saturday, May 11th. Note that space along the hedgerows in Raglan Shire for 2D art is NOT assigned, but can be taken on the basis of first come first serve. Certain areas of Heron Shire will be designated for sculpture set up and available locations set with a marker.

Key Dates

  • Sunday, May 5th: applications close at 21:00 SLT.
  • Tuesday, May 7th: Notification of exhibit space location issued to 3D artists.
  • Friday, May 10th / Saturday May 11th: Artist set-up days.
  • Sunday, May 12th: ARTWALK OPENS.
  • Sunday, June 16th: Artwalk closes.
  • Sunday, June 16th (after 2100 SLT) through Tuesday, June 18th: Takedown of works.

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Cica’s Knitland in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Knitland

Sometimes I get sad… but then I think about yarn and everything is fine.

With these words, Cica Ghost introduces her latest installation Knitland – and it is one of the most imaginative and whimsical pieces she has yet produced. A wonderful landscape that could only be born of a rich imagine and taste for the fantastic, wrapped in a warm sense of fun and humour.

As the name suggests, this is a world that has been knitted together – quite literally. The ground is a quit of green and teal squares, some dotted with little flowers, undulating gently as if loosely thrown across a bed. From the landing point,  a green knitted “road” – for all the world looking like a scarf tossed carelessly atop the quilt – offers an path of exploration through the setting.

Cica Ghost: Knitland

But it is the inhabitants that occupy thee land that captivate: birds, cats, snails, mules, chickens – even a gloriously knitted elephant. These all look out across the land, the spaces between them dotted by knitted trees, flowers and berries. Here and there, balls of yarn bounce up and down as they watch passers-by (and visitors can, if they like, pick up balls of yarn avatars from the giver near the landing point, and wear them during their visit). Here and there among the trees, flowers and animals sit quaint little knitted houses, sometimes with one or two handles attached, giving them the appearance of crocheted handbags.

Follow the scarf-road far enough, passing over balls of yarn and the back of a cat and between trees and houses, and it will eventually bring you to the girl who is perhaps responsible for the wonders herein, as she sits and continues to knit the scarf, a whimsical smile on her face.

Cica Ghost: Knitland

As one might expect, scattered through the installation are numerous places to sit and / or dance, while strands of wool twist and turn through the air to form trails as if left by the passage of happy-go-lucky bees through the air. Climb the curving ladder that climbs the side of a large green pot, and you’re likely to have another surprise.

But writing about an installation like this really doesn’t do it justice; this is yet another piece by Cica that should be seen first-hand to be properly appreciated and enjoyed. And if you are feeling a little low, then perhaps it will – as Cica’s words suggest – lift you mood and raise the corners of your mouth into a smile.

Cica Ghost: Knitland

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Water and a Matrix: reflections on life by Akim Alonzo

Itakos Project: Akim Alonzo – Water

It may seem a little unfair presenting two reviews of exhibitions at the same gallery space in such short order, but the fact is the Itakos Project, curated by Akim Alonzo, is currently hosting exhibitions by Awesome Fallen and Akim himself which I personally feel should not be missed. Having covered Awesome’s Simply Dreaming just a day ago (see Awesome Fallen at the Itakos Project in Second Life), with this piece, I’m diving into the what might be referred to as “an exhibition of two halves”, both of which feature collections of Akim’s own work.

You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.

Ansel Adams, The Camera, 1980

Ansel Adam’s words have been the foundation of Akim’s approach to photography, and of the Itakos Project as a whole – and this is clearly demonstrated in both of the displays of art he has on display within the gallery at the time of our visits.

Itakos Project: Akim Alonzo – Water

Split between the gallery’s entrance level and the floor above, and occupying the Black Pavilion area, Water is a collection of 12 images focused on the titular subject. However, these are not simply studies of seascapes, coasts or similar. Rather, they are examinations of our complex relationship with water. We are conceived into water, life came from water, we are water; it both defines us and stands as something of a metaphorical image of human life and relationships, all of which Akim sums up in his liner notes on the exhibition.

We are Water and we can not live without it. Sometimes we are like islands lost in the sea, or we float in lush archipelagos full of life. Water brings with it the meaning of survival, it is the immaterial substance of the flowing time, it is the depth of the human soul, of the vital emotions, of joy and fear, fury and tranquillity, of solitude and of love. Water moves me, I am Water.

Itakos Project: Akim Alonzo – Water

Thus, through this mix of monochrome and soft colour images we are offered the most stunning of image poems, each of which tells something of that complex relationship. These are pieces of such depth and narrative, they cannot be taken at a single glance; time is required to fully absorb their beauty and hear their myriad whispers. But that said, even looked a briefly, each speaks volumes about Akim’s eye and mind as a photographer; there is little doubting each piece has been influenced by the full breadth and depth of his artistry and all that has influenced it.

The Matrix, the second “half” of Akim’s overall exhibition on display, is located on the floor above the entrance level, within the Orange Pavilion. Its found influence is perhaps more obvious – that of the Matrix movie franchise; however, like Water, it is actually quite complex in foundation and presentation, as Akim again indicates in his liner notes:

These photos are loosely based on the cult movie The Matrix, which I loved a lot. A metaphor for a world of people trapped in a simulated, virtual reality that has many aspects in common with the Second Life world. So I imagined, listening to the Matrix soundtrack, avatars and life scenes in second life revealed in their intrinsic background network … of which we avatars do not realise.

Itakos Project: Akim Alonzo – Matrix

So it is that we are presented with nine images, again rich in metaphor and narrative. Framed by the ideas of the movies, as given form by the soundtracks, they also encompass an observer’s view of Second life coupled with a user’s innate understanding of the platform, with broader influences such as dream echoes and, stirred into the mix.

As with Water, these are pieces rich in story and interpretation. Within them lie questions of reality and identity, and the riddle of worlds within worlds – the Chinese Boxes to which Akim refers –  which not only extend inwards through the images, but also outwards to encompass each of us as we view them.

Itakos Project: Akim Alonzo – Matrix

In this, the reference to the Matrix is taken a stage further: not only are these images an interpretation of the films as layered within the virtual realm of Second Life – they actually reflect the central idea of the film: that were are all in fact unwittingly operating within a virtual realm. We are thus as much a part of each of these images, a further layer, if you will, that is observed from somewhere beyond us, as much as we are observers of each image.

However, there is something else here as well; a more innate statement on our relationship with Second Life itself. Within these pictures is a subtle reminder that, no matter how hard we might try to distance self from character within SL; no matter what the roles we play in-world, the backstories we build, the fact remains that facets of our own natures, our own identities, will inevitably be impinged on those characters; they are, inevitably, and by their very nature, a projection of self into the virtual. What’s more, their daily encounters and experiences within the virtual realm inevitably reflect and inform upon our physical selves. We have a genuinely visceral intertwining between the “real” and the “virtual”.

Itakos Project: Akim Alonzo – Matrix

Together or individually, Water and The Matrix are two absorbing, evocative and engaging selections of art by a master photographer, artist and storyteller.

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Awesome Fallen at the Itakos Project in Second Life

Itakos Project: Simply Dreaming

In 2017, Akim Alonzo launched the Itakos Project as a Linden Endowment for the Arts installation with the aim of presenting the work of SL photographers who, through their images, engage upon story-telling or presenting the ideas of stories, or who seek to present beauty and emotion through their study of the avatar and the worlds around it (see The Itakos Project in Second Life). However, I confess I lost track of the gallery after its 6-month LEA run came to an end. So an invitation to view a new exhibition at the gallery – now in its own location – offered the perfect reason to resume my acquaintance with it.

Simply Dreaming is a remarkable selection of pieces by Awesome Fallen, an SL artist whose work I’ve always been drawn to for her richness of narrative and opening of the imagination. With this exhibit, she presents twelve images on the subject of dreams and dreaming, located in the gallery’s entrance level Grey Pavilion. Surreal, marked by the use of heavy and dark colours and tones, these are perhaps images of the darker side of dreams and dreaming.

Itakos Project: Simply Dreaming

Each is  – and I use this term deliberately, despite the dark tones and subject presented – a beautiful representation of an instance of a dream; the moment of recollection we can all have when awakening from a period of REM sleep, a single frame of our dreaming thought processes captured in the lens or the mind, or which is retained and held subconsciously and returns to us at the first moment of waking in the morning.

In this, the surrealist nature of the images is entirely fitting on at least two levels. The first is that dreams are always linear or logical; as the brain processes its way through our sleep, cataloguing, filing, recalling – or doing whatever really is going on in our dream state – we can become observers to those processes without really being aware of what if going on or why. Thus the mental images that we regard as dreams can be both vivid and ethereal; images lying one over the other, some clear and fresh or vibrant in their emotion (if not necessarily in their colour), others faded and faint. Within their mixing we oft encounter surreal views and disjointed images or flashes of thought that are sharded and broken or at least confused.

Itakos Project: Simply Dreaming

So it is with this images that were are presented with contrasts and juxtapositions: faces split; images that offer a clear view of a subject and a shadowed reflection in the darkness; figures of menace; faces lost; scenes that might be from the day’s activities but turned by the churn of mental processes into scenes that aren’t quite right; negative thoughts and feeling that have become personified. A tumult  of emotions and thoughts given form to become surreal stories without clear narrative except the emotional response they create.

The surrealism approach is also fitting when one considers the origins of this form of art – that of developing painting techniques that allowed the unconscious to express itself. The surrealist movement embraced Freud’s work with free association, dream analysis, and the unconscious. Thus, by presenting these images in a surrealist form, Awesome not only maintains the movement’s idealism, she actually offers a visual treatise on the nature of the movement itself, literally taking the art back to its roots through the presentation of dreams as scenes.

Itakos Project: Simply Dreaming

There is more layering to be found within these images. Take for example the stanza-like line repeated in each of them: On the canvas of your soul, with the tips of my fingers, drawing smiles with the colour of my feelings… Not only does this provide a thread that draws all twelve images into a tapestry; it also suggests that through these images Awesome is offering us windows into her dreams – and into our own. In this latter regard, it is perhaps tempting to see these images as perhaps autobiographical, the capturing of personal dreams; this may be the intent, but equally all twelve pieces speak to our own psyches, offering a means for our subconscious to respond. Hence why, perhaps, on seeing these works we might all feel an odd sense of familiarity and recognition as we look upon them.

A fascinating and absorbing collection.

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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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